The Full Moon party story
Legend has it that in 1987 (or maybe ’86? or ’88?) a group of backpackers threw a birthday party for their friend on the night of the full moon. They had such a good time that they came back the following year to do it again and then the following month and then the month after that. Word got out, and more people started coming each month.
At first, it was like a small house party on the beach: a few hippies and backpackers playing guitars, smoking weed, and having a few beers. But as word spread and more people showed up, it changed.
The 1990s brought the rave scene and all the drugs that went along with it. By 2000, this party was squarely on the travel map, and hordes of young people inspired by the movie The Beach flocked to Koh Phangan, where the party is held.
The Full Moon Party has only gotten bigger since then. Now, over 30,000 people make the trip to Koh Phangan monthly to be a part of the celebration. Have a bucket, check the cap is sealed, and scratch this event off your bucket list. (Pun Intended)
When is it?
As the name would suggest, The Full Moon Party takes place every month throughout the year, on the night of the full moon. Its attractions include fire skipping ropes, alcohol “buckets”, and drugs. There is a very wide spectrum of music ranging from trance, to drum and bass, to reggae. The party takes place in many clubs along the Haad Rin beach.
Don’t worry, it you miss it, there’s always the Half-Moon party, Jungle Party, Waterfall Party, Black Moon party and a lot of other parties around the island. Every night is a party here on Koh Phangan!
Get ready to party!
Our guide below is here to help you have the time of your life when visiting Koh Phangan.
2019 Full Moon party dates
|Friday 13 September 2019|
|Monday 14 October 2019|
|Monday 11 November 2019|
|Wednesday 11 December 2019|
|Wednesday 25th December 2019 (Xmas)|
|Tuesday 31st December 2019 (New Year)|
What the F$%^$ is a bucket?
Remember when you were a kid and you built a sand castle using a little pail?
Picture that pail filled with a can of Coke, Thai Red Bull, and 375 ml of alcohol.
Now you have a Thai bucket.
A few of these, and you’ll be having a really interesting night.
2020 Full Moon party dates
|Thursday 9 January 2020|
|Sunday 9 February 2020|
|Sunday 8 March 2020|
|Tuesday 7 April 2020|
|Thursday 7 May 2020|
|Friday 5 June 2020|
|Tuesday 7 July 2020|
|Tuesday 4 August 2020|
|Wednesday 2 September 2020|
|Saturday 3 October 2020|
|Saturday 31 October 2020|
|Monday 30 November 2020|
|Tuesday 29 December 2020|
You can find accommodation all over the island, but you’ll want to stay in Haad Rin (where the actual party is) to have the full experience. The easiest way to find accommodation is to book your hostel in advance online. Otherwise, you’ll need to come here minimum 4 days before the party to find a place to stay onsite door to door and chances are good deals will already be gone. Beware that the latest you wait until the night of the party, the less rooms or beds will be available, and the more expensive it’ll get. Too many backpackers wait until the day before the party to look for a room in Koh Phangan and end up paying outrageous prices for the last beds available, if they find any, so be sure not to make this mistake!
How much does a room cost?
Here’s what you can expect to pay for your accomodation in the time of the Full Moon party if booked in advance:
Shared Dorm room: starting at 300 baht
Standard room with A/C and hot water: 600–800 baht
Basic bungalow: 800 baht
Nice hotel room or private bungalow: 1,000–3,000 baht
Again, remember, the closer you get to the full moon, the higher the prices will be and can easily double on the night before the party.
For the last party of the year, prices will if you come here for New Year’s, you can expect the price to triple so again the earliest you book, the better.
How to Get There
There is no airport in Koh Phangan, so you’ll need to come by ferry wherever you’re landing at. There are 2 main airports you can transit by after arriving to Bangkok.
The closest and most convenient one is Koh Samui, from which the ferry to Koh Phangan will just be 30 minutes. Being the most convenient also means that the flights are much more expensive than the other travel route (approximately 2 to 3 times more expensive). The ferry from Koh Samui to Koh Phangan (including the bus transfer from the airport to the pier) should cost you however 200 Baht while the flights from Bangkok to Koh Samui are at least 3,200 baht (and up to 5,000 Baht in high season or New Year). The Samui ferry will drop you off at the main dock of Thong Sala or Haad Rin, depending on time of day and ferry company.
