Almost 30 years ago in 1988, the first Full Moon Party on Thailand’s Koh Phangan was a peaceful gathering of travelers from around the world, the full moon providing the only light available at night on the remote island. Today, 20,000 people regularly cram the shores of Haad Rin beach, attracted by cheap alcohol, readily available drugs and, of course, the lure of a party often referred to as a backpackers’ rite of passage in Southeast Asia.
Where exactly is the Full Moon Party?
The actual beach party is on the Haad Rin beach, Koh Pha Ngan island.
How to get to the Full Moon Party?
From Koh Samui or Koh Tao…
The two closest islands to Kho Pha Ngan are Koh Samui and Koh Tao. There are inexpensive ferries running daily between all the islands.
From Koh Samui, boat tickets cost 200 baht (HK$46) and leave from Big Buddha Pier or Maenam Beach. The Samui ferry will drop you off at the main dock of Thong Sala or Haad Rin, depending on time of day and ferry company. During the Full Moon Party, boats go from Koh Samui to Haad Rin every hour.
The fastest way to Koh Pha Ngan is to take a short flight to Koh Samui and catch a ferry to the island. There are also budget-friendly overnight bus & boat options you can purchase from travel agents in Bangkok.
A lot of companies run overnight buses from Bangkok to Koh Phangan for 450–600 baht (HK$90-135). This price also includes the ferry. You’ll take an overnight bus to Surat Thani, sit at the ferry terminal for a few hours, and then take the ferry to the island. It’s a long, long night/day, but it’s much cheaper than flying to Koh Samui.
When is the Full Moon Party?
As the name suggests, the party is on the night of the full moon. If you are not there on the right day or simply miss it, there’s always the half-moon party, quarter-moon party, and black-moon party. Really, every night is a party here on Koh Phangan.
What is the Full Moon Party like?
The party begins days before as people trickle onto the island. On the day of the party, people from the neighboring Koh Samui and Koh Tao and from other parts of the island will be adding to the crowd. You’ll see people start drinking in the afternoon, and most people start heading to the beach around 9pm. The crowd peaks around midnight to 2am. On New Year’s Eve, the beach will be full by 8pm.
What to wear to the Full Moon Party?
The ritual of the party is all about Neon! Most of the people wear UV tank tops and dresses which can easily be found at many shops on the island. Of course, if you don’t wanna dress like everyone else, you can always bring your own outfits but please make sure they are comfy enough! Once in Haad Rin, get the fun started with the artistic ritual of covering the entire body in neon paint!
- Wear something with safe pockets where you can keep your essentials. Best not carry around a bag, there’s a risk of losing it
- Don’t wear flip flops! Most of the people lose them and step on broken glasses! Wear comfortable beach footwear that holds your entire foot with a strap at the back!
Where to stay?
Accommodation is all over the island, but you’ll want to stay in Haad Rin (where the actual party is) so you can be close to the action. You’ll need to come here at least FOUR days before the party if you want an actual place to stay. The closer you ge
t to the actual night of the party, the more you’ll need a miracle to find something — at any price range.
Another way is to find accommodation on another island, catching a ferry to Koh Pha Ngan, partying all night, and catching a ferry back the next day.
Typical Cost of Stay
Dorm room: 300 baht (HK$68)
Regular room with A/C and hot water: 500–800 baht (HK$115-180)
Really nice room: 1,000–1,500 baht (HK$225-340)
Basic bungalow: 800 baht (HK$180)
Really nice bungalow: 2,000–3,800 baht (HK$450-850)
Survival Tips to the Full Moon Party
Stay away from the Drugs: There’s lots of people whispering drug names in your ear as you walk past – SE Asian drug dealing style. This might be an old school advice but it’s true that undercover police will try to sell you drugs only to arrest you, and life imprisonment in a Thai jail wouldn’t be ideal.
Even though some cops might not have real desire to lock you away for smoking a joint or doing a pill since it’s too much hassle and paperwork, they do intend to take a bribe. Expect to pay upwards of USD $1,000 for your get-out-of-jail-free card.
Skip the jump rope: People on the island soak a rope in gasoline, light it on fire, and skip it. Just don’t do it it’s stupid. You might be the world’s best jump roper, but the drunk dudes that join you might not be.
Every time there’s a lot of people get burned. Look it up on Youtube and you will see burning rope wrapped around a guy’s arm and burned all the skin off.
Buckets: They’re deadly! One, two, three, passed out on the beach! If you actually want to see the sunrise, follow this rule: No buckets before midnight!
Stay out of the ocean: It may seem like a good idea to play in the ocean. It’s not. Not only do you risk drowning (there can be strong waves), but everyone uses the ocean as their personal toilet during the party. There’s a reason the water is warm, and it’s not because you’re in Thailand. Stay sanitary. Don’t go in.
Don’t take off your shoes: Partying on the beach without footwear may seem fun, but as the night goes on, broken beer bottles and other sharp objects litter the beach. And as mentioned it’s best not to wear flip flops!
Personal belongings: Theft is rife during the party. Bring as little as possible. Bring enough money for drinks and your room key. You don’t really need anything else.