There’s no doubt about it: Thailand is among the most legendary party destinations in Southeast Asia, nay – the world! Don’t just take our word for it. Take the word of the 40,000 revelers who join the epic Full Moon Parties of Koh Phangan each month. Take the word of the backpacking hedonists who flood to the bars of Khaosan Road on the weekends. But…where are the best party destinations in Thailand?
Cue this guide. It’s all about ferreting out the places in the fabled Land of Smiles that put cold Changs and potent bucket cocktails in the hand to fuel all-night shindigs on the sand. It’s packed with uber-famous places to let loose, but also has some secret spots that we think budding partiers should be sure to add to the itinerary.
Mhmm…from the gleaming beaches of the gulf islands all the way to the jungles of the far north, through the frenetic metropolis of Bangkok and beyond, this guide to the best party destinations is sure to add a bit of energy and pizzazz to your Asian adventure in 2023. Let’s begin…
Our tour of the best party destinations in Thailand begins, almost inevitably, in the country’s big, bustling capital: Bangkok. This is a city primed to overload the senses. It’s a cacophony of bright lights and whizzing tuk-tuks, all wrapped up in the heady scents of ginger, soy, and chili. Considered “the gateway to Asia,” it’s really like nowhere else on the planet, and likely to be your first pit stop when you travel over to the Land of Smiles.
On the nightlife front, it’s the riotous Khao San Road that leads the way. Loved by backpackers for its bars and clubs, cheap hostels and legendary late-night street eats, it was made famous by the coming-of-age Danny Boyle flick The Beach. Once the sun goes down, the strip comes alive with bright lights, blaring music, and hordes of tourists. And while the drinks are cheap and the parties plentiful, the area has a shady side – from scammers to seedy businesses. Just keep your wits about you.
Luckily, there are plenty of other places to spend an evening in Bangkok. Those in search of something a little more sophisticated may want to head to one of the city’’’s many rooftop and sky-high bars. The areas of Silom and Sathon are packed with them, each churning out meticulously mixed cocktails with sweeping views of the cityscape. Then there are the more off-beat hipster districts of Ekkamai and Wathana, which offer cool Korean BBQ joints next to microbreweries and sports bars.
No guide to the nightlife in Thailand could possibly be complete without mentioning Koh Phangan. This island is arguably the most famous of all of Thailand’s party destinations and that’s really because of just one thing: The Full Moon Party.
Each month, the island attracts between 10,000 and 40,000 people who come here to experience it all for themselves. It’s essentially an all-night beach rave that starts around midday and doesn’t end until the sunrise the following morning. It’s a blowout of major proportions, complete with fire-eaters, neon paint, firework displays, and of course, buckets of cheap cocktails. Head to Haad Rin Beach to get into the thick of the action.
The roots of the Full Moon Party can be traced to 1985, when the event was inaugurated by a group of wandering hippies. They decided that the moon looked most beautiful in Koh Phangan and decided to host a monthly party to honor it. Back then it was just a few guitars and a campfire. Today, it’s one of the biggest party events in Asia.
Thing is, the rest of Koh Phangan is pretty chilled and when the Full Moon Party isn’t on even the town of Haad Rin is sleepy and still. For something a little different, track up the west coast to find Haad Salad, a small beach bay with reggae bars. Or, choose Haad Yao, which is a bit of a youthful area with a clutch of coffee roasters and sunset bars.
The second city of Thailand, Chiang Mai, is a sprawling yet laid-back town nestled between verdant mountains and the central plains. You can get there on the night train from Bangkok in less than 12 hours, or fly up – Chiang Mai now has a well-served regional airport. Some call this one the cultural hub of the country for the overload of temples and shrines, but it could just as well be called one of the nightlife centers.
The reason? Mainly the night bazaars. Chiang Mai is famous for them. We’re talking huge, sprawling markets that take up block after block with stalls and shops and sellers touting everything from sizzling peanut noodles to knock-off designer clothes. The biggest of them takes place after 6pm between Chang Khlan Road and the river, but there are also Wednesday food markets and Tuesday flea markets to get stuck into.
There’s also some more traditional nightlife in the form of beer halls and cool reggae bars to be found in Chiang Mai. For those, look to the Nimman Road area. It’s an upcoming hipster and expat hub that has big clubs and edgy cocktail bars galore. It’s about 5-10 minutes’ drive in a tuk-tuk from the Old Town.
Koh Phi Phi
A lot has been said about the Koh Phi Phi nightlife scene in recent years. There are some who say it’s WAY to rowdy for what it should be, since the island actually sits smack dab in the heart of a national park. There are others who love it and can’t get enough. Some restrictions were placed on bar opening times here back in 2019 but they seem to have eased and old Phi Phi is still thrumming away in the waters of the Andaman Sea. So, whatever you think, there are parties to be had here still.
