(My Personal) Top Eleven Party Destinations

6:13 AM Jmo 1 Comments

     Half the fun of traveling to a new destination is checking out the party scene. Every city, every country, every culture has a different way of doing it up big. That being said, here are my top eleven party destinations that I have had the pleasure of making bad decisions in. 
     Drinking, dancing, local as well as backpacker atmospheres mix together, just like that wicked cocktail you had at that no-name bar, in these nightlife havens choices. To narrow it down to 10 would be silly. There's just too much fun out there to be had!
And, what's a party without cranking the volume up to eleven?

11) Naha City, Okinawa, Japan
Okinawa street art

     With its island vibes and tech-charm that is synonymous with Japan, Okinawa is the perfect blend of laid back and upright. At first I was unsure of what to think of Okinawa. I loved mainland Japan and was a bit thrown off by the casual nature of the island and US military presence. But, that feeling quickly faded once I posted up at the local noodle bar and traded quips with my hostel mates, fellow travelers, and noodle chef behind the counter. 

     Okinawa is a holiday destination for many Japanese mainlanders and can obviously be seen as such. It's beautiful! And as I said before, far more casual than its mainland counterpart. Think Hawaii meets Japan. Colorful, traditional, Japanese arcades open up to American style bars and diners lining the alleyways and streets of central Naha City. Walk about, explore the numerous arcades, sneak off into alleys plastered with band posters; that's where the best hole-in-the-wall drinking holes are. And, may I suggest popping into a convenience store in between bars and purchasing yourself a sake "juice" box? 

      Be advised though if you find Naha City too tame for your party-thirst, stay away from the islands. These beautiful, yet sleepy, islands peppering the sea around Okinawa are virtual dead zones off-season. Unless you are part of a diving group, you'll be drinking alone.

     Okinawa is definitely tame compared to the other cities on my list, but this family-friendly option is full of surprises.

Cash: $$$ Okinawa, though a far different vibe from mainland Japan, is still Japan! Expect higher prices for drinks, food, and accommodation. 

Quick Tip: Sample the snake sake (habu sake or snake wine) and if you're lucky, a snake beer and curry infused with habu! Nothing like a little dose of snake toxin to get the party started...

10) Cairns, Australia

     Come for the Great Barrier Reef and koalas, stay for the classic Aussie-madness... 
      This tourist town runs rampant with partying locals and hostel workers at night, as long as you know where to go. Shops close early in Cairns as tourists head back to their accommodations and the city centre looks deserted from the surface. But that's because everyone is already at the bar!

     Steer clear of the waterfront, where mainly higher-priced restaurants have staked their claim, and seek out the dingy pubs and backpacker hangouts. Aussie locals definitely live up to their partying reputation in this city. There will be no shortages of table dancing or late-night stagger fests in this picturesque, seaside town.

Cash: $$$$ A bit more backpacker friendly when it comes to drinks compared to Sydney, so don't worry too-too much.

Quick Tip:  Ready to dance on top of tables? Head to The Woolshed. Enjoy, and don't say we didn't warn you~

9) Michigan, USA
Friends and Founders. 

      Michigan? Really? (some of you may be saying)  Well! My home state of Michigan not only makes the list because of its friendliness and welcoming party atmosphere, but also because of its beer. My dear Michigan, with over 120 microbreweries to its name, ranks 5th overall in the US. Drink up, dress down, and play on with a myriad of breweries dotting almost every Michigan travel destination.

      Like your beer mobile (Safe and legal, of course!)? Then take a spin on the Great Lakes Pedal Pub. This "green" pub is operated by a 15-person bike pedals its way around the various bars and pubs of the Grand Rapids City centre. What's better than having your stout and biking it off too?

Cash: $$$ Them microbrews aint cheap!

Quick Tip: Enjoy the festivals! There's no better way to experience the tastes and brews of Michigan than a summer festival. Festivals such as Arts, Beats, & Eats (metro Detroit area), Founders Fest (Grand Rapids), and ArtPrize (Grand Rapids) are all great ways to take in the party of Pure Michigan.

8) Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Our view from the "Helicopter Bar" in downtown Ho Chi Minh City.

           You can live the high-life for pennies to the dollar in this exploding metropolis. South East Asia is known for being a beautiful, and cheap, travel spot for young travelers and expats alike. And I'd go as far to say that, bang-for-buck, Ho Chi Minh tops the list.

