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Party on at these cities around the world

The greatest party cities have art, culture and charm, but undergo a complete transformation after dark.
All through the night, Bangkok's unsurpassed energy buzzes through the streets, which come alive with night markets, food stalls and  of people.
All through the night, Bangkok's unsurpassed energy buzzes through the streets, which come alive with night markets, food stalls and of people. Andrea Pistolesi / Getty Images
/ Source: Forbes

Every city has its charm — its own unique qualities that make it stand out, whether it's the culture, the architecture, the history, the food, the arts scene or some combination thereof.

But the greatest party cities have all these things, yet undergo a complete transformation after dark. They become a little louder — and maybe even a little naughtier than the rest.

There's perhaps no better example than Bangkok. With famously friendly locals and skyscraping luxury hotels, sumptuous street food and elegant nightclubs, the city has long been on the map of every partying traveler.

The city was once reputed for go-go bars and not much else, but night-owl-friendly Bangkok has since cleaned up its act — or at least added to it — thanks to a dynamic convergence of expatriate party promoters and international DJs. Breakbeat junkies flock to the dance floors of 808 Bangkok while music lovers with an appetite relax inside the minimalist interiors of Bed Supperclub, a hyper-stylish venue with a sleek restaurant and art gallery.

“There's an incredible energy in the streets of Bangkok after sunset,” says Sanya Souvanna Phouma, creative director of Bed Management, which develops and operates boutique hotels around the world. “You have night markets, food stalls and people — a lot of people. Needless to say, the new clubbing and bar scenes have been growing along with newcomers on the restaurant scene, which pulls the market upward.”

Revelry specialists
What makes for a great party city is obviously subjective, and while it involves variables as concrete as the number of nightlife options available, the ineffable but all-important spirit of a city is also central. To highlight the best party spots, we sought the advice of the aforementioned

Sanya Souvanna Phouma, creative director of Bed Management, as well as Marissa Anshutz, an associate director at Camron, a public relations firm in the U.K.

Stateside, New York City is the undisputed epicenter of enthusiasm. Despite numerous mayoral overtures to quiet, clean, and calm the Big Apple, the city remains one of the world's top destinations for partygoers.

With a 24-hour subway system, a staggering array of palatial and bantam nightclubs, late-night restaurants and elegant bars, New York is teeming with countless forms of nocturnal bliss. The Pink Elephant in Chelsea is a surefire option for those seeking an electrifying club night, while the decadent Gramercy Park Hotel's Rose Bar is a more sophisticated but equally enchanted place to unwind.

According to Anshutz, who formerly worked at PR and marketing agency Syndicate (which counts the Rose Bar and L.A.'s Villa as clients), New York has always been a party city — but smaller, more intimate venues are now as popular as the notorious mega-clubs.

“The chic set is desperate for something authentic, diverse and bespoke — so places like The Rose Bar and The Box offer the perfect haven,” Anshutz says. “It also helps that New York City is the first stop for jetsetters who bring the latest and greatest in music and fashion from Europe.”

Bash in Berlin
Much like New York, Berlin is the linchpin of European hedonism. There are more than 3.4 million inhabitants, no curfew, spectacularly designed clubs, and a partying aesthetic that privileges the casual over the obviously done-up.

An outdoor club/lounge featuring live music and river views, Bar 25 is another Berlin gem. South of Mitte, Kreuzberg's 103 Club entertains masses of indie rockers with live acts and parties, while Cookies reigns as the favored spot on Tuesday and Thursday nights.

Despite Berlin's recent ascent, London still stands out as a dashing city known for its posh clubs and edgy music scene. "City wealth, oil wealth, and daddy's wealth” with “the odd prince or two” tossed in help to create London's trademark party atmosphere, says Anshutz. “Royals and glitterati queue up at West London's Boujis nightclub to down the signature "Crack Baby shot — a mix of vodka, champagne and fruit juice.”

Exotic experiences
Some parties are worth traveling a great distance for.

According to City Guide Tel Aviv, Israel's unofficial capital is a “hedonistic, multi-cultural Mediterranean metropolis.” Nicknamed “the city that never stops,” Tel Aviv boasts a steamy nocturnal playground not for the faint of heart. While local officials have cracked down on noise-polluting beachfront parties in recent years, the mayhem continues indoors at venues like the underground Barzilay Club. Part of what helps keep the party going is that bartenders in Tel Aviv, in general, are notoriously generous with alcohol servings.

Renowned for its decadent carnivals and sinfully gorgeous locals, Rio de Janeiro is one of South America's most festive cities. Lush rainforests and white-sand beaches give Rio its natural glow, and the city also boasts a number of five-star restaurants, swank clubs and hip bars.

Far from South America but equally as hot is Reykjavik, Iceland's capital city and home of a big night scene with a small-town vibe. With a history of producing experimental musicians like Icelandic rockers Björk and Sigur Rós, it's no wonder Reykjavik pays homage to the auditory-inclined with prized nightclubs like NASA, an auditorium-like space with nightlong live music acts. Bar lovers with stamina enjoy participating in the frequent Icelandic rúntur, a night-long, marathon-style pub crawl.