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.
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.
The Khaosan Road area, Bangkok's backpacker haunt, is where young Thais go dancing 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.
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.
The result? Punk bands with bleached mohawks who criticise corrupt politics and the massacre of the Islamic Rohingya minority; vibrant bars spread around 7th Street in Chinatown; and the dance clubs of Tein Gyi Zay Plaza, where you may have to leave your fingerprints upon admission.
Hunt more music down side alley Sosrowijian street, enjoying Oxen Free's DJ sets and cosy, open-air bistro, or Lucifer Bar's reggae, country, classic rock and R&B bands on most nights. Asmara in Prawirotaman district is another spot where young Indonesian musicians know well how to work up the crowd.most famous annual music festival gathers thousands of fans who come to enjoy international world music at the Sarawak Cultural Village, 35km north of Kuching. For three days, you can join workshops and exhibits by day and attend gigs by night, learning about Borneo's tribal cultures and dancing to some of the best world music from Asia, Europe and the Americas.
Catch impromptu spoken word or music performances at the Artistry, admire the huge 'girl with lion cub' mural that Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevich etched along Victoria street's wall, or attend rock gigs and theatre performances at the Aliwal Arts Centre.
Read our guide to the best things to do in Singapore and find something to do for all tastes.
Top image: Bangkok at night © Nano Tanongsakmontri/Shutterstock.