           Enjoy the "fresh beer", also known as bia hoi, by day (Hey, it's low in alcohol! Don't judge!) and swank it up at the EON Heli Bar, located on the 51st floor of the Bitexco Financial Tower, by night. I'm usually not one for over the top and elitist atmospheres and scenes; usually because my pocketbook can't support such audaciousness. But, Ho Chi Minh allowed me to live a slice of the high life (literally) without waking up the next morning with a bill worse than my hangover.

Cash: $ Cheap. So cheap.

Quick Tip: Stay safe! Ho Chi Minh has a high theft rate so it's best to leave your bag or purse locked away in your hostel rather than take it out with you. I suggest using a small wristlet or money clip to keep your funds on hand.

7) Hong Kong, Hong Kong 
Enjoying a brew in an English pub in Hong Kong

     With all of its distinct districts and cultural diversity, you will never be at a loss for something new. Hong Kong can be a tad overwhelming with its crowds, compact city streets, and niche cultures. But don't let that stop you. Treat it like Vegas or NYC and let it envelop you. 

     The Central District of Hong Kong has these ingenious things called "travelators". Picture the escalator at your local mall, but place it outside and have it connecting you to different levels of quirky bars and little restaurants bathed in neon. You can hop on and off the travelators to martini bars, British pubs, and high end shops. 

     Hong Kong is generally pretty pricey. But there are exceptions to this. Competition is high so look out for drink specials and happy hour deals. Drinks can range from $5 USD to $14 depending on your drink of choice.

Cash: $$$$ Hong Kong is made for high rollers. Bring your wallet.

Quick Tip: Hong Kong is like the New York City of Asia; every borough has a different feel and a different vibe. Don't stick to just one area. move around! Explore!

6) New Orleans, USA
The infamous Rue...

            New Orleans, Louisiana lives up to its reputation. It's mad. Plain and simple. I was on Bourbon Street, on a Tuesday afternoon, which also happened to be Christmas Day... and the streets were still alive with people, music, and Mardis Gras flair! Oh, and a woman mooning the streets below from her second story window...

     NOLA is famous and world renowned for its music scene. Take advantage of it! Actually, it's very difficult not to. Almost every bar, restaurant, or street corner has its own quartet or soloist. Whether it's Jazz, Cajun, Blues, or if you happen to take the mic and spit out some fabulous karaoke; leave your inhibitions at the door. Dance! Sing! Do it all! New Orleans is there for you to do so.

    When in town I highly suggest checking out Mulate's. It's a bit touristy, yes. But! It's also a great way to break yourself in to some Cajun culture. Watch the locals spin their partners around the dance floor and do your best to join in on the Cajun Two-Step.

Cash: $$$ As an infamous party stop, expect tourist prices.

Quick Tip:  New Orleans is like Vegas: It never closes. Therefore, don't worry about going during Mardi Gras or high season. The party will still be there waiting for you to show up!

5) Bangkok, Thailand

     This place... can get you into trouble. 

Swanky roof top bars over-looking the city, grungy backpacker hangouts, and ladyboy shows: Bangkok has it all; with little to no rules. (Well, maybe some rules... I don't think anyone wants to wind up in a Thai prison now do we?)

     Khaosan Road is the beating heart of Bangkok's backpacker scene. It's vibrant, colorful, delicious, and wide awake most hours of the day and night. This area not only has a booming nightlife, but it also caters to the backpacker budget. Here, you can make bad decisions on a budget! Yay! Just please...stay away from the all-in-one tattoo parlor-currency exchange-thai massage salon. Your future self will thank you for not having to explain where that questionable lower-back, butterfly tattoo came from...

Cash: $$ 

Quick Tip: If you happen to meet an older British man, named Robbie, in cut-off jean shorts, who bears a striking resemblance to Rod Stewart...listen to him and follow his nightlife suggestions. You won't be disappointed.

4) Chicago, USA

     Have you ever spent St. Patrick's Day in Chicago? No? Well, add that your Party Bucket List. Please? It's such a great time! (Psssttt...you don't even have to be Irish!)

     Aside from the season of green, Chicago has everything to offer in terms of party year 'round. And in my personal opinion, beats New York City by a mile. Brew pubs, electronic house clubs, jazz dens, drag shows...it has it all. Bring Stefon away from Weekend Update in NYC and have him test out the Windy City. There's no doubt the ultimate club kid will be converted.

