Idyllic locales, cheap drinks, and an abundance of budget travelers ensure that the party is never hard to find in Southeast Asia. Sweating the night away dancing with strangers in the sand is a nightly occurrence in this part of the world!
Smart travelers survive to tell the tale of great parties. Read about how to stay safe in Southeast Asia, then make your way to one of these hedonistic hotspots; parties at home will forever seem tame in comparison.
Largest and rowdiest of the Gili Islands off the coast of Lombok, Gili Trawangan is a hedonistic, island paradise. A lack of police presence on the island fuels the mayhem; drugs are readily available on bar and restaurant menus.
Three massive weekly parties keep "Gili T" thumping until sunrise. Unlike the Full Moon Party, the dancing takes place opposite of the beach at one of the sprawling bar venues.
The party shifts from place to place as the week lumbers on: the Monday evening action is set at the Blue Marlin dive school's second floor; the party on Wednesdays happens at Tir Na Nog, popularly known on the island as "the Irish"; and everybody gets down on Fridays at Rudy's.
Between parties, the island is relatively quiet as people recover in the sand on the island's spectacular beach.
Word of warning: Trawangan used to be relaxed about drugs, but not so much anymore. Don't be get yourself in trouble; read about the harsh drug laws in Southeast Asia.
Perhaps the most infamous of all parties in Southeast Asia, the Full Moon Party attracts over ten thousand travelers each month to dance and sweat in the sand. The anything-goes atmosphere of the party is other-worldly. Fire torches twirl, people paint their bodies, and some of the best Djs in the world spin electronica until people are passed out in the sand. The beach party peaks at sunrise!
With dreamy blue water and fine, white sand, Perhentian Kecil seems more a honeymoon retreat than party hotspot. Once the sun sets, however, bars set along the wide beach crank up the music; travelers alternate between fierce dancing and catching their breaths on the beach until sunrise.
Islamic law actually forbids alcohol on the island; prices are outrageously high so many travelers opt to bring their own supply from the mainland. Periodic raids by the police actually shut the party down for a week or so before things heat up again.
Visit during the peak Spring and Summer months to find the party; Perhentian Kecil is completely quiet the rest of the year.
Kuta Beach in South Bali, Indonesia is a perpetual party as world travelers arrive in Denpasar. People trickle off the beach after watching a spectacular sunset to the many open-air pubs and restaurants. The party typically starts late as travelers swarm the sprawling discos and Western-style bars off the beach around midnight.
A raucous, gap-year crowd fills the dance clubs while an older crowd indulges in sophisticated jazz clubs and European-style lounges. When the party has become too much to appreciate, escape to nearby Ubud for some peace and quiet.
The neon and cliché-ridden party scene of Khao San Road in Bangkok is hardly the "real" Thailand, but many backpackers burn their entire Thai visa without leaving the Banglumpoo district. Travelers line the outside tables by day, sharing beer and discussing where to go in Southeast Asia. At night, the street transforms into a circus of drinks, music and socializing.
Khao San's party has outgrown the legendary street and spilled onto neighboring Soi Rambuttri. Although once-quiet Rambuttri is situated in the shadow of a temple, hookah bars and street carts serve Thai bucket drinks until sunrise
The annual party in the Philippines' beach paradise Boracay is the direct result of some tut-tutting by local religious authorities, who disapproved of the growing party scene during the Holy Week holiday. Chastened, party organizers moved their events to the next available holiday, Labor Day (May 1 outside the U.S.) - and LaBoracay was born.
Even beyond the May Day weekend, the party scene in Boracay keeps going through the Philippines summer between March and June. Save your energy for Cocomangas bar's "Still standing after 15" challenge, where you must finish 15 shots to earn a place of honor on the bar's wall. Newer clubs like Epic Boracay offer a more upmarket, classy atmosphere.
While Vietnam is not really known for its raging party, Pham Ngu Lao — the backpacker district — in Saigon comes alive at night, overcoming an otherwise-oppressive daytime atmosphere. Expats, locals and budget travelers mingle in open-air bars that line the streets of Bui Vien and Pham Ngu Lao.
Western-themed discos with overpriced drinks abound in Pham Ngu Lao, however, many travelers opt to relax in the chilled vibe on the street. A steaming bowl of pho is always available as the perfect end to a night out.
- Read about things to do in Ho Chi Minh City.