If you’re travelling to the south of Thailand, it is highly recommended to attend a Full Moon Party during your stay. What is a Full Moon Party? It is an all night rave that draws 10-30,000 people of all ages, from all around the world to the beach of Haad Rin each month. The globally known celebration is said to have started in 1987 by a group of hippie backpackers who were simply celebrating a friend’s birthday on the night of a full moon. The friends had so much fun that they decided to come back the following year. Word caught on of this “full moon celebration” and the rest is history.
This year Thailand’s infamous moon party turns 25. What better time to experience the largest beach rave you will most likely ever attend in your lifetime? But, before you go, there are certain things that are good to know in order to prepare yourself:
Choose your Accommodations
You can find accommodations all over the island of Koh Phangan. The Full Moon Party itself takes place in Haad Rin for those who want to be in the centre of the action. If you do wish to stay in Haad Rin, arrive at least 4-5 days before the party in order to find accommodations. If you arrive on the day of or night before, forget about finding a place to stay! If you are indeed lucky to find a place in Had Rin a day before the party, be prepared to pay double the listing price. Also, if you are fortunate enough to be in Thailand for the Christmas and New Years party, you can expect to pay even triple the listing price. For those who want to party but have the option of retreating from the craziness at any given time, staying outside of Haad Rin is recommended. It will most likely save you a dime or two as well.
One area that is fairly close to Haad Rin, yet offers a calmer atmosphere is Ban Tai. There are taxis that will take you to and from Ban Tai all night long and will only cost you a few of dollars each way for the 15 minute journey. Ban Tai offers beautiful beachfront accommodations in all different price range. You can find a basic cabin fit for 2 on the beach for as little as $5 a night.
You can also choose to stay on the island of Koh Samui. There are speedboats that travel back and forth from Koh Samui to Koh Phangan frequently throughout the night. You may end up saving a penny on accommodations but the cost for the speedboat will make up for it.
When to Go and How to Get There
The only way to get to Koh Phangan is by ferry since there is no airport on the island. There are several option for getting to the island from Bangkok or the surrounded islands. If you are heading to the island directly from Bangkok, you can choose to take either a one-hour flight to Surat Thani or Koh Samui or an overnight bus to Surat Thani. The overnight bus will take you to Surat Thani where you will transfer to a ferry that will take you to Koh Phangan. Keep in mind that you may be waiting at the ferry terminal for a couple of hours and the ferry ride itself takes about 3.5 hours. You can also get to Koh Phangan from Koh Samui Island by boat, which takes around 30 minutes.
Another option is to travel from Bangkok to Koh Phangan by train. You can hop on board at the Hualamphong station in Bangkok and go over night to Surat Thani. From there you will need to take a 1.5-hour bus ride to the ferry dock, followed by the ferry ride to Koh Phangan. Both the bus and train options take approximately 14 hours, ferry included.
From buckets of alcohol to glow-in-the-dark body paint to bottled water to food to using the toilet, partaking in a Full Moon Party can definitely add up. Here is an idea of how much you should expect to spend on one night of festivities (give or take):
- Beach Entrance: 100 Baht
- One Bucket of Alcohol: 150-300 Baht depending on the alcohol and mixers (even up to 400-500 Baht on New Years Eve)
- Body Paint: 100 Baht and up (you can also bring your own body paint)
- A Thai Meal: 90-120 Baht
- A Western Meal: 200-250 Baht
- Water: 20-30 Baht (at the nearest 711)
- Toilets: 5-10 Baht
The Full Moon Parties are pretty full on and can be just as dangerous as it can be fun. This is why it’s important to make yourself aware of certain things before attending a party:
After hours of dancing, drinking, jumping through fire hoops, hot weather and what not, your adrenaline is pumping and you may not realize that you’re dehydrated. It’s very important to keep drinking water throughout the night. While you can buy bottled water at the bucket stations lined up along the beach, it’s much cheaper to head to the nearest 711 along the strip.
It’s one of the main concerns at a Full Moon Party. Many foreigners get wrapped up in the Full Moon Party experience and believe part of that is experimenting with psychotropic drugs. While some may have great trips, undercover police giving you a choice between Thai prison and an expensive bribe ruins others. Then there is the risk of not knowing what you’re actually taking, overdose, and making irrational decisions.
Don’t Go Barefoot
You may think since you’re attending a beach party, that shoes aren’t necessarily required. Think again! If you spend a few minutes outside the emergency clinic closest to the Full Moon Party, you will understand why footwear is highly recommended during the festivities. When you have thousands of people partying on a beach, there is guaranteed to be broken beer bottles and other sharp objects hiding in the sand. Avoid a foot injury and wear something on your feet!
Don’t Bring Personal Belongings
Leave your important and expensive belongings locked up where you are staying. Theft is common during the party, so it’s best to bring as little as possible with you. Bring enough money to last you the night, plus a little extra, your room key and if you must, a camera. If you do decide to bring a camera, be sure to have it on you at all times, as someone can snatch it up in the blink of an eye.
You are in Thailand and at a full moon party…live it up! How many times in your life will you get to be part of such an epic celebration? Paint your body, wear funky clothing, grab a bucket, bring some glow sticks, dance the night away, watch sunrise from Mushroom Mountain and reward yourself with a grand breakfast!
Consider Another Moon Party
While the globally known Koh Phangan party is the Full Moon, there are also the other island raves to consider.
Half Moon and Black Moon
Some travellers prefer the more relaxed Half and Black Moon Parties. Black Moon Parties also take place once a month while Half Moon Parties happen twice a month (before and after a Full Moon party). Both draw in a smaller crowd, making the experience more intimate and take place in Ban Tai.
Then there is the Jungle Experience. This party happens 4 and 1 day before the Full Moon Party each month. The party is the most intimate of them all and is held in the Ban Tai jungle. It’s like stepping into an enchanted world of lush tropical gardens, magical UV decorations, laser light installation, water featured, and cozy chill out lounging areas.
Please note: Unlike the Full Moon Parties, there are no speedboats running to and from Koh Samui for any of these parties. You must find accommodations on Koh Phangan or wait until the first boat arrives the next morning at 7am.
And lastly, party goers can also head to the beach in the morning after the party to help clean it up. There are locals who volunteer to this, but it’s a nice gesture to help them.