It started as an impromptu event held on the beach by a handful of travellers in the mid-1980s, but the Full Moon Party has since grown to become one of the most famous parties in the world attracting top-quality Thai and international DJs. Up to 20,000 revellers descend on the small island of Ko Pha Ngan in the Gulf of Thailand each Full Moon. They come to dance, drink and party. Most will go away happy, but exhausted. For others, there is a darker side to the party.
Photo Credit: Joe Stump
What you can expect
Travellers from dozens of different countries gather on Ko Pha Ngan to listen to dance music, techno, trance, house and reggae. Dancers twirling fire-sticks light up the beach and revellers write messages on each other’s backs and torsos in UV colours. There is lots of alcohol, lots of food and lots of music. For many attending it will be one of the most memorable highlights of a trip round South-East Asia and can simply be enjoyed for what it is; a massive international beach party. The party people enjoy it and so do the authorities on Ko Pha Ngan who have been happy to milk the tourist Baht each Full Moon.
The majority of people attending the Full Moon Party are there to enjoy the vibe and the unique atmosphere. Just to go once so that you can say, been there, done that, wore the ‘Same Same But Different’ t-shirt. It’s one to tick-off the bucket-list. And talking of buckets, there are plenty on display during Full Moon Party. Alcohol and energy drinks mixed together and served over ice in small buckets with straws is one of the most famous sights of the Ko Pha Ngan beach party. Vodka and Red Bull, M-150, Vodka and Lipo . . . they all help to fuel the party-goers.
Photo Credit: Joe Stump
Full Moon Parties have a reputation for drugs and robberies and there have been incidents over the years of drinks being spiked and sexual assaults. There have also been fatalities involving boats en route to or from the island where Thai boat operators have put profit before safety.
On a practical note, if you are attending the party you are advised to wear something on your feet. It might be nice to feel the sand between your toes, but it’s not so pleasant to feel shards of glass between your toes. Discarded bottles from careless revellers do injure people on a regular basis. It’s all too easy to get lulled into a false sense of security in Thailand, especially in a party atmosphere wherever everybody appears to be your friend. Enjoy the party, but keep your wits about you.
Where to stay
The main party is on Hat Rin Beach (‘hat’, also written as ‘had’ or ‘haad’ is the Thai word for beach), but accommodation can fill up quickly here and in other parts of Ko Pha Ngan at the time of the Full Moon Party. An alternative is to stay on nearby Ko Samui. Ferries or speedboats run at regular intervals into the night and morning between Ko Samui (Bangrak, Maenam and Bophut) to Ko Pha Ngan.
Accommodation on Ko Pha Ngan »
Where to stay on Ko Samui »
How to get to Ko Pha Ngan
Full Moon party dates
Party dates on Ko Pha Ngan may be subject to change because of Buddhist holidays (a number of which fall on Full Moon dates).
Dates of the Full Moon can be found here.