Southeast Asia has almost too much to love. It’s home to beautiful ancient temples, lush jungles, stunning beaches, amazing culinary traditions, and tons of cheap hotels. But as many tourists from around the world know, there’s another reason to splurge on a flight to this corner of the world: partying really, really hard. In fact, Southeast Asia is flush with some of the world’s most infamous party destinations — and we’re not talking about Bangkok, Siem Reap, and Hanoi. In fact, the islands in Southeast Asia are some of the most iconic party spots on earth. After all, there’s almost nothing better than throwing down and waking up next to beaches that can cure even the worst hangover. With that in mind, we’ve broken down the region’s 10 best party islands.
10- Phuket, Thailand
Forgive me for being obvious, but I figured we’d start with a classic. Yeah, it’s not the classiest of parties, but it is something of a hedonist’s wet dream. The party epicentre is no doubt Patong beach, a heaving seaside boulevard lined with brightly coloured bars of all descriptions.
Move inland a little and the neon world continues, with favourites including Rock City for their actually quite incredible cover bands (spot on renditions of 80’s rock singers’ pinched gonads style of singing) and Tiger Bar for its… other kinds of entertainment. Cheap booze, loud tunes and a whole swarm of travellers in the party mood.
9- Bali, Indonesia
Let’s get one thing clear: There are plenty of untouched corners throughout Bali. However, for those who want to hook up and get down, Kuta and its suburbs are a magnet. The cycle in Kuta goes something like: eat, drink, beach, drink, repeat. Countless bars and clubs draw 20-, 30-, and 40-somethings who want to rave until the break of dawn. The streets around Poppies I and II are notorious for their loud late-night parties, while slightly more refined hotspots up the coast — like Potato Head and Ku De Ta — have everything from romantic sunsets to live DJs spinning late. Have some leftover energy when the sun’s up? This is one of the best places to learn how to surf in the world, so grab a board.
8- Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
I’m not so sure if the founder of the Communist State of Vietnam quite envisioned this for his namesake city. Still, that victory was for the people and the people must go where the party is…
Hit up Pham Ngu Lao when the sun starts to fade, as the evening comes the place becomes alive with a mix of locals, expats and travellers all sinking cheap beers at the roadside cafés. Be sure to grab a little grub too, it’s tasty and it will line that stomach in preparation for the night’s celebrations (I know eating’s cheating, but they who eat smart, stand last… that didn’t quite work, did it?).
7- Hong Kong
You’ll never feel out of place in Hong Kong, no matter where you’re from. British banker-wankers might rub elbows with Indian-born locals over rooftop cocktails between the Batman-graced skyscrapers from The Dark Knight. Sobering up over late-night congee, you might find Canadian backpackers or vacationers from mainland China at the next table over. The point is, whether you’re the most budget-conscious couch surfer or a Diamond-Elite-Plus-blahblah jet-setter, there’s something for you in Hong Kong.
6- Seoul, South Korea
Say “kimchee,” throw up a peace sign, and smile, because good cheer runs through Seoul like soju swimming in your bloodstream. You’re doing it right if that soju got into your system through a “love shot,” a delightfully cheesy semi-hug reflective of Seoulites’ unabashed affection for humankind: you face someone (hopefully one of the city’s many beautiful people), hook opposite elbows, and throw back the all-too-swiggable liquor in your cup.
The Singapore nightlife scene is thriving, especially when it comes to the bumping club scene. Singapore’s scene has attracted world-class DJs and musical acts such as David Guetta. However, Singapore is not a place to party on a budget. A beer alone will cost you the equivalent of a night at a middle-range guest house in Thailand, so plan accordingly because you won’t want to be pinching pennies when you’re out in Singapore.
4- Taipei, Taiwan
Taipei and its nightlife often gets overlooked for the debauchery of Bangkok, the glitz of Hong Kong and the sheer size of Tokyo. But while Taiwan’s capital may have less in terms of quantity, the quality of its bars, dance clubs and live music venues has plenty to offer visitors. An unforgettable night out starts off at one of the city’s famous night markets and then moves to catching local and well-known DJs and bands in bars and cafes across the city before dancing away the wee hours in upscale clubs.
3- Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo’s nightlife is epic, there’s no debating that. The only reason it’s not higher on this list is that it’s also very expensive. But the rush one gets exploring the twisting lanes of Shinjuku and its red-light district or dancing the night away in Roppongi is unrivaled in Asia.
2- Shanghai, China
Shanghai has been called the Paris of the east, now they’re saying it’s China’s New York. But it should be unique. Shanghai is one of the world’s greatest cities with an entertainment scene to match. Stylish restaurants, quality cuisine and a nightlife that’s full of surprises. Shanghai has always had healthy cultural scene, with cinemas showing foreign and Chinese films, and theatres featuring opera, dance, drama, acrobatics and puppets. as a common understanding, Shanghai has the most colorful nightlife in China. But if you have ever participated, you may feel it is probably the most colorful one in the world!
Nightclubs and bars are always booming, with joints opening and closing faster than night can turn into day. Barflies now have a choice of everything from glamorous art deco lounges to the seediest watering hole; live rock and jazz can be heard into the wee hours and the dance club scene now employs djs, foreign and local, to keep the younger set raving.
1- Bangkok, Thailand
Thailand’s gargantuan capital is famous for nocturnal throwdowns, red light districts, and demolishing buckets on Khao San Rd on the cheap. But there’s a reason nearly everyone who visits Thailand comes away with some kind of raging booze-fueled story. In Bangkok, there’s no shortage of spots to go looking for trouble — and if you don’t go looking, it often seems to find you anyway.