      Be aware though! Clubbing in Chicago can get pricey quick! Even if you "know the DJ", you're looking to scrape by with a $14 Red Bull & vodka at any number of Chicago's dance clubs. Ouch!

Cash: $$$$  Don't look at your bank statement the next morning.  Just.  Don't.

Quick Tip: Take the train in from the suburbs and save money on parking, hotels, ...and drinks. Did you know you can legally drink on the metro commuter train going to and from downtown? Well, you can! (Except on St. Patrick's Day... sorry!)

3) Siem Reap, Cambodia

                    Explore the temples by day and the expat bars by night. Siem Reap is the no holds barred kind of night life that makes you wake up the next day with not only a hangover, but a free t-shirt from the bucket-sized cocktail you drank on a dare.

     The area of Pub Street lives up to its name and is within walking distance from many, if not all, of the hotels and hostels surrounding the area. Pub Street is full of eateries, fish spas, souvenir shops, art stalls, and everything else. The most notable bars on the Pub Street local would be the infamous Angkor What? and Temple Bar.  Enjoy, indulge, dance and play ...just don't bank on it being an authentic Khmer experience with a name like "Pub Street"...

Cash: $ Like most destinations in South East Asia, a little bit of cash goes a long way.

Quick Tip: Don't worry about getting all dressed up for a night on the town. The Siem Reap party scene is incredibly casual and full of laid back, most likely sweaty, backpackers. Relax, be yourself, and leave the makeup back at your hostel.

2) Sydney, Australia 

                     Definitely the priciest destination on my list, Sydney offers classy, old world, European charm with its fine selection of pubs in an area known as the The Rocks as well as the pumping, gritty, nightlife found in Kings Cross.

Our first night in Sydney we inadvertently stumbled into the oldest pub in the city. Upon entering and sneaking up to the bar, we coincidentally met whom I assumed to be the oldest man in the pub. He was stoic, dressed in a green tweed suit complete with wool sweater vest, and had the sweetest demeanor you could imagine. He knew right away we "weren't from around here" on account of this bar seemingly being a sort of unspoken, locals-only hangout. He took it upon himself to give us the best tour anyone could ask for on the backside of a coaster: All the pubs to hit up in Sydney. Gotta love it! And yes, we followed the coaster to our delight~

      Quick tip! Sydney is a beautiful city, with beautiful people. Take that into account when heading out on the town. Many places have a dress code so dress to impress!

Cash: $$$$$ Oi! This place is pricey!

Quick Tip: Walk! Taxicabs are expensive as hell in Sydney and it is best to avoid them when you can! The nightlife districts in Sydney are fairly close and walkable from one another. No worries, mate!

1) Seoul, South Korea

Op, Op, Opa Hongdae Style! ~graffiti in Hongdae, Seoul

      Never have I partied harder. Never. Korea is a dreamland bubble. And at the center of this dreamland is a cosmopolitain city called Seoul. And inside Seoul, if you are brave enough to venture, is a party utopia known as Hongdae. A hefty concoction of soju and neon lures you in with its individualistic street style and endless choices of weird and whimsical theme bars, hofs, restaurants, and clubs. This city will have a hold on you the moment you step off the KTX and you'll be brushing the glitter off your coat on the way home before you realized what happened.

     Start off or end the night with a visit to Hongdae Park. Don't let the term "park" dissuade you this park is barely family friendly come night; hosting anything from rap battles to pop-up kickboxing fights.

Cash: $$$ Save money by heading to a convenience store (conveniently located EVERYWHERE in Korea) and enjoy the fine taste of Cass from a can.

Quick Tip: Prepare yourself. You very well be up all night and not eve
n realize it as you stumble out of the norebong (karaoke room) at 8AM still singing Don't Stop Believing. Seoul will do that to you.


     Now,  I'm not advocating excessive or irresponsible drinking. A messy evening can ruin the night or even a trip for that matter! Be smart and have fun. And if drinking is not for you, that's cool too! Do you. There are plenty of things to do in these top party destinations without a drink in hand. (People watching probably tops the list...)

     Don't see your favorite party destination here? Tell me in the comments below what's great about your party-place. I'd love to know! And, more than likely, love to visit!

Party on Wayne, Party on Garth...

post signature

1 comment:

  1. With brick walls lined with 2 top bar tables. It's clearly a couples or date night spot. There is a bar in the back of best nightclub nyc that feels a bit like a diner bar at pork store. But the small bar makes the place feel small and urban.


All views expressed are that of the author. All rights reserved. Powered by Blogger.