Celebrating New Year’s Eve 2018 in Southeast Asia

Although New Year’s Eve in Asia is actually in April, the locals still think that the Western New Year is a great excuse for a party and you’ll find plenty to do in each of the major cities on the Stray route.

Plan your trip so that you end up in one of these party-places on 31st December!

Bangkok, Thailand

Fireworks over Bangkok - new years eve
Fireworks over Bangkok. Photo source: Bangkok Expat Life

There’s something for everyone in Bangkok! Family -friendly options include a free concert by Central World Mall, and an impressive fireworks display over Asiatique (an open air mall down by the river). The backpackers usually turn Khao San Road into one massive street party with international DJs spinning tracks til the wee hours. The upper class crowd rub shoulders with the rich and famous and watch the fireworks from some of the best rooftop bars in the city, such as the Moon Bar, Above 11, or Three Sixty (make sure you have a reservation). The Lebua Hotel, made famous in the movie The Hangover 2, will host the Bangkok Ball Drop – modelled on the famous New York City ball drop – which you’ll be able to see from anywhere in the city that you can see the iconic Lebua dome. One thing’s for sure, every bar and night club will be heaving with party goers so plan your night, and where you want to be at midnight, so you don’t have to move around too much.

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Chiang Mai, Thailand

Monks releasing lanterns in Chiang Mai for New Year
Chiang Mai lantern release. Photo source: newyearseveblog.com

Head to the city square near the Tha Pae Gate where the New Year celebrations will be taking place and the roads will be closed from 6pm. Explore the food stalls, pop up bars, and enjoy the dance performances. In Chiang Mai it’s a tradition to release lanterns into the sky and into the river to bring luck for the new year – it’s a pretty spectacular sight to see! If you’re looking for a place to dance the night away, close to the Tha Pae Gate you’ll find long-time backpacker favourite bar Zoe in Yellow. Monkey Club, Fabrique and Spicy are also popular bars and clubs to get your boogie on.


Full Moon Party, Koh Phangan, Thailand

Partying at the full moon party

Although it’s not even officially a ‘full moon’ on 31st December, Haad Rin Beach, home to the famous monthly Full Moon Parties will still be one of the biggest New Year celebrations in Asia, with thousands of people decked out in neon glow paint, slurping cocktails out of buckets, and dancing on the beach at the Koh Phangan Countdown Party. It’s a New Year’s party on steroids! Don’t miss our blog for surviving the Full Moon Party.

For a different New Year’s experience on Koh Phangan, those in the know grab a water taxi off the beach at Haad Rin and leave the neon-clad party goers behind for a ‘secret’ garden party. Eden Garden Party is only accessible by water taxi or four wheel drive. From the beach, make your way over a rickety rope bridge and you’ll find Eden, perched on the cliff overlooking the gorgeous bay of Haad Yuan. We recommend heading over while it’s still light to enjoy the views over some quiet cocktails before getting the party started. You can always get a water taxi back to Haad Rin Beach and join the crowds later in the night.


Luang Prabang, Laos

Utopia Garden Bar lit by candles
Utopia Bar. Photo source: Tim the Thai

Start the evening with some delicious Lao food from the night market to line your stomach then head to Utopia for drinks in the garden bar. When it closes, get a taxi to the bowling alley just outside of town which is open until around 2am – trust us, this will be the most fun you’ve had ten pin bowling!


Vang Vieng, Laos

Tubing in Vang Vieng, Laos

It doesn’t need to be a special occasion to have a wild party in Vang Vieng. Start the day with a hearty breakfast at the Irish Pub, then head to the tube hire shop and spend the afternoon partying like it’s 1999 as you tube down the river, stopping at each of the river bars.  When you get back into town, make sure you drop your tube off before heading out to the bars. Hit up the famous Sakura Bar, which often does a happy hour of free drinks! Good luck making it to midnight!


Vientiane, Laos

Head to Nam Phou Square by the Vientiane fountain where Tiger Beer will be hosting the countdown festivities with live music, food vendors and, of course, Tiger Beer!


