Full Moon Party, Koh Phangan, Thailand
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.
Playing with Fire in Thailand
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:
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.
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.