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When most people think about India, they most definitely don’t think about a crazy nightlife scene.
The only exception may be in the hippie city of Goa — which is renowned for it’s psychedelic trance parties — but even still, India widely unheard of in the world of partygoers.
I certainly had no idea what to expect from India’s nightlife scene prior to my 7-week backpacking trip around the subcontinent. And holy shit, did I have one hell of a fun time!
I started my Indian adventure in Goa (in the South) and worked my way up to Amritsar (in the North). I covered over 4,000 kilometers by train (side note: avoid taking buses… I got in a severe bus crash).
In total, I visited over a dozen cities in India and I partied in the majority of them. In fact, I made it a point to hit up all the cities with the best nightlife, so in a way, my trip was kind of like a “Party Tour of India.”
Here is a map of the journey I took in India:
What is the India nightlife scene really like?
In recent years, India has become increasingly popular for it’s bars, night clubs and music festivals. Whether your idea of partying is relaxing on a rooftop while sipping a local beer, or raging all night long at a night club, or dancing to EDM at a music festival — I can promise you that India has something special to offer you. The diversity and liveliness of the big cities are reflected in its epic nightlife scene. And it’s awesome!
Speaking of EDM (Electronic Dance Music), the scene is hitting India by force. Being an EDM listener and raver myself, this was especially awesome for me to experience. I never expected that I’d be dancing to EDM in India, and moreover, I never thought Indian people would follow all my favorite DJs!
Despite most of the general population staying away from alcohol and late night hangouts, there is still a party happening at night — regardless of which city you happen to be in. I guess it makes logical sense, when you have a country of 1.25 billion people, there is bound to be a decent percentage of partiers. I noticed the younger generation having a more liberal attitude to having fun.
With the exception of Goa, parties around India generally start early and finish no later than 1:30AM. In some Southern cities such as Chennai, Hyderabad and Bangalore, the doors shut even earlier at 11 or 11:30. I know, I know — if you’re like me, then this is disappointing because you like to party all night long. But you can get your fix of that in Goa at the beach parties 😉
In some cities, like Mumbai and Delhi, there are specific venues for after parties which go until 3-4AM. But you must make local friends who can show you where to go because I don’t know the exact spots.
It’s also important to know that different states in India have different laws, curfews and legal drinking ages. For example, in Delhi, the drinking age is technically 25 (although it’s not strictly enforced), but in Goa, it’s 18. Almost all other states in India is 21, but once again, it’s not strictly enforced because venues will just want your business. I was only asked to show my ID in luxurious night clubs in Mumbai.
Also, if you happen to be in India in the beginning of March, then you MUST participate in the annual Holi Festival! During Holi, or the Festival of Colors, everyone in the country splashes each other with neon bright pain colors. Literally, people chase each other in the streets, fields, temples and buildings, armed with packets of dry powdered paint and covering random people from head to toe in neon colors. It happens all over the country.
It’s crazy because many people are high from drinking Bhang (yes, many people get high in India), and it’s such a fun experience!
Here is a photo of me at Holi in 2015, getting smacked in the face by paint from a random dude:
What kind of party venues can you find in India?
In any big city, you will find a wide variety of pubs, bars and night clubs.
The venues are divided into cheap dive places which consist of mostly men, and then you have the luxury, swanky places for the people with bills to spend. The latter venues are typically found in 5-star international hotels and sometimes shopping malls in Mumbai. Clubbing in these posh nightclubs feels more like clubbing in Europe or Vegas, with very expensive cover charges (up to $70 per couple) and expensive drinks ($10 per beer).
Alright so now that you have a basic understand of what to expect from the nightlife scene in India, I will now present you with the Top 7 party cities in India! Each city will have a brief explanation, and they are in order with #1 being the best.
**All of the advice that you are receiving has come from my own personal experiences, unless otherwise stated 🙂 **
Top 7 Party Cities in India
There is no question that Goa is the #1 party spot in India. And not only in India, but I would rank Goa in the Top 5 around the world.
I began my Indian trip with 7 days in Goa. By the end of those 7 days, I could hardly think straight because I had so much damn fun!
The city has a long history of partying – dating back to the 1960s – when dozens of hippies settled there and started partying on the beach. The scene has only gotten bigger since then, and even 50 years later, Goa is still the best place to party in India.
