Partying in Miami, Florida, USA

4 Jan
20131222_225730(0)

Pre-party at hostel

Where to Stay
It is crucial that you stay in Miami Beach, which is where all the fun is, as opposed to the main city of Miami.  Miami Beach is a large strip of land comprised of several areas and I would highly recommend staying in South Beach, which is (obviously) at the southern part of the strip.  Most nightlife takes place here, although you will have to leave this area by cab to get to certain nightclubs, such as Liv.

Stay at the Miami Beach International Travelers Hostel (http://www.hostelmiamibeach.com/) in South Beach.  This is one of the craziest hostels I have ever stayed at.  Surprisingly, the staff is very nice and the place is kept really clean as well.  Every night of the week they organize some form of party or pre-drink in the main lobby. You pay them $10-20 for a wristband, which gets you free alcohol, a ride to the bar/club in a party bus and line bypass and free cover.  This hostel is also a 4 minute walk to the beach.

I was expecting more of an American spring break crowd here, but that was not the case at all – it was the typical type of travelers you would meet at other backpacking hotspots around the world.  You could easily come here solo and meet some great people.

Where to Party
Miami is known for its world-class nightlife.  I must warn you that it can be very expensive, so make sure it is one of the last stops on your trip!  Some of the clubs charge upwards of $15 for a drink.  Some nights, such as the hostel’s pub crawl are pretty cheap.  If you are into clubbing, check out Nikki Beach Club on Sunday night (the hostel arranges this outing for you), Mansion, Story, Liv and Space (I believe this one has a 24-hour liquor license).  If you are looking for some good bars, check out Automatic Slim’s and Sofi Public House.  Expect to see beautiful people, expensive drinks and awesome DJs.

Party Bus, Miami Hostel

Party bus en route to club

Music
Some compare Miami with Ibiza.  All of the top DJs love playing here and almost every night you can find a cool musical event happening.  Even the resident DJs at most of the clubs are a level above other cities, especially at Nikki Beach Club.  Club Space has some amazing house and trance events that go all night.  The big room house DJs tend to play Liv, Story and Mansion.  You can also find some good house music at smaller clubs like Electric Pickle and Treehouse Miami.

Miami is host to some of the biggest events in electronic music as well, such as Ultra Music Festival and Winter Music Conference, which both happen in March every year.

BTP - Ultra Music Festival, Miami Florida

Ultra Music Festival

During the Day
Most people spend their days at the beach.  Miami is hot all year-round (although good weather isn’t guaranteed in the months of November-February).  Lincoln Road is also a fun strip to walk around and shop.  There are also tons of great restaurants if you are willing to spend a little extra money.

Rating
8.8/10

Partying in Bruges, Belgium

23 Oct
BTP - Bruges

Bruges at Night

Where to Stay 
I would say your only option is St. Christopher Inn (aka Bauhaus).  This isn’t really a party hostel, but it is the closest thing the city has to one.  You could definitely meet some fun backpackers in this city, but overall travellers here don’t come to rage all night.

Where to Party
Most tourists like to go to the pubs and try all the awesome Belgian beers.  De Garre is really popular and known for its 11% house beer called Tripel de Garre.  ‘t Brugs Beertje is pretty funny too – they have an insane variety of local beers and you feel like you are in your grandmother’s living room.  There is also a decent area in the city with some livelier bars/clubs where local students party – De Coulissen is the main club in this area and is actually pretty decent on a weekend night.  There are some rowdy bar/clubs in this area, where you can drink cheap Belgian beer and meet cool locals.  These places are also pretty close to the hostel and the main square.

Music
Top 40.  However, the Tomorrowland annual electronic music festival is usually held in a nearby city every year.  Although it is really hard to get a ticket, I would try your best to experience this event once in your lifetime.

During the Day
Although Bruges isn’t the craziest party town, it is a unique, magical place.  When you get there you feel like you have gone way back in time.  Eat a lot of chocolate, waffles and french fries, climb to the top of the Belfry of Bruges, rent a bike, and, if you want to be really touristy, go on a boat tour through the canals.

