Our pick of the best trips for the new century

Lebanon's capital lights up

The Paris of the Middle East is back—and better, thanks to a new generation of carefree, westward-looking Lebanese who are transforming the city into the wildest nightlife scene on the Mediterranean.

The current point de rencontre: the trendy Achrafieh district, especially around Rue Sodeco and Rue Monot. Once the dividing zone between East and West Beirut, the neighborhood now overflows with great dining spots, bars, and nightclubs, including several housed in restored 1920's villas. Among them is Babylone (33 Rue Abdel Wahab al-Inglizi; 961-1/219-371), where a hip older set gossips in "Ara-fren-glish" (a dizzying mix of Arabic, French, and English) under pastel frescoes. The posh Zinc (37 Rue Safieddine al-Khatib; 961-1/612-612) exhibits contemporary art to a DJ's mix of acid jazz and world music; another bar­cum­art gallery, Circus (Rue Monot; 961-1/332-523), is the place to hear live bands. If the mad crowds get to you, seek refuge at Time Out (Rue du Liban; 961-1/331-938), on a quiet corner away from the action.

Most Beirutis hit several clubs in one night. Alecco's (Rue Sodeco; 961-1/612-200) and Gotha (Rue Monot; 961-1/336-332) are packed with the nouveau riche. But the party really gets going at B018 (Carantina Mbawar; 961-1/580-018), just north of Achrafieh,where a wild throng often takes to the tabletops. Finish the night with a 4 a.m. snack at Zaatar ou Zeit (Rue Nasra; 961-1/614-302)—try the manquoucheh (thick pita topped with sesame seeds and olive oil) and a "white coffee" (orange water and fresh mint).—Nana Asfour

Where The Night Takes You

(28)Suddenly it's 1930 all over again in Shanghai. A new crop of jazz hangouts (the Cotton Club, Blues & Jazz) frequented by young bebop-loving Chinese has turned this formerly sullen cityscape into a nightclubber's fantasia. (29) A longtime haunt of downtown insiders, Manhattan's Meatpacking District is finally ready for its close-up. Stylish restaurants and nightspots—such as Oriont, Pastis, and Fressen—are popping up amid the artists' lofts and meat lockers of this gritty neighborhood around West 14th Street.(30) In Reykjavík, Iceland, darkness can last all day—but when the nights are this hot, no one minds.Every weekend, residents of the small and seemingly quiet capital get in touch with their inner Viking, packing chic discos, cafés, and bars like Ozio, Skuggabarrin, Kaffe Thomsen, and Rex.