Full Moon Party of Koh Phangan: A Detailed Guide
The most famous party of Asia (and maybe the world) – the Full Moon Party of Koh Phangan! So you’ve decided to check this item off your bucket list? Well, I did too a few years back. My multiple visits to Thailand’s Koh Phangan have taught me a few lessons which are listed below and I have compiled a complete guide to the Full Moon Party of Koh Phangan for you. But first of all, let’s spend a few minutes to understand what exactly is a full moon party.
What is a full moon party?
A full moon party occurs on every full moon as the name suggests. The most famous full moon party happens on a very large scale on Haad Rin (or Haat Rin) beach of Koh Phangan in Thailand. This is Asia’s most famous (or infamous) party and is almost like a mini festival.
You can click here to see the schedule and dates for the full moon party of Koh Phangan. Now there are many stories about the history and origins of this full moon party, but the fact remains that it was made famous by “The Beach” movie and this beach sees 30,000 to 40,000 party animals from all over the world on a full moon party night. If your travel dates do not match the full moon dates, do not worry because every night feels like a full moon party on Haad Rin beach but with fewer people.
If you look at a map of Koh Pha Ngnan (or Koh Phangan), Haad Rin makes perfect sense to be a famous party spot because of the location – it’s the south most point of the island, is a peninsular beach area (bordered by water on three sides but connected to the mainland) and has the most extraordinary sunrise views because of the direction.
The entry fee for the full moon party of Koh Phangan is THBs 100 and there are many check points set up at multiple entry points. However, if you try, you can walk around in Haad Rin and hunt for a path from between the bars to the beach to avoid paying 100 Bhats. If you like collecting meaningful tokens of your travel, spend that 100 Bhats for the entry and save the party wrist band. A good thing is that this party is not just limited to one genre of music, every beach bar has their own sound set up and most of them play a different genre – from the mainstream pop to the underground goa psychedelic trance, you will find many genres of dance music. Any guesses which was my favorite?
Now that we’re done with the introduction, here’s a detailed guide to the Full Moon Party of Koh Phangan for you.
Things to keep in mind before entering the party –
Stay: If you’re visiting this island around the full moon party time, please arrive at least 3-4 days in advance to find places to stay, else book online. Most of the places around that time let you stay only if you book for at least 3 days. The full moon party happens on the Sunrise beach of Haad Rin area. There are many places to stay there but Haad Rin area is always full and super crowded even when there’s no full moon party, so you can imagine how crowded it gets at the time of full moon party. I prefer the nearby Ban Tai and Ban Kai areas, which are conveniently near to the full moon party area, but conveniently far away from the crowds. Click here to read my post on Koh Phangan to get more information.
I did meet a bunch of people who were fooled by their travel agents in booking rooms in Koh Samui and were told that they can arrive a few hours early in Koh Phangan for the full moon party and take a ferry back next day early morning when the party is over. This doesn’t make sense at all. Firstly, imagine – taking a bumpy ferry ride steered by sleep deprived locals when your stomach is full of alcohol after the party. Secondly, Phangan is a huge island and has a lot of places to stay, even around the full moon party time. Even if you get a place to stay on the opposite side of the island, it beats having to go back to another island after the party.
How to reach the party?
Super simple! On a full moon party night, every taxi heads to this direction. Just stand on the road and stop the nearest taxi and they will take you there for THBs 50 to THBs 200 per person depending on where you stay. Oh and by the way, by taxi I mean a shared open pick-up truck or as it’s called locally – songthaew. Please negotiate the cost to save money.
Attire: Most of the people wear UV tank tops and dresses which can be found in abundance at multiple shops on the island – yes guys and girls both. They do look nice but the attire looks like a uniform after while because almost everyone wears this. If you don’t want to look like everyone else in the party, then don’t wear what you buy from the island but please be comfortable. Also, wear something with safe pockets where you can keep your essentials and do not carry around a bag, there’s a risk of losing it. I wore a crop top with a sarong as a skit over my hot pants and I was super comfortable. This way, my bare essentials – money and room key were safe in my hot pants pocket under the sarong.
