One of the first things you will be asked when chatting to other travellers in Thailand is ‘are you going to the full moon party in Koh Phangan?’. Thousands of people gather every month to celebrate the full moon in all its glory. This event will be a night to remember, with glow paint, buckets, fire skipping ropes, Djs and more.
This backpacker guide will help you with all the organising, give you the insider knowledge and help you party hard but safely.
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DATES FOR THE FULL MOON PARTY IN KOH PHANGAN
Here are the full moon party dates for the next 7 months. I recommend booking this part of your trip in advance, as accommodation will book up quickly and they rack the prices up the closer you get to the dates.
Tuesday 8th November 2022
Thursday 8th December 2022
Saturday 31st December 2022
Friday 6th January 2023
Sunday 5th February 2023
Tuesday 7th March 2023
Friday 5th April 2023
If you can’t make these dates, do not fret! Every month Koh Phangan also hosts a half moon party, which is just as fun.
WHAT IS THE FULL MOON PARTY?
The full moon party is a gathering of thousands of people under the moon dancing and partying until the sun comes up. There is no real reason for why it is on the full moon as its nothing to do the celebration of the moon or stars. There are different origin stories of how the party came to be. But some say that a group of travellers in the 80’s went to the beach to celebrate a friend’s birthday and they had so much fun they continued it on every month after that.
The party has grown from a small gathering of friends, to a chilled hippie vibe, to a full on festival atmosphere. The party can see up to 30 thousand people every month.
Where is the full moon party held?
The official full moon party is held on Haad Rin beach, also known as Sunrise beach as it is facing the east. The beach stretches along the gulf of Thailand for around 800 meters according to World Beach Guide. There are also loads of pre parties the week leading up to the full moon party all over Koh Phangan.
What to expect at the full moon party in Koh Phangan
The full moon party isn’t just for backpackers and travellers. You will see families drinking with their kids, playing with them in the water and dancing with noise cancelling headphones on.
Before you get onto the beach, there are street vendors selling food, Buckets of alcohol and neon paint. I suggest doing all this before you get to the beach. These stalls are much cheaper and you can find buckets for 150 THB (£3.50) whereas on the beach you are going to be spending 400 THB (£9).
Depending on your music style, will depend on where you want to place yourself on the beach. There are different DJs playing all different sets, so if you find one that is to drum and base for you, then walk further down and you’ll find something new. I suggest walking down the length of the beach to experience everything there is to offer.
There are flame throwers performing amazing tricks and a fire skipping rope that they let you try. Disclaimer, it is real fire and if you don’t jump in time you could burn yourself. I had one friend that did it and he set a light, but the flames died away quite quickly. Luckily, he wasn’t injured because the flames didn’t hit his bare skin.
Do I need a ticket?
You do not need to purchase a ticket to attend the full moon party. You might be asked to pay 20 THB (50p) to help with the beach clean up. I think this depends on what entrance you take, as I wasn’t asked to pay but I had read it online, I would need to.
You also need to pay 10 THB (25p) to use the toilets. There are ladies manning the doors handing out toilet paper when you pay the fee.
Buckets of alcohol
If you are unfamiliar with the Thailand Buckets, it is basically a 300ml bottle of alcohol poured into a mixer. These drinks are lethal, so please be careful and watch your drink. I have met a lot of backpackers who have had their buckets spiked and have been robbed as a result of this. If you can try and cover your drink with a lid or some cling film to avoid this risk.
I would highly recommend pre drinking and taking your drinks with you. The party isn’t manned with security and with street vendors outside the beach selling cheaper drinks, it’s best to take it all in with you.
Now I know that makes me sound like a cheapskate. But we all have a budget backpacker mentality and every little helps.
Not sure what to wear at a full moon party? I suggest going to one of the many local retailers selling Full moon merchandise. You will have neon tie dyed tops and dresses to choose from, along with neon paint splattered tops in a variety of styles. I brought my crop top for 250 THB (£5.80). Of course, as it is a party on the beach, you can wear literally anything.