The second way to come from Bangkok to Koh Phangan is to do Bangkok to Surat Thani and then take a bus from Surat Thani airport to the pier (1h30) and the ferry to Koh Phangan (approx. 2h30 in ferry). The price for flights from Surat Thani generally cost around 2,000 baht from Bangkok on Air Asia and the bus and ferry is usually 500 Baht. The best way and also cheaper is to book the entire trip together to make sure your travels connect.
If you have time to kill and you’re on a budget, you also can take a bus from Bangkok instead of a flight. The ferry companies also run overnight buses from Bangkok to Koh Phangan for 450–600 baht including the ferry. You’ll take an overnight bus to Surat Thani, sit at the ferry terminal for a few hours, and then take the ferry to the island. It’s a full day and night of travel, but of course it’s much cheaper than flying.
The Full Moon Party Itself
The fun starts during the afternoon before the party already when the crowd is warming up. From pool parties to hostel beer pong games and drinking games, you’ll find more than enough ways to feel the Full Moon energy in you before getting there.
Most people start heading to the beach around 9pm while the peak is around midnight to 2am. On New Year’s Eve, the beach will be full by 8pm.
Here’s what stuff costs on Haad Rin:
Average Thai meal: 100 baht
Cheap food sold on the beach: 40–50 baht
Beer: 80–100 baht
Cigarettes: 80 baht
Buckets: 180–300 baht, depending if strong or very strong
Toilets: 5–10 baht
Alcohol: Buy your beer at the 7-11 or buy buckets away from the beach, where they are as cheap as 180 baht.
Food: Food is expensive in Haad Rin, but there are some good budget choices. Om Ganesh, the Indian restaurant, offers one of the best indian food on the island and is right in the middle of the town. In the center of town is a parking lot, and if you walk down the street behind it, you’ll find small Thai restaurants that offer 50–60 baht meals, about half the price of most other restaurants. The best part is that one of the best Thai food you can find in Koh Phangan is hidden over there and is definitely worth a visit, it’s called No Name and is mostly known by locals.
Party Survival Tips
Drugs: There are a lot of drugs here, especially during the full moon. All drugs are illegal in Thailand and can be punishable of prison when being caught. However, most cops won’t go through the hassle of paperwork if they catch you smoking a joint or doing a pill. They will scare you and make you pay a compensation fine though. This can go up to $1,000 USD in exchange of no jail time but the bribe will mostly depend of the cop and the price negotiated.
Skip the jump rope: Although you don’t see a burning jumping rope when usually going out at a party and might feel like this is the time to try it, don’t. Too many drunk people find it fun to try and end up getting burned. So if you want to avoid a pretty easy way to not getting harmed, simply don’t try it.
Buckets: Those famous buckets are famous for a reason. A few buckets will get you very, very drunk and if you’re not careful you’ll end up with those who had too many, passed out on the beach in no time. You have 2 types of buckets though. The strong ones and the very strong ones. They differ by price and quantity of alcohol they put in them. Trust me the strong ones are already way stronger than the glasses you’d usually get in a normal party so my rule is only take those, and no more than 3 over the entire night.
Stay out of the ocean: The charm of the Full Moon party is of course that you get to party on the beach. While it might look fun to play, dance or swim during the party, it is one of the worst ideas you could get. Not only do you risk drowning or getting stung by a jellyfish, it’s the worse day of the month to decide to take a swim. Indeed, everyone uses the ocean as their toilet during the party so if you want to stay sanitary, don’t get in there.
Wear footwear: One of the most common injuries during the Full Moon is cutting your feel while stepping on broken glass. As the night goes on, broken beer bottles and other sharp objects lay in the sand and on the floor. You’re drunk, it’s dark, and you aren’t always looking where you are going. Avoid a foot injury and keep your shoes on!
Personal belongings: Although Koh Phangan is not famous for thefts in general, during Full Moon, watch out for your belongings as drunk people could wander around looking for bags. So take a small bag, wear it across your body and only bring your room key and enough money for drinks and food.
The Full Moon Party is one of the biggest and best-known parties in the world. The vast majority of travelers in Southeast Asia attend at some point, from all ages and nationalities. It is a unique experience and fun time, but if not being careful, it can also be expensive and dangerous.
So party — but party smart.