13 ways to have fun when stranded overnight

13 ways to have fun when stranded overnight

All-night bowling and good deed challenges will keep travelers amused until the subways and trains start rolling again
Maybe, just maybe there's more to do than just sleep.


In many parts of the world -- Japan and Thailand, for instance -- missing the last train means you’re stuck until dawn. Bummer? Not necessarily. Unlike being stranded at the airport, nothing stops you from taking a bite out of the area’s night culture. So rather than mope around like a grump waiting for the first coffee house to open, get off your haunches and aboard one of these overnight adventures. You might end up having a better time than you did all evening.

1. Soak away stress at a 24-hour spa

Not all “late-night massage” signs hint at something suggestive. Often, family-friendly spas offer overnight treatments. At Tokyo’s La Qua you can soak in hot springs and enjoy a night-time view of the Dome. Oedo Onsen Monogatari in Odaiba has sand-and-rock slab baths, and old-school amusements such as blowgun darts.

2. Knock down pins at the bowling alley

The black-lit lanes and 1990s pop music are cheeseball central, but that’s the kitsch appeal of fantasy bowling. The pins are lined up until 12 a.m at Bangkok’s Major Bowl and all night at some other large bowling centers. 

Shinlin night market in TaipeiShinlin night market in Taipei.3. Shop at a night market

Insomniacs and vampires can shop until sunrise at night markets. In addition to clothes and home goods, there's street food and services such as manicures. Dongdaemun in Seoul is open from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. 

4. Taste a bizarre new dish

Pretend to be the host of Bizarre Foods and hunt out the most peculiar dish in the neighborhood. Buy it. Dare yourself to swallow. Who knows -- you might discover a new favorite food. There's plenty of bizzare food around to be found. Check out some dishes from Singapore (click here), Vietnam (click here), China (click here) and Thailand (click here).

5. Drink the special cocktail at a theme bar

Find the most outlandish bar in the area; an establishment you wouldn’t usually visit. It might be a heavy metal rock hangout, or a song-and-dance pub like Kagaya. Order the special cocktail. If it’s not remarkable, the clientele will be.

6. Take artsy photos

Cell phone cameras have quite a few special functions: They can alter colors, add borders, even edit pictures. Walk around and snap photos from artistic angles. Then play with the settings until there's a finished product good enough to show mom. Or pick up a toy camera for those insta-artsy effects and look cool doing it.

7. Surf the net and read manga at 24 hour cafes

Asia’s big cities have all-night cafes where people can play video games, read comics, or curl up in a ball and just sleep. CNNGo reported on the unique but not-so-comfortable experience at several Tokyo hideouts.

Campy horror movie postersCampy horror movies can be a great way to pass the time.8. Watch a midnight B-movie

Small theaters often screen late-night cult films for bargain prices. There’s no better place to watch campy, 1970s bad girl B-movies such as “Lady Kung Fu.” Pass the time by counting continuity mistakes. Or sleep in the seats.

9. Eat fresh at a local market

Fish and farmer’s markets set up stalls around 4 a.m., and the early bird gets the freshest fare. Tokyo’s Tsukiji is cheap sushi paradise. Lineups form quickly, so try to arrive at dawn.

10. Break a sweat at the gym

Fitness First, Gold’s Gym and 24 Hour Fitness are among the chains that tout 24-hour access. Don’t have a membership? Whip up a quick "trial run"or just get the blood flowing with a jog around the block. No workout clothes? Stretch, or stroll.

11. Find a stunning night view

Here’s a nice challenge: Get up as high as possible to find a killer view of the city. Maybe access the top floor of a nearby hotel, but avoid climbing airport control towers, which is traditionally frowned upon. Singapore has some killer rooftop bars to drink the night away, as do Bangkok and Mumbai (click here).

Capsule hotel JapanShack up in a box.12. Doze in a capsule hotel

If your head’s begging for a pillow, it’s not necessary to shell out for a hotel room. Squeeze into a tiny, functional space for ¥2,000 to ¥4,000. Look for luxury capsules, such as Kyoto’s 9h.

13. Croon karaoke songs

Karaoke parlors have overnight rates as low as US$25, including all the alcohol you can toss down. When the air has run out, put on a lullaby and fall asleep on the couches. If in Hong Kong, here's five of the best karaoke bars. And for those stuck in Bangkok (click here), here are some karaoke dives worth checking.

La Carmina writes about Harajuku pop culture and all things spooky-cute. She is the author of three books about Japanese pop culture and food, including "Cute Yummy Time" and "Crazy Wacky Theme Restaurants: Tokyo" -- for which she did all the photos and illustrations. Both books were released in October, accompanied by a U.S. major city book tour.

For more, please visit her website.

Read more about La Carmina