The Koh Phangan Full Moon party is a right of passage for many young backpackers, and tops many people’s bucket lists around the world. It is one of the biggest beach parties in the world and really is a once in a lifetime experience where tens of thousands of people spend the night covered in neon paint and fluorescent t-shirts, drinking buckets of cheap Thai alcohol and dancing till sunrise.
BONUS READ: City Guide To Bangkok
Now that I have successfully survived two epic Full Moon Parties on Koh Phangan island, I want to pass on some of my observations and pass on some tips on how to make the most of your time here without getting sick, over tired or robbed of all your world possessions!
PRO TIP: If you’re planning to travel to the Thailand, be it on a budget or on a luxury tour, I can’t emphasise enough how important it is to have decent travel insurance – especially if you plan in taking locals buses or travelling by scooter. I always use World Nomads, as they’re known as the best insurer for backpackers and long term travellers.
Here’s my Ultimate Full Moon Party Survival Guide…
How do I get to Koh Phangan?
Getting to Koh Phangan is actually the easiest part. Depending on where you are coming from there are loads of different options. The two nearest airports are Koh Samui and Surat Thani so if you are lucky enough to find some cheap flights, this is the quickest way to get down to this part of the country. Boats (there are three different types which all take roughly the same amount of time to get here) leave at various times throughout the day from the mainland at Surat Thani and Chumphon costing about 450 baht each way and stopping off at Koh Samui before arriving at Koh Phangan.
If you are coming from Bangkok, there are a number of tour agencies that will sell you bus and boat transfer packages which make life a lot easier and start from around 1100 baht one way.
Where should I stay for the Full Moon Party?
Location is key
First things first, if you are planning to come to the Koh Phangan Full Moon party, you have quite a few options when it comes to accommodation, depending on what you are looking for exactly. The main party zone is around Haad Rin, which is the beach where the Full Moon Party itself takes place. There are also tonnes of pre parties near here in the days leading up to the Full Moon such as the Waterfall Party and the Jungle Party.
There are some fun party hostels in the area where you are sure to make friends. Most hostels require a minimum 5 day stay over Full Moon as everything gets a little hectic and they don’t want to be stressing out over check ins and check outs. My advice would be to book a hostel in Haad Rin but not one on the beach. I have heard lots of horror stories of dorm rooms and bungalows on the beach getting broken into or trashed during Full Moon.
If you want to stay safe, book something AT LEAST 200 metres from the beach (such as Lazy House Shenanigans Hostel) or else upgrade to a room in a nice resort with good security. This way if you feel like leaving early you don’t have to worry about getting a taxi and you can also pop back to the hostel to get more money or to drop off your phone/camera like I did once I had taken a few good pics. If you prefer to stay a little further away, I can recommend Blue Dream Hostel in Thongsala. I stayed there 2 years ago in was amazing!
Cost of accommodation
It should be noted that every single hostel and hotel on Koh Phangan increases their prices significantly during Full Moon. The hostel we were stayed in cost between 650 and 850 baht a night for a room in a very cramped 6 bed dorm. If you visit any other time of the month, the same bed costs just 100 baht!! The further you are from Haad Rin, I would imagine, the cheaper your bed for the night will cost but you have to add-on the price of taxis!
What should I wear to the Full Moon Party?
You can literally wear anything you like. While some big groups team up and buy matching shirts or cheesy Hawaiian shirts that they wear over their bikinis (and nothing else!) most people seem to wear the standard full moon attire (denim shorts and bright t-shirt) which can be purchased once you arrive on Koh Phangan.
Pretty much every second shop on the island sells fluorescent t-shirts, neon paint and flower head bands to finish the look. The brighter you are, the more you will fit in. If you REALLY want to stand out, I suggest wearing all black or something similar!
Some people just head to the beach wearing a bikini and fairy wings…where they keep their money? Only God knows.
What should I bring on the night?
You should bring as little as possible. The best advice I ever got here was this, “Don’t bring anything you value. If waking up and finding it gone would upset you, then leave it at home.” This goes for clothes too. Your clothes will get RUINED. Don’t wear nice jewellery or your favourite white t-shirt unless you are cool with it getting ripped and covered in neon paint. Leave your camera and phone and wallet and home and just bring enough cash for the night.
Most people in our hostel tied their room key to their shorts and just brought cash. The few that did bring their phones came back half way through the night to drop them off for safe keeping.
What time does the party start?
Officially the party starts after sunset and continues right through until sunrise. Most people head down after 9pm but the party only REALLY gets started after midnight. My advice? The later the better. We didn’t head down until around 11.30pm I believe and it started to get really good after 2am.