One more nugget of advice – I would definitely suggest Bruges over Brussels if you have to make the choice.  They both have the same beer, but Brussels feels like any large American city.

Rating
5.0/10

Partying in Montreal, Canada

16 Oct
Bal en Blanc Electronic Music Festival

Bal en Blanc Electronic Music Festival

Where to Stay
There are some decent hostels here, but none very infamous for partying.  For a more social setting with staff-organized events, stay at Le Jazz St. Denis or Auberge de Jeunesse.

Where to Party
Montreal offers a wide variety of nightlife.  Bars serve alcohol until 3 a.m., which gives the city an advantage over its rival Toronto (2 a.m. last call).  A good way to get the night started is to eat dinner at a bring-your-own-wine restaurant (no corking fee), which are very popular amongst the young crowd – L’Academie is a good one.  Supper clubs are also big here – these are trendy restaurants that turn into bar/clubs later in the night and I recommend Time, Buonanotte and Globe.  The St. Laurent strip has some great clubs, including Tokyo and Musique, as well as an interesting dive bar called Le Bifteck.  A lot of the university students party in this area.  There are tons of bars on Crescent St. as well, which is a very popular tourist area, but still has an awesome vibe.  There is also a great multi-level pub on St. Denis called Le Saint Sulpice, which I recommend, as nights here tend to get really sloppy.

But if you are coming all the way to Montreal, you need to experience the techno clubs.  New City Gas is a giant church-like complex that hosts massive international DJs every week.  Stereo and Circus are world-famous afterhours clubs, which attract huge techno, deep house and trance talents.  If you want something a little more low-key (but still pretty raging), Velvet is an underground, intimate club in Old Montreal that you walk through a candle-lit cobblestone tunnel to get into.

New City Gas

New City Gas

Music
Montreal is a thriving musical metropolis.  You can catch a lot of great indie/rock here, as well as any form of electronic music.  The aforementioned afterhours clubs bring in great acts, so check ResidentAdvisor before your trip if you are into the more underground stuff.  The city is also host to some amazing music festivals: Osheaga takes place outside during the summer for three days and you will see big rock bands, indie acts and DJs perform.  Bal en Blanc takes place in a convention centre during the spring and everyone has to wear all white.  It begins in the evening and ends the next day around noon, containing an all-trance stage and an all-house/techno stage.

Osheaga Music Festival, Montreal, Quebec

Osheaga Music Festival

During the Day
While there aren’t very many tourist attractions in Montreal, you can still enjoy yourself during the day.  The food is exquisite – make sure you try poutine, smoked meat and Montreal-style bagels.  There are several different areas of the city to walk around and explore, as well as some good shopping.

Rating
8.5/10

An Introduction to Partying in South America

30 Sep
Montanita Ecuador Party

Cocktail Alley in Montanita, Ecuador


Overview
For many, South America is the ultimate backpacking destination, especially for those who love burning the candle at both ends.  It is cheap, beautiful and usually raging at night.  The people you meet here will be a lot more adventurous and very down to earth.  South America attracts a great mix of girls and guys from all over, mostly over 21 years old (but there are certainly some younger people who go too).  A lot of these people have already backpacked through Southeast Asia, but don’t expect the hoards of party travellers you see there (SA is a bit more mature).  Lots of travellers love doing this trip solo and it is probably the easiest backpacking destination for meeting people and making friends.  SA is also home to some of the world’s best party hostels.  Some of the popular cities are serious parties and others are not, so make sure you read through the posts on this blog, which describe each of the party cities (or supposed party cities):