Siem Reap, Cambodia

Siem Reap Pub Street on New Year's Eve
Countdown party on Pub Street. Photo Source: video still from BrokePinkBloke on youtube.com

The main place to be for a New Year’s countdown in Siem Reap is the infamous Pub Street. Secure a spot early where you can people watch, have something to eat and a few drinks before the party spills out onto the street and Pub Street turns into one huge New Year celebration. Party the night away at The Angkor What?, Yolo Bar and X Bar, or go somewhere a little more chilled: Island Bar towards the back of the Angkor Night Market makes nice cocktails, as does Miss Wong’s, in a little lane just off Pub Street.


Sihanoukville, Cambodia

Free concert. Photo source: about-cambodia.blogspot.co.nz

Sihanoukville really gets into the party spirit! The area turns into one massive beach/street party for local Cambodians and tourists alike. There will be free concerts sponsored by Angkor (the local) Beer, DJs, food stalls, markets, and fireworks! JJ’s Playground on Serendipity Beach has a reputation for a wild party, or party with the backpacker crowd on Ochheuteal Beach. Otres Beach is the more relaxing place to celebrate.


Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Head down to the Tonle Sap riverside where there are lots of bars and restaurants overlooking the river.  Start the night with a delicious mojito at the Le Moon Rooftop Bar, or take a cruise along the river to observe the festivities from a different perspective. Some of the big hotels, Raffles, Sofitel and Hotel Cambodiana, will be hosting elaborate gala dinners with music and entertainment, but Phnom Penh also has some great backpacker bars to party the night away – try Loco Bar, Cherie’s, and Mad Monkey.

> Keep an eye on this website for NY Eve parties in Phnom Penh


Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Chill Bar Saigon
Chill Bar. Photo source: Saigon Times Daily

District 1, also known as the ‘backpacking’ district will be the place to be on New Year’s Eve. Check out some of the main nightclubs and bars like Apocalypse, Gossips and Apollo who will all have their best DJs playing and a countdown at midnight. If you’re interested in a fancier type of party where you can wear the one ‘nice’ dress you bought backpacking with you, head to one of the cities best rooftop bars: Chill Skybar, Social Club, or Glow. The Lighthouse rooftop bar is hosting a New Year’s party that claims to be ‘[email protected]%!’ING Epic’.

> Keep an eye on this website for what’s on in Ho Chi Minh


Nha Trang, Vietnam

Performance at the Nha Trang Sailing Club New Year Party
Sailing Club New Year Party. Photo source: anyarena.com

If you’re travelling between Da Lat and Bai Xep, hop off to spend New Year’s Eve in Nha Trang. The Sailing Club on the beach is a great place to party – they’ve got international DJs and you can buy tickets on the door. The Louisiane Brew House also offers a fun atmosphere with live music and giant jugs of freshly brewed beer. If you choose to stay on the bus to Bai Xep you’ll be rewarded with a nice chilled out New Year’s Eve where you can party on the beach at the beach bar with your Stray crew.


Hoi An, Vietnam

The streets of the Old Town of Hoi An will be closed to traffic, so head down to the riverside to mingle with the locals, drink cold fresh beer and watch lanterns float down the river. Feast on street food and watch the fireworks at midnight. If you’re keen on hitting the bars, the music and the cocktails are excellent at Q Bar (it is a little pricier than most but it’s worth it) and Dive bar is popular too. If you’re after the backpacker party scene head across the river to An Hoi where there are a few backpacker bars to choose from.


Hanoi, Vietnam

Hoan Kiem Lake. Photo source: Hanoikids.org

The streets around the Hoan Kiem lake in the Old Quarter will be where you’ll find other tourists and some locals celebrating the New Year. Head to Bia Hoi Corner to sink a few of the cheapest beers in Hanoi! The rule is: the lower the chair, the cheaper the beer! In the little lanes around Beer Corner you’ll find one of the popular clubs like Funky Buddha, Dragonfly or Mao’s Red Lounge.

About Stray Asia

Stray Asia are adventure travel specialists. Don’t waste your precious travel time working out how to get from A to B. We’ve already planned a great route, and your Guide will sort everything out for you as you go, so all you need to do is focus on having the best time possible! Travel passes are flexible – hop-on and off so you can spend up to a year travelling hassle-free and safely at your own pace, with a group of fun, like-minded backpackers.

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