(CNN) — At Wanchai bars in Hong Kong, we could be sipping a rare craft beer out of a sweaty crystal chalice and still feel a bit sleazy. Nevertheless, the district has a better reputation nowadays than it did in the past.
Today, there are flashy new Wanchai bars and clubs.
Drink prices are also attractive -- often half of those in Lan Kwai Fong.
It all makes Wanchai the unofficial party district.
Embracing the dentist's chair
Don't miss the margaritas at Coyote.
Courtesy Azchael/Creative Commons/Flickr
The first bar to hit on Lockhart Road is Coyote's, which has more than 75 margaritas made from a choice of 35 tequilas.
This Mexican bar and restaurant also happens to have one of the last remaining dentist chairs in Wanchai. For a while, dentist chairs were really hot after the English football team tried one out in Hong Kong in 1996.
The antique chair at Coyote's is usually hidden in the back of the bar and brought out on request.
After handing over your money, lie back on the chair and think of Cancun as the obliging barman bathes your tonsils in a four-second deluge of Triple Sec and tequila direct from bottles.
Loving 'Club 7-Eleven'
Drinking outside 7-Eleven is a Hong Kong rite of passage.
Courtesy Simon Law/Creative Commons/Flickr
The franchise sells everything from Cabernet Sauvignon to Hennessy XO. Prices are low. Customers are allowed to linger.
Sounds like a great watering hole to the average Hong Konger.
"People in Hong Kong are really economical, we don't have a big concern about drinking outside if we can get a good deal out of it," said local Hong Konger Dan Lau, who we found tipping back a bottle of Guinness with a crowd by the 7-Eleven outlet on Luard Road.
"It's the Hong Kong thing to do."
There are three 7-Elevens within one block of Wanchai, forming a sort of Bermuda triangle of cut-price self-service booze.
Dancing on bars with railings
Carnegie's has been propping people up on top of its bar since 1994.
In fact, as dancing on the bar top at Carnegies is so popular, the owners installed brass railings to prevent any inadvertent stage dives into crowd or staff.
With its unpretentious, grungy American rock atmosphere, Carnegies generally brings in a younger crowd than one typically found in Wanchai bars. A mix of university students, tourists and international school kids pack the place.
Whether it's a school night or not is irrelevant in Wanchai.
Being seen at 'The Corners'
The busiest and most boisterous parts of Wanchai are "The Corners," two intersections of Lockhart Road, one by Luard Road and one a block away at Fenwick Street.
The areas of congregation are centered around two of the more upscale, less sleazy bars in Wanchai. Mes Amis, an open facaded bar, is generally considered the epicenter of Wanchai. Mes' central location on the corner of Lockhart and Luard make it a great meeting spot and crowds spill onto the street. Further up Luard Road, on the corner of Jaffe Road, there's Irish pub Delaney's and the somewhat less reputable Amazonia, both adding to the allure of this corner. The Fenwick-Lockhart junction is not as central to the 'Chai but draws crowds around the nautically-themed Typhoon bar. Free shots are given out here during a Typhoon 8 warning. Hong Kong is a place where people want terribly bad weather.
And even if the weather is fine, Typhoon's barman Paul would like us to know that "it's the best party here, especially during the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens, it gets crazy."
Rocking out from dusk till dawn
Wanchai's children of the night flock to Dusk Till Dawn for the after party. It starts to get crowded in here well past midnight and the dancing doesn't stop till it is time for breakfast.
The interior has a curious Mediterranean-theme-meets-Tarantino vampire flick with mellow yellow walls and pale purple wooden shutters.
None of it really matters when the Filipino cover band starts playing. Some say they are the best in town, pumping out near-perfect live renditions of classic rock hits from Guns N' Roses to Gloria Gaynor.
Editor's note: This article was previously published in 2012. It was reformatted, updated and republished in 2017.