Adventure, exoticism, excitement and romance take the form of Thailand’s nightlife, where everything is on offer from full moon parties sharing the beaches with thousands of people until the early hours to hidden speakeasies in the centre of the city. And of course, everything in between.
For many, whether this is your first tour of Thailand or not, the country tends to conjure up a scene of sleazy bars, red-light districts and a specific clientele. However, in the last decade, Thailand has matured in its party scene and now offers sophisticated bars, relaxed beach hangouts and establishments which cater to the ever-growing craft beer trend which is sweeping across Asia.
While there are parties to be indulged in in almost every corner of the country, Thailand offers something for everyone whether you’re destined for beach life, the hills of the north or the city vibes of the capital.
Big City Nightlife in Bangkok
Think energy, think excitement, think sophistication. Bangkok is the city catering to all of its visitors from backpackers fresh off the plane ready for their six-week Southeast Asia trip to honeymooners spending a couple of days in the capital before jetting off to one of the ‘koh’s.
Khao San Road is the sensory overload, party central area of the city for young people. Totalling one road with alleys sporting guesthouses and massage parlours spouting off it like tributaries to a raucous river, Khao San Road is the wildest street party you’ll ever experience.
Hop over to the other side of the city, and you’ll find Sukhumvit. This incredibly long road accommodates almost every traveller; from Soi 11 and Soi Cowboy, the all-singing, all-dancing neon party roads, to the likes of Octave Lounge on Soi 57 which attracts a more sophisticated crowd.
In amongst all these different areas, you’ll find skyscrapers featuring open-air bars like The Dome at State Tower on the 63rd floor offering an aerial view of the city and a good dose of vertigo, and local secret haunts perched on the riverside like Jack’s Bar in Silom. Bangkok caters to every crowd.
Island Vibes on Koh Phi Phi
By day, Koh Phi Phi is a white-sanded, tropical island surrounded by dazzling blue waters and jungle-covered limestone karsts which shoot out of the water framing the island’s bays. By night, Koh Phi Phi offers two distinct approaches to nightlife: wild parties or laid back beach vibes. Positively, both options are exempt from the usual sleazy atmosphere which accompanies most party destinations in Southeast Asia.
Phi Phi’s nightlife is compacted around the island’s three main areas: Tonsai Village (the main centre), Tonsai East and Loh Dalum Bay. For those that want the iconic boozy buckets filled with half a bottle of spirit, your chosen mixer and straws, the main centre is where you’ll find the concentration of revellers guaranteeing you a night of fun where you’ll make a lot of new friends.
For the quieter, more laid-back side, the beach bars doting thatch roofs, bamboo mats and comfy cushions are where you can take the night from sunset beers through to star-gazing cocktails, usually accompanied by reggae music.
Whatever your jam, there’s a corner for you on the tiny island of Phi Phi.
Chill Out in the Hills of Chiang Mai
Home to a sprawling night bazaar, where you can eat, drink and shop ‘til you drop, Chiang Mai nightlife can be whatever you make it. The night bazaar which sprawls out over several streets, pavements and into parks, is the perfect place to start with some local food and a few beers. From there, you have many options.
The majority of Chiang Mai’s nightlife is consumed by live music venues where bands entertain with blues, jazz, rock and pop covers. Like many places in Thailand, there’s a good dose of reggae bars where cushion-covered floors, cheap beers and laid-back tones draw you in.
Of course, if you’re in search of the party, there’s one to be found on Nimman Road where you’ll find the clubbing zone and Loy Kroh Road where you’ll find a host of go-go bars and massage parlours.
High-End Beach Bars & Restaurants on Koh Samui
The island often associated with a more up-market crowd, Koh Samui gravitated over the years from the backpacker hub when Thailand was first put on the map to the must-visit honeymoon destination sporting beaches lined with five-star resorts and trendy beach clubs.
One of the hottest holiday destinations in southern Thailand, Koh Samui offers an array of nightlife options between its main resort towns: Lamao, Bophut and Maenam. For open-air beach bar vibes where fire dancers light up the shore, and you can seat yourself on a cabana with a cocktail for the entire night, Coco Tams is the place to head.
Chaweng is the heart of Samui’s party, the epicentre of hedonism where you can spend the night dancing, sipping on buckets of alcohol and hopping from one bar to the next on Soi Green Mango.
A Full-Moon Party Like No Other on Koh Phangan
Made famous throughout the world in 1985 by a crowd of hippies, Koh Phangan has long held the title of one of the world’s best places to experience the iconic Full Moon Party. Today, this island remains relatively sleepy month-round until the night of the full moon when 30,000 people descend on the beaches of Haad Rin for a night of incredible music, dancing and drinking.
These Full Moon Parties are another level of beach party featuring international artists and music ranging from reggae to psychedelic trance and dance. If this is not your scene, you’ll find that three to four days either side of the full moon, Koh Phangan is the same laid-back tropical island with nothing but pristine beaches, beachfront bungalows and local bars, like it was before the 1980s.
Tours of Thailand can take many different forms depending on what you are looking for. The well-travelled destination that it is, Thailand conveniently offers something for everyone as seen from its array of nightlife options.