http://backpacktoparty.wordpress.com/category/south-america/

Common Routes
You definitely need a lot of time if you want to see all the best cities along the ‘Gringo Trail’.  South America is a massive area, so you really have to choose your route carefully.  If you only have a month or two, I would suggest starting in Columbia or Ecuador (only Montanita is necessary – see http://backpacktoparty.wordpress.com/2013/08/28/montanita-ecuador-9-0/) then going through Peru (which you should devote the most time to), then Bolivia (only La Paz is necessary – see http://backpacktoparty.wordpress.com/2013/09/09/la-paz-bolivia-8-0/) and ending in Argentina (Buenos Aires is a serious party).  In Peru, Cusco is the best party city by far (http://backpacktoparty.wordpress.com/2013/09/09/cusco-peru-9-110/) and Mancora is a close second (beach partying).  The other big backpacker cities (or stop-throughs), such as Arequipa, Huacachina and Lima, are not really known for partying, but are still good places for meeting cool travellers who you may end up having some crazy nights with.  I don’t know many people who backpacked through Brazil and Chile, but  if you have several months to travel, check them out.  I don’t suggest going to Venezuela or Guyana.  People with an endless amount of time pair this trip with Central America.

Where to Stay
In Peru and Bolivia, make sure you are always staying at a Wild Rover or a Loki.  The former attracts more travellers from the UK, while the latter attracts more Aussies.  However, you will definitely meet people from all over the world.  Both these chains are well-known for throwing crazy, usually themed-parties every night of the week.  You can stay at these places for weeks and never get bored.  I would also suggest working there as a bartender for a week or two (you get to stay there for free and usually get one free meal per day).  In Buenos Aires, stay at Milhouse Hostel, which is one of the top party hostels in the world.  Check the individual city posts in the South America category on this blog for more hostel recommendations.

Where to Party
South America is not really known for having the best nightclubs and usually everyone from the hostel will go one of the bars together after the hostel closes down.  Some of the best parties definitely go down in the hostels, unless you are in a beach town like Montanita.  However, for those who like meeting locals, the city nightlife can be great, especially in Peru, Ecuador, Columbia and Argentina.  Both the guys and girls are usually very friendly and I’ve seen a lot of travellers hook up with them.  My main suggestion is to start partying at your hostel, especially the first few days you arrive to each city, and then head out with all the people you meet to whatever bar/club the hostel recommends.  Once you get an idea of the city, you can begin venturing off on your own.  Drink a lot of Pisco, which is the best alcohol out there.  Check the individual blog posts for each city for some great bar/club recommendations.

Music
Expect to hear a lot of salsa and top 40 at the local clubs in most cities.  You won’t see many big-name bands or DJs playing that often, although they do come to the major cities sometimes.  They also have an Ultra Music Festival in Buenos Aires in February every year.  Once in a while you will hear some cool techno at the clubs or hostels, but don’t expect anything like Europe or Southeast Asia in terms of electronic music.

During the Day
There is so much to do during the day.  Take a trek to Machu Picchu, hike through the Colca Canyon in Arequipa, go on a 3-day tour through the salt flats in Bolivia, take a tour through the Amazon, surf in Montanita, sandboard in Huacachina, zip-line in Banos…the list goes on.  Make sure you treat yourself to some fine dining as well, since it will be so cheap, and try alpaca, guinea pig and rotisserie chicken in Peru!

Feel free to comment or email me if you have ANY questions:
backpacktoparty@gmail.com

An Introduction to Partying in Southeast Asia

21 Sep
BTP - KP - FullMoonParty2

Full Moon Party, Koh Phangan, Thailand

Overview
Southeast Asia is probably the most popular backpacker party destination in the world.  This place is constantly packed with young people looking to have a good time.  Expect to meet people of mixed ages, but overall it is a pretty young scene – a lot of 18-21 year olds, many of whom recently graduating from high school.  You will meet people from almost every country in the world, but especially from Australia and England.  Overall there is a great mix of guys and girls and most travel in packs of 2-6.  Don’t expect to meet as many solo backpackers as you would in Central and South America, but there are definitely some.  Plan on raging hard until sunrise every single night you are here.

