KOH PHANGAN, Thailand – The Full Moon Party is a spectacular event that should be on everyone’s bucket list to see and experience once in their lifetime. “One time at this party is never enough,” a drunk guy utters during the night of the Full Moon Party. This may be a debatable statement for some but for many that drunk guy could not have said it better. The party is infamous for being wild and dangerous. But with research and preparation, it can be an enjoyable experience for everyone…over 18 (or 20) that is. So here it is, without further ado, a guide to the Full Moon Party.
The Full Moon Party takes place on Koh Phangan (Phangan Island.) The island is located to the north of Koh Samui in the Gulf of Thailand. There is currently no direct route to the island from Bangkok. But visitors can come close on the mainland via plane, train, or bus and continue the journey to the island via a ferry or a boat.
– Plane: Thai Airways and Bangkok Airways fly to Samui Airport with as many as twenty flights per day. The flight takes about 45 minutes. From Samui, Koh Phangan can be reached in 30 minutes by speed boat. The whole jouney form Bangkok can take less than two hours. For a cheaper option, fly to Surat Thani or Nakhon Si Thammarat and get on a bus to Don Sak Pier for a ferry ride to the island. AirAsia and Nok Air offer a package with flight, bus, and ferry fare included. However, this journey can take quite long. Most of the time will be spent waiting for the ferry or the bus at the pier. The trip can take 5 hours to 8 hours to reach the island.
– Train: This is possibly the worst way to travel to the party. The train is very slow and delays can almost always be expected. The overnight train journey from Bangkok usually arrives in the morning between 5 to 10 am. It is a cheap option for travellers with more time and less money. The train will stop at Surat Thani, where a taxi can be hired to get to Don Sak Pier and continue the journey to the island. The train journey to the island unfortunately takes the longest of all transportation mode. It can take up to 24 hours to get from Bangkok to Koh Phangan.
– Bus: Taking a bus is the cheapest way to get to the island. There are two routes of the bus journey. The first one departs from a southern bus terminal in Bangkok and the second one from Khaosan Road. The difference between the two options is that bus from the terminal drives straight to Don Sak Pier to get on a ferry onward to Koh Phangan, whereas the bus from Khaosan Road will stop at the pier in Chumphon before the journey continues via speed boat. The journey by bus can take anywhere from 13 to 15 hours. There is also a bus journey from Phuket and Krabi to Koh Phangan as well. This is the most popular option among backpackers.
When to go
The best time to visit the island is when it is dry. The dry season for the islands in the Gulf of Thailand runs from January to April, which is consider a hot season in the country. May to August is a little wetter but relatively drier than the rest of the country. It tends to rain a lot in October and November when cold fronts from China is moving through the area. The peak periods where the party receives large influx of tourists are January and July.
Where to stay
The island is quite large but 90 percent of the area is an uninhabited tropical forest. The western side of the island is more populous and all towns are located by the sea. All ferries and most of the boats to Koh Phangan will go to the pier in Thong Sala, which is the main town on the island. Some boats from Samui will go to Haad Rin Pier. During the night of the Full Moon Party, long tail boats operate between the two islands. Some of the popular towns on the island to consider for accommodation are:
– Haad Rin: This is where all the action the action is. There are many bungalows and hotels in the area. But they often require that guests stay for 3 to 5 nights during the Full Moon Party week. The streets in this area are always lively. But it can be quite noisy during the week of the party. There are reports of hotel rooms getting broken into by thieves during the full moon night.
– Baan Tai: The town is located between Thong Sala and Haad Rin. It is quite close to the Full Moon Party. It costs 100 baht per trip for a taxi to get to the party. Another five outdoor dance music events, including Half Moon Party, Black Moon Culture, Jungle Experience, Open Air Muzix Festival, and Sramanora Waterfall Party, are also hosted around this town. Baan Tai is a good option for people who want to be close to the party but not too close.
