When you’re staying in one of Thailand’s popular tourist hotspots, like Bangkok, Phuket, Koh Samui, Chiang Mai, and Pattaya, you may very well be dazzled by the choice of nightlife options. From high-class restaurants to street stalls, from raucous nightclubs to chilled-out bars, and from cultural performances through to energetic cabaret shows and thrilling Muay Thai (Thai boxing) fights, there are many ways to keep the fun going long after the sun has gone down.
How about nightlife in other parts of the country? Just because some areas aren’t top of the list for many tourists doesn’t mean that locals don’t enjoy some after-hours fun; you’ll find a good night scene in most parts of the country.
Whilst some night time activities may be limited to certain parts of the country, there are many great things to do all around Thailand at night:
1. Eat, eat, and eat some more!
Food is a huge part of the Thai social scene, with groups of friends regularly focusing an evening around food. It is common for groups to order several dishes to be shared, as opposed to everyone having an individual dish. Pile the table high with tasty Thai dishes and try a variety of different flavours over the course of an evening.
Local restaurants are used to people spending several hours over a meal, and it is perfectly acceptable, rather normal in fact, for extra dishes to be ordered over the course of an evening. A meal isn’t always the precursor to a night out; sometimes it IS the night out!
If you love spicy food, a recommended favourite is tom yam gung (tom yum goong / kung). Popular with many Thai people, it is a hot and sour prawn soup. Watch out for whole peppercorns! Various curries (gang / gaang / gaeng / kaeng) are available, with spicy and non-spicy varieties to suit.
Other recommendations include pak bung fie daeng, morning glory cooked with garlic, chillies, and fish sauce, tom kha gai, a creamy chicken and coconut soup, grilled fish, stir-fried vegetables (pad pak), and gai med ma muang him ma pan, chicken with cashew nuts. There are so many different dishes to try! Don’t forget regional specialities too, such as laab / laap / larb in Isan (a meat salad with lime, chilli, and fish sauce) and khao soi (a type of noodle soup) in the northern provinces.
2. Hit up a karaoke joint and sing your heart out!
In common with many Asian countries, karaoke is hugely popular in Thailand. You’ll find karaoke bars all across the country, although you may find that those in quieter provincial areas do not have a wide selection of non-Thai songs. Nevertheless, an evening in a karaoke bar can still be heaps of fun. Order some drinks and snacks and enjoy the lively atmosphere!
If you’re feeling shy, or just want a more intimate night with your mates, there are many places where you can spend an evening in a private karaoke room. These often have a great selection of Thai and international songs. Some restaurants and bars have private karaoke areas, where you can eat, drink, and sing like a canary. Karaoke rooms can also be found in many large hotels and even inside most major shopping centres! The prices vary widely. Many local restaurants and bars offer free use of the karaoke rooms with unlimited time - with the expectation that you will be ordering food and drink whilst using the room. This means that they are available on a first-come-first-served basis. Don’t worry though - there are lots around!
Some karaoke bars are similar to go-go bars or brothels, but without sex being sold. Almost anything else goes though - kissing, groping … you get the idea! A night at one of these karaoke bays is purely a man’s night out. And, it is often incredibly expensive! You may find yourself under pressure to buy drinks for the hostesses (usually young, beautiful, and scantily-clad girls), your own drinks will be at super-inflated prices, any snacks will be very expensive, and you’ll often be charged for all manners of extras, for example ice and table mints. A night here isn’t usually about the singing though!
Hotels commonly make a small charge per hour, with some charging for the room and others charging based on the number of people. As a rough guide, allow 200 to 300 THB (approximately 5.50 to 8.30 USD) for a room for an hour. The amount is more in a larger city. Some allow you to take your own drinks, whereas others require that you order drinks from their establishment. Be wary - where you must buy drinks from a hotel they are often quite expensive! It is not common for any refreshments to be included in the price of a room.
Shopping centre karaoke booths are often popular with teenagers. Cheap and cheerful, they are small and basic. The price is purely for the room.