BTP- Full Moon Fire

Playing with Fire in Thailand

Common Routes
Many travellers take similar routes, which will explain why you keep bumping into the same people in different cities every night.  Most people either go clockwise or counterclockwise around Southeast Asia. You should plan your entire route around the Full Moon Party, which happens every month in Koh Phangan, Thailand (for a list of all the full moon dates, check out http://www.fullmoon.phangan.info/).  While you are in the area, check out some of the other party islands, which you can get to by boat (Koh Samui and Koh Tao).  The other side of the Thailand peninsula has some classic party spots as well, including Koh Phi Phi and Phuket.  Once you are done exploring this part of Thailand, take a bus or flight up to Chiang Mai in the north part of Thailand.  If you are going counterclockwise, head to Cambodia (although this isn’t on the top of my list of party countries).  Vietnam, which you can get to from Laos or Cambodia, is a great country to explore if you have the time, but keep in mind getting from city to city requires overnight busses, since the country is so long.  If you really want to do Southeast Asia properly head to Indonesia at some point, which has insane partying.

Unlike Europe, you don’t really have to plan everything much in advance – I would just recommend knowing the general layout of Southeast Asia and booking your Full Moon Party accommodations in advance.  It is easy to meet and talk to people who have great knowledge about where to go and how to get there.  Take a look through the cities I discuss in the blog and see what kind of partying suits you most:

http://backpacktoparty.wordpress.com/category/asia/

Where to Stay
Unlike Europe, Central and South America, there are few very famous party hostels in Southeast Asia.  Many travellers take advantage of the cheap prices and stay in nicer, private accommodations, usually in guest houses.  Most of the time you will arrive in a new city and find a nearby hostel with availability.  I would, however, book a hostel well in advance of the Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan, Thailand (check out my post – http://backpacktoparty.wordpress.com/2013/08/30/koh-phangan-thailand-9-510/).  You will also likely fly into Bangkok at some point, so book one of the hotels on Koh San Road sometime in advance.  There are definitely a bunch of hostels, many of which I name and describe in my blog posts, that have parties and are conducive to meeting other travellers.  However, don’t expect a lot of hostels where the employees make an effort to organize group activities and nights out together.  Just walk outside your hostel and the party will be everywhere.

Where to Party
Every city is very different, so check my blog posts to get a sense of what each place is like.  Usually, you will be drinking buckets of alcohol and Red Bull every night and bar hopping.  There is also a lot of partying on the streets and, in the case of the Thai islands, on the beach and in pools.  In most places the party goes until sunrise, so expect to be sleeping a lot during the days.  Once you get into each city it will be clear where everyone goes at night and what the popular bars are.  It is easy to just follow the masses, pick up some intel and then decide what is best for you.  I can guarantee that all the big spots in Southeast Asia will provide for many epic nights and great memories.

Music
The music here is different and awesome.  Don’t expect to see any big name bands or DJs but to be introduced to some new music.  On the islands you will hear a lot of psy-trance, tech house and progressive house (along with top 40 at the big bars/clubs).  In other cities you can see some good rock cover bands (see post on Chiang Mai).  Just remember to have an open mind!

During the Day
Southeast Asia has some really cool Buddhist temples, waterfalls, jungles and ruins to see.  However, if you miss them while sleeping off your hangover, you probably won’t feel bad.  I would recommend taking advantage of cheap outdoor activities while you are down there.  Go on jungle hikes, canopy tours (zip-lining), ride elephants and see other cool animals and learn how to scuba dive (see post on Koh Tao).  If you go to Indonesia do some surfing.  Angkor Wat in Cambodia is probably the best tourist attraction overall.  You will never be bored during the days in Southeast Asia, although it really is about the nights for most backpackers.

