Koh Phangan Full Moon Party has become a world-famous institution, but its ancestral home remains the crescent cove of Haad Rin Beach on the southernmost tip of Phangan Island. More than 12 powerful sound systems turn the 800-metre beach into possibly the most popular open-air nightclub in the world once a month, with a lively festival-like atmosphere, great music and huge quantities of alcohol. This one-of-a-kind event is routinely listed on bucket lists as one of the essential experiences in Thailand which absolutely must be seen to be believed. As many as 30,000 party people gather on the famous strip of sand to party in the glow of the Earth’s nearest celestial neighbor, right through the night and into the dawn. Due to the cost of cleaning up after such carnage, the local community implemented a 100 baht entry fee to access the beach on the night of Koh Phangan Full Moon Party.
You can see local and international DJs at the many bars and stages set up on the shoreline, playing anything from dubstep to drum and bass, house to hip-hop, techno to trance and reggae to rock and pop classics. Generally speaking, the beach bars standing on the side of the beach closest to Haad Rin Town play party pop (this is also where you will find the huge flaming swing that anyone is welcome to try) and, as you walk down the beach, the music becomes heavier with more underground dance tracks and heavier bass. It is traditional to paint yourself up in neon bodypaint and there are plenty of UV strip lights around making bodies sparkle and glow through the night.
The beverage of choice is, of course, the ‘bucket’. This consists of a bottle of hard liquor (usually either whiskey, vodka or local sugarcane rum like Sangsom or Hong Thong), a bottle of Red Bull and some ice, occasionally also including mixers to water it down a little. Intended for sharing, the colourful plastic buckets usually have half a dozen straws sticking out them for you and your friends to enjoy them together. They cost about 200-300 baht each and are available almost everywhere.
Koh Phangan Full Moon Party kicks off quite early in the evening, but it is highly recommended to arrive late – about 22:00 at the earliest – if you want to have any hope of making it through to the morning. This is when most people will start turning up and the party will really get into high gear, with fire shows, glow sticks and glow-in-the-dark body paint.
Getting To the Party from Koh Samui:
It is possible and even quite a popular option to go to the Full Moon Party while staying on Koh Samui, not least because many hotels on Koh Phangan insist that you book at least a three-night stay during the party period. However, this means crossing an 8 km stretch of the Gulf of Thailand. There are two ways you can do this.
There are regular ferry services operating between a Koh Samui and Koh Phangan’s Thong Sala Pier. The boats are large, comfortable and safe, though not very quick. The last sailings of the day are at 12:30 from Maenam Pier (a 20-minute voyage), 16:30 from Bangrak Pier (30 minutes) and 19:00 from Nathon Pier (30 minutes). For the return trip, the first services of the day are at 07:00 to Nathon Pier (a one-hour trip, though the 07:20 service to the same destination takes only 30 minutes), 08:00 to Bangrak Pier (30 minutes) and 11:00 to Maenam Pier (20 minutes). While tickets can be purchased at the pier, we recommend booking in advance online at http://www.ferrysamui.com/koh-phangan. Both the outbound and return journey cost 300 baht each. The main disadvantage to this option is that it makes the wait between leaving the party and getting to a comfortable bed to sleep it off quite a long one. It also makes leaving early more difficult since you still have to wait for the morning ferry and you have nowhere comfortable to stay while you wait for the boat. It is, however, a very safe and cheap choice.
Speedboats make the run between Fisherman’s Village in Bophut and Haad Rin (and back again) throughout the night of the Full Moon Party. The cost per person is much higher than for the ferry (usually around 900 baht, though you may be able to haggle a little), but the journey is quite quick, taking around 10-20 minutes, depending on the conditions. While this option does give you the flexibility to arrive and leave as you please, the majority of the speedboat operators are unregulated. They have a reputation for overcrowding their boats and providing little or no safety equipment, making this a significantly more risky choice. You can charter a boat from a reputable travel and tours office, which will limit the number of passengers and provide life vests, but this is often more expensive and may require sticking to a more rigid timetable.
Where: Koh Phangan
Full Moon Party dates for 2017:
- Monday 07 August 2017
- Tuesday 05 September 2017
- Friday 06 October 2017
- Friday 03 November 2017
- Sunday 03 December 2017