As you’ve probably heard ad nauseam if you regularly read blogs with a Southeast Asia focus, the infamous Full Moon Party on the island of Koh Phangan is an all night beach party held every month around the full moon. Each one attracts thousands of travelers from all over the world looking to party all night, down multiple buckets and mind altering drugs, and generally just be wild. Everyone dons bright colored clothing and neon body paint, and parties until the sun comes up–if the aforementioned doesn’t knock them on their asses before the sun makes its appearance.
The Full Moon Party has completely deviated from what it was at its genesis more than 30 years ago, when it was essentially just 20-30 hippies gathered on the beach having a good time. Now it’s all about young backpackers with one singular goal: to get trashed. It’s one hell of a good time, but I likely won’t be attending another one in the future.
Outside of the main attraction of the Full Moon Party, Koh Phangan is still worth a visit: beautiful beaches, ample opportunities for hiking and water activities, and, my personal favorite, the Slip N Fly. The Slip N Fly was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done, but it was so. much. fun. It is the largest water slide in Southeast Asia. You either choose the “small” slide or the big slide, depending on how high you want to be thrown before you land in the pool below. If you don’t want to brave the slide, you can hang out poolside, chill in the pool watching everyone fly, or play water volleyball. There is a bar there where you can purchase food and drinks, but it’s kind of pricey. It is 600 baht ($16 USD) for a five day pass.
My favorite part of the Slip N Fly experience was the drive there. The owner of the hostel graciously agreed to drive us there in his brand new truck. He drove us around the entire island before dropping us off at our final destination. Driving around with my new friends, music bumpin, with gorgeous jungle scenery as our backdrop–I definitely had a “I never want to go home” moment.
Speaking of new friends, what made my time in Koh Phangan extra awesome was the little crew I had from the hostel. We had two best friends from Canada, an extremely tall Dutch guy with a propensity for falling for rip offs, two 18 year old British boys finishing out their gap year, a recent graduate from Texas, and an Austrian man who just never knew what was going on (but he did try to heal my friend Amanda’s sickness with some special potion that he brought from home). We were never short on laughter or shenanigans.
If you’re wondering why I’m wrapped in a blanket in the above photo, it’s because I was having the chills from a cold I was battling. I was able to rally though, lest I ever miss an opportunity to dance all night. Now finally on to the tips! There are hundreds and hundreds of blog posts dedicated to this, so much of this will probably be redundant; however, this is what I would tell a friend if they were going to Full Moon.
- Don’t start drinking until 11 pm or later. The goal is to stay out on the beach until sunrise and that is going to be hard to do if you start drinking early in the evening. I only made it until 3 AM and regret not being on the beach when the sun came up!
- DO NOT, under any circumstances, buy any drugs from someone offering them to you on the beach. Usually they are undercover police officers, and the fine for drug offenses in Thailand is steep, especially for foreigners.
- Stay in accommodation on Koh Phangan, specifically Haad Rin. I know that some choose to stay on the nearby island of Koh Samui and take the ferry over for the party. That is just a waste of time and will be annoying to have to deal with. Similarly, I know some backpackers who chose to stay on Koh Phangan, but about 20 minutes away from Haad Rin, and had to take transport to and from the beach. Make it easy on yourself and stay in walking distance from the beach! The only thing you want to be worried about on the night of the Full Moon is having a good time. I’ll recommend a hostel at the end of this post.
- Wear appropriate footwear. Don’t go barefoot as the beach will inevitably get full of broken bottles, cigarettes, etc.
- Don’t have sex in the water. I assure you that people will be able to see you, contrary to what you may think at the time.
Where to stay in Koh Phangan:
Om Ganesh Hostel
$9 USD/night. They provide a free Indian buffet dinner the night before the Full Moon Party, as well as a free bucket the night of the party. It was clean, the AC was the best out of all the hostels I stayed in, and the staff is very protective of the guests.
Have you ever been to the Full Moon Party?
Would you attempt the Slip N Fly?