Some cities light up after dark—we go beyond the usual suspects and pick 10 global destinations that know how to throw a party. By Divya Behl & Vikas Plakkot
1. Cancun, Mexico:
Once famed for being the top choice of American college students on their spring breaks, Cancun is today a luxe beach town, lined with all-inclusive resorts, and an upscale nightlife that is one-of-a- kind. Spend your mornings along the white-sand beaches, getting a tan, swimming in the crystal-clear water, and sipping on tropical drinks. After dark, bring your wildest best to the 20-plus bars along the hotel zone.
Buy a gold pass to the Coco Bongo nightclub, an institution in Cancun where flying acrobats, musicians, and actors put on a stellar show while you get pampered with their premium cocktails and services. Instead of hopping from one club to another, whale a whole night away here and pick a different venue for the next evening like The City Discotheque, which brings over 5,000 partygoers together to groove live to musicians like 50 Cent and Fergie.
2. Seoul, South Korea:
In Seoul, you could party every day for years and still be discovering stuff. With a gazillion clubs spread across five districts, this city does not sleep. On one hand, there’s Itaewon and Hongdae—where the young and penniless drink soju, break out in dance to K-pop, and party till noon next day. On the other hand, there’s Gangnam, brought to fame by a viral song, where you may rub shoulders with the likes of Lady Gaga and not even realise it.
At Club Octagon, consistently rated among the top 10 in the world, you could sway to the tunes of DJs like Paul Van Dyk, slip into a private VIP party hosted by celebs, or elevator-hop to different levels featuring myriad genres of music. Or, head to Club Arena to savour a local flavour without compromising on the glitz and glam of Octagon.
3. Koh Pha-Ngan, Thailand:
Synonymous with full-moon and half-moon parties, this Thai island dubs itself the party heart of Southeast Asia. Once every month, on the 800-metre long strip of sand at Haad Rin beach, more than 30,000 people from across the globe smear their body with neon paint and dance the night away. International DJs set the stage ablaze, UV lights illuminate the body paint, and liquor flows the entire night.
The Rock, located on a giant rock on the beach, is best known for its funky tunes and innovative cocktails. Paradise Bungalows is the home of the original full-moon party, and hosts the biggest crowd. The waterfall party, set in a lagoon inside the jungle; the Sunday Special at the floating Loi Lay bar on Ban Tai beach; and the psychedelic trance party during the ‘Shiva Moon’ are alternatives if you miss the lunar parties.
4. Paris, France:
A classical assortment of the city’s cultural offerings may not include late night revelries, but Paris at night possesses a charm that cannot be ignored. In the early evenings, cruise along the River Seine, toasting to champagne or tasting wine in the city’s cellars. When the night descends, walk along St. Canal Martin joining the city’s youth in beer chugging; or pub-hop in the party centres of Le Marais or République.
Situated right by the Seine, Concrete is the city’s favourite electronic music venue where the party lasts all-day and night. In the Bastille area, Badaboum steals the thunder with its thematic rooms. If a more exclusive place is on your mind, consider L’Arc Paris, just a stone’s throw from the Arc De Triomphe, where the likes of Nadal and Beyonce have stopped by.
5. New Orleans, Louisiana:
Nights in Louisiana’s largest city can vacillate to two extremes. You could either spend the whole night swaying to swing music and jazz jamming, or you could end up in the wildest party you’ve ever been. The bulk of the action unwinds at Bourbon Street in the historic French Quarter, lined with cocktail bars, strip clubs, cajun-style eateries, and world-renowned jazz clubs.
Considered to be the oldest working bar in the country, Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar is a city favourite where you can drink cheap beer and sing to the tunes of Sinatra and Otis Redding. On a Thursday night, make your way to Rock ‘N’ Bowl, one of the few places to catch the local cajun dance music. Or, take things up a notch at Republic NOLA, a quintessential dance club where the party never ends.
6. Tel Aviv, Israel:
With a buzz that lasts 24 hours, newly developed beach bars, laid-back wineries, and a multicultural crowd, Tel Aviv is the Middle East’s melting pot for the party lover. Unlike cities in Europe, where action at a club kicks off as early as 7 pm, locals in Tel Aviv don’t arrive to a party until midnight, and stay all the way till dawn.
Begin your evenings at the Banana or Gordon beaches holding a beer and absorbing the sunset before heading to Rothschild Boulevard, the beating heart of Tel Aviv’s party scene. Make your way to Speakeasy, an exclusive rooftop bar offering creative cocktails and enviable views of the city all at once, or pick Kuli Alma if you’re sober enough to appreciate art at its well-curated gallery. When everything else shuts down, hop over to Breakfast and Milk Club, where local and international DJs spin electric tunes till the morning.
7. Queenstown, New Zealand:
Queenstown is the sort of city where you can let yourself go—by taking part in adventure activities through the day or partying without a worry at its pubs in the evenings. The nightlife, devoid of any frills, revolves around good old pubs and bars peppered all around town. Craft beer is the mainstay among drinks, while the speciality wine of the region occasionally takes centrestage.
The fulcrum of the city’s pub scene is The World Bar, which began as a ski centre before evolving into an eclectic bar dishing out craft beer, teapot cocktails, and excellent live music. At the quirky Minus 5° ICE BAR, built entirely of ice, slip into a rug and let your cold drink warm your insides.
8. Ios, Greece:
Dwarfed in popularity by Mykonos, Ios has long been flying under the radar. Largely featuring backpackers in their 20s, parties on this Greek isle know no limits, but there’s plenty to suit all tastes and ages. The Aegean Sea, the white and blue domed houses, and the peaceful lifestyle of the locals make up the perfect recipe for those who prefer lying low during the day and turning it up at night. Begin at the FarOut Beach Club on Mylopotas Beach, where the entire town assembles before choosing one of the many venues in Chora. Drop into Slammer Bar, where you may put on a helmet and get slammed with a hammer while taking a shot, and end the night at Sweet Irish Dream, the largest club in town where the party starts at 3 am.
9. Colombo, Sri Lanka:
For a tiny city, Colombo packs a heavy punch when it comes to nightlife. Band wars, trendy live music, thematic pubs, and most importantly, world-class casinos make up a city-wide party in Colombo. Go with your pockets full and roll with the roulette at Bally’s Casino, an institution that has been at the heart of Colombo’s nightlife for years; its dinner buffet is as good as its casino games. Head to ON14 Rooftop Bar for drinks while treating yourself to sweeping views of the city, and 41 Sugar is the place if you want to dance the night away. Choose Sopranos if you’re after a long karaoke night.
10. Dubai, UAE:
Dubai’s bubbling nightlife hides quietly behind the façade of its new-age architecture and luxury shopping outlets. Although the parties are largely confined to luxury hotels, and strict age restrictions do apply, they are second to none when it comes to the razzle-dazzle. Put on your best outfit to gain entry into Dubai’s elite clubbing scene.
WHITE Dubai, an award-winning rooftop bar atop The Meydan Hotel, not only comes with jaw-dropping views of the skyline but also attracts the finest EDM artists to play for you. Alternatively, book a table at the Armani/Prive, located inside the world’s tallest building—the iconic Burj Khalifa—where you’re likely to party with global celebrities and models. If you find yourself in Dubai on a Monday night, Cirque Le Soir is the place to be; it is famed for its circus-themed hip hop nights.