Break out the bucket cocktails and ready the neon face paint because this guide to the most hedonistic party destinations in Asia is all about letting loose in the land of palm trees and white sands. Mhmm…this is where we go a-scouting for the towns and cities, the islands and beach destinations, that offer non-stop hedonism and some of the liveliest after-dark action around…
From Thailand to Vietnam, Bali to Phuket, each of our picks has its own unique party vibe. Some are about soaring sky bars overlooking a twinkling cityscape. Others are about fruity cocktails set to the sound of the lapping Indian Ocean waves. And there are more choices that pack in reggae bars and surf shacks and chic nightclubs to boot…
You should find that loads of these spots are pretty well connected, so you could begin a trip sipping Chang beer in Thailand and end it with mixed drinks on Cambodian beaches. Other places are a bit more far-flung, offering a true exotic hit of Asian nightlife that we don’t think you’ll forget in a hurry.
Bangkok is a natural first stop for many tourists traveling in and out of Asia. It’s got one of the busiest airports on the continent and hosts frequent flights from Europe, the US, Africa, the Middle East. But it’s not just a transport hub. It’s also a party mecca.
Don’t take our word for it. Take the words of the thousands of backpackers that go on Chang (the local beer) missions down the rollicking Khaosan Road each year. Take the word of director Danny Boyle, who made the city the backdrop for his hedonistic coming-of-age film The Beach back in 2000 – remember the place where Leo hits the bars hard?
For those looking for a more sophisticated night out, there are plenty of rooftop bars capping off the many Bangkok skyscrapers. Some of our favs are the Octave Rooftop Lounge, The Speakeasy Rooftop Bar, and Penthouse Bar and Grill. Most of them cluster around the chic quarters of Sukhumvit or Sathon. You can use the BTS Skytrain or opt for a tuk-tuk to get around the different Bangkok nightlife hubs.
There aren’t many cities out there like Tokyo. A colossal, seemingly endless megalopolis, the capital of Japan is home to a whopping 13.9 million people. Some parts can feel like they’ve been plucked straight out of the future. Other parts hardly sleep at all!
Yep, just head to the frenetic center of Shibuya. Famed for its body-packed street crossing, the area is also a nightlife hub, with gargantuan nightclubs that can rival even Berlin (check out the likes of WOMB and HARLEM). To the north of that is the more risky quarter of Kabukicho, Tokyo’s infamous red-light district, which eventually spills into the Shinjuku Golden Gai, a tight-knit alley filled with beer bars that basically don’t have closing times.
When it’s time to cure the hangover, Tokyo can help with a few serene temples. Hit the Edo-period Kanda Shrine or the iconic Senso-ji. Or, go chill in a local park – the Meiji Jingu Gaien is lovely, especially in the autumn when the trees turn a blazing hue of ochre yellow.
Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
Ho Chi Minh is the vibrant and wild southern city of Vietnam. Steeped in sobering war history and dotted with intriguing sights (like a scale replica of Notre Dame Cathedral!), it’s a pretty enthralling metropolis, not to mention unquestionably one of the best party destinations in Asia.
The most popular spot to go for a night out is Bui Vien Street, also known as Backpacker Street. Often thought of as the strip of Ho Chi Minh, it’s a pulsing mass of uber-cheap beer bars (think beers for as little as $0.08!) and whiskey stalls. As the name suggests it is largely popular with backpackers, but the locals also like to drop in for a drink or two.
The whole area around Bui Vien is actually a buzzy quarter that’s perfect for hedonistic travelers. It’s where many of the Ho Chi Minh pub crawls take place and where you’ll find the bulk of the city’s budget backpacker hostels.
The biggest city in China is where the vast People’s Republic shows it really knows how to party. A mind boggling 26 million people call this megalopolis their home, so it’s hardly a surprise that you can find bars of all shapes, sizes, and styles.
There are places so chic that they would fit right in on the riviera of Monte Carlo – we’re talking the elegant sky bars with their pools overlooking The Bund; spots like VUE Bar and the noir-era Bar Rouge. There are quirkier venues like RIINK, where you can whiz around on roller skates like it’s 1955, beer in hand, drinking buddies by your side. And you’ll catch gritty mega clubs that stay open until dawn (MYST, Fusion).
The downtown core of the city, on the winding Huangpu River is the main place to seek out bars for pre-drinking. After that, you could whiz across to well-to-do Xintiandi for bigger dancefloors or the famous EDM hubs of Fuzhou Road.
Siem Reap, Cambodia
Siem Reap is often the location of choice when visiting the famous Angkor Wat temples of Cambodia. But you might just be surprised at how hedonistic and lively the place is after the scorching sun has set over the stupas.
That’s when the town comes alive with bustling streets, neon lights, and a whole load of places to let your hair down. The best area to party in Siem Reap is the notorious Pub Street (Street 8). It’s bright, brash, loud, touting clubs that have their own in-house fire shows and entertainment.
Start your night early at one of the many delicious restaurants where you’re sure to find a tempting happy hour. Then, dotted around the outskirts of the central hub of Pub Street, pop-up cocktail bars in vans and trucks offer well-priced mixed drinks. Finally, meet up with the Siem Reap Pub Crawl and let them take care of the rest of the evening.
Koh Rong Islands, Cambodia
In the south of Cambodia where the country spills into the glistening Thai Gulf, the duo of islands that’s made up of Koh Rong and Koh Ron Samloem in Sihanoukville province are surely among the best party destinations in Asia.
