He Said/She Said: Boozin’ Around Asia

He Said/She Said: Boozin’ Around Asia

One of the best ways to meet locals and to get your tongue to form the foreign sounds of a new language is to grab a drink.  You may think we’ve been all about books, in the 12 Asian countries we’ve visited, for completely altruistic reasons we assure you, we searched out the best places for boozing.  Here’s what a year and thousands of dollars of research found.


This is a dangerous topic for me to write about.  First of all, it may make it sound like I drink everywhere I go.  This isn’t true, I don’t drink in temples, schools or on long bus rides.  Secondly, it may make it sound like I like the drinks in Asia.  This also is untrue; the beer in Asia is as flavorful as Busch Light and alcohols as digestible as Elmer’s Glue.  That said, for you, oh gracious and wonderful reader, I am going to tell you the best places in Asia to grab a drink.

Hong Kong.  It’s really a great place for anything, but boozing has to be among the city’s best activity because it can be done anywhere.  As a traveler I wouldn’t have known the extent of it, but a Hong Kongese friend made it clear when he asked, “want to grab a beer for the cab ride?”  Never before had this crossed my mind, “of course I want a beer for the five minute taxi ride, I thought.”  Coming from the puritanical USA I never considered that somewhere it would be OK to drink in a car, let alone a taxi.  Then he told me one of his favorite things to do: ride the trams and drink beer.  We tried this out too and I can tell you: pretty awesome way to see Hong Kong Island, we rode it from Kennedy Town to Shau Kei Wan, stopping by Happy Valley to restock.  Beyond the legality of public drinking, the best part about Hong Kong is that beers from all around the world are cheap at convenience stores.  If you aren’t as price sensitive, Hong Kong also has some of the world’s best bars.

Let’s have a bucket of vodka then go for a giant swing…ahh, Laos.

Sure, Hong Kong is a first-rate, world-class city, with luxuries matched by few places, but it can’t top Laos as a place to drink in my book.  The accommodations, drinks and diversions are dirt cheap in Vang Vieng and 4000 Islands.  You will be surrounded by some of the best natural scenery the world has to offer including limestone karsts, the Mekong Delta and bikini-clad Northern Europeans.  Whether spectacular local or imported scenery interests you, it can be enjoyed with buckets of alcohol or delicious Beer Lao.  There are few places in the World, let alone Asia, that can match Laos.

Sure, there are many other great places to drink in Asia.  Tokyo, Bangkok, Hanoi and Shanghai stand out, but trust me; if you want glitz, glam and drinking in classy taxis, nothing beats Hong Kong.  If you’ve been looking for fun, you’ve been looking for Laos.  I would continue on, but the beers are cold and the power just went out…gotta grab them before they get warm…


While Asia has left a few things to be desired in the drinking department, such as digestible and delicious drinks, it has excelled in scenery and affordability.  This yin and yang when it comes to Asia’s drinking culture has kept our forays into the bar scene pretty tame.  However, there are a few specific places that I would go just to indulge and imbibe.

Lobster, pork chops and two beers a person: $10…Reasons to love Cambodia.

Cambodia not only features some of South East Asia’s most under rated beaches, but also the best drinking atmosphere.  Imagine an idyllic white sand beach with comfortable lounge chairs, vendors offering pedicures, massage and fresh lobster along with fifty-cent cold draft beer.  I am not describing the over-priced exclusive, all-inclusive resorts of Southern Thailand, but rather the affordable and approachable coast of Southern Cambodia, namely Sihanoukville.  The beer may not be amazing, but the laid-back atmosphere, fantastic food and low prices can’t be beat.

Wake up, visit gorgeous islands, then return to your porch for drinks.  Price for this view?  Less than $17 a night.  Waking up to the sound of the waves breaking?  It would be priceless…if I hadn’t told you the price…

Among the ranks of under rated beaches in the world, El Nido, Philippines has to be at the top.  You won’t read about this sleepy beach destination on the island of Palawan in the Philippines in Frommers, but it is gorgeous and offers an excellent opportunity for you to perfect your signature cocktail.  My signature cocktail is a good G&T, which one might argue is all about the quality of your gin.  I would counter it is the presence of gin at all, which can be hard to come by and because El Nido had gin at all much less tonic it makes the short list of best drinking destinations in my book.

Finally, whether you agree or not I really don’t feel that any list of liquor locales would be complete without at least a mention of Khaosan Road.  It may not be the most glamorous or scenic places to grab a drink, but the people watching is unbeatable.  Live music abounds, anything is at your finger tips and the party goes on all night long, regardless of if you are trying to sleep.

Regardless of where in the world you are in search of a nightcap, don’t ever under estimate the power of alcohol to make new friends and loosen the tongue.  One drink can also be the gateway to another world right at home.  Let us know where your favorite place is to grab a drink; we would love to join you…

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» Bka :
Nov 20, 2011

We agree on this one Erica, Shianoukville $.50 beers were pretty special……your brother would agree if he could remember being there as well…….cold and snowy here…..a far piece from Cambodia’s warm “cheap” beaches……be safe….love you guys…….bka

LOCAVORista Reply:

Dad, Sihanoukville was paradise in a lot of ways, but I know our list of great places to grab a drink will grow as we continue travelling. Maybe Barossa Valley in Australia will make the list, looking forward to sharing a glass of wine with you guys down under.

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About the Author

LOCAVORista: A curious adventurer exploring the culinary delights and local traditions around the world. Currently on a 3 year round-the-world trip discovering amazing cultures, must-eats and off-the-beaten-track destinations.

About the Author
LOCAVORista: A curious adventurer exploring the culinary delights and local traditions around the world. Currently on a 3 year round-the-world trip discovering amazing cultures, must-eats and off-the-beaten-track destinations.


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