I might be living in the Northern Hemisphere these days, but my heart is still connected to the South. Summer is on the way and that means long sunny days, University holidays, more sickies, and plenty of travel. And seeing as how those in their 20’s love to party and travel, who doesn’t like a bit of personal advice? Travel is so easy these days, many of you have probably seen the world, and some are thinking about doing it more than once a year. Thailand? Laos? The whole of South East Asia? What about Europe and the Americas? If its a party you want, then have a read of my top 10 party destinations around the world. Just be aware that although I love to travel, I still have yet to arrive in some key locations, this is a personal opinion and you’re welcome to give any feedback… or hate… but love is preferred. So without blabbering on for too long, here is my list, starting backwards (because that makes sense) at number 10.
10. New York
Wow so New York is at number 10? There must be some pretty damned good booze ups to come then. New York is a city built beautifully, with a simple subway, hipsters, preps, amazing architecture, and the grid. Firstly the negatives; there is a 4am stop on all alcohol at licensed venues, except for unregistered after hours clubs. This was a major killer for me as it forces you to find a house or rooftop somewhere, but as a plus, you can settle for the sunrise while kicking back looking over the glistening city that in itself is so close to perfect. Clubs are not hard to find, booze is cheep, and there are hidden gems all through Brooklyn, Williamsburg and Bushwick. If you ever wanted to keep going, head on over to the West Village where they do brunch clubbing on a whole new level, Sundays are the day to do it. There is a complete array of music throughout the city, however Hip Hop and Trap are huge, so enjoy the bass and grinding.
Must Do: Go to the Levee in Williamsburg for their famously paired beer and shots.
9. Siem Reap
The desert capital of Cambodia, and probably the easiest place to fly into from overseas. Siem Reap is home to Angkor Wat and is therefore a haven for backpackers. You’ll find plenty of dirt cheap hostels and hotels that are packed to the brim. The entire nightlife is squished into a single pedestrian road like a tank of those Dr. Fish you know so much about, Pub Street. Look for buckets galore, sweaty armpits, more singlets than you’ll see at a Thai market, and fluro paint all over the walls… and most likely halfway to your stomach by now. Choose the famous Angkor What? bar for huge buckets and handy wooden tables to dance on, or the easily located Temple Club right across the road for laser lights, a real dance floor, and pumping house music. There is no dress code, and the place shuts when the last drink is served to the lonely swaying backpacker who failed to hook up that night, but don’t worry, he’ll get another go tomorrow.
Must Do: Dance like an idiot on the tables at Angkor What? whilst trying to wear the buckets as top hats.
8. Las Vegas
The sin city comes in at number 8 on this list of party destinations purely because of cost. Vegas has some of the biggest and best clubs I have ever been to in my entire life, but getting in without selling your kidney is a struggle. I was actually surprised there isn’t a larger organ black market in this city. You’d be looking at $50 to $60 minimum for us guys, and then a wait in line for over an hour at least. Girls have it easy with a cover charge at half that price or lower, and usually they can skip the line. The trick is to know whats going on and where. These two websites are hugely helpful and can help you on your way to heavy bangers and EDM gods. Vegas Club Tickets | Electronic Vegas. I would recommend a few things when going to Vegas; firstly, pre-drink like hell, you don’t want to be paying $16 for a drink in a club. Secondly, go to a day beach party, any of them, do it. And lastly, ask your hostel or some locals about the good night spots, there are great clubs away from the strip that aren’t advertised (I would recommend Artisan). Have some fun, catch Major Lazer at Encore, or Tiesto at Hakkasan, or some other DJ somewhere else, any night of the week… just bring your wallet and access to your Swedish bank account.
Must Do: Go hard at a beach party, like Wet Republic.