By 7am, the party was still going but people who started early had already faded and gone to bed. Watching the sunrise on a beach with hundreds of total strangers, now new friends, after partying all night is a pretty unforgettable experience you won’t wan to miss.
How much money do I need?
Here’s a little break down of what things cost so you can work out for yourself how much money you will need:
Thai food for dinner: 150 baht
Western food for dinner: 220 baht
Street Pad Thai: 80 baht
Street food on the beach: 80 baht
Beer: 60–100 baht (about 50 if you buy in 7-11)
Buckets: 150–450 baht (150 for the cheap Thai vodka or rum and up to 550 for Smirnoff or other foreign brands)
Toilets: 20 – 40 baht (yes, they make you pay for toilets!!)
Taxi home: 200-400 baht (depending if it’s a truck or a boat and where on the island you are going)
Additional Full Moon safety tips
For the love of God…stay away! Besides the million and one health and safety considerations to think about when doing drugs in your own country, doing drugs abroad can have a lot more devastating consequences. Koh Phangan is known to have a lot of crime gangs who work alongside the police to dupe tourists out of thousands of dollars to avoid prosecution. You may think you are just buying some harmless weed, and next thing you know you are sitting in a Thai prison with no passport. The Thai legal system is notoriously hard on drug users and there may even be undercover cops on the beach, just waiting to catch you out. Not only could it ruin your holiday, it could ruin your life.
Buckets, buckets, buckets. I both love them and hate them. They are pretty lethal as you have no idea how much alcohol is in each one and you also have no idea where the alcohol is coming from. If you buy one in your hostel, you are good to go. If you buy one on the beach, be sure you can carefully watch as they pour the alcohol in as there have been many cases of drugging. Locals say the alcohol on the beach is often fake and watered down so you are better off buying from bars or from the convenience store, where drink is cheaper.
Thai Red Bull
Stay away, seriously. This stuff is the devil. It is WAY stronger than the RedBull most people are used to and an overdose of this stuff could cause severe heart palpitations. If you really want to taste it, ask for a vodka and red bull with half sprite, so you don’t feel the full effects. I learned the hard way and was violently ill after just a few drinks and suffered badly the next day.
One thing that lights up the beach during these parties is fire. It’s everywhere. There flaming signs, fire throwers, skipping ropes doused in petroleum and even fire sticks at the entrance to bars. I can’t even count how many people I saw get burnt, especially during the fire skipping. They hold this massive jump rope and encourage party goers, in their drunken states, to jump over it. Many get tangles in the burning rope and suffer from very severe burns to the body. Not worth ruining your night over!
One of the best ways to get around anywhere in Thailand is by renting a scooter. It took me years to build up the courage and now I am totally addicted. That said, riding a scooter here in Koh Phangan the last few days scared the absolute crap out of me. I saw guys riding their scooters home at 7am having spent the last 12 hours drinking. I saw a guy standing up on the back of his friends bike, swerving all over the place, screaming, holding a beer in his hand, the day before Full Moon. It was around 2pm and he was already quite drunk. The roads are very hilly and extremely steep and, for first time drivers, Koh Phangan is a very dangerous place. Best to avoid renting a bike here…if you scratch if you will get totally crucified by the owners who demand thousand son rupees to repaid even the smallest scratches. Not worth the stress.
Everyone already know the danger of swimming drunk, so I won’t lecture you in that. One of the biggest dangers here is the rocks hiding under the water. The entire left hand side of the beach is totally covered in rocks which get covered by the water at high tide. I saw so many people falling over and exiting the water bleeding with very nasty foot wounds. Another danger is there are quite a lot of taxi boats and people have been injured in the past when these boats lose control in the water. Best to wait till your sober!
Stay with your friends!! Safety in groups is always important and is even more essential at a party like this. Don’t go anywhere by yourself and if you want to go home early, try to get someone to walk you there. It’s also not advisable to take drinks from strangers, same as in every other country!
Massive problem. It’s super hot during the day in Thailand and while it cools down a little, it still stays in the high twenties (celsius) even at night-time. I have become so dehydrated while here that I now try to take an oral rehydration packet with a bottle of water everywhere I go. They are available in all convenience stores for about 10 baht a packet. Be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the night, and if you are ever feeling dizzy make you way to the Sleep Zone until you are feeling better again.
If I think of anything else later, I will update this or be sure to leave a comment with your Full Moon Party experience and safety tips. x