1. Seoul, South Korea
Say "kimchee," throw up a peace sign, and smile, because good cheer runs through Seoul like soju swimming in your bloodstream. You're doing it right if that soju got into your system through a "love shot," a delightfully cheesy semi-hug reflective of Seoulites' unabashed affection for humankind: you face someone (hopefully one of the city's many beautiful people), hook opposite elbows, and throw back the all-too-swiggable liquor in your cup.
A night out in Seoul is a deliriously joyful whirlwind anytime of the year. Round one might unfold among the smoke and sizzle of a Downtown Korean BBQ joint, where the air is filled with the aromas of succulent bulgogi and pork belly, the clinks of beer mugs, and neighboring tables' happy shouts of "yogiyo!" -- over here! -- because everyone wants more! more! more! of this goodness.
Ready for round two? Good, 'cause the Seoul party train always runs local. Head to a private Korean noraebang, where there is absolutely no shame in erupting in liberated goofiness when you and your friends don neon wigs and belt out tunes to the beat of light-up tambourines. Maybe you're in the mood to hit the club for round three. Expect good company: Hongdae's youthful, indie crowd will dance with the gleeful abandon of Peanuts characters. Or maybe you're more Gangnam style (had to): the area's polished, futuristic temples of sound attract only the insanely stylish. No matter the neighborhood, there's nonstop energy all night long, with people inexplicably high on life (drugs are highly, highly illegal in South Korea, but you definitely won't need them here) and not even a hint of the aggro-shoving that plagues dance floors elsewhere.
The best part? After all this, your wallet will still be oddly fat, because a good time in Seoul can be had for a song. Bonus points: you can tell mom not to worry because you'll be partying in an incredibly safe city, where it'd be shocking for anyone to mess with you and your posse, even if you're bleary on soju and sleeplessness, stumbling back to your hotel.
Feeling rough the morning after? Hope is as close as the corner convenience store, which will no doubt stock an array of hangover remedies in mini-cans and brown glass bottles -- or maybe grab one of the newly invented hangover-fighting popsicles. They're yet another sign of how partying has worked its way into daily South Korean life. Follow with a detox afternoon soaking and scrubbing at one of Seoul's super-cheap jjimjilbang spas until you feel like new. No wonder the party never stops in Seoul. -- HB
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