You would be a questionable traveller if you have never heard of South-East Asia’s biggest party on the beach, the Full Moon Party. Tens of thousands of wide-eyed travellers, young and old, make the long stretch of journey to Kho Phangan island every month to rave on a beach under the light of the full moon. Our Full Moon experience was the first in 38 years to clash with Christmas Day, which apparently boosted the numbers to an exponential capacity.
From a business side, our group noticed how well the community had adapted to the event which has been spreading through word of mouth since 1985. Every hotel in the area offers a transfer to the party and every hotel receptionist greets you with a “you’re here for the party”. Although, that’s expected when you’re with a group of eight guys. Closer to the vicinity of the Party itself are clinics specialising in dealing with overdoses on illicit substances and hospital clinics specialising in treating burns. An eye opener for anyone on their way to the festival.
For reference to anyone confused, the Full Moon Party is in Haad Rin, the south-eastern most tip of Kho Phangan, when booking accommodation it is a good idea to keep this in mind, specifically for the return trip for a full night of partying until sunrise – a 10 minute drive is better than an hour.
For our group, we booked a cheap resort as we didn’t mind the 40-minute travel time to the party and also wanted to enjoy the amazing beaches, specifically at the Long Bay Resort. The water and kayaking is amazing at the resort. As a libeling couple we paddled one of the kayaks around the coastline. The management staff were nice enough to let us use for free as they were not being used.
Prior to our departure, and a custom for Full Mooners is to don the war paint of fluorescent glow paste and bright shirts. Anything you wouldn’t wear in public back at home is suitable for this party and there are a plethora of stores that stock a range of tie die fluro dresses, shirts, shorts and bikini outfits.
Securing transport is easy as there are shuttles that leave every 20-or-so minutes. For us, we had one of the hotel staff drive all of us in his ute, so we had an open cab ride through the whole island. For one of the world’s biggest parties I was impressed with the lack of queues or tight crowds – everything was very streamlined with no waiting. The entry price was the price of two coffees, 200 baht (US $5.50), and bucket drinks (a small bottle of smirnoff vodka and two red bulls) were the same price. Needless to say, I have never paid so little at festivals in Australia.
The whole beach has its own genre zones, with the Cactus Bar and Drop-in Bar being the most popular for its music and fire shows. There are also areas specifically catered to trance, deep-house, tech and drum and bass. Further up on the northern part of the beach is a bar perched up on a cliff that overlooks the beach and is the best place to watch the sunrise. It serves the special Full Moon milkshakes which are a delicacy at the event so a lot of the patrons here are a little happier than everyone else.
This bar is also a very romantic place and traveling couples often perch themselves up here to enjoy the sight of the festivities and enjoy the sunrise, of which the host beach derives its name from, Sunrise Beach.