7. Hong Kong
Where do you start with Hong Kong? Rated as the best city in the world by the Economist, there is almost too much. Go for a punt at the races, club it up in Lan Kwai Fong, hit a bar in Wan Chai, or find a kick ass rooftop party somewhere in the city. The two major drinking areas in Hong Kong are the bar district of Wan Chai (Lochart Road), and the club area of Lan Kwai Fong (Wyndham Street, D’Aguilar and Lan Kwai Fong). There are too many places to choose when going for a drink and every location has it’s own specialty. Make sure not to forget ladies’ night (when women drink free) on Wednesdays in Wan Chai, Lan Kwai Fong does Thursdays. Cover charges are rare and drinks are usually on the cheap side, if you are ever short on cash, hit club 7Eleven (there really is one on every corner) and party on the street with all the other tourists and locals. If its a bar you’re after, I love Carnegies in Wan Chai. This place plays music themed to match the time, for example; 6pm = 60’s music, 7pm = 70’s music, and so on. Plus dancing drunkenly next to a complete stranger on the bar while people order booze between your legs is great fun.
Must Do: Hit Lan Kwai Fong on a Friday night, make some friends, and see where the night takes you.
The Las Vegas of Mexico, except better because its cheaper and dirtier. Many of the same club franchises from Vegas are in Cancun, take Señor Frogs for example, damn that place is fun, in Vegas its $40 to get in, and its ok… but $30 in Cancun includes a table and free drinks to a damn paint party with a robot man shooting foam and paint from crazy mega guns, holy shit that was a crazy night, tequila, paint, sweat, ripped clothes, broken thumb. Good times. If you’re not staying at one of the huge hotels right on the strip, the taxi from town to the club area is crazy expensive and a fair distance, just hit an OXXO on the way for your microwave pizza and four loko. By far the best night out in Cancun is spent at Coco Bongo. A huge line will await you, but the show and party is worth it, pay whatever the entrance fee is and you’ll get free drinks all night. Its hard to explain what happens, but it really is the best show at a night club I have ever seen.
Must Do: Go for a night at Coco Bongo.
5. Koh Phangan
Home to the notorious Full Moon Party in Haad Rin, Koh Phangan, Thailand. This one is something special and pretty damn unique, it is so in demand that if you want a good spot, you’ll have to book a year in advance. Koh Phangan is a small island just above Koh Samui and below Koh Tao in the beautiful Thai Gulf. Besides being an amazing tropical paradise, a party to celebrate the Full Moon takes place once a month and over the New Year as well. The Full Moon parties are full of party goers in complete fluro, with glowing paint, buckets, and a burn to match their drinking habits, crazy. Hundreds of thousands of people find their way to Haad Rin (the main beach) every New Year’s celebration making it so packed full, sardines would probably have more room. The night before the massive Full Moon Party is the Half Moon Party, about half the people turn up and you can enjoy your space a little more (much better in my opinion). Loud music, jump ropes on fire, cheap drinks, and more semi naked young people than Dan Bilzerian could afford to pay off. A few tips; make sure you buy your buckets from a vendour you trust, or make them yourselves before hitting the street – fake alcohol is a big risk there so be careful. Bring plenty of coins when you go out, toilet stops are all roughly 10 Baht.
Must Do: Hit a Full Moon or Half Moon party once in your life.
Might be a bit bias here because its my home town, but after traveling around the world a fair bit, Melbourne’s nightlife can rival some of the best locations in the world. 24 hour night clubs, bars and pubs on every corner, rooftops, dungeons, gardens, and waterside lounges. There is every style of music you could ever look for, live music, and DJ’s a plenty. You’d be crazy not to head to clubbing institutions like Brown Alley, or Revolver, huge Vegas styled clubs like Factory, and sweet lounges and speakeasy’s like Chez Regine and 1806. Melbourne really does have it all, you just have to look for it, ask a local, take a walk down the alleyways, follow the music. King Street, Swanston Street, and Chapel Street are certainly worth a night each. A possible negative is the cost of some places, you’d be looking at cover charges between $15 and $20, and then a beer will cost you $10 or more. But that’s Australia at the moment, everything is a bit on the costly side, but so worth it.
Must Do: Go to Revolver on Chapel Street, you won’t regret it.
