Unlike other parties in Thailand, this party has not been around very long. People tell different stories about how it began, with some saying in early 1980 and some stating in 1983. The most celebrated start to the party came in 1985 when several tourists discovered that the full moon in Hat Rin on Ko Pha-ngan and the light of it reflecting on the white sand gives the most magnificent full moonlight in Thailand. That night, they organized a party all night. Afterward, people and tourists flock to the beaches a night before or a night after each full moon. (Photo by Jeremy Eades via Flickr)
What Happens at This Famous Party?
Even though the most famous Full Moon Party is held in Hat Rin beach in Ko Pha-ngan, other places like Phuket, Ko Samui, and Penang also have a similar celebration. At the moment, the Full Moon party is a great celebration that attracts many people from all around the world. There you face lots of drinking, dancing, having fun, doing drugs and so on. Also, you can find lots of bars on the beaches which play loud music all night long.
Many Happy People
Thousands of people participate in this enormous party from the beginning of the night until sunrise. Before COVID-19, around 30000 people participated in this party, but after the pandemic, it was banned. The most crowded Full Moon Party happens in the New Year holidays. LED lights, music, dance, fire ropes, alcohol, and drugs are the main parts of the Full Moon Party.
When the Full Moon Party is Held
It is guessable from the name of the event that it is held when you can see the full moon in the sky. Of course, there might be a few changes in the dates due to the holidays in Thailand. But bear in mind even if you lose the Full Moon Party, there are numerous other chances for you to enjoy your night in Thailand, including a half-moon party, quarter-moon party, black-moon party, and so on.
How to Get to the Ko Pha-ngan
Here are the main choices to get to the island:
The cost of an hour-and-15-minute flight from Bangkok to Surat Thani’s airport is between 900–2,500 THB on several airlines. After arriving, in order to get to Donsak Pier, you need to take a one-hour bus ride from the Surat Thani airport.
Flight tickets from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport to Koh Samui (USM), however, cost at least 4,500 THB since Bangkok Airlines and Thai Airways possess airport ownership and are not willing to cut prices due to the high demand. At peak times and around New Year’s Eve, tickets can cost as much as 5,800 THB!
Surat Thani trains leave Bangkok three times each day for nine to eleven hours at the cost of between 519 and 1,200 THB for each traveler.
Chumphon is accessible from Bangkok’s Hua Lamphong or Thonburi train stations. Take a train and a boat ticket together because if you do so, you will often receive a free transfer from the train station to the dock. There is no train running between Thon Buri and Chumphon other than the one that departs every day and takes approximately 8.5 hours.
Traveling by Bus
Bangkok’s Khao San Road is home to many travel agencies that offer a combination of bus and ferry travel to the island. Their ticket usually comes with both of these options. The package that includes the Songserm ferry is generally the most budget-friendly.
In Bangkok, there are several buses leaving the destination every day. There are two options for you: Southern (Sai Tai Mai) Bus Terminal and Morchit (Northern) Terminal (VIP buses only). The bus ride to Koh Phangan will take eight hours. Your journey costs about 700–1,000 THB (350–720 THB for the bus ticket only).
There are some boat companies that transfer travelers to Ko Pha-ngan: Lomprayah High-Speed Ferries Co., Ltd (the most rapid and most high-priced), Seatran Discovery, and Songserm, Raja, and Phantip (the most slow-moving and the most affordable).
Koh Phangan is easily accessible by the following routes:
Ferry from Chumphon (mainland):
- Matapon dock: Every day, 5 hours on the way, 850 THB.
- Tung Makham: Every day, 3–4 hours on the way, 1,000 THB.
Ferry from Surat Thani (mainland):
- Tapee Dock Lomprayah: Every day, 2.5 hours on the way, 700 THB.
- Surat Thani Seatran (van+boat): Every day, 4.5 hours on the way, 550 THB.
- Surat Thani train station (van+boat): Every day, 4.45 minutes on the way, 400–700 THB.
