28 Jan The Essential Guide to The Full Moon Party
The Full Moon Party happens on the evening of every full moon (every 29.53 days) on the island of Koh Phangan, Thailand. If you are reading this blog you probably know already that you really really want to go to the world’s most famous beach party! So here we’re going to give you the best advice on getting in and getting out without delay and at the right price. Firstly, book your accommodation well in advance. A list of official dates for the Full Moon Party can be found here.
What is the Full Moon Party?
The Full Moon party is Thailand’s most famous backpacker event/attraction and began in the 1980’s at the Sunrise Bar at the North end of Haad Rin Beach, on the island of Koh Phangan. It has since spread all the way up the 800 metre beach and throughout Haad Rin. Around 20,000 people go each month and there are dozens of bars set up all along the beach to cater for everyone. There are also different dance areas.
Make accommodation the priority
As I am writing this blog, the next Full Moon Party is a full 3 weeks away and yet when I check www.booking.com, there are only 15 resorts left in the area of Haad Rin that have rooms available. Thats out of a total of 67 resorts that Booking.com list. It really fills up fast even if you are planning to stay outside of Haad Rin, so get that room locked down. Also know that even if you stay in a really basic room, it will be expensive in and around the Full Moon Party. The prices will go up rather than down as the time gets closer – there are no last minute deals. Even a bed in a dorm room could cost you more than £30 a night.
We recommend you come to the area a couple of days before and leave a couple of days after to avoid the huge crowds on the ferries and the higher prices you will be charged for flights. It also gives you some time to enjoy the really good shopping in the pretty little village of Haad Rin and you could perhaps do some half day trips around the island? There are also some pre and post Full Moon Parties to attend for those who want to party for more than one night.
Where should I sleep when I go to the Full Moon Party?
The party happens on Sunrise Beach in Haad Rin so if you want to get some sleep we suggest you stay a 10 minute walk away on Sunset beach. It will be substantially quieter. If you are not bothered about sleeping then stay on Sunrise Beach which will be cheaper due to the noise. Even if you think you are staying far away from the main action, take some ear plugs just in case.
An area close to Haad Rin where you will you get a quietish night is called Ban Tai. There are taxis that will take you to and from Ban Tai all night long and will only cost around 150 baht each way for the 15 minute journey. When you are booking a room online check where your potential room is on a map of Koh Phangan (see above) because if you are really far away a taxi could prove expensive and slow. The island is actually deceptively big and taxis are quite expensive.
You can also stay on the island of Koh Samui since there are speedboats that travel back and forth from Koh Samui to Koh Phangan throughout the night and you will definitely find cheaper accommodation here. Speedboats leave from The Big Buddha Pier and Bo Phut on Koh Samui regularly. They arrive at Haad Rin Pier 20-30 mins later. Lots of hotels will arrange for you to be picked up from your hotel on Koh Samui and taken to the pier. Please, please wear a life jacket and stay on Koh Phangan if you may suffer from motion sickness after a hard night of partying. Don’t lose your friends!
Getting from the mainland or other islands to the Full Moon Party
Getting to Koh Phangan involves taking a ferry or speedboat because there is no airport. Ferries to Koh Phangan start at either the neighboring islands of Koh Samui or Koh Tao or from the mainland ports of Chumphon or Surat Thani.
However that doesn’t mean that you need to waste time getting to these ferry ports. You can fly to Koh Samui airport or to Surat Thani airport to really cut down on wasted travel time. Air Asia fly from many airports to Surat Thani and can be cheap if booked well in advance. Then it is just 1 hour to the ferry port by bus and 3 hours to Koh Phangan on the ferry. (If you fly into Koh Samui, transfer time to Koh Phangan is much quicker, only 40 minutes on a ferry)
If you don’t want to take flights and are heading to the island directly from Bangkok, you can take an overnight bus or overnight train to Surat Thani. The bus and train options from Bangkok take approximately 14 hours, ferry included. If you are coming from the Krabi/Phuket/Phi Phi side of Thailand, it is around 4 hours to Surat Thani on a bus or minivan and then a 40 minute transfer to the ferry port from the city of Surat Thani. Then you have the 3 hour ferry.
The easiest way to get to Koh Phangan is flying from Bangkok to Koh Samui, and then a 40 minute boat ride from Koh Samui to Koh Phangan.
Checklist for 2 weeks before the Full Moon Party
- Book your accommodation
- Book your flights or overnight bus or train
- Book the ferry/speedboat to the island
- Book the ferry/speedboat off the island
- Book your transport to your next destination
Checklist for the night of the Full Moon Party
- If you are staying outside of Haad Rin, negotiate taxi’s early if at all possible and fill it up with friends otherwise it may not leave until it is full
- Don’t take any valuables to the party
- Do your best to make pickpockets jobs as hard as possible
- Have a plan if you lose your friends
- Don’t start too early – the highlight is dancing until dawn
- Drink plenty of water
- More than 20 people die each year at this party so don’t be reckless with any aspect of your safety including swimming in the ocean, taking drugs and getting into fights
- Don’t be too scared of the bucket – they are fun if shared
Should I go to The Full Moon Party?
The Full Moon Party no longer resonates with the hedonism depicted in Alex Garland’s 1996 novel The Beach, but it’s still fun and very very messy. The Full Moon Party starts at dusk when the beach totally transforms: bars and clubs set up tables, chairs, pillows and lamps; DJs set the mood, and food carts are everywhere. 30,000 people covered in body-paint, drinking buckets and/or high, dance until sunrise, although an awful lot of people also pass out. Then after the morning brings hot sunshine you can head into the village for a big fried western breakfast. If you like that idea then head to Haad Rin during your holiday in Thailand for the Full Moon Party.
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Images courtesy of Flickr.com – featured image by Joe Stump and Party Girl image by Maria Gabriela