While the likes of London, New York, Paris, Tokyo and Sydney are famed for being epic places to see in the New Year, they certainly aren’t the cheapest destinations in which to get merry and sing Auld Lang Syne. For that reason, the world’s foremost capitals are rarely the most suitable places for digital nomads – and their modest budgets – to take a couple of days off work and celebrate the arrival of a brand new year.
So where is a good place see in the New Year when you’re a wandering online worker?
Well, while that may bit of a loaded question to some, it is true to say many digital nomads past and present have found the following destinations to be great options. Why? Well, in addition to being just as epic as the major capitals, the places listed below are cheap enough to ensure you can look forward to waking up (eventually) on New Year’s Day without feeling like you’ve been comprehensively robbed by the ale fairy...
1. Koh Phangan, Thailand
You would think that Thailand’s legendary party capital would struggle to be more hedonistic than it already is. You’d be wrong. Every New Year’s Eve more than 50,000 party-mad people descend on the island to enjoy several days of dancing, drinking and general debauchery. Although there is no way to prove this is the biggest party on the planet, it is true to say it sure feels like it when you’re throwing shapes on the beach in your flip-flops amongst thousands of other like-minded people to a backdrop of crystal clear waters. Haad Rin is undoubtedly party central but the celebrations are everywhere so you won’t have a problem finding where the party’s at as soon as you arrive.
2. Berlin, Germany
Oktoberfest, Love Parade, and the 2006 World Cup: all perfect examples of just how good the Germans are at throwing fantastic parties. To say that Berlin celebrates New Year’s Eve with gusto is a massive understatement. End of year celebrations have continued to get bigger and better since The Wall came down in 1989, and now more than one million mass in the city every NYE to get their groove on to a gigantic street party with live bands, be dazzled by an incredible lightshow and witness 2,000 fireworks light up the sky at the stroke of midnight. Without doubt, dancing, drinking and munching on Bratwurst along the ‘party mile’ between the Brandenburg Gate and the Siegessäule Victory Column is an impressively grand yet surprisingly cheap way to is see in the Silvester (New Year).
3. Bangkok, Thailand
Another legendary Thai party destination which is big on hedonism yet small on financial outlay. Bangkok can be a disparate place for the rest of the year, but on NYE the whole city, from the up-market glitz of Thonglor to the grimy backpacker ghetto of Khao San Road, revels in one huge, heart-thumping impetus to ‘have it’ in a big, big way. As midnight approaches, crowds (often of hundreds of thousands) head to the CentralWorld Square - the epicentre of the night’s shenanigans – to witness a spectacular light show and get jiggy at a live concert. Watching the fireworks displays set off along the riverside and then partaking in a drink or two in the many beer gardens which line the streets is a fine way to say goodbye to 2014.
4. Paramaribo, Suriname
If you like the idea of witnessing something different to the whole national-landmarks-being-lit-up-with-fireworks routine then Paramaribo, in the relatively tourist-free country of Suriname is well worth checking out. Spectacle is more important to the good residents of Paramaribo than personal safety and so it is with great glee and inordinate enthusiasm that a two-kilometre string of firecrackers is reeled out every NYE to see the New Year in with an explosion of noise to rival that of Krakatoa circa 1883. The official line is that this formidable wall of firecrackers (known as the pagara) is ignited to blast away evil spirits. The fact that it will blast way practically everything within ten feet of it gives it a real edge of excitement and that is arguably the real reason why so many people (thousands line the streets) now come to witness this epically engaging celebration.
5. Cuenca, Ecuador
If you’re a wanderin, misty-eyed Brit who has missed one too many Bonfire night celebrations then Ecuador is definitely the place for you see in the New Year. Tradition has it that Ecuadorians all across the country make dummies (similar to Guy Fawkes effigies) to burn at midnight on NYE as doing so symbolizes the ousting of old grudges (and bad habits) and highlights the importance of focusing on good thoughts. Although you can witness this tradition almost anywhere in Ecuador, The city of Cuenca has become the central place to watch - and take part in - the festivities. Once the effigies are toast and everyone’s conscience is clear, the partying starts and celebrations last long into the night. As well as being extremely cheap, New Year’s in Ecuador is also surprisingly therapeutic.
6. Goa, India
There are some obvious parallels to be drawn here between the New Year’s Eve experience in Goa and the end of year celebrations in Koh Phangan. However, while there is of course plenty of dancing on the beach and that same unmistakeable feel of mass euphoria as the sun rises on January 1st, it is fair to say Goa isn’t quite as full-on as its unofficial Thai twin so it’s a good place for digital nomads who feel they may have grown out of the Haad Rin scene. That being said, the partying around Anjuna is still pretty epic. If you’re looking for a more chilled vibe then you’ll probably find Palolem (in the south) and Agonda (to the north) to be ideal places to welcome in 2015.
7. Prague, Czech Republic
Although Prague has gotten to be a little more expensive these days, NYE can still be enjoyed here for a fraction of the price of other European capitals. When it comes to spectacle, you can choose from watching the wonderful organised fireworks display by the river (grab a spot on the banks of Vltava before midnight) or run the gauntlet and join the crowds who choose to let off their own fireworks in the Old Town Square. Once midnight has been and gone, the party moves indoors with anyone and everyone heading for one of the city’s highly regarded clubs to bump and grind away the night (as much as you can bump and grind to electronica and Euro-pop).
8. Boracay, Philippines
In many ways, Boracay is a smaller, less well known version of Koh Phangan. Far from being a curse though, this is a blessing, as Boracay’s status as a relatively unknown party place (outside of SE Asia, anyway) gives it an edge which has long since departed Koh Phangan. On NYE, this entire island becomes a huge open-air nightclub where the world and his wife come together to dance on the fine white sand as fireworks burst above them and infectious dancebeats pound through ‘till dawn. The huge omelettes and sumptuous watermelon-ginger smoothies available at the coastal cafes will help to make your hangover far more bearable too!
9. Valparaiso, Chile
If fireworks are a must for you on NYE then Chile’s cultural capital should be right at the top of your list of places to head. The reason for this is that Valparaiso really does go all out – and I mean all out – for New Year’s Eve, celebrating for a full three days with its now legendary ‘New Year’s Eve By the Sea’ carnival. The festival culminates with the largest fireworks display in all of South America (that’s right; even bigger than Rio). This glittering spectacle of gunpowder is completely out-of-this-world, a blitz on the senses which makes you “ooh” and “aaah” uncontrollably like you did when you were a little kid. A really magical experience which costs nothing to enjoy (unless you charter a boat to get a stunning sea view).
10. Budapest, Hungary
Hungary’s uber-charming capital has two things going for it that put it right to the top of the European New Year’s Eve league: party-mad locals and inexpensive (and very tasty) beer. When you consider the fact the city is also home to some of the most charismatic watering holes on the Continent– the famed ruin pubs – it is easy to see why people from all across Eastern Europe choose to come here on December 31. Really, Budapest is a city that does NYE extremely well: from the grand concerts in the city squares to the stylish firework display along the river at midnight, it manages to deliver big city panache and grandeur while retaining an air of intimacy that ensures you always feel like you’re part of a specially invited few. Oh yeah; the thermal bath parties that go on throughout the night in the city’s famous outdoor spas are pretty amazing too...
Are you a a digital nomad looking to have an unforgettable New Year’s Eve? Consider these ten locations that promise to give you great fun just before the arrival of the New Year.
Main image: Pureformmedia.com