Back in the day (or so legend has it), the Full Moon Party in Haad Rin Beach, Koh Phangan, Thailand was a quiet affair for world-wandering hippies who found spiritual awakening and solace at the sight of the full moon. It was a night shared by a small group of people around a bonfire, drinks, stories, and reminiscences on hand. They leave the gathering a little richer, a little more connected with each other, and much more in love with the serene tropical paradise around them. That was of course at least four decades ago, in the 70’s, when the beginnings of the Full Moon Party as we know it were conceived.
Fast forward to 2015 and, except for the full moon and the fires, pretty much nothing about the original assembly was retained. These days, the Full Moon Party has become a grand monthly affair, the crowning glory on the party island now becoming famous for its Half-moon Parties and its Jungle Parties and basically any and every excuse to party in between. The party itself is attended by possibly every tourist and traveller on the island and many others from the neighbouring islands of Koh Tao and Koh Samui. Many flock to Koh Phangan from all over the world – think tour packages from the UK – for the sole purpose of taking part in the debauchery. And who can blame them, right? Part of the draw of the Full Moon Party is the sheer unabashed hedonism, that unmistakable feeling of youth, endless possibilities, and having the world at your fingertips (until you keel over for one too many buckets).
With all the craziness happening though, it doesn’t hurt to be a little more prepared, psychologically and physically, for the wonderful assault to the senses the famous Full Moon Party can be.
1. Check the schedules
Since it follows the lunar cycle, the monthly Full Moon Party happens on different days. Before making any plans, it’s best to check the party calendar online to be sure that there’s even a party to attend. (Although, let’s face it, you’ll probably find a party somewhere on the island any time you choose to go.)
If you think attending the Full Moon Party is as easy as showing up, you’re wrong. It’s a night of drinking marathons – with literal buckets of vodka and Redbull, at that – which means extra pre-party preps can go a long way. Bottles of water and Gatorade are your best bet against nasty hangovers the following morning. Start consuming at sunrise on the day of the party for maximum effect.
3. Protect your valuables
When you attend a party that leaves only enough space to breathe between you and the next guy, it should be expected that valuables like cell phones can vanish without a trace. If you insist on bringing one, be sure that your pockets are deep enough or you have a secure pouch to place them in to protect them from getting swiped or from slipping out. Chances are you won’t even be thinking about your cell phone while you’re there, so there is no knowing if it’s still with you until it’s too late.
4. The farther from the beach, the cheaper the drinks
The rule of thumb is the closer you are to the beach, the more expensive the drinks will be. Bottles of booze from the restaurants outside the main party area are fractionally cheaper. Likewise, booze from the convenience stores lining the alleys leading to the main beach are cheaper as well. It might be a good idea to get your first few bottles there, to keep your spending on the beach much lower.
5. Buzz up before going
Speaking of pricier beach-side booze, it’s also not a bad idea to drink up before you even go. One, a healthy buzz during these things is always a good warm-up. Two, that’s a few less bottles to buy on the overpriced kiosks on the beach. And three, by the time you get there you’ll be ready to let all your inhibitions go and party it up like there’s no tomorrow (which might just happen if you don’t follow Tip # 2).
6. Scout out your scene
The whole stretch of Haad Rin Beach will be filled by satellite bars, with their own music, their own stages, their own gimmicks, and their own vibe. It’s always an experience trying to weave through the thick crowd in search of the perfect mood to go with your buzz, so don’t let the seeming barricade of painted human bodies stop you from making your rounds looking for the best spot of the night.
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7. Think a zillion times before going barefoot
If you ever feel like going YOLO and ditching your footwear at an event as raucous as this, keep this true story in mind: Over the blaring music a loud squeal from a guy turns the heads of party-goers. He was walking innocently along one of the alleyways leading to the beach when he accidentally stepped on a bottle strewn on the ground. The glass broke under his foot, and the gushing blood was enough of a clue as to where all the broken shards went. It’s safe to assume that guy’s party didn’t end so well.
8. Do you REALLY want to put yourself through fire?
Some of the crowd-pleasers at the Full Moon Party are the games involving fire: the fiery jump rope, the fiery limbo, fire dancing. They are definitely a spectacle and it’s always exhilarating (albeit a little sadistic) to watch whose shorts will catch fire or who will fall on their face and get burnt. If you do decide to throw your senses out the window and go for it, make sure to double check if you at least have enough faculties about you to move with coordination. That way you have a smaller chance of getting your leg caught in a rope of angry flames.
9. If your friends play with fire, stay alert
Good friends stop their drunken friends from getting themselves in danger. Great friends join their drunken friends in getting themselves in danger. But if you are the by-standing kind of friend, the cheerleader of sorts, remember that sand is a great way to kill fire. A guy’s hair caught a lick of flames on the fire limbo and the great people around him shoved him onto sand before it can do any real damage. It killed his faux-hawk though, sadly.
10. Never take a dip in the ocean
With such a massive crowd, the tropical climate, and all the booze, (not to mention all the people in skimpy swimwear), things can get literally hot really fast. If you think a quick dip to cool yourself down is a great idea however, think again. On the night of the Full Moon Party, the ocean is not the ocean. It is a bottomless pool of soiled toilet water slapping around your ankles. The long line of men standing side-by-side along the length of the beach should be enough of a warning.
11. If you want a break from the crazy, get accommodations further off
If you are not the all-nighter kind of partygoer, it’s best to put some thought into where you’ll be staying in Koh Phangan. While many choose hotels in Haad Rin Beach for its proximity to the party, this isn’t such a good idea if you’re actually planning to sleep at some point. Haad Rin Beach is practically a 24/7 party beach, and if you think you’ll need a break eventually, there are about a dozen other areas in the island to choose from.
A plate of chicken fried rice to soothe the beer-induced headache can go a long way. Protein, carbs, vitamins and minerals, and lots and lots of grease are just the thing against hangovers.
Let’s face it, if you’re looking to do something incomparable and memorable (as in crazy and stupid), the Full Moon Party is the place for it. But just because you are ready to let your senses go down the drain, doesn’t mean you should actually get into regrettable situations. Have fun, go wild – but all in the realms of safety.