Welcome to Bud Voyage, the Emerald‘s monthly column by Ashley Laderer discussing all things travel, cannabis, and how combining the two can make your adventures that much better. Wanderlust may ensue…so pack your bags, prepare for takeoff, and get ready to join the other mile high club.
Laderer is an avid traveller, and writer who splits most of her time between New York and Los Angeles.
*Editor’s note: Cannabis is still illegal in most countries throughout the world, and can result in harsh penalties for foreigners. Last names have been removed for privacy.
Amsterdam gets all the hype as the ultimate travel destination for stoners, but there are other places out there where you can get your fix, and light up with the locals in a semi-legal way.
While we have a long way to go for legalization throughout the world, more and more countries are beginning to decriminalize cannabis possession, or providing safe spaces where cannabis can be consumed, whether it’s smoking in a club or consuming “happy pizza” in a restaurant.
Here’s what the cannabis market looks like in four international cities that attract all types of people, not just stoners (but stoners sure do enjoy these destinations).
Whether you’re a beach person or a city person, Valencia has the best of both worlds. The city is located on Spain’s southeast coast where there is plenty of unique architecture, both old and new, along with multiple beaches.
Spain is famous amongst cannabis users for its private smoking clubs. Yes, Barcelona and Madrid have these clubs, but if you’re looking for somewhere that’s a bit less overtaken by tourists, try out Valencia. These clubs are almost always members-only, however, there are ways to get in as a tourist. You can have a local friend bring you as a guest, or pay the annual membership fee, which is roughly 20€.
“Most of the clubs you can DM on Instagram and ask how much the memberships are. You also usually need someone to refer you, depending on how strict the club is,” says Emilia, an American expat who now lives in Barcelona.
“It’s still illegal to actually buy weed in general, so the law says you’re allowed to “obtain” weed,” she continues. “You can’t use the words like, “Can I buy a gram of….,” but instead, ‘“Can I have a gram of (whatever strain).” They always say you’re not buying weed and they don’t sell it—you’re making a donation to them, and you’re receiving weed in return.”
What to do and see in Valencia:
- Eat traditional Spanish paella, a dish that originated in Valencia, and drink cava, Spanish sparkling wine.
- Visit Valencia Central Market, one of the oldest food markets in Europe.
- Participate in watersports like stand-up paddle boarding, jet skiing or surfing.
- Step back in time and explore Valencia’s historic medieval city center.
- Check out the Valencia Cathedral, one of the most beautiful cathedrals in Spain.
Little known fact: Portugal decriminalized consumption of all drugs in 2001. Lisbon, Portugal’s capital, is full of vibrant culture, great food, friendly locals, and a huge community of expats. To make it even better, Lisbon prices are a little bit more affordable than other countries in western Europe—and yes, that means affordable weed.
You won’t be able to find weed in a store or dispensary. But, you likely won’t have trouble finding someone to buy it from, either. Travel blogs say that you’ll easily find dealers downtown in Praca Martim Moniz or in the Baixa neighborhood. If you’re struggling with that, dating apps are usually a good way to find a hookup, according to many avid travelers and weed smokers.
If you are smoking in public and get caught, you might just get a warning. Or the police might confiscate your bud. However, Lisbon travelers say the police are very lax with it, and are certainly not out looking for people smoking weed.
Travelers say that it’s very easy to find weed on the streets, or to find somebody who has a hookup. “You ask around to locals. It’s not difficult to get,” states Jeanne from Stamford, Connecticut. “But it’s mostly available in hash.”
What to do and see in Lisbon:
- Ride the tram (especially the famous Tram 28) which will take you up and down the steep hills of Lisbon.
- Take a day trip to Sintra, where you can explore medieval palaces and castles.
- Party it up; Lisbon is considered to have some of the best nightlife in Europe. Check out Pink Street and Bairro Alto, two of the most popular areas for going out.
- Get lost in the colorful Alfama neighborhood, one of the oldest in Lisbon.
- Learn about Fado music, a genre unique that originated in Lisbon, on a walking tour of the city, or listen to it live.
Prague, Czech Republic
Prague is a favorite amongst budget travelers, since you can really stretch out your dollar here. Plus, Prague is a beautiful city with so much history, which comes alive through the gothic, romanesque, and renaissance architecture.
Cannabis is illegal recreationally in the Czech Republic, but personal possession is decriminalized. However, many travelers report that the city is weed friendly, and can even be bought in bars.
“You can go to Shotgun, it’s a bar in Zizkov. Ring the doorbell, they will most likely let you in (they have a video camera at the entrance and let in only the people they like). You have to order a drink and then just ask around,” says Ana-Maria, an avid traveler currently living in Romania.
When you go to these bars, you won’t have luck if you just march straight-up to the bartender and ask for weed. Instead, as Ana-Maria explains, get a drink, hang out for a while, and then make the move. She says there are plenty of bars similar in Prague, but Shotgun seems to be a favorite amongst travelers.
What to do and see in Prague:
- Enjoy some live music. Prague has a vibrant live music scene, especially with jazz and blues. Jazz Republic is a favorite of locals and tourists alike.
- Walk the famous historic Charles Bridge, which was completed in 1402.
- Roam the streets of Old Town, aka Staré Mesto.
- Visit Prague Castle, the largest ancient castle in the world.
- Have a pint—the country is famous for their beers.
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
While temples, spirituality, and Cambodian cuisine are probably what comes to mind when you think of Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital, cannabis is also becoming a big draw for tourists, too.
Technically, weed is illegal in Cambodia, just as it is in most of Asia. However, it’s readily available and acceptable to use. Apparently, the weed laws aren’t strictly enforced, but to be safe, don’t openly smoke in public, and keep purchases inside “happy pizza” joints rather than buying off the street.
Happy pizza places are popular in Phnom Penh. And yes, they serve pizza that gets you high. You can also buy bud there, too.
“Basically you just go to a happy pizza place, order something like a coffee or a shake and ask if they’ll also get you a bag of happy herbs, and they’ll ask how much you want,” shares Sarah from Cambridge, U.K. “It’s usually around $20-25 for a big bag of medium to bad quality weed, depending on which shop.” But hey, medium to bad quality weed is better than no weed at all, right?
As for legality, Sarah says, “Police don’t stop you from eating the happy pizzas and shakes in the shops. But they would stop you smoking on the street.”
Most of the happy pizza places geared towards tourists are by the riverside, along Sisowath Quay.
What to do and see in Phnom Penh:
- Sample different foods from the array of street food stands ranging from Kuy Teav, popular street noodles to scorpion on a stick, if you’re feeling wild.
- Explore the beautiful Buddhist temples such as Silver Pagoda, Wat Ounalom, and Wat Phnom, and learn about Buddhism.
- Go on a lunch cruise or a sunset booze cruise on a boat on the Mekong River.
- Shop in the huge flea market that is Central Market for food, clothes, jewelry, and more.
- Take a day trip to the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center, where you can get up close and personal with rescued animals, including elephants.
So, where in the world will you choose to get stoned next? The world is your THC infused oyster.