- Surat Thani airport (van+boat): Every day, 3.5-6 hours on the way, 500–800 THB.
- Donsak dock: Every day, 2.5 hours on the way, 210–450 THB.
Ferry from Koh Tao:
- Mae Haad dock: Every day. 1 to 2 on the way (Depends on the company), 450–850 THB.
Ferry from Koh Samui
- Bangrak Seatran dock: Every day, 30 minutes on the way, 300 THB.
- Lipa Noi: Every day, 1.5 hours on the way, 150 THB.
- Na Thon Koh Samui: Every day, 30 minutes to 1 on the way, 200–300 THB.
- Samui Airport (van+boat): Every day, 1 hour on the way, 450 THB.
Getting In the Beach
The blue taxis appear everywhere after the sunset to take visitors to the beach. Some gates block access to the beach and charge about 100 Baht, followed by a bracelet in return. This bracelet is, in fact, the entry ticket you need at the entrance. Some tourists keep the bracelet for a long time as a souvenir.
There are people all over town who paint your body and face, but you can also paint your face or your friend’s faces. Almost everyone at the party is painted. Every kind of music and dance can be found there. Trance, drum and bass, techno, commercial dance, and reggae. People with different nationalities and cultural backgrounds are there, and that’s a very cool aspect of this celebration.
Jumping over the burning rope is one of the attractions of the moon party. It may seem lunatic, but this is a very normal part of the Full Moon Party. Those who feel courageous enough attempt it. One after another, the participants burn and get injured, and then there are new volunteers.
People can buy buckets of alcohol for 150 baht to 500 baht per bucket, depending on their tastes. There are stands selling alcohol like Mojito, vodka, Redbull, coke, and Jack Daniels.
Note! Try to be aware of what is filled in the Buckets.
The other thing that is popular in Full Moon Party is using drugs! Although based on Thailand’s law, there are heavy penalties for drug use, transportation, and distribution (even execution), but you’ll see that selling and using drugs is normal in Full Moon Party. Some stands sell them. But there are also dangerous drugs, which can cause death or adverse effects.
A bottle of Coke, Thai Red Bull, and 375 ml of alcohol, and you have a Thai bucket. You take a little of this magical mixture, and you will have a fantastic night but be careful about your dosage, try drinking no more than 3 cups. Otherwise, you might pass out and lose the rest of the night. Since you will get so drunk, try to avoid buckets before midnight, especially If you are interested in seeing the sunrise.
Note: In Asia, the Red Bull sold carries ephedra. Taking it quickly takes the effect of the alcohol out of you, so you don’t feel drunk and keep drinking!
Tips for a Cool Night
It’s a 25-year-old party, and it’s fun and attractive, especially for young people. But a population of 30000 drunk people can create problems. Here are some tips for having a night with fewer troubles.
Avoid Being Barefoot
Having a party on the beach without footwear may sound interesting at the beginning, but during and at the end of the party, when the drunk crowd has thrown lots of broken bottles and other sharp objects, it will seem hazardous and might take you to the hospital! Imagine that you are drunk, and it’s dark in the night, and you aren’t always paying attention to what you’re doing and where you put your feet. So it is reasonable to wear something to cover yourself from injuries.
Avoid the Sea
First, in the Full Moon Nights, the sea tide is high, and every year, many drunk people drown in the sea. So don’t enter the water that night. It is not like falling into the water problem; instead, it is your awareness problem. Make sure you drink safe!
Other problems include the overuse of alcohol or drugs, which can result in health problems for the participants. However, drugs have many laws regulating them, and police walk among the passengers and arrest lawbreakers. There are many foreigners in Thai prisons for drug-related crimes.
Hot as Fire
Burning drops are another thing to be aware of. Every month at Full Moon Party, many burn victims are admitted to clinics. To avoid problems like burning drops, you’d better find a safe place to spend your night. By safe place, we mean far from the fireworks and fireplaces with many people around it.
