The Ultimate Guide to Thailand's Full Moon Parties

A Firestarter performs on Koh Samet Island
A Firestarter performs on Koh Samet Island | © Maxim Tupikov / Shutterstock | Maxim Tupikov / Shutterstock
Kyle Hulme

The Full Moon Party – once a small gathering of travellers on a remote, undeveloped island, it’s since exploded into one of the best and most infamous parties in the world. For some it may just be something to do while you’re here, yet for thousands it’s one of the main reasons for coming to Thailand – after all, a night of partying, drinking and dancing on the beach? What’s not to love? If you’re heading to the Full Moon Party, here’s a guide on what it is, how to prepare and what to expect.

What is it?

Crowds gather by a flaming skipping rope challenge on Phangan Island, Thailand

The clue is in the name – it’s a party that’s organised on a lunar cycle to take place when the moon is full. Though rather than being a party in a club or bar, it takes place outside on a beach. It started in the mid-80s, when travellers gathered together to drink, dance and have a good time under a full moon, and before long word spread about these awesome parties in tropical paradise, and they soon became the thing of legends. While there are other copycat parties that celebrate half moons and black moons – whatever they are – none can compete with the original Full Moon Party when it comes to having a night to remember.

Where is it?

The Full Moon Party is located in Surat Thani province, but rather than taking place on the mainland, the party happens on the gorgeous island of Koh Phangan, on Haad Rin beach. As you might expect from a Thai island, it is stunning; soft white sand and clear blue seas make up the beaches, while there’s thick green rainforest covering much of the island. It’s these beautiful surroundings that help to make the Full Moon Party what it is – a huge party in the middle of paradise. With around 12,000 inhabitants, it’s not a small island like Koh Phi Phi, and you might want to rent a scooter to explore.

How Do I Get There?

All aboard

The closest airport to Koh Phangan is the one on Koh Samui island, though it’s also not too far from the airports in Surat Thani and Chumphon. As it’s an island, the only way to arrive directly is by boat. From Koh Samui, there are several ferries a day from its various piers, with prices usually around 200/300 baht per ticket. If you’re arriving from further afield, there are plenty of bus and boat packages that will bring you to Koh Phangan, though be aware that long bus journeys in Thailand aren’t always the most comfortable things in the world.

Do I Need a Ticket?

Awaiting the full moon

Nope, you don’t. That’s one of the big bonuses of the Full Moon Party – while they could easily sell tickets for hundreds and people would happily pay it, you don’t need a ticket. There is an entrance fee of 100 baht, but compared to the amount you’ll pay for the cover fee in some clubs in Bangkok and Phuket, it’s a bargain.

What Should I Do About Accommodation?

Not the comfiest place to sleep

While you may want to party all night, sleep on the beach and take the first boat back, it’s not really advisable – early boats after no sleep and tonnes of alcohol consumed is a recipe for disaster. Accommodation on the island differs wildly in price. You can pay a few hundred for a bed in a run-down dorm with many other travellers, or you could stay in luxurious 5* hotel for thousands. If neither of those sound appealing, there are reasonably priced air conditioned bungalows on the island that are more than fine for a few nights. Don’t worry about staying in an area that isn’t Haad Rin beach, there are taxis and bikes that’ll be more than happy to ferry you to and from the party. Booking online is a popular choice and leaves less to worry about, but arriving early and finding accommodation in person can often yield great bargains. And remember – everything is more expensive around the time of the New Year’s Eve party.

What Should I Expect From the Full Moon Party?

Glow in the dark paint and clothes are part of the fun

First of all, the Full Moon Party is fun – if it wasn’t, it wouldn’t be so popular. The music is incredibly eclectic; house, EDM and electronic music types are the most popular, but don’t be shocked to hear rock, pop and reggae played at different parts of the beach. It’s a visual treat too; partygoers caked in fluorescent paint glow in the moonlight, the waves are breaking and the fire shows captivate the eyes – especially after a few drinks. There is a wide range of alcoholic and soft drinks available, but the most popular drink by far is the bucket – a literal plastic bucket filled up with whatever spirits and mixers seem like a good combination at the time, which go down a treat. The beach starts to get busy around 9pm, and usually reaches its peak around midnight or there after.

How Should I Stay Safe?

You might want to give this a miss

We’re not going to lecture you on what you put into your body or how to behave at the party – you should know that already – but there are things that it’s best to know before you go. While drugs may seem prevalent at the party and an attractive proposition, be aware that Thailand carries strict penalties for those found supplying, having or using drugs – and it’s not unheard of for undercover police officers to offer to sell them to you before asking for a hefty bribe to ensure your freedom. Make sure not to bring anything too valuable out with you, as with any country and party, there will be people in attendance who’ll strive to ruin your night by taking your things. Cash and your room key or card are all you’ll need – don’t risk losing your bank cards or your passport.

Ready to party

When it comes to preventing injury, it’s usually always a good idea to avoid getting involved in the fire shows. Attempting to jump over a burning rope is usually a bad idea with a clear mind – let alone with one that’s about four buckets deep. Instead, stand back and enjoy them – they’re really cool and really pretty. Also, ensure you’re wearing footwear. We know, it’s a beach and you love the feeling of sand beneath you’re feet, but with all sorts from glass to beer bottle caps strewn along the beach, you don’t want to end your night early because of an unfortunate injury. And remember – stay hydrated! It’s hot, you’ll be drinking and you’ll be moving – make sure you’re drinking water between alcoholic drinks to stay hydrated (it’ll help with the inevitable hangover, too).

How Can I Save Money?

Like any tourist-orientated event, it’ll be more expensive than plenty of other places in Thailand. Drink prices can greatly differ, so don’t pay over the odds; instead, walk further down the beach and you’ll even find buckets under 200 baht. Accommodation further away from the action can be cheaper and offer a better night of sleep, but remember that you’ll be paying for taxis on top of the room cost, so it’s up to you to work out what’s cheaper in the end. Thai food is cheaper than Western food on the island, and before you go out you may want to pre-game with drinks from 7-Eleven to save yourself from spending a lot on the night – though you probably already knew that from college anyway.

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