One of the reasons I’d avoided the island of Koh Phangan on my previous 4 visits to Thailand was because I thought the island would be overrun with drunk backpackers for the famous Full Moon Party.
Then a friend moved there and encouraged me to come and visit her and I found out that actually Koh Phangan is so much more than just the Full Moon Party. It’s a beautiful, spiritual island with a jungly, unexplored interior and a special healing energy that is not too busy or overdeveloped (as long as you avoid Haad Rin around Full Moon time of course!)
I’ve been spending my days practicing yoga, working and exploring the island, so attending the Full Moon Party was far from my top priority when visiting Koh Phangan but I thought I might as well check it out and see what all the fuss is about. When in Rome!
I’ve rented a house in the yogi area of Sri Thanu so I had to drive 35 mins across the sand strewn, roller coaster like roads to Haad Rin. As soon as I arrived in Haad Rin the energy was very different from serene Sri Thanu with drunken revellers from all over the world pouring out of songthaews and taking over the streets, covering themselves with fluorescent and UV paint, grabbing as much cheap alcohol as they can from 7/11 and bucket bar stalls set up on the streets.
The Full Moon Party takes over the whole of Haad Rin resort as well as the beach. It’s 100 Baht to enter the beach which goes towards helping the community clean up after the carnage of the party which attracts about 30,000 people each month.
If you want to party then staying in Haad Rin is the most convenient but accommodation is more pricey around Full Moon time and gets booked up quickly so book online well in advance or arrive at least 4 days before Full Moon and be aware that most places also have a 4 or 5 day minimum stay around this period. There are parties on every day around the Full Moon like the Waterfall Party and Jungle Experience Party so don’t worry you won’t get bored! Check Phanganist to find out whats happening.
If you want to stay right in heart of the action check out Tommy Resort on Haad Rin Beach. There are also lots of backpacker hostels in Haad Rin – Culture Club Backpackers has a sweet swimming pool and offers free UV painting so you’re ready for the party. (Check out my list of the top 6 backpacker hostels in Koh Phangan here) You could also stay on the other side of Haad Rin at Cocohut Beach Resort if you want to be somewhere a little quieter but still within walking distance to the party.
If you stay in Haad Rin you simply cannot avoid the Full Moon Party so if you want to actually sleep at all on Full Moon Party night then DON’T stay in Haad Rin – there are many nicer, quieter areas of the island like Baan Tai which is not far away but is an escape from the crowd.
The Full Moon Party
Once you move through the drunken crowd and get onto the beach the Full Moon Party is more like a festival than just a party as there are lots of different sound systems blasting all different kinds of music from the beach bars that are spread along the long, crowded beach interspersed with bucket bars, snack stalls, more UV and fluorescent stalls, Full Moon Party t shirt stalls and other stalls selling random tacky fluorescent stuff. Most people were wearing some kind of Full Moon Party t shirt.
There’s a big variety of music played from the big commercial hits to EDM, techno, dance, psytrance, drum and base and I even heard a bit of reggae and cheesy music so you can always find something you like or if your not feeling it just move onto the next one.
The thing with having so many different parties all in one is that I didn’t really feel any of them really drew me in enough – I felt that the party lacked the immersive experience of having a stage and dancefloor that you could really get in to – most people seemed to spend more time wandering up and down the beach, getting more buckets, taking selfies, looking lost, peeing in the sea, hooking up, puking, etc than actually dancing and partying. There’s even a sleeping area for those who’ve got too drunk and passed out.
Attending the Full Moon Party can be a bit risky. Make sure that you wear shoes (not flip flops) to avoid getting your feet ripped up by broken glass and take care of your valuables – or even better leave them at your accommodation. Be warned that some of the alcohol served in the cheap buckets can be dodgy and undercover cops might try to sell you drugs so that they can catch you. Read these Full Moon Party safety tips first.
There’s also the infamous fire rope jumping and fire limboing where many people get burned. Attempt these at your own risk!
Ok, maybe I didn’t hate the Full Moon Party but I wouldn’t go again
Hate is a strong word – I guess I didn’t hate the Full Moon Party but personally I thought it was overrated, too commercial and I’ve been to much better beach parties. I definitely wouldn’t fly half way across the world or plan my travels around it like thousands of people do but if you are visiting Koh Phangan then why not check it out. If you do go make sure to take care of yourself and your friends.
Maybe I’m just getting old and boring. Admittedly, I’m not a big drinker and I only stayed until 3am. I heard that the sunrise is pretty spectacular but I was too tired by then and had yoga classes in the morning. I only had a few drinks as I was had quite a treacherous scooter drive back to the other side of the island. (Drink driving on a scooter on these roads would be a suicide mission – don’t even think about it!)
If I was 18, really drunk with a big group of mates I would probably have enjoyed it. Many people love the Full Moon Party and have a great time but for me, I’d rather stick to my Goa psytrance parties.
If you do want to experience the Full Moon Party but your dates don’t coincide with the Full Moon Party dates then don’t worry – there are many (I would say even better) parties on Koh Phangan all month and the bars on the beach of Haad Rin are pretty lively all the time.
Have you been to Koh Phangan’s famous Full Moon Party? How did you love it or hate it?
Pin Me 😉