When people talk about the Phi Phi islands, they’re usually referring to Koh Phi Phi Don. That’s the only inhabited and developed member of the chain. It has an isthmus area in the middle that’s flat enough to host bigger buildings, which is where you’ll find the main nightlife venues. To the north is Loh Dalum Beach, which has the more rickety reggae bars and dub clubs with fire shows. To the south is Ton Sai Village, where things a touch swankier (despite the Burger King!).
Next up on our list of the best party destinations in Thailand is Koh Tao, a stunning island in the Gulf of Thailand. Koh Tao is famed for its array of underwater delights, with people generally heading here to scuba dive and snorkel their days away. However, there’’’s plenty to get up to on the island once the sun disappears too…
The focal point of the island’s party scene is Sairee Beach. That sliver of golden sand is lined with many bars and restaurants, almost all of which face plum west out over the water. That means this one’s the prime spot for a sun-downer cocktail at the outset of your evening. Later on, you can expect the usual fire shows and live music on the sand out front
Just off the beach, you’ll find AC Bar Beach Club, a buzzing joint popular for its swim-up bar and after-dark pool parties. Fishbowl Beach Bar is another famed Sairee Beach establishment. Cheap drinks and regular parties often featuring international DJs take place there, so it’s a good option if you want to keep the party going longer. Then there’s chilled COCO Bar, which is a bit more chilled, a bit more sociable.
Love it or hate it, Phuket is surely up there among the most happening party destinations in Thailand. Not all of Phuket, mind you. This is the largest island in the country, so you need to pick out the right resort and area if your main POA is glugging buckets and cold Chang beers until midnight.
Thankfully, there’s one place that really stands out from the crowd: Patong. Welcome to the most built-up part of the Phuket west coast. The town unfolds along a wide bay of honey-hued sand, enfolded by rugged headlands of karst stone topped with palm trees on both sides. In the middle is infamous Bangla Road, which is one long run of gaudy go-go bars and expat pubs, topped off by a wild night market at its eastern end.
Alterntively, there’s Phuket Town. We kinda’ prefer that because it has a distinctively local vibe to it. Start in the night bazaar munching on spicy Thai seafood and noodles and then move to Ratsada Road on the south side of the Old Town, where cocktail joints and sports bars coalesce.
Unfurl the hammock, ready the chill-hop, and prepare to unwind – Pai is among the most relaxed escapes in the Land of Smiles. It’s but a small town set on a gurgling river amid the wild jungles mountains of the far north, closer to Burma than to Bangkok. Getting there involves a two-hour bus around more bends in the highway than your banana-filled belly could possibly handle. But it’s worth it if you like nightlife with a difference.
Mhmm…despite its rep for being a hub of R&R, Pai also has a party side. It starts in the main street night market but soon shifts to the street parallel to the river. There, you’ll find holes-in-the-wall like Bar Bar Bar and Almost Famous, wedged between bigger biker pubs like Boom Bar and stylish Blue Ox.
Later on, there’s one pumping open-air bar you can choose to keep the party going. It’s called Don’t Cry and it sits just over the main bridge, a few minutes’ walking from the center. There are campfires there and some dance floors. Just be wary, since former patrons report drinks scams and abrasive staff. How un-Pai like!
The best party destinations in Thailand – our conclusion
Thailand is packed full of pretty awesome party destinations. It’s probably among the top three places to go for nightlife in Asia as a whole, and perhaps even the best of all. It covers all the bases. Hedonists who want no-holes-barred shindigs can stick to the center of Bangkok or head to the Full Moon Party that happens down in Haad Rin in Phangan. Those who prefer more chilled reggae nights and sunset drinking can pick the Andaman Islands or the hidden hill town of Pai. Then there are the night bazaars of Chiang Mai and the booming resort towns of Phuket. It’s endless!
Is Thailand a good party destination?
Thailand is a great party destination. From the chaos of Bangkok, to the all-night parties on beaches in the southern islands, there’s a rich and varied range of nightlife experiences to enjoy in this Southeast Asian paradise. It’s no wonder that Thailand has been named one of the best places to party in Asia!
Where is the best place to party in Thailand?
Thailand has many brilliant party destinations, but one stands out for the rest: Koh Phangan. The island’s legendary Full Moon Party is Thailand’s most famous nightlife experience. This night-long open-air party is a great place to meet like-minded people and dance the night away under the brilliance of the full moon. However, Bangkok rivals Koh Phangan in terms of the variety of its nightlife scene. The party never stops on its famous Khoa San Road, but there’s also plenty of high-end rooftop bars, river cruises, and red-light district wonders to discover after dark, making it a very entertaining city to explore by night.