Southeast Asia is a little piece of paradise located in the Far East. It is home to some of the most breathtaking ancient temples, virgin forests, dazzling beaches, holiday islands, amazing local cuisines, and hospitality that is next to none. The diverse ethnic origin of the region’s population makes for an interesting melting pot of different cultures and traditions.
That is the Southeast Asia that we know and adore. However, there is another reason to love it more. Not known to many, Southeast Asia beaches have some of the world’s best island nightlife. From the white shores of Boracay to the crystal sands of Bali, the dazzling lights, live electronic dance music, cheap beer, and an assortment of appetizers beckon party-goers from the world over. Still not convinced? Here are some of the best beach parties to attend when you’re in this part of the world.
1. Koh Phangan, Thailand
Looking for a wild party scene with plenty of unbridled hedonistic debauchery? Then look no further than Koh Phangan’s massive party atmosphere. Dubbed the Ibiza of the east, it is world famous for its full moon parties. And we know what happens at full moon parties, right? There’s just plenty of cheap booze, delicious Thai food, electronic dance music from beach clubs and beautiful beach girls to keep your heart thumping well into the night. The bar girls are certainly one of the most accommodating and charming in the world. If you’re looking for a little roll in the sack (or sand) after partying, you’re in for a treat. If you’re a guy and looking for a girl, make sure you mention it though. Amidst all the chaos of the party scene and with the natural beauty of the locals, it’s difficult to tell the difference.
The best spot to stay when on this holiday island is the Haad Rin. It has the largest and densest collection of bars in the Thailand Gulf. Make sure to book well in advance though as its full moon parties are perhaps the world’s worst kept secret. If you can’t make it to the full moon festivities, there are half-moon parties twice a month in Ban Tai which is worth the 30-minute taxi ride from Haad Rin. A word of caution though, Thailand has some of the strictest drug laws in the world so make sure that you’re planning on partying wild but clean.
2. Bali, Indonesia
Perhaps one of the most popular spots on this list, Bali has something for everybody, may it be for someone in their 20s, 30s or even 40s and up. Its best beaches are perfect not only for parties but also for surfing if you still have the energy. Beach bars are largely concentrated in Kuta and the suburbs around it. All-night parties can be heard along Poppies I and II, while upscale bars like Potato Head and Ku De Ta offer everything from live DJs spinning late to romantic spreads during sunset. Keep in mind though that although this island paradise is mostly comprised of foreigners and expatriates rolling in the sand, it is still located in the biggest Islamic country in the world. Please be respectful of the locals, especially the ladies. If you’re looking for a little action, it is best to woo fellow travellers to avoid complications.
3. Castaway Island, Vietnam
Located in Ha Long Bay, Castaway Island is more than its picturesque setting and the island nightlife it offers. If you’re looking to sweat out the previous night’s wild revelry, you can try daytime activities like kayaking, tubing, and rock climbing. During the evening, tourists gather around bonfires along the beach or on booze cruises that run through the bay. The party scene has mild tranquillity and intimacy that is a delightful contrast to the all-out action on most other South East Asia beaches. The beach hut bungalows for accommodations add island charm to the overall experience.
If you’re planning a visit, it is best to join tour groups that run trips to this area. Hotels from Hanoi can also arrange overnight excursions or several days’ stay.
4. Phuket, Thailand
In a country full of beautiful coastlines and beaches, Phuket is still the king. It has everything a traveller’s heart desires. Planning a romantic honeymoon? Search the best hotel room prices and have a romantic vista in the northeast of the island that has a stunning view of the karst islands in Phang Nga Bay. Brought your wife and kids? You can visit its numerous aquariums and water parks. Looking to step away from the action a little bit? Walking along the largely deserted Mai Khao Beach will give you back your sanity.
But if you’re looking for the ultimate island getaway filled with beach parties, beach clubs where DJs spin top EDMs, cheap booze, beautiful locals, and a piece of the seventh heaven, then head on out to Patong Beach. You’ll find night rangers spilling out of well-stocked beach bars looking for more exotic experiences. Sex clubs and go-go bars line Bangla Road, where your every whim and fantasy can come true. This side of Phuket is an absolute hedonist’s paradise. You just have to be a little more cautious about how you spend your money and on whom to get the most bang out of every penny.
