How to survive a full moon party on Koh Phangan

My first destination in Thailand was Koh Phangan, home of the world famous full moon party.

I figured there was no better place to start my trip as it would be full of other travellers and meeting people would be easy. And given how legendary the parties are, it would be rude to come to Thailand and not go…

Before leaving England I booked my hostel, a place called Echo Beach Backpackers which looked decent and sociable, as well as cheap, which you will probably start to notice being a key theme of my trip.

The dorm room I had was around £7 a night, I went for the cheaper fan room option so air con would be a bit more. It includes breakfast for the 4 days of full moon, free tea, coffee and water, has a bar serving food, hammocks on the beach and a cinema room, so I would definitely recommend it to other visitors.

I arrived the night before full moon, and after an essential power nap headed down to the bar for the all you can eat BBQ (another full moon bonus) and drinks.

Everyone told me to be careful how much I drink here – I don’t know why,, I’m sure I don’t have that bad a history of getting horrendously drunk and ending up in questionable situations…

I kept that in mind of course, but was quite quickly persuaded to head to the 7/11 to buy a bottle of vodka for cheaper drinks, and to get involved in a game of ring of fire. Anyone present the last time I played that on a camping trip to Looe will have a fairly good idea of what the game can do to me, and true to form I got way too drunk way too quickly and didn’t make it out of the hostel.

The next morning, I realised a different tactic would be needed for the full moon itself.

After a day at the lush Koh Ma beach on the north of the island, I showered, got ready and went down to the bar. This time, I stopped being a girl about all you can eat and had three servings – I hadn’t eaten all day and lining my stomach was essential.

I held off on drinking for the first couple hours, as no one wants to be that embarrassing person who peaks too soon. I was also a nominated face painter as apparently I have some artistic skills, so I thought it was better to not be totally smashed and ruin anyone’s face for the night.

While still at the hostel, I finished off the previous night’s vodka but didn’t buy any more drinks. At midnight-ish our free taxis started arriving to take us to Haad Rin beach, about 10-15 minutes away.

My next lesson learned might be an obvious one, but when budgeting for the party remember you need an extra 100 baht for entry, and 150 for some sort of ridiculous headwear – I went for fluorescent flowers, naturally.

There are so, so many stalls selling the buckets of alcohol the full moon party is famous for, but we had a specific, charming seller to find – Emily, who promises free shots and a free bucket if you bring a new customer on your second visit.

150 baht (£3) got me a nice bucket if mojito. Obviously it’s not going to win any amazing cocktail awards, but it was reasonably tasty and the accompanying shot of rum was decent too.

The party goes on all night and all morning, so I knew I had to pace myself and drank a little slower than I normally would. If I’m honest it wasn’t quite as food as everyone says it is, but still very fun – there are basically bars and music all the way along the beach, lots of fire related activities and thousands of brightly dressed and decorated people (35,000-ish, I think).

The time went weirdly quickly, I think I only got through two buckets and two shots but they were seriously strong.

My top top tip that everyone who has been had told me, and what I now want to pass on, is take nothing but cash.

Yes, having photos is great (and I’m really glad my friend Maca took her phone so I have the ones you see here) but I can’t tell you how many people lose their phones, cameras, bags, everything – my friend Vanessa lost her phone within 10 minutes of arriving so it’s almost guaranteed to happen.

Other things to keep in mind, you have to pay to use the toilets (20 baht), fire does actually burn and you don’t become better at limbo or jump rope because you’re drunk, and you may have to see some pretty disgusting things, like a Thai lady(boy?) grinding on top of a man with a large crowd cheering them on…

I made it through til the morning, and took a full day to recover, so I think I safely survived full moon and can now move on to a new island for more fun – hello diving on Koh Tao!


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