Potheads often overlook Asian destinations under the assumption that only Western countries can act as hotbeds of stoner culture. Singapore, a rich city-state in Southeast Asia, dishes out notoriously harsh punishments for holding even the smallest amounts of bud. Japan denies visas to those convicted of drug-related crimes in their home countries. Even celebrities, such as Paris Hilton, have been denied entry into the land of the rising sun. With such strict penalties in place, it’s fair to assume that Asia’s not the place to toke up. However, nestled within certain cities lies a thriving sub-culture of young Asian locals and foreigners determined to shake things up.
#1. Chengdu, China
The capital of the Southwestern province of Sichuan, Chengdu is famous for its tea culture, lively daytime games of mahjong, pandas, and spicy hot pot. Its also known as the best party city in Asia. Hidden away behind a shopping mall in a residential block, several apartments-turned-cafes sell beer, coffee, whip-its, and unofficially, weed. Less than three blocks away, a small shop sells a variety of smoking accessories from glass bongs to wooden pipes to rolling papers, all at an incredibly affordable price. The dealers come to chill in the evening and accept payment via cash, WeChat, or Alipay. The spot sits across the street from the infamous Jellyfish bar. Ask any foreigner where to go and they’ll happily guide you.
#2. Osaka, Japan
Despite Japan’s reputation for long working hours, an excessive drinking culture, and a strict aversion to illegal substances, the city of Osaka stands in stark contrast to the rest of the nation. Similar to Chengdu, a bustling underground Hip Hop scene, relaxed vibe, and chill foreigners allow one to find anything their heart desires. Several smoke shops and a bar referencing Bob Marley point to the tolerance of local culture. However, the stuff itself has recently become harder to find, with most smoking foreigners opting for monthly trips to Roppongi to stock up. It’s possible that as Japan gears up for the 2020 Olympics, tolerance of Nigerian dealers in Roppongi and smoke shops in Osaka will wear thin.
#3. Phuket, Thailand
Thailand is famous for its tolerant culture and vibrant landscapes which attracts trashy Western and Chinese tourists alike. Though not every pothead partakes in the shenanigans associated with rowdy travelers in The Land of Smiles, a high prevalence of revelers makes finding weed easy. Ask any wasted British tourist in any hostel in Phuket, and they’ll all have leads. If that fails, ask the receptionist if you can pay a little extra for “information”.
#4 Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
Vietnam has begun allowing foreigners to purchase property in recent years, inevitably leading to a housing boom and more Westerners settling down in the country. Additionally, some investors in Asia are claiming that Vietnam is the new China. As labor costs in the mainland have risen, many factories have moved their operations south. Vietnam, as a developing country, has strict laws on paper but even low-level officials can be cheaply bribed. The majority of sellers hail from the African continent and prices should remain on par with China.
#5 North Korea
North Korea might suffer under the heavy-handed dictatorship of Kim Jung Un, but life for locals isn’t always a total nightmare. Western media tells us that famines plague the land as a tyrannical government monitors and controls every small human interaction. However, The Hermit Kingdom seems to have no problem with weed. In fact, it’s technically legal. If you aren’t American and don’t mind paying thousands of dollars for a guided tour while leaving your valuable assets behind in China, give it a shot.