If Thailand is on one end - all partying with the culture sucked out of it
and India is on the other - all culture and no partying.
Then where's the middle ground?
I've been to both and loved them for different reasons. I'm looking to go to Asia (just got a hunch) for 6 months on my own and I want some real culture, adventure, to meet some inspiring people but then the option to enjoy some good old fashioned hedonistic pleasures as well (partying and 'fun').
I considered Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia but I get the impression they're going the way of Thailand - am I wrong?
So I'm considering Indonesia and China. Are they about right for what I want?
Any other ideas in Asia? I'd consider S America but I just don't want it for some reason (bar Brazil, which I'd love).
[ Edit: Edited on 31-Jul-2013, at 11:14 by jordforce ]
The middle ground is found when a person stops being a slave to their guide book and stops following the path normally travelled.
There are lots of places in Thailand that have never seen a clown pants Trustafarian looking for a Full Moon Party and lots of places in India that party harder than you can imagine, even in some of the most traditional cities.
I don't know SE Asia well enough to give you the answer you want, but I'd at least recommend giving your characterization of Thailand a second look. I'm sure you can go to Thailand and do nothing but partying. But just as much, you can do everything but partying. (I did.) It all depends on the traveller, and their interests. You can find the most unique experiences, right on the beaten track, just by approaching a place differently.
Head to Phanom Rung for ancient ruins. Sit in the courtyard of Wat Suthat for a couple of hours, watching life go by. Go trekking around Chiang Mai.
I also absolutely love South America. From the northface-wearing crowds at Patagonian hiking towns such as Puerto Natales, to the sleepy Peruvian towns away from the tourist route where you can sit out on the terrace drinking a cup of coca tea (ignored by all the world) while the heavily packed donkeys pass you by, to the Malbec vinyards around Mendoza (rent a bike and taste the wines at each and every one of them (heh, not gonna happen; but at least you can visit a fair few before you give up)), to the stunning inca sites where water is still flowing through the waterworks created many hundreds of years ago, to the soaring snow-capped peaks of the Cordillera Blanca, or the massive blue glaciers swooping down from the Patagonian icecap.
I hope something in there sounds appealing.