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Thailand’s Full Moon Party takes epic to a whole new level! With up to 40,000 partygoers on Sunrise Beach of Haad Rin, Koh Phangan, it’s the most famous party in the world. The first ever full moon party took place in the late ‘80s and since then its grown into a Thailand institution and a “must” on the bucket list of most visitors to the area. Every month under the full moon, Sunrise Beach is swamped with floodlights, fluorescent colours, fireworks and thousands of happy people dancing. To help you make the most of the experience, here are our top tips for surviving the night.
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Full Moon Parties happen every month, but dates are adjusted around Buddhist holidays so do not always coincide with the night of the actual full moon.
There’s no airport on the island, so everyone comes by ferry. You can come via Surat Thani on the mainland or from the nearby island of Koh Samui. From Surat Thani, round-trip tickets cost Baht 600 and you’re dropped off at the main pier in Thong Sala. From there, it’s a Baht 100 taxi ride to Haad Rin. From Koh Samui, boat tickets cost Baht 200 and leave from Big Buddha Pier or Maenam Beach. The Samui ferry will drop you off at the main dock of Thong Sala or Haad Rin, depending on the time of day and ferry company. During the Full Moon Party, boats go from Koh Samui to Haad Rin every hour. A lot of companies run overnight bus and ferry combos from Bangkok to Koh Phangan for Baht 450–600. You’ll first take an overnight bus to Surat Thani, then wait at the ferry terminal for a few hours, and lastly take the ferry to the island. If you decide to fly, flights to Surat Thani generally cost around Baht 2,000 from Bangkok.
We suggest arriving in Koh Phangan at least 2 days in advance of a Full Moon Party, as finding accommodation can be nearly impossible. Don’t bother booking online, any room you find will be very expensive and most likely have a minimum stay condition (which might not fit with your plans). There is plenty of accommodation on the island; it’s just a matter of walking around and asking directly. If you are not the all-night party type, make sure you take a room away from Haad Rin as the party does literally go till morning and is very noisy.
Take a copy of your ID rather than the real thing. Trust us on this one. You don’t want to be worrying the next day about how to replace your lost or stolen passport. You should also take a set amount of money out with you and leave your cards/wallet/purse behind. Again, you will run the risk of losing this one way or another. It’s common sense but worth saying anyway… don’t take expensive belongings with you. Obviously, you will want to take pictures (probably to remind yourself in the morning of all the crazy things you did!) so buy a disposable camera. If you really want to take your good camera out, upload all your current pictures online beforehand, just in case. Cameras can be replaced, pictures can’t.
Thousands of people on a beach means broken bottles and cut feet galore, so wear footwear or some sort of sandal at the very least. They don’t have to be your favourite shoes, in fact, we’d advise against it, but having glass in your feet is surely more of an annoyance than keeping track of your footwear. And do not ever take them off, if you do, you will never, ever see them again! On the clothing front, no need to pack anything special or nice, you can buy a lot of neon swag on the beach for $10. There are also plenty of artists about who will gladly paint you from head to toe in electrifying paint. Last word, if you plan to boat over and back that same night/morning, make sure you bring along something warm as the seas can be rough and windy.
You may be tempted to take a dip in the water at some point in the night, don’t. Take away the obvious safety issues involved when you put drunken people in the water, and just consider where all those thousands of people are going to the toilet. They aren’t all queuing for the scant number of toilets. Washing your hands or face, cleaning your cut feet or generally frolicking in the surf is not a good idea.
Thailand has very strict laws as far as drugs are involved. If you are caught offering or asking for drugs, taking them or even talking about them, you could find yourself in a lot of trouble. It’s just not worth it.
If there is one thing in particular synonymous with the Full Moon Party, it’s the alcohol buckets. These retail for about Baht 350 ($10) and mostly consist of cheap spirits (rum, whisky) and mixers (coke, sprite). They are strong and plentiful; take your time as you have all night. Try and drink water as you go … it’s a marathon, not a sprint after all. In the morning, you might find yourself waking up on the beach and the sun can get very hot, very quickly. You’ll be dehydrated so get some water as quickly as you can.