When in Thailand for a full month, there’s no excuse to not attend the Original Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan. In the 60’s a group of backpackers started the party on the same beach that it exists today and it’s been going ever since. Koh Phangan is arguably the party place in all of Thailand, which is exactly why we chose not to stay there.
After much consideration, we decided to be a bit brave and not book any accommodations for the party. That means, we planned to stay up alllllll night. The last time I did this was . . . quite possibly never! Even in my college days I really don’t think I ever made it past 5AM. This girl needs her sleep!
June’s full moon arrived on Friday the 9th. So, on the 8th we stayed up as late as we could and slept in as long as we could. From Khanom, we took a taxi to the Dan Sak Pier at 3 PM for a 4PM ferry and bought return tickets for 7AM the next day. The ferry took about 2 hours to get to Koh Phangan, including a first stop in Koh Samui.
What to Wear
I read some info on the party before we left so I knew that everyone wears neon or tie-dye clothes and body paint, which are for sale at the party. Since we didn’t get a room we were going to have to keep everything we took on us all night. I wore a swim-suit, a tennis skirt, a tank top, and Keen sandals. Flip-flops are not recommended at all – lots of broken glass and things I definitely wouldn’t want to chance my foot sliding off into. I also took a small cross-body purse with my cell phone (my one valuable item), tissues, some bug-repellent wipes, chap-stick, very cheap sunglasses (for the ferry), and our apartment keys. After we bought our tank tops at the party I tied both of the ones we wore to the strap of my purse.
When we disembarked the ferry on Koh Phangan we had two options to get to the party. Motorbikes or covered trucks. We ended up taking motorbikes, which meant Kyle was on one and I was on another. I highly recommend taking a truck! The route to the party has some extremely high hills. While they do provide unbelievably gorgeous views of the island, they are more than a little scary when you’re on the back of a bike. As soon as I got on the back of the bike it also occurred to me that separating like that probably wasn’t the smartest idea but luckily that turned out not to be a problem. Also, the bikes to the party cost 500 baht each. While I don’t know how much the trucks cost to the party, the return trucks the next morning were only 100 baht for both of us.
We were a little afraid we would be the oldest people there, but that fear quickly abated. While we were quite a bit older than the average, there seemed to be quite a few of the original party-goers from the 60s or at least 70s! We were; however, easily the most sober ones at the entire party. Granted, we wanted to make sure we left with everything, or at least most, of what we came with and didn’t want to risk missing our ferry back, but some partiers were losing their dinner by 9PM. Remember my recommendation against flip-flops? Yeah.
What to Buy
The motorbikes dropped us off right outside a 7-11, just a short walk from the entrance to the beach. We stopped by the ATM and grabbed some water before walking to down. The walk was lined with little shops selling all of the full-moon clothing, neon paint, and accessories like neon hair bands and hats. There were also plenty of carts set up with the famous/infamous full moon party buckets.
After dinner at the beach we walked back up to pick out tank tops (100 baht each) and then back down to the beach for body paint. I chose to have flowers painted on my leg, which I expected to cover maybe 1/3 of my leg. The next time I looked down though, it was massive and spanned the entire length of my leg. I’m sure the price varies by size but mine was 400 baht. Fair warning – the paint will not come off of clothing so dress appropriately!
Food and Drinks
The beach is lined with booths selling buckets and beer and also offering free hugs, in case you’re interested. Throughout the night we walked the entire expanse of the beach. We visited the bars on each end, and also walked through some of the small streets off the beach. These streets offer bars with a much smaller crowd so you can take a break from the craziness.
Fair warning from a local bar owner: sometime in the last 50 years the beach bucket sellers have perfected re-sealing the liquor bottles that they sell. Half (or more) of the alcohol is replaced with rice-water. While this doesn’t necessarily harm you, it apparently makes for an extra killer hangover. We didn’t care to test this theory. We only purchased beers from the bars on either end of the beach, and the bar mentioned above.
In addition to the bucket booths that are lots of food booths. We had some seriously amazing noodles from one about half way through the night.
The party itself consists of several DJ’s and lots of fire! Most of the entertainment occurs on the right half of the beach. That’s where the main DJ stage, fire jump rope, and fire limbo fun all happen. The left side also has a DJ and a fire sign though. Watching people climb up the signs and soak each letter in lighter fluid before lighting them up is definitely interesting.
The fire limbo wasn’t as dangerous as I was afraid it might be. The bar is at a fixed height but I still didn’t want my face that close to the fire. The jump rope saw some particularly cringe worthy falls though. I can’t imagine what some of the participants legs looked like the next day.
Overall, if you’re going to be in Thailand during the Full Moon Party, you can’t miss it! If we ever find ourselves going back we will definitely find a place to stay on the island so we can call it a night whenever we want. But it’s definitely a bucket list item that we’ve now checked off!