3. Vang Vieng
Laos! Tubing! I can’t speak as to what it is like at this very moment, because it seems like it changes every week. This place hit the rumour mill as soon as it was forced to close its doors to tubing in 2012. How many people died? How did it happen? Is it still on? Is there a curfew? I was lucky enough to make it there a few months before it officially closed a few years ago, and this place was as crazy as it gets. Over 30 bars along the river, with free whiskey at every bar, swings, slides, platform jumps, and more beer pong than partiers who actually know the rules. I really don’t know how this place didn’t have it’s own airport. Its a pain to get to, fly to Vientiane and then bus up a road that resembles a dirt path with plenty of boulders as decoration… for more than 3 hours… so worth it. After talking first hand to a bunch of people a few months ago, Vang Vieng is back in full swing with close to 10 bars open (semi-legally), and the town is still pumping. The local government does ask that all tourists keep the noise down at 9pm as it’s a farming village, but that’s all good, just make sure you get up early and don’t waste the day. Spend it drinking and catching motorbikes to all the lagoons (go to the blue lagoon) and caves. Or you could just laze back in any of the TV bars to an episode of Friends or Family Guy.
Must Do: Spend a full day on the river, start early, and try to make it to the end, just try.
What can you say about your favourite place in Asia? The plumbing sucks, there are power outages everyday, good luck finding a coffee, hot water is a rare luxury, but all of that doesn’t really matter when you fall in love with a place as incredible as this. Sihanoukville is the only port city/town in Cambodia, a 6 hour drive from the capital Phnom Penh, with long beaches, plenty of tiny secluded islands, and backpackers galore. Sihanoukville is home to 3 main bars along the beach and several smaller ones a little further inland (about 100 metres at most). I struggled to spend $8 a day here, including food and drink. The parties go hard and they are insane, hundreds of people partying on the beach with live performances by DJs and all the free drinks. Don’t want to wear shoes? Don’t. Don’t want to wear anything? Don’t… but please think of the children. If the beach isn’t enough for you, take a boat out to the islands for a few days, go camping on Long Beach and swim with the fluorescent green algae, party on a junk boat for a day (I met a guy on a booze cruise who stated; “Ibiza doesn’t have shit on this”), and have the time of your life. There isn’t a care in the world here and everyone has a smile on their face, just watch out for the local kids constantly trying to sell you stuff and steal your wallet – just don’t carry one. The traffic cops are slightly corrupt, but a simple tip of $1 will make them forget whatever it was you did (I didn’t say that). Go to JJ’s Playground, Dolphin Shack, and The Swedish run Nap House. And when you want to stay longer, because I know you will, get a job working behind a bar or promoting anywhere, you’ll get free accommodation, food, and drinks, plus you’ll work with some pretty cool cats.
Must Do: The Dolphin Shack booze cruise is on usually once a week, don’t miss this one, it will cost you $10 for food and drink, plus an after party.
This city is home to much more than a great nightlife, the culture, people, and environment itself will charm you and win you over in half a heartbeat. Berlin has a special place in my heart, and liver, and probably my kidneys too, with its underground scene, graffiti, lack of petty laws, and clubs. Holy shit the clubs. The largest and most world renown clubs are all located in this city, all within a train stop or two from each other. However there is a downside to this, Berlin gets more tourists purely to party, than to actually see the sites. This makes the doormen and women extremely hard to get past. Money is no issue, it is all about appearance and the rest will sort itself out. Read more about Berlin clubs in this article; Top Berlin Clubs, because I could go on forever about the DJs and pounding music, as well as how to actually get into the clubs. I’ll mention a few though; Watergate, Club De Visionere, and Berghain – lines can be an real task, but everything is so worth it.
Must Do: Go out Thursday night, don’t come home until Monday. Do it all.
Because I haven’t been to every single party spot in the world, there are a few big ones I’ve missed out on. After talking to other backpackers and fellow club and party goers, here is a list of honourable mentions that are worth a look. Just remember that the world is big and out there for you to explore, so go have some fun, experience something new, try something you never thought you would, because you never know, you might love it.