Where is Your Money?
Don’t take your valuable items to the party. The risk that you lose them or be stolen from you is high. Even about your valuable things in your hotels, you should pay attention because many hotel thefts have been reported from passengers that have gone to the party. The only thing you need to do is to put your money and important things somewhere safe. Talk to your hotel receptionist; they can give you suggestions.
The rate of accidents that causes death is so high in Thailand, and the main cause is drunken drivers, so try to use public transportation, not scooters or private cars. It is a very common mistake taken by drunk people after the party. The highly energetic atmosphere of the full moon party may give you the courage and adventure of doing dangerous things. So let your car rest for a night and don’t drive.
Keep Your Body Hydrated
Despite the fact that it’s nighttime, the weather is still hot and humid, and you’ll probably be drinking a lot. So, in order not to feel hungover the next morning and keep your well-being, drink bottles of water before and at the time of the party!
Affordable Foods And Drinks
Purchase beer at the 7-11 and buckets for 200 THB outside the beach, where it is more affordable than on the beach.
Although food is expensive in Haat Rin, there are still some budget-friendly options for you. Falafel sandwiches and fruit shakes are available for 100 THB at Paprika, the Israeli restaurant. A parking place in the middle of town is home to a number of small Thai restaurants that serve meals for about 50–60 THB; their prices are half the other restaurants on the island. Another good and affordable Thai restaurant is next to “Planet Hollywood” (which is another restaurant).
Find a Safe Place to Rest
You may become tired or ill after a long night party but if you want to rest, sleep in safe and specified places on the beach. The other places can be dangerous for you.
If you follow the safety tips, especially those about drugs and alcohol buckets, you will have a very funny and memorable night there.
If you do not want to stay at beaches, do not worry! There are lots of affordable accommodations all around Haat Rin island. You can find rooms in different ranges. This is a short list to help you:
- Dormitory room: 200 THB (this price will go up to three times at high seasons)
- Normal room equipped with air conditioner and hot water: 600–800 THB
- Ideal room full equipped: 1,500-2,000 THB
- Basic cabin: 950 THB
- Ideal cabin fully equipped: 2,000–4,000 THB.
But you should remember that in order to find a place to stay on the island, you come a few days earlier. The prices will rise at the time of the party, and those who come late are not able to find accommodation (even if they can manage to find one, they will find it with much higher prices, sometimes doubled and tripled).
It is worth mentioning that you will find lots of places there on the island which do not have a website or an online platform for booking. Because those accommodations that are available for online booking are mostly much more expensive and you find more budget-friendly choices in person. So, try to be on time and arrive a few days earlier.
List of Suggested Residences
Ko Pha-ngan is a place of pilgrimage for yoga and detox programs, and guests from around the world come here specifically for those activities. Here you can reclaim your health and well-being; even if you are not interested in such activities, it is still possible to rent a room here and enjoy the cozy atmosphere and professional service. Beds start at 350 THB; private cottages start at 950 THB.
Goodtime Beach Backpackers
There are many social activities happening at this hostel, so if you are looking for an active hostel, this is the place for you. There are a variety of choices here, like pub crawls, beach volleyball, great bar activities, and a big and fully-equipped swimming pool. Prices start at 350 THB for beds, 800 THB for rooms, and 1,800 THB for a treehouse on the beach.
It looks like a motel but is actually made of shipping containers. Everything is new and clean because this hostel just opened in 2018. The main attraction is its great swimming pool. Rooms start at 1,800 and beds from 300 THB.
An Alternative Choice
Another good beach to choose is Ban Tai beach. If you do not find a place on Haat Rin, try this place. From Haat Rin, it is a short, cheap taxi ride. Nevertheless, staying in the northern part of the island will take you quite a distance from the party.
Note! From 2020 and declaring the pandemic of COVID-19, the Full Moon Party became banned up to now. There are some debts about restarting the party after the pandemic because there are some strict opponents in Thailand to this party.