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 go 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.
Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur © Shahrul Azmi/Shutterstock
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.
Khaosan Road, Bangkok © orientalprincess/Shutterstock
4. Rub elbows with artists in Penang, Malaysia
Since 2012, the arts have taken centre stage in Georgetown. Hin Bus Depot offers rotating art and photography exhibits and the enthralling dance parties organised by Ze Arcade Paint collective.
At Narrow Marrow, a hole-in-the-wall hipster bar renovated from a storage space, artists and musicians chat over coffees and mojitos made with coconut-flavoured liquor. Soundmaker Studio keeps Penang’s rock underground alive with weekend gigs, and every August, the month-long Georgetown Festival brings to town dozens of international art performances.