Southeast Asia is one of the most popular destinations for backpackers. It is easy to travel around and budget-friendly. Most backpackers tend to do (parts of) the Banana Pancake trail and of course partying is part of the backpacking fun (yes, the girl in the middle of the photo is me… ready for another night in Vang Vieng). This is my personal selection of best party places in Southeast Asia.
Five best party places in Southeast Asia
Koh Phangan (Thailand)
Who hasn’t heard of the infamous full moon party in Koh Phangan, Thailand? Covered in fluorescent paint with a bright colored bucket in your hand you will dance until morning, together with thousands of other backpackers. Can’t make it to the full moon party? No need to worry! In Koh Phangan there are half moon parties, black moon parties and to be honest: basically every night is a party night in Koh Phangan. Therefore, it is still on top of our list of the best party places in Southeast Asia!
Sihanoukville is a small town on the south coast of Cambodia, but it has been taken over by the backpack crowds. It offers crazy bars, cheap accommodation and irresponsibly cheap alcohol. Serendipity beach and Otres beach are the beaches to go.
Gili Trawangan (Indonesia)
Gili Trawangan is the party island of Indonesia! During the day it’s great for diving and relaxing, but in the evening everyone moves to one of the many island bars. When in Gili check the current schedule for party nights, because each evening another bar hosts the islands party night (e.g. Monday the party is at the Blue Marlin, Wednesday at the Tir Na Nog pub, Friday at Rudy’s etc.). There are also silent disco nights and of course beach parties!
Vang Vieng (Laos)
For a long time Vang Vieng was the party town of Southeast Asia. The ‘I went tubing in Vang Vieng’ shirts were everywhere and backpackers would spend days tubing, drinking buckets, partying like there is no tomorrow, watching Friends and Family Guy with a hangover and eating (mushroom) pizza’s. I somehow ended up spending 10 days in Vang Vieng (don’t judge: I was young). Nowadays, I hear Vang Vieng has calmed down after a big police riot which shut down most of the tubing bars. However, I still think it belongs in the list of best party places in Southeast Asia!
During a trip in Southeast Asia almost everyone will end up at Khao San Road at some point. Khao San Road is the famous backpacker street of Bangkok and probably the most famous backpacker street in the world. It’s a crazy street with bucket bars, 7-elevens, streetfood, backpacker clothing, souvenirs, fake ID sellers and tattoo designers. Tired of Khao San Road? There are also other places in Bangkok to party such as Sukhumvit, Ratchada road, Royal Club Avenue (RCA) or one of the cool skybars (like classy Lebua).
Other good party places in Southeast Asia that are worth mentioning are Hanoi, HCMC, Nha Trang, Pai, Kuta (not yet visited by BoB), Boracay (not yet visited by BoB) and Langkawi.
These were my best party places in Southeast Asia. Do you know any others?
Recommended further reading
The ultimate guide to backpacker jargon
What are the costs of three months backpacking in Southeast Asia?
Great list you’ve compiled there Manouk. I’m not sure I could quite manage all these late night parties now. Well, okay maybe but they have to be spaced out from each other :-)
I’ve heard that tubing has now been banned, is that true?
Out of all these places I’ve only experienced Bangkok and that is one whole BIG party.
Thanks! What I’ve heard is that tubing is not banned, but calmed down. Bangkok is indeed a great city to party!!
We just spent 5 month in Asia and opted to skip a few of these destinations as we are out of our “prime party age”….just turned 30 I know old. We do love BKK and Gili T, but we weren’t fans of Sihanoukville we actually left early and we skipped Koh Phangan and Vang Vieng we were told the tubing was over. We went to Gili T in 2012 and hope to get back in 2015. Thanks for the party update!
Hi Hannah, Yes, when I was in Bali I skipped Kuta because I thought I was too old (all those young ozzies)! But Vang Vieng is actually located in beautiful surroundings, so even if you don’t like to party it’s worth stopping by :)!
We’ve been way too intoxicated in all those places…Great list!
Haha thanks Jazza!
I love the laid back vibe that Gili T has. I went to Vang Vieng last year and it seems to have quietened down a lot, still tubing but not so crazy! The nightlife was still really enjoyable though. Bangkok will always be my favourite nightlife in Asia, it’s hard to beat!
Hey Olivia! I also love the Gili laid back vibe. It’s like a little paradise! BKK is also my fav probably, but Seoul and Tokyo also have a booming nightlife!!
I’m not sure how I dropped 80 bucks during a night out on Khao San Road, but it happened when was last there. That’s what partying with a bunch of English dudes will do to your wallet! :P
Haha but I bet you had an unforgettable night out ;)
“Irresponsibly cheap alcohol” – love that phrase! I usually get up pretty early when I travel and I’m guessing some hard partiers might end up in the frame of a few sunrise shots.
Haha I reckon they do Dave ;)! These days I’m also an early riser during my travels. Party hardy days are over (although I don’t mind a good party once in a while)!
Great tips on party places in Southeast Asia. I have one to add in BKK, Glow Nightclub, it’s just off Sukhumvit soi 23, more of a European club feel, deep house, tech house and techno music with Thai and big name DJ’s too. Mixed crowd of expats, tourists and Thai’s. I written a review on my blog http://thetravellingphase.com/glow-nightclub-bangkok/
Hadn’t heard of Glow before! Will def try to visit next time I’m in BKK :) Thanks for the tip!