The Beginner’s Guide To Southeast Asia’s Amazing Party Towns
When the party mood grabs you, answer the call of the wild with a vacation to Southeast Asia.
From Manila to Bangkok, you can chat with the rich and famous in world-class nightclubs, or take whiskey shots with expatriate hippies in smoky dive bars. In some party towns, entertainment venues boast exotic pleasures, while others appeal to alternative desires.
Diehard partiers want to keep the celebration alive, so many stay at one of Southeast Asia’s raucous party hostels. Depending on your destination, you can find a wide array of accommodation, some offering nonstop revelry and others providing needed solitude.
Since some of Bangkok’s clubs are notorious dens of iniquity, it should come as no surprise that the Thai capital ranks among the world’s top party towns.
The dive bars along Khao San Road are among the most visited nightspots of many foreign tourists. Offering cheap drinks and outrageous entertainment, a good time is had by all – at least until the morning hangover sets in.
However, Bangkok has something for everyone, so you don’t need to step over to the dark side – unless that’s what you’re looking for. For upscale celebrations, head to the Sukhumvit district, where you’ll find a host of bars, restaurants and clubs.
Bed Supperclub is among the most popular nightspots in Sukhumvit, where you’ll find a sophisticated environment and internationally known DJs spinning the latest tunes. If underground house music is your thing, you’ll find a relaxed, fun loving crowd over at Glow.
The Ratchadapisek neighborhood is home to many of Bangkok’s best hostels and a hot spot for young partiers from near and far. And because the district is an official nightlife zone, its bars and clubs stay open later than venues in other parts of the city.
Ratchadapisek’s Slim and Flix club on Royal City Avenue is packed to the rafters every weekend. On the outside, the club sports a super modern concrete and glass design, and inside it holds three party areas, which play trance, rhythm and blues and hip-hop music.
If you want to hang out with other party hungry globetrotters, book a dorm bed at NapPark Hostel. The hostel’s modern décor is downright stunning. Best of all, its dorm beds were created with privacy and personal convenience in mind, with curtains, reading lights, electrical outlets and individual TVs. Located within walking distance of the Grand Palace and Khao San Road, NapPark has an onsite café and a travel agency.
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Over the years, Vietnam has grown from a simple tourist destination to become a haven for expatriates from Europe and North America. That growth has created a bevy of attractions for fun seekers, and Vietnam’s largest metropolis, Ho Chi Minh City, has blossomed into one of Southeast Asia’s most exciting party towns.
Travel in Vietnam has remained relatively inexpensive, and the availability of cheap booze has put the country on the party map. Much of the action in Ho Chi Minh City takes place around Pham Ngu Lao Street, an area dominated by backpacker hostels and expatriate businesses. Tourists often gravitate to Go2, a nightclub and restaurant that serves burgers and Jack Daniels whiskey to the beat of hip-hop music.
If you want to escape the Pham Ngu Lao district, head to Vasco’s, an alley bar that caters to the expat community. While you’re in the area, visit Apocalypse Now, Vietnam’s most celebrated dive bar, which plays classic rock tunes and caters to foreigners looking for fun.
To avoid the tourist traps, drop by the beer stands on Nguyen Thai Hoc Street. Besides finding cheap brews, you’ll also have a front row seat for some of the best people watching in town. Motorcyclists zip back and forth and food vendors roam the street selling all types of delicacies, from peanuts to fish sausages.
While you won’t see lodgings in Ho Chi Minh City designated as party hostels, you can find a number of fun, cheap places where you’re bound to run into a few kindred spirits. Luan Vu Hotel is surrounded by bars and shops and lies within walking distance of many tourist attractions, including the Ben Thank market.
Ngoc Thao Guesthouse is situated steps from Pham Ngu Lao Street and has private rooms and dormitory beds. Folks staying in private rooms can pour a drink from their mini bar and all guests enjoy free breakfast.