3. Visit a local bar or nightclub
You may notice that many local bars and clubs around Thailand feature live music. Other entertainment, especially in clubs, is also fairly common, with Thai comedians and dancers taking to the stage. This certainly makes for a great ambience!
Table service is common in bars and clubs, outside of establishments that mainly cater to tourists. Not only do you place your drinks orders at your table with a server, but attentive members of staff also make sure that your glass is never empty. A word of warning – this can make it difficult to monitor how much you are actually drinking. It’s fairly standard, as with food, to share drinks, with glasses of beer poured from communal bottles, or a group sharing a bottle of Thai whisky.
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4. Chill out or party hard on the beaches
There are many places to enjoy at night along Thailand’s coastline and on island beaches. Whether you want to dance the night away on the sands, relax in a laid-back beach shack, sink into a deckchair and enjoy food and drinks, or watch a thrilling fire show, Thailand’s many beaches offer plenty of diversity after dark.
If you’re looking for a vibrant beach party, great places include Phuket, Koh Samui, Koh Samet, and Koh Pha Ngan. Beaches away from the international tourist circuit, such as those on the mainland in Chanthaburi, Rayong, Surat Thani, and Nakhon Si Thammarat, are ideal for chilling out alongside Thai groups of friends.
5. Head to a known nightlife hotspot for diverse options
Wander along Pattaya’s glitzy Walking Street and be dazzled by the neon flashing lights as you hear competing tunes pumping out of the bars and clubs. Known for being the sex capital of Thailand, Pattaya certainly dishes out plenty of jaw-dropping sights!
Phuket’s Patong is the area’s hub of nocturnal activity, although you will find plenty of places around the popular southern province to have fun too. You’ll find almost anything you want in Patong, from raucous nightclubs, swanky bars, glamorous shows, late-night shopping, go-go bars, jazz joints, beach parties, night time massage parlours, and more!
Koh Pha Ngan is perhaps the ultimate party island, with Had / Haad / Hat Rin offering lively nights out throughout the month, with the intensity amplifying around the time of full and half moons.
Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Hua Hin, Koh Samui, and Koh Phi Phi are amongst other places where diverse nightlife is all but guaranteed.
6. Tour illuminated ancient temples
This activity is, naturally, confined to places that are known for having an abundance of temples within close proximity.
Join an organised trip, charter a tuk tuk (three-wheeled motorised vehicle), hop on a scooter, or rent a bicycle in Ayutthaya and see a different side to the spectacular ancient city after dark. With temples like Wat Chaiwatthanaram, Wat Mahatat, Wat Lokaya Sutha, Wat Phra Si Sanphet, and Wat Ratchaburana lit up at night, there is definitely lots to feast your eyes upon.
The ancient city of Sukhothai is another terrific place to soak up some culture and admire fabulous architecture after nightfall. You’ll find the main night sights in the historical park’s central zone. As with Ayutthaya, several transportation options are available.
Several of Chiang Mai’s glorious temples are spectacularly lit up at night, including Wat Phra That Doi Suthep and Wat Sri Suphan. Join a tour, charter a tuk tuk, rent a scooter, or wander around – you’ll quickly spot the lights gleaming through the night sky.
When wandering around temples at night, be cautious of stray dogs and potholes – both can lead to nasty injuries if you’re not careful!
Other things to enjoy in Thailand at night
There are many excellent evening markets around Thailand, selling an array of handicrafts, souvenirs, clothing, food, and more. Some of the most well-known night markets include Chiang Mai’s Night Bazaar, Bangkok’s Patpong Night Market, and Talad Kaset in Phuket.
Spend an evening at the cultural Siam Niramit show, in Bangkok and Phuket, visit Chiang Mai’s Night Safari, take a dinner cruise along one of the country’s many waterways, spot shimmering bio-luminescent phytoplankton (a type of plankton that emits light) that sparkles like stars in the sea along various stretches of the Andaman Coast, go night snorkelling, visit a temple and listen to the rhythmic chants of monks performing their evening prayers, and more!
Book your trip to Thailand and uncover the country’s many daytime and night time delights!
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