Bangla Walking Street Phuket

Why party places can be the best chill spaces

Like the rhyming title? Of course you did.

If you’re looking for somewhere to relax and catch up on sleep, especially while on long-term travel, well established party places like Koh Phangan, Patong Beach or Koh Phi Phi in Thailand, Seminyak or Gili T in Bali, or any Mad Monkey hostel around the world, are not places that make the shortlist.

You see the descriptions on Hostelworld that say ‘don’t come here if you want to go to sleep before 2am’ or you hear stories from other travellers about the night-long drunken escapades. You imagine loud music, bright lights, bucket cocktails, tons of people and a whole string of western-style restaurants (because it’s westerners who holiday in these places). And while your initial assumptions are not wrong at all, people often fail to see the opportunities this presents for some good old kip and downtime.

What the hell am I talking about? When you’re looking to relax, forget the expensive spa retreats, empty beaches, fancy restaurants full of old people and overpriced private rooms. I’ll let you into a few of my secrets about why you should chill out in a well-known party spot:

You get a lot of time in the dorm room to yourself

Likelihood is, the people in your dorm room will be out all evening and into the wee hours. They will probably be out most of the day sleeping on a beach. This means that you get the room to yourself to sit and write blogs (like I am now), do travel research or read that book you’ve had on the go for months. It gives you free rein to spend as long as you like in the shower and you can make a mess repacking your bag without anyone having to step over it. Sure, they come in drunk, late, but if you have your ear plugs in and your eye patch on you won’t even notice. If you book yourself into a small-ish dorm in a fairly social but relaxing hostel most people are quite considerate when they come in late and see people sleeping.

It’s a beautiful place for breakfast

Everyone sleeps in late, which means you get to explore an almost deserted area in the cool, morning sunshine. Breakfasts are quite often cheaper because it’s not something people get up for and if you’re staying somewhere that provides free breakfast you will get the first pick of the good stuff.

No overcrowded activities

Activities like morning scuba dives or sunrise hikes are not as busy and you get to meet some likeminded people while having loads of time and space to take awesome pictures. When we did our morning dives in Moalboal, Cebu, there were four of us on the boat. By the time the boat went out on the next dive (11.30am) that number had quadrupled.

Plenty of cheap hostels

Hostels are abundant in these backpacker party places, and quite often cheaper because they are trying to attract the younger crowd who want to spend all their money on beer from the hostel bar (fridge). Either that, or it’s just a basic hostel with all the amenities you need that isn’t listed on Hostelworld.

Sleep in or rise early

You can have a lie in without being woken up – everyone around you is passed out so you can flick on your reading light, scroll through facebook or even go back to sleep without being disturbed. No one books early transport because they know they are going to have a late one. And you don’t feel guilty about leaving early to get the cheaper flight because even if you do wake people up, they won’t mind because they think they did it to you every night when they came in drunk…

Changed your mind?

If you’ve enjoyed a long hike, made friends on a day trip, recharged after your precious downtime or perfected your scuba buoyancy, you might find yourself in the mood for a few drinks. If that’s the case, you’re in the perfect place!

Enjoyable early evening vibe. People are beginning a big night out so there is often stuff going on. Soak up the atmosphere by having a walk around, even stopping for a couple of beers, watching the local fire show, taking advantage of the happy hours and then retire for an early one. Even if you’re just having dinner people are often a bit chattier (because they are drunk), which makes it easier if you’re an introvert like me (check out my blog about travelling as an introvert).

Choosing to stay in a known party place provides the best of both worlds. There’s plenty of time to yourself if you want it and you enjoy all the fun of the party while sleeping through the messy bit, or you can go large. This used to be a struggle for me because I always suffered from FOMO (fear of missing out). I would feel inadequate if I knew something was going on and I didn’t have a story to tell about it.

FOMO, consider yourself well and truly benched. After all, nothing good happens after 2am (11pm).

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