Manila’s nightspots cater to all types of travelers and all travel budgets, with upscale nightclubs, expatriate bars and low rent karaoke joints.
To rub elbows with Manila’s in crowd, set your sights on the Opus Restaurant and Lounge at Resorts World Manila, where you might even cross paths with a few celebrities. You’ll always find plenty of pretty people dressed in the latest fashions, along with top DJs spinning house tunes.
If Opus doesn’t suit your fancy, head over to Republiq, a Vegas-style club with a VIP area and lots of hipsters. Republiq serves top dollar wines and spirits and attracts some of the world’s top DJs.
The Eden club, which opened in 2012, has three party spaces, with a dance floor, outdoor area and a shooters’ bar. The nightclub plays a mix of musical styles, from classic disco to hip-hop.
If the upper class social scene isn’t your cup of tea, don’t worry, because Manila has plenty to offer. You’ll find a Hard Rock Café in the Glorietta mall and a variety of dive bars along Kalayan Avenue. While the bars on P. Burgos Street might appeal to those looking for adventure, regular patrons sometimes pack a little weaponry, so beware.
The Melting Pot Hostel has awesome private rooms and dormitories and is situated within crawling distance from numerous nightclubs and karaoke bars. Located in Makati City, one of Manila’s hottest entertainment districts, the Melting Pot attracts an enthusiastic party crowd, while offering clean and quiet accommodation.
Vang Vieng, Laos
Without a doubt, Vang Vieng is one of the wildest party spots on the planet. Located in a peaceful Laotian valley and surrounded by farmlands, the tiny village is always loaded with crazed celebrators who know no limits.
The party revolves around a river that runs through the town. Throughout the day, you’ll find people packed inside the makeshift bars along the river, where they mingle and drink, while watching drunken tourists float in the water on inner tubes.
You won’t see high class clubs in Vang Vieng, but you will find plenty of cheap booze. Most bars have slides or swings, which tipsy patrons use to enter the river, and a few serve food.
If you think mixing alcohol and water sports sounds a little dangerous, you’re right. In fact, injuries and deaths have prompted Laotian officials to turn the screws on the mayhem, in hopes of shutting the party down. But, so far, the Vang Vieng party scene continues to thrive.
You won’t have any trouble finding a “party hostel” in Vang Vieng, because almost all lodging houses fit that description. However, if you want to escape the madness, book a room at Laos Haven Hotel and Spa. The family-run hotel has an onsite restaurant that serves delicious Thai dishes and offers spa treatments. Best of all, Laos Haven Hotel and Spa is set apart from the action, so you might get a little sleep.
Bali has many party zones, but Seminyak is among the best. While you can find a few reasonably priced pubs, most Seminyak nightspots cater to upscale clientele who can afford to pay top dollar.
The hottest clubs in Seminyak occupy prime real estate along the beach. WooBar is one of the most popular nightclubs in town and attracts jet setting tourists and the local elite. The club hosts world class DJs and serves top shelf liquors, a perfect combination.
At Ku de Ta, you can sip cocktails and chitchat with friends while enjoying a spectacular sunset. Ku de Ta’s restaurant serves Asian, American, European and African cuisines and its club plays all types of music, including hip-hop, jazz, funk, soul and house styles.
The Living Room Restaurant and Lounge sports a stunning décor, with chandeliers, candles and exotic floral arrangements. The restaurant serves delicious Thai dishes and the bar features an extensive menu of martinis. On weekends, the bar transforms into one of the town’s hottest clubs, playing lounge and electronic music.
If you’re on a budget, you can book a dorm bed or small apartment at the Happy Day Hostel. The hostel has a lounge, where you can relax and watch a movie, and serves a complimentary breakfast buffet.
The Guess House Hostel is located a short walk from the beach and features a common lounge, with a large screen television and computer stations, where you can chill out with fellow partiers and enjoy a cold Balinese beer.