Monthly Archives: December 2016

The best nights out in Southeast Asia

With eternal summer, thousands of kilometres of beaches and affordable prices, Southeast Asia is the perfect destination if you’re planning a trip around nightlife.

Truth be told, the region’s party reputation has been greatly tarnished by the excesses of Ko Pha Ngan’s full moon parties and drug- and alcohol-fuelled incidents at Vang Vieng’s tubing bars, Laos’ backpacker central. Yet the real picture is far from this portrayal of a gap-year-fool’s playground.

Southeast Asian nights hide many more vibrant and authentic experiences. Here are a few of the best.

 

1. Dive into Kuala Lumpur‘s music scene, Malaysia

Apart for the well-known Bukit Bintang, Bangsar and TREC entertainment districts, the Malaysian capital hides a polyhedric music scene. Around the Golden Triangle, you can start from ZOUK‘s trance and R&B-filled rooms to No Black Tie’s classy jazz ambience.

In the outskirts, Petaling Jaya’s Merdekarya hosts one-man-band blues wails, while Ampang’s Rumah Api and rehearsal space Live Fact are underground venues for alternative, metal and punk bands.

 

2. Sample Ho Chi Minh City‘s bars, Vietnam

When the sun goes down, the bustling energy of southern Vietnam’s megalopolis transfers to its many clubs and bars. Atmospheric rooftop lounges like Chill Sky Bar stay open until late, and besides drinking, there’s a small but exciting music scene to check out.

Acoustic Bar in District 3 has pop-rock cover bands, while Carmen in District 1 offers an odd selection of Spanish flamenco played by skilled Vietnamese musicians.

For a casual good time, the plastic tables along Bui Vien – also known as ‘Beer Street’ – in backpacker central Pham Ngu Lao are a must.

 

3. Take a bite of the Big Mango in Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok never sleeps: the whole Sukhumvit strip, from Asoke to Thong Lor and Ekkamai, boasts every imaginable type of club, including an Arab quarter filled with restaurants and shisha bars.

The Khaosan Road area, Bangkok’s backpacker haunt, is where young Thais go to dance and drink, while the RCA (Royal City Avenue) area, Bangkok’s biggest nightlife district, is where well-heeled Thais and celebrities uncork expensive whisky bottles.

Alternative Bangkok haunts  include hostel-cum-bar the Overstay, who throw electro-dance parties and underground rock gigs, while Fatty’s and Immortal Bar host local and visiting punk and metal bands.

Beautiful places in Vietnam

Here at Rough Guides we’ve always known that Vietnam is magical. The gleaming skyscrapers of the country’s booming cities have a singular kind of beauty that shouldn’t be overlooked, but it’s the natural landscape that is truly breathtaking. Picture rice terraces carved into steep hillsides, market days that are a riot of colour, limestone peaks jutting out from azure waters and white-sand beaches stretching for miles. Here are the most beautiful places in Vietnam – as voted for by our readers.

 

1. Cat Ba

Although the low-slung harbour town doesn’t have all that much – except location – to recommend it, the rest of the island is rocky and wild and begging to be explored. Half of Cat Ba is verdant national park and it’s a paradise for travellers who come here to hike, climb and kayak (the waters and coral reefs are protected too). For jaw-dropping views across Ha Long Bay, head up to Cannon Fort.

 

2. Da Lat

Nestled in Vietnam’s central highlands, Da Lat is a quintessential hill station centred on pretty Lake Xuan Huong, whose shore is lined with pine trees. Dotted with French Colonial-era villas and blessed with a cool and temperate climate, this is the Vietnamese honeymoon destination – an air of kitsch only adds to the genteel atmosphere.

 

3. Da Nang

A surprise entry in this poll, the modern riverside city of Da Nang is increasingly making it onto every traveller’s must-see list. It’s particularly attractive after dark when the neon light spills across the Han River; on weekend nights the quirky Dragon Bridge is illuminated and, astonishingly, it breathes fire. East of the city, a seemingly never-ending stretch of sandy beach extends 30km to Hoi An.