If you’ve never heard of the Full Moon Party on Koh Phangan, we’re going to assume you’ve been living under a rock. In fact, we’ll even assume you’ve never shotgunned a beer (and that’s just a disgrace). Jokes aside, the Full Moon is a big deal in Thailand. And with that, welcome to your all-inclusive guide on surviving and conquering the Full Moon Party this year!
What the hell is the Koh Phangan Full Moon Party?
It’d be easier to tell you what the Full Moon Party isn’t—because it’s honestly a bit of everything. Imagine your favorite music festival, but on the beach with way more intoxication (i.e. Coachella on steroids). Party-goers enjoy lots of drinking, dancing, sex, and most importantly alcohol.
The Full Moon Party takes place on a massive beach, which is lined with bars as far as the eye can see. Every bar has a unique style of music, so you’ll never get sick of the party. There’s always something new to see! With a bucket in hand (we’ll explain later) and lots of neon paint, you’re sure to have a blast.
Of course, not everyone is a fan of the party. It started back in the 1980s when a few friends celebrated the rise of the full moon by throwing a party. Every year it’s grown more and more, and nowadays it’s extremely commercial. Some visitors and locals think the party has strayed too far from its origins. But regardless of how things have changed, one thing certainly hasn’t. And that’s the fact that the Full Moon Party will be the craziest of your life.
Where the hell is Koh Phangan?
Finding out where Koh Phangan—the home of the Full Moon Party—is located is the easy part. Getting there may be a different story. With no airport on the island, you’re required to take some combination of air, sea, and land travel. If you’re on a neighboring island such as Koh Samui or Koh Tao prior to the party, you can inexpensively catch a ferry. If you’re anywhere else in Thailand (or the world), your best bet will be to arrange transportation to Surat Thani. From there, you can catch a ferry directly to Koh Phangan. Regardless of the route you plan to take, Lomprayah is a great resource for booking tickets.
But it’s obviously more complicated than just finding the island. You have to actually find the party! The rave always takes place on Haad Rin (which translates to Full Moon) Beach. It’s a decent trip from the pier, and can be hard to find. Motorbike taxis and songthaews will be your preferred method of transportation. However, be aware that they can get expensive as the party approaches, and the roads aren’t necessarily the safest in Thailand. On the bright side, every driver will know exactly where you want to go (assuming your hostel isn’t on the other side of the island).
When the hell is the Koh Phangan’s Full Moon Party?
The name should be a bit of a hint! It’s the Full Moon Party, after all. As a result, it probably doesn’t take a detective to realize the party starts every time there’s a full moon over Koh Phangan. But you should keep an eye out as your party date approaches, because dates change from time to time. If there are any national or Buddhist holidays that interfere with the planned party dates, the party will be pushed back. And at the same time, some holidays (like Christmas) result in additional parties.
Who the hell goes to this mythical Full Moon Party?
The easy answer is people who are looking for the best night they’ll never remember. The scientific answer is somewhere between 20,000 and 40,000 backpackers, alcoholic, and ravers from across the world. Yeah, you read that right. 20,000 to 40,000 people go to every single party. But one of our favorite things about the Full Moon Party is that you can find anyone there, from grandparents to locals. As long as you’re determined to have a good time, you’ll fit right in.
How the hell do I survive a week of this?
The main party takes place on Haad Rin, and hostels/hotels will sell out fast. Even if you’re planning to stay in a more remote location (or even on a neighboring island), there’s a chance you won’t have a place to sleep if you stroll up without a reservation. And the last thing you’ll want to do after the party is sleep on an alcohol and pee-soaked beach. Also keep in mind that many of the hostels/hotels on Koh Phangan require a minimum stay of four to five nights during the Full Moon Party. We recommend planning in advance with HostelWorld so you won’t be hit with any surprises.
Avoid the Party at all Costs
That sounds counterintuitive, right? Avoiding the party to make sure you have a good time at the party. Even though it seems silly, this is a great strategy to making the most of the Full Moon Party while you’re on Koh Phangan. People will be raging from sundown to sunrise, and that can be exhausting. If you show up any earlier than 11pm or midnight, you’ll just become another victim of the Full Moon, passed out on the beach by 10pm. To avoid all of this, join the official Full Moon Pre-Party at Slumber Party Hostel until it’s time to head to the beach. You can enjoy cheap drinks, pregame, and avoid the beginner’s mistake of partying too hard too soon.
Be Smart with Your Money
The Full Moon Party is famous for quite a few things, with the two most recognizable being buckets and body paint. The closer you are to Haad Rin Beach, the more expensive both of those things will be. That’s why it’s a good idea to avoid the hustle and bustle of the Full Moon and stock up beforehand. A bucket could run you 500 baht on the beach, but you can get a stronger one for only 200 baht as you head away. Even the 7/11’s near the beach will be more expensive than their counterparts inland! And that same logic applies to the neon body paint—just buy your own, and you’ll wake up with an extra 300 baht in your pocket.
Don’t Even Think about Fire
Just don’t. No. No. No. It’s never a good idea. We don’t care how drunk you are, how good you are at jump rope, or how fun it looks. Every single month, tourists are rushes to the hospital with burns, because they got a bit too drunk and decided playing with a flaming jump rope was good idea. Feel free to watch fire spinners and enjoy the show, but keep your distance from anything that requires participations. Nothing can ruin your night at the Full Moon Party more than being rushed to the hospital.
Wear Good Shoes
This is the Full Moon Party mistake that’s easiest to make and hardest to recover from. Remember that Koh Phangan goes crazy for this party. The beach is going to be littered with cans, bottles, buckets, glass, and more. Even though dancing barefoot in the sand sounds great, the cuts you’ll wake up with won’t be much fun. Closed-toe shoes are the safest, but you can also get away with a decent pair of sandals that strap around your ankle. If you opt for flip-flops, they’ll probably end up on opposite ends of the beach by morning.
Protect Your Valuables
For the most part, you’ll be surrounded by friends while you’re at Full Moon. The majority of the partygoers are just looking to have a good time, and aren’t thinking about anything more than where to buy their next bucket. But you’re better off safe than sorry. You don’t want to run the risk of losing it all because you bumped into someone with bad intentions. Keep the important things in your room. In fact, we’d say that less is more. Anything that isn’t money, a phone, or a room key should be at your hostel while you party. And definitely don’t take more money than you need—2,000 baht should be more than enough.
Stay Hydrated—No Matter What
This is easier said than done. As soon as your feet hit Haad Rin Beach, you’ll want to make the most of the Full Moon Party. Your drunk self will think that five buckets in a row is a great idea, because you’ll only come to Koh Phangan once. We promise that it isn’t. We support downing all the buckets you can, but only after you’ve had some water! Staying hydrated (roughly a bottle of water per bucket should work) means you’ll have more energy to dance and a better morning after.
There’s More than Full Moon Party on Koh Phangan
So many tourists make the mistake of thinking the Full Moon Party is the end-all-be-all thing to do on Koh Phangan. They forget that the island is known for its gorgeous beaches, hikes, and waterfalls. And even if they’re looking for nothing more than a party, Koh Phangan is home to more than one! Be sure to check out the Jungle Party, Waterfall Party, Half Moon Festival, and Black Moon Party. Each take place at different times and cater to a diverse crowd.
If this guide to Full Moon Party satisfied your planning needs, join us for the party at our Koh Phangan hostel!