– Thong Sala: This is Koh Phangan’s chief town. The town is the main financial center and main transportation hub of the island. There is a night market that offers a wide variety of cheap food. Taxis run all night from Thong Sala to Haad Rin and similar to Baan Tai, and it costs 100 baht.
– Haad Yao: Haad Yao is another popular area for accommodation on the island with a number of bungalows and resorts located around this northwestern part of the island.
– Chaloklum: This town is a main fishing port so it has plenty of seafood restaurants serving fresh and inexpensive fishes and squids.
– Thong Nai Pan: It is a quiet town on the east coast of the island. The area is quite difficult to get to as there are not many taxis operating on the routes between Thong Nai Pan and other towns on the island. But the beaches around the area are very beautiful.
Where to go
Basically go everywhere on Haad Rin, the beach where the party takes place. Take a stroll along the two-kilometre long beach and soak up the atmosphere. The northern side of the beach, or left side when facing the sea, tend to be quieter and less crowded. Some of the clubs and bars to considered visiting are:
– Mellow Mountain: Getting up to this bar requires a bit of a hike but the view at the end of a flight of stairs is worth it. It is located at the quiet side of beach, which makes it a good place to wind down from the electric party scene. Get mellow with a magic mushroom shake while enjoying the party from afar.
– Cactus Club: It is right in middle of the beach and is located right by the walkway to beach from Haad Rin town. It is a great meeting point and a great spot to start off the night with a more commercial sound.
– Paradise Bungalows: Walk up to the rooftop to enjoy the view right in the middle of the party from above. This is where the photo on the right is taken. And getting back down to the party by sliding down the water slide next to the DJ booth. For more excitement, jump through fire hoops and get low under fire limbos.
– The Rock: Climb up the rock to enjoy a good view of the party. The bar offers cheap drinks and food to fight the night craving. It serves one of the best cocktails at the party. It also has a free bathroom so use it and avoid urinating in the sea like many people do.
– Chang Phueak: Located at the end of the boardwalk in the south of Haad Rin Nok, this bar offers a nice resting spot away from the party scene. Sit around the big rock and order few drinks before heading back to the party.
How to prepare
Getting enough sleep and having enough food is important. Intoxication is more likely to happen when the body does not get enough rest or does not receive enough food.
Bring as little as possible to the party and leave valuable stuff at the hotel. Bring a photocopy of identification card just in case. Do not forget to bring 100 baht for entrance fee and some money for drinks. A bucket usually cost around 300 to 600 bath.
What to wear
There is no dress code but generally, the more colourful the better. The clothing should be of neon coloured in shades of pink, green, orange, and yellow. Beachwear are acceptable but most people wear tank tops and shorts. The type of clothing worn at the party is available on every street corner on the island. Shoes are encouraged for the party as broken glasses can often be found on the beach.
Paint the body with neon coloured paints available at most bucket stalls or opt for some neon coloured artworks by local artists around the party area.
At the party…
Start from beer or lighter coloured drinks like vodka before drinking dark coloured liquor. Drinking from the bottle is the best option for partygoers that come alone. Buckets should be shared among friends. Drinking the whole bucket without sharing is not a good idea because of the amount of alcohol in the bucket. The bucket is made up of a mix between a full bottle of alcohol and Thai Red Bull, which is a lot stronger than the European one.
Do not be tempted to buy drugs even though it is readily available at the party. There are undercover police scouting the area for illegal activities. Marijuana and mushroom is also illegal. Drug related crime is punishable by fine and imprisonment under Thai law.
The party starts from sunset and continues until sunrise. Come really early or really late to avoid paying the already cheap entrance fee. The staff will usually be the entrance from 9 pm to 2 am. But the party does not really go into full gear until after 10 pm and the goal is to stay up till sunrise. The sky really does look amazing at early hours.
The most important thing to do at the party is to have fun and enjoy. Drink and dance until the break of dawn. This is the time to soak up the moon light and go lunatic!