Thailand has a pretty strong reputation as a center of partying, but if you really want to experience pure, unadulterated fun, dropping by its most popular islands is the way to go. The Big Three, namely Koh Samui, Koh Tao, and Koh Phangan, are some of the most infamous destinations for travelers visiting the country, but it is Koh Phangan (the fifth largest island in Thailand) that holds the crown for being the party central.
Koh Phangan is mostly known for its Full Moon parties, an island-wide, open-air event that happens—you guess it right—every month during the full moon. Despite being only accessible via ferries (you can go to Bangkok to Koh Phangan by catching a flight to Koh Samui and grabbing a boat from there), many tourists pour down the island’s beachfront during the day of the Full Moon party. Stories claim that it was first started by a group of backpackers who decided to throw a birthday bash on the island, but the tradition has picked up in the last few years, going as far as attracting an average of 30,000 visitors during its celebration.
A word of advice: Full Moon parties are definitely not for the weak of heart. The celebration starts early in the evening and lasts until daytime and it can get pretty wild. Still, it is an experience that one must never miss if you’re wanting to enjoy the country’s best cultural traditions. Ready to live one of the best nights of your life? Our guide below will help you survive the island’s infamous event.
1. Book your accommodations early
Many visitors choose to just catch a boat during the day of the party itself, but if you want your travel to be more hassle-free, it is recommended that you book your accommodations on the island instead. Ferries shuttling guests into Koh Phangan tend to be packed to the brim and it’ll be much safer and more convenient if you just stay on the island itself before the event. Do make sure to book your hotel early because prices can spike during the days leading to the celebration.
2. Don’t party early
This seems like a counter-intuitive move, but trust us that it’s a smart decision if you want to last late into the night. Alcohol sold during the party can be pretty strong—they are usually sold in buckets which contain a mix of vodka, whiskey, and Red Bull—so it’s not uncommon to see tourists curled up in the sand, passed out during the parties. There is even a designated place on the island where drunk visitors can rest. These spaces are usually guarded by police to make sure no harm comes to these guests. It’s best to start partying as late as 11 PM since this is when the celebration picks up.
3. Don’t bring any valuables
Full Moon parties have a reputation of wrecking even the most professional drinkers so it doesn’t come surprising that pickpockets looking for vulnerable party-goers roam the place. It’s best not to bring your valuables and to take just the right amount of money that can make you last through the night. An amount of 3,000 baht is usually enough for drinks and food (tip: bring small bills to make your transactions easy). If you’re also wanting to save some bucks, you can also buy your buckets of alcohol a bit far from the beach where you can score deals for as low as 150 baht. Just like with regular nightclubs, the drinks sold in the heart of the party spot can tend to be more expensive—in this case, as expensive as 500 baht.
4. Skip the fire
Some of the most popular activities during the Full Moon party are the fire dances performed by professionals in the area and the burning rope. The latter involves inviting people to jump skip on a rope that’s spun so fast it catches flames. As exciting and iconic it is to try the experience, it is best to just skip it—pun intended—to avoid any burned hands and feet in the morning.
5. Keep your shoes on
The last thing you might want on a beach is not to experience padding through the sand, but it’s best to keep your shoes on to protect your feet from any sharp debris that might injure you. Since the party can tend to be wild, the sand can often be littered by broken shards of glass that can catch you off guard. Wear your trusty sandals just to be safe.
6. Never accept drinks from strangers
The Full Moon Party high is so infectious that you will naturally feel the need to be extra friendly with strangers, but to be on the safe side, it’s best to keep your drinks to yourself. The event is pretty safe because police check all party-goers for drugs before allowing them entry into the area, but it won’t hurt for you to be extra careful with what you drink and eat. Make sure you see your drinks being prepared and only consume water from sealed bottles.
Note: it is said that some police roaming the area team up with drug sellers so it’s best to be extra careful when mingling with strangers.
7. Keep yourself away from the water
Most of the accidents that happen during the party are linked to drowning. Keep yourself away from the beach as much as possible, especially if you’re already feeling the effects of the alcohol. If that isn’t enough reason for you to keep your distance, then you should know that a lot of party guests tend to just use the beach to do their ‘business’ during the celebrations. Keep some change with you and go for the designated restrooms in the area instead if you feel the need to get some of the alcohol out of your system.
The Full Moon Party is the perfect event to experience if you’re wanting to let loose and have fun. The event is generally safe, however, it wouldn’t hurt to practice some safety precautions to make the night a memory to remember instead of regret. Don’t worry, keeping this guide in mind before you throw on your psychedelic shirts and neon body paint will pretty much have your back covered.