Let's be honest, not everyone goes to Thailand for the amazing culture and food, not everyone is interested in visiting temples and markets – there are a lot of people who go there just to party. Now while this wasn't my main aim in travelling this incredible country, it's hard to travel Thailand without cutting loose with the reams of backpackers who are just looking for a good time. It's a fantastic country to start traveling in because there is a constant supply of travelers to meet, and with cheap alcohol filling up those lethal buckets, beautiful beaches and a taste for fire shows, it's hard to say no to a night out in Thailand. I had some amazing nights out when I was in Thailand, it was a perfect place for me to start travelling after a year of working my arse off in five jobs and just what I needed to forget my broken heart. Thailand has a bit of a reputation for attracting party animals and I wasn't disappointed by the nightlife, whether I was partying with travelers or locals, I always had an amazing night with a lot of stories to tell. But there are always some places that stand out above the rest as having parties more epic than others, here are a few of my favourites:
It goes without saying that Bangkok is one hell of a place, even if you haven't been there, we've all seen The Hangover 2. Trust me, if you've ever had a night out in Bangkok, you'll understand where they found the inspiration for the crazy events in that movie. I've had some amazing nights out there – one that was almost a disaster when Khao San Road was shut down early for the Queen's birthday but turned into an epic street rave when loads of locals used their cars as boomboxes and sold alcohol out of the boots. Both locals and travellers were partying together until the sun came up, even the police joined in! Another night started out as dinner for the group, it ended up with a Ping Pong show, then us getting dragged into the male version, which was decidedly more graphic, before going to a Thai club.
Whether you're headed to the Full Moon or Half Moon Party, you're in for a treat. Sorry cultured types but this is one hell of a party you need to experience. It is full white trash fun - glow in the dark paint everywhere, buckets in hand, dancing around the beaches or the jungle until you fall over. Everyone is very badly behaved and wakes up the next morning wondering what the hell happened last night. I always thought I would hate a party like this, but I went to the Half Moon Party and it was amazing! Plus if you're on the island for a little while, there are huge parties every night with all different types of music - we went to an amazing Jungle Party the night before Half Moon. And there was an epic all-day after party with great music. Definitely check out as many parties as possible to get a feel for the island's nightlife.
Another well known party favourite - Koh Tao is a totally different kind of vibe to Koh Phangan and a great one to head to afterwards when you need a bit of recovery time. Everything is way more chilled there with lots of great reggae hangouts to relax in as you prepare for the night ahead. Whereas everyone goes out to get wasted in Koh Phangan, this island has a slightly slower pace that catches up quick later on. There are all the usual bar crawls and buckets on offer, but more often I found the night started off slowly at the ladyboy cabaret shows or drinking cocktails on the beach watching fire shows. Then things would escalate quickly as the buckets came out and the fire shows got more dangerous - it wasn't surprising when people would end up doing naked fire limbo or would be raving in the sea.
KOH PHI PHI
Hailed as one of the top party islands, I could't help but find this one a huge disappointment. More aimed at holidaymakers than backpackers, the party scene was more like an English night out and I saw some pretty disgusting behaviour. The dirtiest place I saw in the whole of Asia, it was perfectly "normal" to see lads pissing in the sea right next to people having sex. It was perfectly "normal" to see people climbing up fire displays and even buildings then falling off and severely injuring themselves but getting no help. This was the one place that didn't seem to get cleaned up after the parties, so every day when you sunbathed on the beach, rubbish and debris from the night before would wash up around you. The one bar I do remember being good was the one with a boxing ring in the centre, people would fight for a bucket and my friend won!
A surprising entry because this is an island for relaxation rather than partying, but after making friends with some locals who ran a reggae bar on the island, I partied with them every night. Starting at the bar with some chilled reggae or jazz, we'd end up with half the island coming to join us. Later, after closing, the bar owners would head to the one party going on somewhere on the island that night. The first time we walked through the jungle in the dark, then emerged in a full blown rave. It was an amazing night and so great to party with the locals, totally different to a backpacker party.
We've all heard the stories about night's out in Phuket, well, those didn't really appeal to me so I skipped Pattaya and stayed in the Old Town. It turned out to be a great decision because it meant I got to have an amazing night out with two fellow travel bloggers at a Thai karaoke bar. Now trust me, you haven't had a night out until you've spent a night watching Thai people sing 90's classics as you down whiskey. It was epic, hilarious, and I practically lost my voice by the next day from singing along so much. It was one night out that led to an amazing friendship.
Pai is the one all the backpackers whisper about, up in the north of Thailand it is considered the one place not to be missed. After going there, I can totally see why. It attracts a totally different crowd to the rest of Thailand, much more chilled and some of the more worldly travelers. Staying at Circus School hostel, there was a party every night with fire dancers and jugglers, we could play pool and watch the sunset, skinny dip in the swimming pool. Then afterwards we would head down to the town where a myriad of amazing bars awaited – Don't Cry and Sunset Bar were the most memorable for me, also Bamboo Bar was pretty fun. There's several jazz bars worth checking out and lots of live music, plus everything is pretty close together so it's easy to find where the party is at each night.
Now I only got to have one night out there but it was pretty hilarious and eventful thanks to my party crew. I've heard since that Chiang Mai is meant to be pretty special for nights out – it is, after all, a university town. There are loads of great reggae and roots bars with perfect music for accompanying one too many beers and lots of laughter. THC Rooftop Bar was my favourite, delicious cocktails for cheap and great atmosphere. I've also been told there's a lot of good rock bars in the city which isn't something you'll find anywhere else in Thailand. When I head back to Thailand I'll definitely have to give this city another go!
Where is your favourite party place in Thailand? Tell me about your craziest night out. Which other countries have given you a night out to remember?