Asia offers visitors an abundance of fun things to do at night, with a little something for everyone; whatever your budget or taste this sub-continent offers you a chance to create some unforgettable experiences. The variety of nightlife that can be found is astounding – each country, or even major city, has something a little bit different from the rest and contains a wealth of choice.
So whether you want to try out the wild and, sometimes even vulgar, young tourist establishments; or dip into the cool and funky music scenes with world famous DJs and parties that never seem to end; or frequent the more upper class do’s with matching price tags; or visit roof top bars with sumptuous cocktails and dainty hors-d’oeuvre, you can find what you’re looking for here.
There really is an unimaginable amount of events, venues, parties, places that are buzzing after sun down, far too many to ever attempt to list in one place. Below we have included a few select areas that you won’t want to miss, but it’s always worth doing a bit of research as to where you are going to find the best night out for you.
Ho Chi Minh City – Vietnam
Ho Chi Minh City, or Saigon, can offer a visitor a variety of nights out; from a night on the town that will leave a thumping head in the morning and a miraculously full wallet, or high-end cocktail bars (with a high-end price tags), and everything in between. There are two main spots to check out in the city; Districts 1 and 2 (ideal for tourists and expats), however for a more authentic experience with local patronage, District 1 also has several bars and clubs frequented primarily by Vietnamese people, just move away from the central tourist areas to find them.
In District 1 check out the central backpacker areas, particularly around Pham Ngo Lao, for the cheap tourist bars. Here you will find all manner of Western foods, cheap cocktails, very cheap bottled beers, drinks deals and street entertainment: think Khao San Road in Bangkok but scaled back about a thousand times. This district also boasts the complete opposite experience in the form of high-end rooftop bars offering guests delicious cocktails and jaw-dropping views over the expansive city skyline; lights that stretch out as far as the eye can see. A classy night out but unless you have a large budget, try to catch happy hours (and even then a budget traveller may only want to stay for one drink).
District 2 is generally more trendy and funky; a place where the expat community is firmly installed but tourists don’t always know about. This is the area to be if you’re looking for funky music joints and great bars/pubs, somewhere to drink cheap drinks, or a range of imported lagers, play pool, listen to live bands or decent DJs and meet an established foreign crowd.
Seoul – South Korea
Seoul is by many heralded as the best night out in Asia; there is just so much to do/see/drink/eat/listen to that finding a good night out is not hard, and the low prices are a cherry on top. Even the local alcoholic brew ‘Soju’ is delicious, and that is not something to be said of all local alcohols across Asia! In this city the two main areas you will want to check out are Itaewon and Hongdae.
Itaewon is the primary spot for foreigners on a night out in Seoul. You will easily get around speaking English and it’s a truly buzzing location, with non-stop parties and a little something for every kind of traveller: cheap drinks (and more expensive ones), karaoke, dancing, music (of almost all genres from rock to house and back again), small clubs and vast venues (high-end hotels that host parties for up to 35,000 people in concert-style events), celebrity drop-ins and international musicians. Come to Itaewon for a night out not to be forgotten, or perhaps not quite remembered!
Hongdae is the university hub of the city where primarily young adults in their 20s head for a night of drinking and dancing. Although a mix of locals and foreigners will be found here, Hongdae has a more distinctly Asian feel to it, compared to the more Westernised Itaewon. The music is primarily mainstream hip hop and electronica, but you can find other genres too. The drinks are cheap, the parties are non-stop (even weekdays can be fun), and it’s always bustling with people.
Busan – South Korea
Although Busan doesn’t feature on every traveller’s to-go list, those that stop here are treated to a wide range of night time activities. Being a major university town means that certain areas rival more major Asian cities for a good night out. Attractions include a huge variety of bars and clubs; there are Western-style bars such as the hofs (Germanesque beer bars) and more authentic places, for example, the pojang macha (local rice wine establishments). Although the bars far outnumber the clubs there are a number of places where you can dance the night (and morning) away.
Some of the main areas to frequent for raucous nightlife in Busan are Haeundae, Gwangalli and the university areas. Haeundae is an area that is incredibly popular with expats in the city, offering places to dance until dawn, listen to live music, play pool, drink margaritas or even eat nachos! Gwangalli, although the bars are few in number, is the place to go for a beachfront night out. The views are simply stunning and well worth a look if you are staying a few nights in Busan.
The areas surrounding Pusan National, Bukyoung and Kyungsung Universities tend to be frequented by young expats in Busan, however they offer something that all tourists can enjoy. Come here for jazz, blues and funk, live music, late night dancing and big name DJs who’ve come down from Seoul for the weekend.
Bangkok – Thailand
Bangkok is undoubtedly the most famous city in Asia for wild nightlife. This is a city that literally never sleeps and has a reputation for an ‘anything goes’ kind of experience. And although you can find just about anything here, this city has a lot more to offer than ping-pong shows.
Khao San Road is the number one spot for tourists who first arrive here. The party never ends, and you will find your fill of cheap drinks, loud music, street bars and clubs, exotic foods (scorpions and all manner of other insect ‘treats’) and an abundance of tourists making questionable decisions. However, Bangkok also offers something more than this. For example, in Sathorn Road and the Riverside area abound some more classy establishments – particularly the roof top bars that offer stunning views and delicious drinks are well worth a visit.
Bangkok also has some fantastic legitimate night clubs, with good international music and renowned DJs. If this is more your fancy the Watthana area is probably your best bet. We recommend that you do some research online to find what’s happening when you’re in town, but it is worth mentioning that every night is a weekend in Bangkok!
A Few More Tips
There is an incredible array of things to do during the night in Asia, so much so that you would not be able to explore it fully in one life time, or even ten! Each major city (and many of the less major ones) offers a huge variety of places, events, drinks, prices, music etc. Therefore this list is far from comprehensive, and each person’s unique tastes will dictate where and what their best night out would be. Here a few more tips for those heading to this continent looking for a good fun night out and a chance to let their hair down.
- The Observatory, is arguably the best club night in Ho Chi Minh, ideal for tourists and expats looking for good music, international DJs and a 6am closing. Situated along the river and tucked away in an unassuming-looking building in a business park, this is a hidden gem for the partying traveller.
- Looking for something entirely different altogether? Try tubing in Vang Vieng, Laos. Take a seat in an inflatable rubber ring and glide down a river lined with bars, tenders of which, at the wave of a hand, will reel you in and serve cheap drinks and shots. There are also a variety of swings, zip lines and other fun bits and pieces to be found along the way. Be warned: it can be dangerous, but be careful and it can be a lot of fun too!
- If you’re planning on heading over to Seoul, try to make it to Hongdae for the last Friday of the month. This is known as ‘club day’ where you pay for the entrance to one place, but gain entry to over 20 different clubs. It’s a great chance to check out a variety of places and it’s always super busy and buzzing.