An Introduction to Partying in Central America

16 Sep
BTP - San Juan - Pool 2

Sunday Funday Pool Crawl in San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua

Overview
While Central America is somewhat of a lesser-known backpacking spot than South America, South-East Asia or Europe, it is a wild and unforgettable experience.  You won’t see hoards of other backpackers dominating the streets here, like in the aforementioned continents, but if you choose the right cities and stay in the best hostels, you will party just as hard as any other trip.  Expect to meet more experienced backpackers, including many solo travellers, mostly in between 21 and 28 years old and from all over the world.  It is very easy to meet others and you will probably end up with more people in your crew than you started with.  Travellers spend anywhere from 1 month to 3 months going through Central America and often pair this trip with South America.

Common Routes
Most travellers will either start from the South in Panama and go North to Mexico or vice versa.  Both of these countries also have big international airports.  In Mexico, it is common to visit Playa del Carmen and/or Cancun, although the latter is more geared towards the American spring-breaker-type.  The best party cities in Central America are San Juan del Sur in Nicaragua, Utila in Honduras, and Bocas del Toro in Panama.  Costa Rica, despite what you may think, is not a big party scene.  Backpackers tend to avoid this country as much as possible because it is expensive (the other countries are very cheap – the good hostels are $5 – $10 a night).  If you do want to see Costa Rica (it is definitely a beautiful place with many cool activities – think Switzerland), your best bets for meeting other travellers are in Puerto Viejo, Tamarindo (more of a spring-breaker crowd), and La Fortuna.  Most people tend to avoid leaving the coasts of Central America (Pacific and Atlantic), as they are safer than the mainlands of all the countries (except Costa Rica).  Most travellers skip El Salvador.  If you have the time, check out Guatemala, as Antigua is pretty popular.  Check out my posts in the Central America category, where I go through the particulars of each city. (http://backpacktoparty.wordpress.com/category/central-america/)

Where to Stay
Hostels in Central America are very cheap but, unlike South America, don’t expect anything nice at all if you want to stay in the party hostels.  It is usually very hot in these countries and you will have to get used to seeing a lot of insects everywhere.  You will be so drunk each night that this won’t bug you anyway (no pun intended).  The hostels here are probably more conducive to meeting other travellers than those in any other continent.  They usually have cool bars with great theme party nights and cheep shots (great places to start your nights).  Expect to meet the more rough backpacker-types and don’t expect noise in your room/the hostel to die down before 4 a.m. most nights.  Hostels are pretty lax with their rules and also allow non-guests in to party (but will charge you a night’s stay if they find out you had a guest overnight).  Check out the individual cities’ posts for party hostel recommendations.

Where to Party
Most nights in most cities, all backpackers will all go to a certain bar/club each night, depending on the event.  For example, in Bocas del Toro, most nights everyone will go to Iguana Bar, but two nights a week they will go to Aqualounge.  It is really easy to find out which bar is having the party each night – just ask any traveller who has been there for a few days or an employee of the hostel you are staying at.  These spots are usually bars with lots of dancing and rowdiness.  Most are open (and serving) till  around 4 a.m.  Some nights, the hostel will throw the city’s main party at their bar as well.  Real nightclubs are pretty rare in Central America, so don’t expect anything too fancy unless you are in large mainland cities (like San Jose, Costa Rica, for example).  Utila hosts large dance parties on full moon nights, as well as a legendary techno festival every summer called SunJam, so try to plan your trip around this if the timing works.

Music
You will hear a lot of Bob Marley and reggaeton, especially on the Caribbean side (East coast).  Expect to hear a lot of top 40 and popular house music at the clubs.  Once in a while you will find a party with techno music, especially in Utila.  The hostels in San Juan del Sur also play a wide variety of cool music at their events and during the day.  Don’t expect to see any big concerts on the coasts of Central America, but you could get lucky in the major cities.

During the Day
Luckily, there are few tourist attractions here that you will feel bad about missing.  You will spend most of your days on the beaches (but don’t expect day parties there).  There is great surfing all over Central America and lessons/board rentals are very cheap, so I would suggest learning as there are waves for beginners, intermediates and experts.  There is great scuba diving in certain cities, like Utila.  A lot of travellers come to these countries for eco-tourism.  You can go on some good hikes, check out volcanoes, or look at cool animals.  Some cities, like La Fortuna, Costa Rica, offer great activities, such as white-water rafting, canyoneering, bungee jumping, thermal baths, etc.

