Vincent van Gogh once said: “I often think that the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day.” And we happen to agree.
If you don’t classify yourself as a “morning person” and usually feel much more active and productive at night, then you, my friend, are what they call a night owl.
It may feel as though the world is more geared towards the early birds, but after the sun goes down and early risers tuck themselves into bed, that’s when the fun begins.
Even when you’re traveling in another country, you’d be surprised at the many things you can get up to late at night, right into the wee hours of the morning. Here’s a taster:
1. Check out a live gig
If you’re looking to get to know the true soul of a country, you don’t have to look any further than its local music scene.
Music transcends language barriers – you don’t have to understand the lyrics to understand the emotions behind a song – so it’s one of the best ways to get to know a place. All you have to do is wander into a live music venue, sit down, and listen.
Whether you’re into blues or jazz or rock ‘n’ roll, there’s sure to be a bar or music hall out there catering to your taste.
Some of our favorites are: Gaslight Cafe in Kuala Lumpur, Wala Wala Cafe Bar in Singapore, and 12 Monkeys Music Hall & Pub in Manila.
2. Belt out your favorite hits at a karaoke box
If you prefer to be the one holding the mic, then the nearest KTV is where you should head to. There, you can rent soundproofed rooms and sing to your heart’s content without worrying about disturbing the neighbors.
Karaoke is a mainstay in Asian culture, especially as a stress-relieving activity – nothing beats shouting out the lyrics to Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” if you’ve had a particularly long week at work. Give it a try!
3. Watch a spectacular light and sound show
Are the Northern Lights still a pipe dream for you? Well, you don’t have to go as far north just to catch a remarkable display of lights – Hong Kong’s Symphony of Lights and Tokyo’s annual Winter Illuminations create a magical wonderland of lights and sounds throughout the night that will leave you standing still with childlike wonder.
Singapore’s Supertree Grove, comprising 12 lofty structures built to resemble trees, are also a sight to behold, with a dazzling display of lights every night.
4. Take thrilling rides at a theme park
Who says all theme parks close by sundown? Only 40 minutes away from the Kuala Lumpur city center is i-City, a sparkling city of lights near Shah Alam. It closes at midnight on most nights, and at 1am on Fridays and Saturdays.
The family-friendly theme park is perfect for a family of night owls, featuring attractions such as SnoWalk, Southeast Asia’s first indoor winter wonderland; Space Mission, an immersive space adventure experience; a 5D Cinema; a Trick Art Museum; and City of Digital Lights, a forest lightscape that uses over a million LED lights.
Closer to Halloween, popular theme parks like Universal Studios Singapore and Sunway Lagoon in Malaysia will extend their opening hours ‘til late with special terrors for those of you who like to be scared silly.
5. Hunt for bargains at a 24-hour shopping center
Are you a self-professed shopaholic? If you love shopping no matter the time of day, then you’ll love these shopping meccas: Mustafa Center in Singapore’s Little India and Seoul’s Dongdaemun are open 24-hours.
At Mustafa Center, you can get anything from textiles and jewelry to watches and electronics. Designer products are also available at prices far lower than market price.
If you’re looking for cool souvenirs on the cheap to take back home, then this is the place to get ‘em.
As for Dongdaemun, ever wonder how Seoul’s denizens are always so stylishly dressed? If you’re one to keep your wardrobe up-to-date with all the latest threads, then you should check out this trendy shopping district.
Here, you can find inspiring new looks at the cluster of shopping malls, which are often among the first to get the brand-new releases. Another plus is that the clothes and accessories are usually sold at cheaper prices than in department stores.
6. Indulge at an overnight spa
Take a dip in the warm, healing waters of a Japanese hot spring under a blanket of stars at any of the onsens across the country.
Ooedo-Onsen Monogatari in Tokyo’s Odaiba district is one of the largest onsen theme parks in Japan, where you can stay overnight, right up until 9am the next day.
Besides a variety of bathing pools, there are also therapeutic spa treatments and a lively food court styled like a Japanese matsuri (festival), complete with fun carnival games.
7. Go on an exciting night safari
Make friends with fellow nocturnal creatures at the Singapore Night Safari, one of the world’s finest. Jump on the tram and take a ride through the park’s six geographical zones, from the rocky Himalayan Foothills to the swampy Asian Riverine Forest.
Afterwards, hit the walking trails to see animals such as Malayan flying foxes and giant flying squirrels up close.
Home to over 1,000 animals, at the park you’ll be able to see rare critters that are hard to find out in the wild, like the Malayan tapir and Malayan tiger.
8. Satisfy your late night munchies at a night market
With all the fun you’re having, surely you’ve worked up an appetite. If you’re craving for yummy snacks, this calls for some street food!
Some of the best night markets on every foodie’s bucket list are Shilin Night Market in Taipei and Rot Fai Market in Bangkok’s Ratchada district – and you’d better come prepared with an empty stomach.
They’re often brimming with people, but trust us, it’s worth it for the sheer variety of delicacies you’ll be able to sample. Deep fried? Grilled? Steamed? There are plenty of options for everyone.
Must-try foods at Shilin Night Market are the famous Taiwanese stinky tofu and Hot Star Fried Chicken, while at Rot Fai Market, you can try fresh oysters, ice cream rolls, and even fried insects (for the adventurous).
9. Linger over coffee
Southeast Asia is seeing a booming trade in third-wave coffee, so it’s no surprise that the capital of one of the world’s largest coffee producers is riding that wave.
Specialty coffee shops in Jakarta have been popping up right and left, and some are even open well past midnight that cater to not only workaholics and insomniacs, but those who like their coffee in the later hours.
Grab a seat at the cozy Lucky Cat Coffee And Kitchen at Plaza Festival, which is miraculously open 24/7.
You can also check out Jakarta Coffee House, which closes at 1am on Fridays and Saturdays, or Anomali Coffee Kemang, which closes at 2am on Saturdays.