Thousands upon thousands of backpackers drag their feet home at 9 in the morning holding crushed beer cans with paint smeared all over it. Neon paint drips down their backs, their foreheads, and their arms. What once was a drunken, artistic painting full of swirls, dots, and colors, has now formed into a brownish, sweat infused, melted mixture.
A muted bass sound still pumps in your ear drums even though there is no music playing. Payback, you think, cursing yourself for spending 8 hours straight next to the speakers. At least you can say you raged as hard as possible at the Full Moon Party.
You check how much money you have left, surprised to see you spent every single cent. You beg your friend to pay for your taxi fare and jump into the back of one of the firetruck looking taxi’s, glad to finally be sitting on something other than sand. You slowly pass out as the taxi pulls away, taking one last look at the beach. Empty beer bottles and shoes with no home are scattered along the sand, forever lost. You look down, surprised to see you only have one of your shoes with you.
Mangled jump ropes that had been covered in gasoline and lit on fire just hours before now sit on the beach, blending in with the sea shell covered driftwood. Empty cartons of Pad Thai lay alongside garbage bins overflowing with beer bottles and plastic buckets that were never returned to their rightful bar owner.
You immediately pass out once you get to your hostel. Three hours later, your friend is shaking you awake to grab some Chang beer from 7 eleven and head to the nearest beach, convinced this will cure your hangover. You grudgingly agree, and spend the day staring out into the azure colored water, confused as to what the hell happened last night.
The Full Moon Party is a giant rave on Haad Rin Beach on Ko Phangan, Thailand that lasts well past sunrise. It attracts 10,000-30,000 people each month. The Full Moon Party started in 1985 at Paradise Bungalows, solely as a party to give thanks to 20-30 backpackers. Now, it’s one of the biggest events in the world and one of the most common events backpackers attend in Thailand.
The main way to consume alcohol at this event is via buckets, which can range anywhere from 200-450 baht. It’s typically filled with SangSom Rum and Thai Red Bull (which is illegal anywhere else due to a chemical called ephedra), and gets you very, very drunk, very quickly.
This event takes place (you guessed it) during the full moon every single month, every month of the year. The bars that line the beach play all different types of music throughout the night, and backpackers choose whichever bar suits their liking. The mile long stretch of beach is packed the entire night as backpackers dance the night away into the early morning.
Here is a survival guide to the Full Moon Party.
1. Leave Everything at Home
Don’t bring anything with you. I know it’s tempting to bring your phone or camera, but it’s not worth it. You wouldn’t want to lose it or get it stolen, which is very likely to happen at these type of events.
2. Wear Shoes You Wouldn’t Mind Losing
This goes with the above. You’re drunk and on the beach. More likely than not, there will be some point during the night you’re going to take off your shoes for whatever reason. Buy cheap flip flops at one of the local vendors and wear those.
3. Don’t Start Drinking Before 11 p.m.
If you want to last until sunrise, don’t start drinking until later on in the night. You don’t want to be THAT person passing out on the beach at midnight! The buckets are very strong, so be careful when you start drinking them. Don’t drink too quickly, either!
4. Douse Yourself in Body Paint
Everyone at the Full Moon Party douses every inch of their body in body paint. This paint will get everywhere, trust me. You’ll have unidentifiable patterns across your forehead, your arms, and your legs. But don’t worry, so will the thousands of other people attending this event. A lot of hostels will give you body paint before the Full Moon Party. Otherwise, you can buy it there!
5. Wear Clothes You Don’t Care About
The body paint is extremely hard to get out of your clothes. Wear something you don’t care about ruining. It’ll probably be drenched in alcohol by the end of the night anyway. If you’re the type of person to mysteriously lose articles of clothing as the night goes on as well, then definitely take this advice to heart.
6. Book Your Accommodation Beforehand (on Ko Phangan)
Hostels and hotels book up very quickly before the Full Moon, even weeks and months in advanced. Book your hostel a few weeks before the Full Moon Party to ensure you have a place to store your things and get ready (because no one sleeps after the Full Moon Party).
A lot of hostels tend to have at least 5 day minimum stays if you book online. If you don’t want to book online, I highly suggest showing up at least 5 days before the Full Moon Party to make sure you have accommodation. Hostels are around 500 baht a night during the Full Moon Party, while bungalows are around 800 baht a night.
Also make sure to book your hostel on Ko Phangan island, NOT Ko Samui or Koh Tao. These islands, though nearby, are difficult to get to during the Full Moon Party (and it just isn’t worth the hassle of trying to find a ferry there and back).
I stayed at The Nomad House hostel and can’t recommend it enough!
7. Make a Meeting Point with Your Friends
You may lose your friends at some point during the night. Make a meeting point before the start of the Full Moon Party to make it easier to find them again if you do lose them. I lost my friends for two hours at the start of the Full Moon Party and magically found one of them halfway through the night (as I was stuffing my face with food with my new friends).
8. Stay Hydrated
Don’t forget to drink water throughout the night! It’s hot, there’s a lot of people, and you’re drinking alcohol. It’ll also help prevent your hangover the next day if you stay hydrated. Water will be from 10-30 baht depending on the size.
Keep yourself fueled and full of energy so you last until the morning. They sell a ton of different (delicious) food at the Full Moon Party, so there’s something for every type of palate. Food at the Full Moon Party will typically be 40-150 baht.
10. Be Smart (and HAVE FUN!)
Keep an eye on your drink, don’t go home with strangers, and don’t swim in the ocean. Other than that, have the time of your life! The Full Moon Party was, hands down, one of the most insane raves I’ve ever been to. Nothing can even compare.
Bars playing different types of house, trance, reggae, hip-hop, trap, and EDM music line the entire beach. There’s a huge stage people dance on in the middle of the beach, and fire dancers and other performers put on shows throughout the night. The Full Moon Party lasts well past sunrise, and even then it’s still full of thirsty backpackers dancing the early morning away.
If you’re in Thailand during the Full Moon Party, definitely try and go. If you can’t make it to the Full Moon Party, Ko Phangan also has other parties throughout the month, such as the half moon, black moon, jungle, waterfall, pool, and floating bar party. I luckily attended the half moon, jungle, and floating bar party as well as the Full Moon. The other parties were smaller and also incredibly fun, but nothing truly compares to the Full Moon Party.
Read my guide to Ko Phangan to get an idea of what to expect when visiting this island!
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