If you’re planning a round the world trip or simply a holiday to South East Asia, you’ll probably want to break up all that sightseeing with a little bit of debauchery. If you want the real backpacker experience with a couple of crazy revelries thrown in for good measure, just check out this guide to the 5 best places to party in South East Asia.
1. Koh Phangan, Thailand
The Full Moon Party on Thailand’s southeast island of Koh Phangan is a rite of passage for any first time backpacker and is a must for anyone looking to kick off their Havaianas and dance ‘til the sun comes up. Every month, thousands of people cover themselves in fluorescent paint and flock to ‘Sunrise Beach’ for the biggest and craziest parties in Thailand. Grab a bucket of Samsong (Thai whisky, and yes I did say BUCKET), and join in the fun! Beware though, some revellers like to live dangerously and sometimes fireworks can go astray. This was a particular problem for me when I got smacked in the head with one. A rare occurrence but a very real one so steer clear… don’t say I didn’t warn you!
But it’s not all about the Full Moon party. If your dates don’t match up you can party with the best of ‘em at the Half Moon party (yes, you guessed it – when the moon looks like half a pie in the sky). This alternative to Thailand’s biggest rave is set in a forest and promises the same body-bouncing tunes and neon fun as the Full Moon. Some say it’s even better!
2. Koh Phi Phi, Thailand
Hopping over to the western islands of Thailand will bring you to Koh Phi Phi, made famous as the setting of Leonardo DiCaprio’s The Beach. Fear not though, you won’t find any crazy knife-wielding weed farmers here. Just a bunch of cool travellers and a nightlife scene that knows no bounds.
Bars line the beach, and every night they keep the people partying with fire skipping ropes, rings of fire, professional fire jugglers, and well… a lot of fire, obviously. Every bar cranks out the tunes and they’ll compete for your attention with discounts and specials (and even freebies if you’re very lucky). For those nights that you want something a little different, head into the middle of the tiny town for Irish bars, tattoo parlours and even a bar where you can watch (and join in with) Thai boxing.
3. Langkawi, Malaysia
Often overlooked for its sister island Penang, Langkawi in Malaysia knows how to party in a classy, more big-sisterly way. You’ll find pristine white beaches by day, and by night you can choose what level of merrymaking you fancy.
For chilled out sun-downer drinks head to Babylon bar on Pantai Cenang beach, sit on one of the mats at the low tables and watch the sun sink into the sea. Later, when the simmering party at Babylon comes to a close, head to one of the other well-publicised bars to see out the rest of the night doing what you do best. Dancing like an animal.
4. Sihanoukville, Cambodia
Having steadily increased in visitor numbers in the last few years, Sihanoukville has now crossed over from hippy-vibe town to banging party town. The beaches aren’t technically the best, but you’ll find a great range of bars on both Occheuteal Beach and Serendipity Beach and drinks are cheap wherever you go. You’ll also find loads of places to try out that lovely singing voice of yours as karaoke is as popular here as it is hilarious.
But word is spreading quickly about this Cambodian gem and it has recently started its very own Full Moon party to try and emulate the success of Thailand’s. Get there quick before everyone else starts talking about it.
5. Boracay, The Phillipines
If you’re looking for somewhere with picture-perfect beaches and nightlife to blow your budgie-smugglers off, get your bum down to Boracay in the Phillipines. With over 4km of powder white sands and international DJs galore calling this island home, you’ll be sure of a few days of absolute hedonism. Most of the action is based around ‘Station 2’ (it is clinically divided into 3 ‘Stations’. Doesn’t sound too exotic but trust me, there’s nothing clinical about Boracay) and there’s also live music and performers and places to pick up a beer or three all the way along the beach to make sure your night is as memorable (or not) as you want it to be!
So that’s my top 5 places to party in Southeast Asia. Do you have any more?
Hayley (aka the Lovepuffin) has travelled extensively and worked for some of the best travel brands in the business. She shares her tips and advice for getting the most from your travels on her blog lovepuffin.me. Keep up with her on Twitter @lovepuffin and Facebook at Lovepuffin Travel Blog too