An Introduction to Partying in Europe

12 Sep
BTP - Europe - Sensation

Sensation White Electronic Music Event

Overview
Europe is a very popular destination for travellers of all ages.  While most people you encounter won’t be the rough-backpacker types you meet in South America or South East Asia, a large percentage are there solely for the partying.  The high cost of European cities can make backpacking through the entire continent somewhat of a challenge, but you can definitely still visit several cities on a tight budget – use RyanAir, EasyJet and Wizz Air to fly whenever you have to, buy your meals from grocery stores, and spend a lot of time in Eastern Europe, where everything is much cheaper (it is very common to visit Prague, Budapest and Krakow, for example) .  Also pre-drink as much as possible before going out to the bars/clubs at night.

Common Routes
Unlike South America and South East Asia, there isn’t a trail that every traveller follows around Europe.  Your trip will require a lot of planning beforehand so that you pay less for transportation and get into the best hostels.  For ratings and reviews on the best (and worst) European party cities, click on “Europe” under “Categories” on the right side of this blog and then find the cities you are interested in (you can use Control-F) or read them and then decide!

Hostels
Staying in the best party hostels is absolutely crucial in Europe (unlike South East Asia, for example).  This can make or break your experience in every city, since the majority of people you meet will be from the hostel and you will most likely meet them at the hostel’s organized events.  Keep in mind that most hostels in Europe won’t allow any non-guests in the building, so it is better to get to befriend the people staying there.  Hostels in major cities such as Barcelona, Amsterdam and Greece get booked up months in advance, so make sure you plan your trip early in the year.  I recommend certain hostels in all of my posts, so be sure to check these out before you book.

Pub Crawls
Most partiers travelling through Europe will go on pub crawls in almost every city and you will notice I often recommend them in posts.  Since most cities in Europe often seem complex at first, going on a pub crawl will introduce you to the best nightlife areas, while allowing you to meet tons of other ragers.  In major cities, you will be approached by several competing pub crawl leaders on the street.  Ask them how many people they usually attract each night (the more the merrier), whether they serve free hard liquor at the pre-party (a lot of times it is just beer and wine), and whether you get free cover to the final destination which is usually a big club.

Music
Europe is a major hub for all types of music, especially electronic.  You will not find as many amazing clubs as Europe anywhere in the world, so make sure you explore them every single night of your trip.  The best cities for electronic music are Barcelona, Amsterdam, London and Berlin.  Ibiza is a must as well, although it is very expensive.  Croatia and the Greek islands are also becoming major EDM hubs.  You can catch a lot of rock/pop concerts in the major cities as well – just check local concert listings (I saw some awesome rock concerts at Paradiso in Amsterdam, for example).  Europe is also home to some serious music festivals, including Glastonbury (England), Tomorrowland (Belgium), Ultra (Croatia), and Amsterdam Dance Event (Netherlands).  Most of these take place during the summer, but keep your eye out for some smaller festivals if you are in Europe during the other seasons (I went to an awesome festival in Budapest, called Bonusz, in October, for example).  Try to go to a Sensation event (see picture above)!  For more underground and techno/deep house events, check out Resident Advisor for each city you hit.

During the Day
If you are not sleeping or drinking at a pub the entire day, go on a free walking tour.  Most cities offer these, so ask your hostel where they meet every day.  They are free but you are expected to give the guide a tip at the end.  I recommend these in my posts, mostly because they are a great way of meeting travellers your own age and because you can ask the guides where to party each night.  Other days you will probably be pressured into visiting museums and the other popular tourist sites to check them off of your bucket list.  During the summer, cities like Ios, Lagos and Ibiza are awesome because you can party (or relax) on the beach all day without feeling bad about missing tourist attractions (although that is really what South East Asia and Central America are for!).

 

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