Known around the world for its infamous full moon parties, Koh Phangan is normally one of the prime destinations on a partygoer’s itinerary when in Thailand. So synonymous for its drinking culture, people would be excused for thinking that there’s not much point in going to Koh Phangan if all they want to do is relax, however as one of Thailand’s largest islands, there’s perfect of spots to hide away and lay undisturbed on a beach.
Journey from Hell
Getting to Koh Phangan from Koh Tao was a bit of a nightmare. Not because it was an arduous journey, nor because it was a hassle arranging the transport, just because I have never suffered from sea sickness like it. On a boat filled to the brim with a couple of hundred of passengers I think it’s safe to say I drew the short straw in where to sit. The only seat I managed to find was on the metallic stairs, directly in front of the engine that relentlessly revved all journey and in an area of the boat that had just been painted. The smell engulfing me wasn’t pretty, nor was the pain in my bum. After 2 hours of being taunted by the comfy chairs just a few metres below me and holding my hat over my nose to block out engine fumes we finally arrived in Koh Phangan.
Our stay in Haad Yao, which cost us 150 Baht (£3.00) each to get to from Thong Sala (the pier you’ll arrive on), almost had us forgetting that we were even in the home of the Full Moon party given its relaxed nature. Located just a few metres away from our accommodation was a fairly long stretch of beach, more full of honeymooners instead of the herd of backpackers we were expecting. By day games of football would be played next to the turquoise waters which I was absolutely gutted I could not join in due to my motorbike injury! As night fell, sun loungers were switched with candlelit tables and chairs as fancy restaurants served up some delicious looking seafood (most of which was a bit out of my price range). Chinese lanterns were released into the clear night sky, making a picturesque setting for those dining. In truth, this is where most of our time was spent during our stay in Haad Yao. We visited a couple of secluded reggae bars a short walk away, however that was all there really was to visit in a close proximity to us and given my leg situation. Nonetheless, this section of Koh Phangan served us well as a place to prepare for and recover after the infamous full moon party.
Full Moon Party
Finally, the time we had been waiting for was here. Everyone in our accommodation bundled into large taxis as we made our way to Haad Rin. The roads around the party capital of Koh Phangan were gridlocked with thousands making exactly the same journey as us. With the bellowing thuds of music starting to echo around our ears, we knew we were close. Leaving the taxi we entered a sea of stalls all selling the same thing, buckets of alcohol - literally. Each bucket contains a spirit, mixer and a bottle of redbull. Whatever your favourite concoction is, they have it. Just be sure to ask them not to add redbull if you don’t like it, I find it absolutely vile and it’s all I could taste of my vodka lemonade.
Setting foot on the beach feels like entering a different planet. Tens of thousands decorated in neon paint stomp the night away to hard techno, skipping ropes set on fire are swirled around tempting the drunken partygoers to have a go (DON’T!), whilst the ‘ Full Moon Party Koh Phangan ‘ sign stands loud and proud amongst the massive choice of stages. We decided to head to Magic Mountain at the far left of the beach where it sank in just how big of an event this is. The whole length of the beach completely illuminated with around thirty thousand people all crammed into it. Amongst all this chaos we even randomly bumped into some street pastors who gave us God’s blessing as we set back into madness. Ben was to need it, one too many buckets ended his and our night prematurely. The full moon party had defeated us and we headed back to our accommodation an hour before the sunset that everyone strives to last until.
Full Moon Party Tips and Costs
Do I need a ticket to go to the Full Moon Party?
No, but you do need to pay a 100 Baht (£2.00) entrance fee. We somehow managed to avoid this by simply entering the beach via an entrance other than the main one.
When is the Full Moon Party?
As the name suggests, this event strikes on every full moon. There is one full moon party every month on Koh Phangan. The schedules are here http://fullmoonparty-thailand.com/schedules.html .
Should I book accommodation for the Full Moon Party in advance?
The closer to the date of the event, the higher the prices rise, so book in advance to save some money. Furthermore, leaving it too late will probably mean that your preferred accommodation is sold out. Don’t worry if you haven’t booked accommodation however, there’s plenty of places to stay that you won’t see on the internet. The cost of accommodation on Koh Phangan is cheap compared to its neighbouring islands. You can find a bed for as little as 100 Baht (£2), we stayed at Shiralea, complete with a great pool for 200 Baht (£4) a night.
Do I have to stay in Koh Phangan to go to the Full Moon Party?
No! You can stay on neighbouring islands Koh Tao and Koh Samui and get a ferry to and back from the party. Just take a few travel sickness tablets because those seas on a hangover won’t be pleasant!
What’s a bucket!?
Before coming to Thailand I always heard people going on about buckets yet I didn’t actually know what they were...
Basically they’re a small plastic bucket that means you can mix a can of soft drink (Coke, Fanta, sprite ect…), a 375ml bottle of spirit (Vodka, Rum, Sangsom ect…) and redbull carry it around with you instead of handling loads of bottles. Just expect to have half the drink spilt over yourself when dancing and jostling for space with others.
How much is a bucket/alcohol at the Full Moon Party?
Buy your bucket away from the beach or the streets closest to the beach and get it for around 200 Baht (£4.00). Buy the bucket on the beach and you’re looking at 400 Baht (£8.00) upwards. A beer will also be double the price on the beach than if you were to buy it in a 7/11. Buckets also vary on prices depending on the liquor. For example, branded vodka is understandably more expensive than a Thai spirit such as Sangsom.
A few more full moon party tips:
1) Without sounding like a protective parent, stay together! Unless you both have phones that you can contact each other on, chances are once you’ve lost one another, in a crowd of 30,000 people plus, you won’t be seeing one another till you both get back to your room.
2) Pick a place to meet up if you do get lost. You just aren’t going to have as much fun at the Full Moon Party if you’re alone and worrying about your mate, just pick a stand out place that you both know the way back to.
3) Many people will offer you drugs on the beach, however the majority of those offering them are undercover for the Thai police, not that they want to put you away if you decide to buy some. They’re just in it from the hefty sum of money they’ll get from bribing you.
4) Don’t take a midnight dip in the sea. Unless wallowing in a sea that’s ¾ urine is your thing I suggest avoiding going for a late night swim in the ocean. The sea becomes a toilet for 30,000 people, need I say more…
5) Only take out as much money as you’re willing to spend. Thieves on the prowl for vulnerable drunks and pickpockets are rife at the Full Moon Party, so don’t take too much money out with you. Carry it in a bum bag or in another place that’ll be hard to get into without you noticing.