5. Koh Rong, Cambodia
If you’re looking for a low-key party where you don’t have to figure into a shouting match with someone inches away, then Koh Rong is your scene. This is a backpacker’s paradise where you can enjoy a little sun and sea. The vibe is subtler and the volume lower, so you can have a meaningful conversation in between spinning fires and chugging ice-cold beer. During the day, snorkelling offshore is a great way to empty your mind and recharge your spirit.
6. Ko Phi Phi Don, Krabi, Thailand
In the pictures, this seems like a calm and tranquil island with palm-lined beaches, but Ko Phi Phi Don bursts with energy night and day. Its two major beaches, Tonsai Beach and Loh Dalum pulsate all day long with reggae bars, beach clubs, fire-spinners, cheap beers, and plenty of like-minded individuals dedicated to partying as hard as they can. And if you get tired of all these actions, the turquoise sea with its gentle lapping waves is an absolute delight in drowning the worst of your hangover.
7. Boracay, Philippines
Considered one of the best beaches in the world, Boracay is a favourite destination among tourists visiting the region. Accommodations range from boarding rooms to luxury hotel properties, which can cater to travellers from all walks of life from all over the world. Boracay, which used to draw crowds and expatriates due to its crystalline white sands and lazy island vibe, is now also legendary for the parties it hosts. Most of the beach bars are located around Station 2. For those who want to party hard like in Koh Phangan, Area 51 also hosts parties timed to the lunar cycle.
A reminder though, Boracay has just undergone a major rehabilitation effort by the government, so to keep it pristine, stricter measures have been put in place. Littering is an absolute no-no. Also, if you plan on partying like there’s no tomorrow, please stick to booze. The Philippine government is in the middle of a major crackdown on illegal drugs, and party drugs are not exempted.
8. Koh Tao, Thailand
Compared to its neighbour Koh Phangan, which parties until dawn, you can say that Koh Tao is a little on the tamer side. It is not sleepy quiet here though. Pub crawls are organized several times a week. There are also places where you can let your hair hang out, like reggae bars, beach clubs, and wild nightclubs. Travellers looking for a more relaxed experience can sip cocktails at the Maya Beach Club while lounging and watching the sunset. If you’re looking for a wilder scene, Fishbowl Beach Bar and Lotus Bar are the favourites. For those who are into drag shows, performers at the Queen’s Cabaret are more than willing to get you involved in their performances.
9. Gili Islands, Indonesia
Want to test your legs, lungs, and liver all at the same time, then Gili Islands is perfect for you. This three-island archipelago offers something for everyone. If you are looking for a little break from the real world and just want some alone time, Gili Meno offers a vast expanse of beaches where you can just be one with nature. Gili Air on the other hand has a bohemian backpacker feel. Gili Trawangan or Gili T as most travellers call it offers inexpensive diving certification during the day and a wild and drunken experience at night. Numerous bars, clubs, and restaurants are located along the eastern coast. If you’re planning a visit, don’t forget to bring your trusted and most comfortable shoes as there are no cars on the island. At dawn, when you’re just about at your alcohol limit, be prepared to trek to some of the most beautiful sunrise scenes while stumbling home to your hotel.
10. Tioman Island, Malaysia
If you’ve finally gotten tired of all the rowdiness of the party islands I’ve mentioned in this list, or if you felt like you’re not the party animal which you initially thought you were, then Tioman Island in Malaysia is a great retreat for you. There are no rave clubs which blare through dawn, no DJs spinning wild EDMs while dancers hump and grind to their heart’s content, there are no illicit drug trade and zero in terms of hanky-panky activities. It is a perfect place for travellers more interested in trading travel experiences and backpacker hacks and tricks over an ice-cold beer in beach bars. It is easy to get lost in the tranquillity of this island, surrounded by a vibrant social scene. Salang Beach is a great snorkelling spot with lots of diving outfitters and friendly folks.