There are a number of locations in Thailand where Full Moon beach parties are held, but the most famous, and the one that most travelers are drawn to, is the Full Moon beach party at Haad Rin Beach on the resort island of Koh Phangan.
Full Moon in 2012
Following is a list of the full moon periods for 2011 and 2012. The actual official date of a full moon night is dictated according to a Buddhist religious calendar, so these dates may be out by a day or two.
- Thursday November 10, 2011
- Saturday December 10, 2011
- Sunday January 8, 2012
- Wednesday February 8. 2012
- Wednesday March 7, 2012
- Friday April 6, 2012
- Sunday May 6, 2012
- Monday June 4, 2012
- Tuesday July 3, 2012
- Saturday August 4, 2012
- Saturday September 1, 2012
- Sunday September 30, 2012
- Monday October 29, 2012
- Wednesday November 28, 2012
- Tuesday December 25, 2012
Haad Rin Beach, Koh Phangan
Young people are drawn to the full moon party at Haad Rin by its reputation for excess, anarchic hedonism and the availability of unlimited cheap alcohol and recreational drugs. Another perverse lure might be this particular party’s reputation for danger. To have survived a party at Haad Rin without injury or arrest is seen as conferring a certain street credibility on young backpackers, a rite of passage they can add to their Facebook profiles.
Full Moon Party
The Koh Phangan Full Moon party is best described by the Koh Phangan Wikitravel page:
if you’re after party heaven you can’t do better than Haad Rin, an expanded village of beach bars, cheap chicken burgers, and low cut figure-hugging outfits. It is most popular one night a month – the night of the Full Moon Party. Every bar is hopping, the beaches packed with trance, dance, buckets, and various other suspicious substances. However, if the sight of thousands of bottles and other trash repulses you, make sure you leave the beach area before the sun comes up, or grab a garbage bag and help tidy up a little. If you’re not on Ko Pha Ngan during the full moon, don’t worry: there are other parties to be had, including Half Moon (2 times a month), Black Moon, Jungle Parties, as well as the Shiva Moon party. There is always something to do in Ko Pha Ngan.
Beginnings of the Full Moon Party
The Haad Rin Full Moon Party started in 1985.This was a time when most resorts on Koh Phangan were of the bamboo hut variety, catering exclusively to backpackers eager to escape the growing commercialization of neighboring Koh Samui. Since then the popularity of the parties has grown, until they can draw crowds of up to 30,000 revelers for the biggest parties over the New Year. Even in the low season, crowds of up to 12,000 people are not unusual. Most parties during the high season of November to April will attract at least 15,000 people, and often many more.
Travel to Koh Phangan
There are two ways to get to Koh Phangan. Flights into Bangkok, and then take a train or bus down to Surat Thani. From there book a ferry to take you to the islands. The ferry trip is about three and a half hours. An easier route would be to fly to Bangkok, then take another plane to the larger island of Koh Samui. A boat from Koh Samui to Koh Phangan takes between three-quarters of an hour to an hour and a half. Be prepared for a long wait for a seat at peak times.
Phuket to Koh Phangan
From Phuket there are various options including the train to Surat Thani and from there the ferry to Koh Samui and then Koh Phangan. Another option is direct flights from Phuket to Koh Samui and then onward by ferry.
Travel around Koh Phangan
Travel around Koh Phangan is by local taxi, usually a converted pickup truck. There are many accommodation options on the island. Most of the old coconut palm huts, which used to cost about 100 baht a night, have now gone. In their place are newer resorts built of concrete, where rooms cost between 250 and 500 baht a night for fan-cooled rooms, and over 800 baht a night for air-con rooms.
Cautions for the Full Moon Party
The dangers involved in parties of this nature should not be ignored. Over the years there have been a number of incidents involving rape, theft, assault, drowning and accidental injury. Several people have died. After every party the island’s jail and hospital are full of people counting the cost of over-enthusiastic consumption of intoxicants, both legal and illegal. It is easy to drink more than you might originally have intended. Alcohol is served in buckets containing gin, vodka, or whiskey, often topped up with Red Bull or other energy drinks.
Drugs such as cannabis, amphetamines and ecstasy are often freely available once the party gets going, but do not imagine that strict Thai laws on drug use do not apply on this island. Plainclothes policemen may well be mingling with the revelers. Also mingling with the revelers will be Thai criminals wishing to take advantage of the drunken revelers’ vulnerability.
The British Embassy in Thailand has issued the following warning:
Western tourists have been victims of vicious unprovoked attacks by gangs in Koh Phangan. These attacks are particularly common around the time of the Full Moon parties and generally occur late at night near bars in Haad Rin. Exercise caution when walking in this area at any time, especially after dark.