In the days leading up to the Full Moon, Koh Phangan’s Haad Rin beach begins to slowly transform from a sleepy slice of heaven to the place to be. Packed ferries are busier than ever and private longtail boats drop latecomers directly on the waiting beach.
The entire island of Koh Phangan is electric, buzzing with locals prepping decorations, guests hunting down last-minute accommodations, and a general feeling that something BIG is about to go down. The energy alone is intoxicating.
What started 30 years ago as a casual birthday celebration has evolved into one of the world’s most talked-about gatherings. Today, the party draws anywhere from 10,000 to 30,000 revellers of all ages and from around the world, dancing and frolicking the night away to top international DJs in sweaty seaside clubs, spilling out onto the beach itself till sunrise.
You need to be there, but before you go, there are a few things to consider.
When to Go to the Full Moon Party
If at all possible, arrive on Koh Phangan up to a week before the Full Moon. Any closer and you’ll have a hard time finding a place to stay, and if you do, you’ll pay more than double the regular rate.
Koh Phangan is a beautiful place with plenty to do outside of partying. Getting there early will give you the opportunity to snorkel or scuba dive, hike to hidden waterfalls, join a Muay Thai gym or yoga class, or just unwind on any of its many stunning beaches.
How to Get There
Although not having an airport adds to the exclusivity of it all, it also makes getting to Koh Phangan a bit of an adventure and takes some planning. To fly as close to the island as possible, hop on a one-hour Bangkok Airways flight from Bangkok to neighbouring Koh Samui.
There are multiple daily ferries between Koh Samui and Koh Phangan, taking approximately 3 ½ hours and don’t cost much. Another option is to fly (or train) from Bangkok to Surat Thani on the mainland, and boarding an even longer ferry directly to Koh Phangan there.
Choosing Where to Stay
Choosing the right place to stay during the festivities can be crucial. While the resorts and guesthouses fronting Haad Rin beach put you in the thick of it all, they aren’t conducive to getting a good sleep.
If you value your downtime, you may want to look elsewhere. A good option away from Haad Rin is Ban Tai. It is close enough by taxi (15 mins) yet far enough that you can get away from it all if you want to, and get some real rest.
Full Moon Party Costs
Gone are the days when the party was practically free. Today, there’s a charge for getting on the beach itself, a charge for a slathering of body paint, and even to use the loo. Still, it doesn’t cost much to throw down in Koh Phangan. Here is how much to budget for a Full Moon night out.
1 Canadian Dollar (CAD) = 25 Thai Baht (BHT)*
Beach entrance: 100 Baht
One bucket of booze**: 150-300 Baht, depending on the type of alcohol and mix
Fluorescent body paint: 100 Baht and up, or bring your own
Bottle of water: 20-30 Baht at the nearest 7/11
Thai meal: 100-150 Baht
Western Meal: 200-300 Baht
Toilet: 5-10 Baht
*As of September 2018
**A typical Thai ‘bucket’ includes a small bottle of Thai Sang Som Whiskey (actually a rum), Coca-Cola mix, straws and an actual bucket to drink from.
Full Moon Party Dos & Don’ts
What could go wrong with a 20,000-people beach party? Plenty, but with some common sense, your Full Moon Party experience can easily be problem-free. Here are some basic rules to keep you out of trouble.
DO keep hydrated.
The heat, dancing and drinking can quickly take its toll, so it’s necessary to consume as much water as possible.
DON’T do any drugs.
It’s not worth it, especially in Thailand. With Thailand’s strict drug laws, your fun can quickly turn into a nightmare.
DO leave anything of value behind in your room and locked up.
While Thailand is generally fairly safe, petty crimes such as theft can occur – especially at a party of this magnitude. Bring only what you’ll need to have fun.
DON’T party barefoot.
Nothing ends a dance party like a bleeding foot, and with plenty of glass around, it’s best to dance safely.
Half Moon & Black Moon Parties
Koh Phangan’s infamous Full Moon Party is truly a sight to behold, but don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t line up with when you are planning to be there. If you miss it, chances are that you’ll be there for one of the lesser parties, the Half Moon Party and the Black Moon Party, both in Ban Tai.
A Half Moon Party is thrown twice a month, before and after the Full Moon. While drawing a much smaller crowd than the Full Moon, the experience is just as good, if not better – especially for those that prefer a more intimate gathering.
The monthly Black Moon Party moves the action away from the beach and into the jungles surrounding Ban Tai, transforming it into an enchanted, magical place, complete with ultra-violet decorations, laser light installations, cozy chill-out forest lounges and treehouses.
Ready to party? Speak to one of our Thailand Expert Travellers about arranging a Koh Phangan Full Moon Party experience on your next visit to the Land of Smiles.