The Full Moon Party on Koh Phangan has received more and more of a bad rap over the years, and for good reason. What used to be a small gathering of hippies and travellers has now turned into a night of all-out raging by an ocean half-filled with beer-infused urine. Kyle and I had originally planned on skipping Koh Phangan all together, but the closer it came to the full moon, the more we were sucked in by a serious case of FOMO (fear of missing out). We’d heard that this event was a backpackers right of passage when travelling in Thailand, so naturally we buckled under the pressure, told ourselves it would make a good blog post and said f*ck it. Let’s go.
Was this a good decision? Kyle and I have differing opinions on this one, but for me I am 100% happy I have experienced not just a full moon party, but THE Full Moon Party. Ever since I went travelling in Australia I’ve heard stories and seen pictures about this all-night extravaganza on Koh Phangan. Neon shirts, bodies covered in paint and endless buckets are the usual items found in every photo, and for some reason I found this appealing. At 26 I would say I am just on the brink of hitting an age where that type of partying causes more annoyance than happiness, but still on the side that can get a kick out of thousands of backpackers having a good time. The real question is, did the party live up to the hype, and would I do it again?
While I am thrilled to have checked the Full Moon Party off my bucket list, once is enough and no, it was not everything it’s cracked up to be. Basically just picture almost 30,000 drunken people on one beach, a few dangerous activities fit for not even the soberest of individuals, and an ocean turned into a public urinal. Sure, it makes for a good party, but considering two people die on average each month at the hands of the full moon on Koh Phangan, it becomes questionable whether or not a good party is reason enough to keep going. We heard the day after that one person had died from a motorcycle accident, and considering we saw someone trailing behind our tuk-tuk with his eyes half-shut and a bit of drool coming from his mouth on the ride home, this is not surprising.
That being said, I did have a good time. We started off the night at our hostel, the Hard Road Café, which was perfect for meeting people and playing beer pong. After a few rounds the neon body paint came out, paintbrushes were passed and at midnight we hopped in a taxi and headed to Haad Rin for a night of hedonism. I say “taxi” in the loosest sense of the word – it was more like a pickup truck with a cover. Unable to fit everyone in, Kyle was left hanging off the back (keep in mind that he was just recovering from food poisoning, so I’m sure every bump caused those cheeks to clench tighter than a boxer’s fists on fight night). We arrived at the entrance area and within minutes half the people we came with were gone, and not seen again for the rest of the night. This is one point to remember: it’s extremely easy to lose people at the Full Moon Party. Once it happens, chances of you finding them again are slim to none.
The beach was absolutely packed with people, and alcohol stands were setup all along the beach selling buckets for 200 baht. Beware: it’s tough to say whether or not this alcohol is legit, or brewed in a Thai man’s basement, so drink at your own risk. We hit up the first bar with a good view of one of the many fire jump ropes available to any partyer willing to take part. When walking around many of the Thai islands, you’ll see people with white strips of bandages around their ankles and knees, and this is why. Jumpers almost always get hit, and most leap out of the way before any real damage is done, but I would say one in 10 leave with noticeable burns. I was thoroughly entertained watching the whole thing, but I definitely did not participate. Putting my life in the hands of two half-cut Thai men swinging a flaming rope was not my idea of a good time.
I will, however, admit to a moment of weakness when I thought it was a good idea to climb a rope to the top of a bar, then hop on a metal slide only to completely miss the landing pad and hit the sand pretty much face first. My knee received a bit of a beating, but luckily that was my only injury for the night. I did see one guy the next day with an ankle swollen to the size of his thigh, so it could have been worse.
My highlight of the night finally came at sunrise, when I looked out over the ocean to see the light coming up over the clouds, music blasting in the background and realizing that this would be the one and only time I would participate in the Full Moon Party. That moment was soon over, however, when I looked around and saw beer bottles being washed into the rising tide and Kyle looking like he was going to keel over from pure exhaustion. I had done it and lived to tell the tale, and for that I have no regrets.
For a girl, if you are going to the Full Moon Party, here’s a few tips to staying safe and having a good time.
1) Have a buddy and hold their hand when walking through the crowds. I cannot stress enough how easy it is to lose people at this party.
2) Avoid the buckets and drink from bottles instead that you see someone open.
3) Stay away from the water. Not only is it filled with piss, but the current is strong and usually the main cause of Full Moon Party deaths.
4) Wear something you don’t mind getting paint on. Even if you’re careful with a brush, there’s always the idiot willing to dump a whole load of it on your shirt.
5) Do not do the fire jump rope (no matter how tempting).His Take