Goa is synonymous with beach parties, and it has developed the reputation for the craziest outdoor psychedelic trance parties in the world. The scene is authentic and underground. If you like trance music, then go to Goa and you’ll love it. The best beach parties are on Anjuna beach 🙂
Here is a photo of me at one of the trance parties in Goa:
Aside from the beach trance parties, there is a fun clubbing scene in Goa that is filled with swanky lounges, trendy nightclubs, fun bars and lots of dancing. There are also a number of pubs and live entertainment venues.
The best party about partying in Goa is that nothing closes until the sun rises. You won’t find this anywhere else in India.
2. Mumbai (Bombay)
After I partied my heart out in Goa, I immediately headed to Mumbai to do the same thing. The scene here is quite different than Goa, but I had the time of my life! I am assuming that most of you reading this post will prefer the nightlife in Mumbai over Goa.
Partying in Mumbai is similar to any big international city like Seoul, Berlin or L.A. It is India’s designated city for glamour, Bollywood stars and luxurious parties. Pretty much exactly the opposite of carefree hippie parties in Goa.
The atmosphere in Bombay is lively and exotic. The night clubs are insane and crowded, and the bars/lounges are trendy and fun. Most night clubs play EDM hits with live DJs who are recruiter from all over the world. The crowd is diverse, with a healthy mix of international partygoers as well as local Indian people. The best nightlife areas are in Colaba and the Lowel Parel in South Mumbai.
Here is a photo inside a night club called Royalty in Mumbai:
If clubbing isn’t your thing, then don’t worry because there are many places to get cheap beers (Bandra, Colaba) with a more pub-friendly vibe.
As a city with 25 million people and the capital of India, Delhi’s nightlife can not be missed during your trip.
The scene is a nice mix of young locals and tourists. It’s not so luxurious or expensive like Mumbai, and not so hippie like Goa, but it offers a nice mix of everything. I really enjoyed partying in Delhi.
Most of the happening nightlife takes place in discos, pubs, night clubs and super-sized restaurants. There is an area in the center of the city called Connaught Place (or C.P.), which reminded me of NYC, and you can find lots of fun bars and clubs around there. I spent most of my nights in C.P. and had a great time!
Known as the “Silicon Valley of India,” Bangalore is the technological hub of India with lots of youngsters who come alive after the sun goes down.
Bangalore is also considered as the “pub capital of India,” due to the beer loving culture and happening nightlife. All the geeky tech guys have the mentality of “work hard, play hard,” so it can get pretty rowdy and crazy!
Most of the night clubs are located inside big hotels (like Mumbai), but the majority of nightlife consists of pubs and lounges. There is an area called M.G. Road which has some 50 pubs – a great place to start pub hopping around.
The capital city of Rajasthan, also known as the Pink City, will not disappoint! Most people only come here to visit the famous landmarks and don’t think to party. But think again!
I spent a great 4 days partying in Jaipur with some new friends that I met from Argentina and Portugal. In addition to the bars and clubs, there are midnight markets which add to the lively atmosphere in the night time.
The scene in Jaipur is a bit more hippie than the others on this list, due to the fact that the Rajasthan State is the “Hippie State” of India. You will find a nice variety of pubs, clubs and smiling faces from all corners of the globe in Jaipur.
Pune is like a mini-Mumbai, because it is located just 100 kilometers away. It’s much smaller than Mumbai, and it’s filled with many universities which means a younger and happening nightlife scene.
The natives of Pune are energetic and thrill seeking. It’s city where you can grab cheap beers, get drunk, and dance the night away. Don’t stress about any dress codes or spending too much money in Pune.
You’ll find everything from big EDM clubs to live music concerts to pubs and discos. I recommend going here to party before your trip to Mumbai — beacuse you may have just as much fun!
Last but not least is the Southern Indian city of Chennai! Unfortunately, I didn’t have the chance to visit Chennai, but a lot of my friends did, and gave me the same advice as I’m telling you right now.
Chennai is recognized as a metropolitan city known for it’s good people and rich culture. The city is jumping on the ‘trend bandwagon’ and becoming a popular destination for music lovers.
In other words, the nightlife scene in Channai is rapidly growing, so don’t miss out if you’re passing by South India!
So there you have it, the 7 best party cities in India. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you need any more advice or need help planning your trip! HAVE FUN 🙂