Footwear for the Full moon party
I know how tempting bare foot for a beach party is but I do not advise it. There could potentially be broken glass, sick, jelly fish in the sand. And you don’t want to write off the night with something as simple as your shoe choice. I would go for flip flops, sandals or trainers.
Face and body paint
If you are a creative artsy person you might want to buy the neon paints yourself. Instead of investing 300 THB (£7) for someone to do a design for you. My friend Eimear brought the paints from a local shop for 150 THB (£3.50), which came with 6 different colours and a paintbrush. We were not very creative with our designs, but we still had fun trying to design something.
Full moon after parties
You might be surprised to hear the full moon party doesn’t go on until the sun comes up. It actually closes around 12.30am – 1am. But do not worry, there are usually plenty of after parties to help you continue with the shenanigans. If you hang around the beach area, you will see boats offering to take you to another island for the after party. When we went in May 2022, there was sadly no after party. So we went to a bar, ordered Pad Thai and then went home.
Staying safe at the full moon party
Without sounding like your mother, please be safe at the full moon party. If you drink responsibly and don’t take drugs, you shouldn’t run into any issues.
There will be pick pockets scoping the area. So make sure your bag is across your body and not hanging off your shoulder. I used to have a keyring on my purse that were bells. So you could hear if anyone tried to take it.
Make sure you cover your drinks with cling film or something to stop it from being spiked.
Wear shoes, like I said previously, you have no idea what is hiding under that sand.
Have a meeting spot in case you lose each other. Sometimes the signal is patchy, so it is best to have a back up plan if technology fails.
Getting to the full moon party in Koh Phangan
Depending on where you originate from, will depend on how many modes of transport you will need to take. If you are coming from one of the islands, you will arrive by ferry. If you are coming from the mainland like Bangkok, you will need to get a bus and a ferry.
You can book your boat tickets via 12go.asia, which is a site that offers transportation all over Thailand. If you prefer the old school approach, go to one of the many travel agents and ask them to book a ferry for you. I spent 927 THB (£22) for a lontail boat from Railay then a bus ride to the ferry port and then the ferry. I went 1 day before the party and the ferry was rammed. Unfortunately, me and my friend booked separately and she somehow ended up on the wrong ferry and went to Koh Samui and had to get another ferry.
I suggest going a few days prior to avoid the backpacker rush and enjoy some pre parties like the jungle rave that takes place in the middle of the island.
If you would rather only come to the island for the party, then I suggest stopping on Koh Samui island and getting one of the many fast ferries to and from the party. These boats run regularly and can be organized with your hostel or via engines like Get your Guide and Viator. Ferry links attached.
Some hostels will put on shuttles to get you to and from the party, but if your accommodation does not provide this then there are songthaews which are a truck/bus that works as a taxi running all night.
I highly recommend booking your accommodation, in advance to avoid the crazy prices leading up to the event. I always promote spontaneity and loose planning but this is the one part of the trip you need to be organised for.
As we were last minute, we ended up booking a hotel called Mr Black’s resort. I wouldn’t make it your first choice. For starters, the address on the map is not the same resort. We came to this really boujee accommodation only to be told it was the wrong place. So we trotted an extra 10 minutes to this rundown hotel.
If I am being 100% honest with you, these hostels will probably be the worst ones you go to in Thailand. This is because they are guaranteed customers and, therefore, they don’t need to add the little touches like a towel or a plug socket next to your bed. However, that being said, you won’t be spending too much time in the room as you will be partying on the beach.
I think everyone should experience the full moon party in Koh Phangan at least once The full moon party wasn’t what I expected. I think I expected more bonfires and different vibe areas where this is just one big dance floor. To get the most out of the full moon party, I recommend getting a group of backpackers you have met on your travels and all party together or arrive a few days before the party to cement a group to go with.
As always, Happy Exploring!