Koh Rong is the larger of the islands. It’s also the headier and more party-mad of the two. This is where you’ll find iconic Police Beach, notorious for beach parties and festivals. The town of Koh Rong also has countless bamboo reggae bars and its own island pub crawl. The shindigs here start around midday and go on until…well, midday the next day!
Neighboring Koh Rong Samloem is a slightly more tranquil island. It’s a great place to go when it’s time to recover. But there are also pockets of action, like at the Mad Monkey Hostel, which has themed nights and a routine of weekly events that can keep the party going.
Pai is a secret little jungle escape in the wild hills at the very north end of Thailand. Closer to the Burmese border than it is to Bangkok, it offers an altogether different sort of nightlife vibe than you get under the bright lights of the capital city.
First, though, you need to get there. Don’t worry, it’s not as hard as it once was. They’ve widened the road and smoothed out a great many of the 600+ bends in the highway, so travel sickness is less of a curse. Still, we’d dodge a coconut right before the ride if you can!
Pai itself is a pint-sized little village strung along a babbling river under high mountains. It’s got one main street that bends in an L-shape through the middle of town. That’s riddled with Thai reggae bars run by bikers, hole-in-the-wall cocktail joints, and boho beer bars. Later on, the partying crowd of hippies and backpackers will make for one of the jungle raves, either at Don’t Cry or Boom Bar.
Koh Phi Phi Islands, Thailand
We can all but guarantee that you’ve already seen the Phi Phi Islands in the travel brochures. These stunning specks in the Andaman Sea are one of the highlights of the Land of Smiles. They are also among the best party destinations in Asia.
Ko Phi Phi Don is the only inhabited member of the group. There are a number of bars and nightclubs to choose from there, spread out amongst the main tourist areas of Tonsai Village, Tonsai East and Loh Dalum. Popular spots include The Phi Phi Reggae Bar, Ibiza Beach Bar, and The Rolling Stoned Bar.
One of the most popular features of the nightlife in Phi Phi is the famous bucket drinks. These are cheap and cheerful concoctions of alcohol served quite literally in colorful buckets! One thing to remember: The Thai government has made a concerted effort to chill the party vibe in these parts in recent years. There are now limits on how long places can stay open and new building regs – hey, this is in the middle of a national park!
Phuket is Thailand’s largest island and is often top of the list for any visiting sun seeker, especially those on the hunt for the best nightlife destinations in Asia. It’s a very developed and built-up place, carved through by wide highways and dotted with fully-fledged resort towns that ooze R&R vibes.
The hedonism hub of Phuket is Bangla Road along Patong Beach. Take your pick from the many neon-lit bars with blaring music and happy hours to lure you in. Along the road, you’ll find street performers, food vendors, and everything in between. At night the street is closed to traffic so you can easily walk between the many venues and get the most out of your night.
We’d also make a mention of Phuket Town. That’s got the night markets that sizzle with soy noodles and the street stalls serving cold Chang on the roadside. It’s also home to a few upcoming hipster bars that brew their own and mix fantastic cocktails.
Gili Trawangan, Bali
Gili Trawangan, also known as Gili T, is one of the three Gili islands of Indo. Though small, it packs one seriously hefty punch on the nightlife front, mainly because it has an endless supply of willing backpackers and dive aficionados coming its way (Gili is the diving mecca of the Bali-Lombok region).
Different bars tend to do different nights of the week. There’s Blue Marlin on Monday, where you’ll dance and drink with folk fresh from the dive sites. Then it’s Tir Na Nog the Irish Bar in the midweek, which has fantastic cocktail deals (beware the arak ones!). Finally, Sama Sama takes the weekend with its live bands and Bob Marley playlist.
The whole of the nightlife on Gili T is strung out along the west coast of the island. That’s also where the boats come in and where you find the bulk of the cafés and the hotels. After partying there, you could opt to head over to Gili Meno or Gili Air, which are WAY more chilled and relaxed alternatives.
Seminyak has now established itself as the chicer party location on Bali. It is often considered a more high-end option than its neighboring town of Kuta (the place to go if you want to learn to surf).
Here, it’s all about whiling away your days lounging to live DJs with a drink in hand at one of the many beach clubs. The world-renowned Potato Head is top of the list, but there are plenty of others Most require you to book a ticket ahead of time, which is especially wise if it’s the peak season (around Christmas and then from May to September).
Once it’s dark, you can head back into the main strips of Seminyak town. There, clubs like The Warehouse and OPIVM beckon on the motorbike-rammed streets. They often go on until the early hours, so be ready to emerge with a rising sun!
Which part of Asia is best for partying?
We think Southeast Asia wins out as the best region for partying in Asia. It’s filled with options. Thailand leads the way with towns like Chiang Mai and Pai, offering hippie bars and rural parties, and the islands of the south, not to mention buzzy Bangkok. Then there’s Cambodia, with its backpacker islands – Koh Rong, especially – and Bali – a surf and party mecca.
Is Asia good for partying?
Asia is downright awesome for partying! We’d say the old Banana Pancake Trail areas of Southeast Asia really stand out from the crowd. From Bangkok to Bali, they host some of the most hedonistic locations of all, with all sorts of venues – bamboo reggae bars, pumping EDM clubs, you name it. But there should also be a special mention of the huge metropolises of the continent, like Tokyo and Shanghai, which have pulsating nightlife scenes of their own.