Don’t wear flip flops for the party. Most of the people lose them and many step on broken glass. Wear comfortable beach footwear that hold your entire foot with a strap in the back.
Oh, and do try UV Body Paint and accessories, there are shops everywhere in Haad Rin with beautiful body paint artists and hordes of accessories such as flower head gears, beads, funny hats, etc. You can also buy your own paint from the supermarket and paint yourself before you head out.
Drink: Don’t buy suspiciously cheap buckets on Haad Rin Roadside. We had heard of multiple stories about people having bad experiences buying cheap buckets from Haad Rin roadside but we did not believe till it happened to us twice. Do not underestimate the “bad experience” – in our case it was a “blackout”. But because we’re two girls traveling together, we’re very careful and don’t get drunk at the same time, a habit which saved us because the other one kept an eye on the one that had a blackout. These buckets usually have Thai Red bull, which is deadly! However, we have had Thai buckets all over Thailand, but never felt their effects like how we felt in Haad Rin area.
I suggest you buy your alcohol from seven-eleven in Haad Rin area before entering the party and make yourself a bucket, or buy bottled drinks such as beer. You will end up saving some money as well as trouble that you may end up facing after drinking spurious alcohol from road side. If you still want to have a Haad Rin bucket, then please do what we did – one friend gets drunk, one stays sane. Your body will lose a lot of water because of sweat and alcohol, so please drink a lot of water before and during the party to stay hydrated.
Eat: Before entering the party area, eat something that can keep you going for a few hours. There are many affordable street food options. Please avoid pre-cut salads which you will find on the road. You can read my post about safe eating in Asia for more information.
Once you enter the party, please keep a few things in mind –
Explore the beach area and bar hop because as I mentioned earlier, every bar has their own sound set up and different genre. Most of these places have an elevated stage like area where you can dance or you can simply dance on the sand. Try to bar hop as much as possible to experience different genres before settling down to your favorite one.
The Ocean: Let’s face it, most of us love the ocean and after a few drinks, it may feel like a good idea to jump around in the water, maybe not get completely soaked but just the legs – doesn’t sound so risky, right? WRONG – imagine a beach that’s overflowing with determined party animals, where do you think most of them will head if they need to puke / or take a leak? I have seen people do all sorts of things in Haad Rin water, trust me; you don’t want to go in there. Besides being seriously dirty, the excess of broken glass in that water makes it highly unsafe.
Fire: Enjoy the fire shows and fire poi swingers from a safe distance, but do not get too close to them because I have personally seen a poi getting out of hand and hurting a nearby onlooker. Many beach bars have fire games such as fire swinging rope and fire hoops, these are dangerous and many people severely burn themselves when they decide to join in.
Drugs are illegal in Thailand and please save yourself some trouble – do not buy drugs at the party. Many undercover cops will try to sell you drugs at the party to catch you. It will cause you unnecessary mess and you may be able to get out by just paying if you’re lucky but it will not be cheap.
Overall, enjoy the party and have a lot of fun. Experience the typical full moon party sights – fire shows, UV attires, people passed out on the beach, beach full of lost flip flops, etc. Try to stay around till the sunrise if you can.
After the party
There are many after parties that happen after the full moon party if you’re not completely satisfied. Stay around; you will definitely get to hear of a few. Ban Sabai’s after party is the the best one if you like psychedelic trance. If you’re traveling on a tight schedule, please don’t book a ferry out of Koh Phangan for the very next morning right after the full moon party – you will regret it. Stay for a few hours more, catch up on your sleep and leave in the evening next day, if you must.
Please don’t come to Koh Phangan with only one agenda – full moon party. Honestly, there are some better parties that happen on this island apart from full moon. Moreover, the island itself is very beautiful. Read my blog about the awesomeness of Koh Phangan.