Once a month, on the night of the full moon, travellers from all over the world congregate on Koh Phangan, an island in the Gulf of Thailand, for one of the world’s largest and most famous beach parties…
… the notorious Full Moon Party.
‘Full Mooners’ as they are fondly referred to (we have all been a full mooner at some stage in our lives!) get dressed up, or dressed down as the case may be, in all kinds of different outfits.
Covering themselves in fluorescent paint they hit Haad Rin Beach, the venue for the party and dance the night away under the illumination of the full moon.
The Calm Before The Storm….
During the day Haad Rin beach is full of tourists, attracted to the long white sandy beach and allure of the gorgeous aquamarine water. It’s the best beach on the island and arguably the best beach anywhere in the Samui archipelago.
Here backpackers top up their tans, indulge in banana smoothies and relax in the warm sun. There are Jet Skis available for rent, whilst regular games of beach volleyball and football take place later in the afternoon.
On full moon night and with dusk approaching the beach becomes deserted as everybody returns to their bungalows to relax and get ready for the evening’s festivities.
Fluoro Techno Festive Vibe…. and the famous Buckets!
The streets and beach remain relatively quiet until around 9pm when people start coming out to play – replacing the brief ambience of peace and tranquilly with a fluoro techno festive vibe. You will see street stalls selling many different kinds of fluorescent attire – ‘Full Moon Party’ T-shirts and gallons of fluorescent paint.
Never in all my years in Thailand have I seen so many people in one place. The streets glow with an array of amazing fluorescent colours. Packed with revelers, street artists apply even more fluorescent paint as even more party goers arrive!
As well as so many fluorescently coloured people in one place there are also more ‘buckets’ per head, on full moon night than in any other place in the world! FACT!
For those of you that have not been to Thailand before you may be unfamiliar with what a ‘bucket’ is – well this type of bucket anyway! A plastic bucket with a capacity of around 1 liter It contains mixed spirits – different alcoholic drinks with a variety of mixers – and is usually served with 3-4 ‘straws’.
Everywhere you look there are stalls selling the ‘Best Bucket in Thailand’ and everywhere else you look there are groups of young party goers, crouched around one of these buckets, each drinking from one of the straws.
The Biggest Party in Thailand…. every month!
Pushing through the maze of people you will eventually find yourself on the beach which of course will look nothing like it did a few hours before! There are literally people everywhere. As you work your way through the crowds you will see bars all over the place – each playing different types of dance music.
There are ultraviolet lights which make the ‘fullmooners’ glow and all kinds of alternative games being played – many of which I would not recommend.
Stay Safe – Skip The Skipping Rope!
They have fire skipping rope spinning round and also fire limbo! – I sat watching and hoping nobody got burnt. I would highly recommend if you are even slightly intoxicated do not try this. A small burn, down your leg, in the tropics of Thailand is a sure thing to restrict the rest of your holiday.
With a higher chance of infection in Thailand you will find it near impossible to keep your wound dry on the islands of the Samui Archipelago (and you won’t be able to go scuba diving on Koh Tao either!)
My advice – Stay away and skip the skipping rope!
The Full Moon Party itself is a very fun occasion – just make sure you are careful. I don’t recommend taking anything of value out with you. Things do have a tendency to go missing at the full moon party so leave any expensive watches or Jewelry as well as your credit cards and passports in the hotel safe.
And make sure you pour your own buckets!
The Day After….
The next day you can go down to the beach and help clean up. Never have I seen so much rubbish on a beach so when you wake up, go back down to the beach and give a helping hand. We are always trying to preserve paradise as much as possible and every little helps in the fight for the preservation of nature and our underwater world.
Time To Join The Subculture…. #mypadi
After the fluoro techno fun and games of Koh Phangan’s Full Moon Party, most backpackers are ready for something totally different. The quieter and more laidback ambience of beautiful Koh Tao beckons and it’s time to tick off the next activity on your Thailand bucket list off – it’s time to get your PADI on Koh Tao.
#WhereTheWorldLearnsToDive #KohTao #TheRock
24-36 hours after the music stops thousands of Full Mooners board ferries and head to neighboring Koh Tao – the island ‘Where the World Learns to Dive’ for the next adventure on their tour of Thailand- to explore the crystal clear waters the Gulf of Thailand has to offer and get their PADI Open Water Diver certification.
Affectionately referred to as ‘The Rock’ by many of the backpackers that have experienced the unique vibe and island lifestyle that Koh Tao offers it doesn’t take long for the transformation from full mooner to scuba diver to happen as backpackers quickly fall in love with this charming island and the wonders of the underwater world.
If you are on Koh Phangan and interested in booking up to ‘get your PADI’ it’s easy. Crystal Dive has a branch office just a short walk from Chicken corner in Haad Rin. Our team will be on hand to answer all your Koh Tao and scuba diving questions and make the necessary arrangements to ensure you have a boat ticket and a place on one of our Open water courses.
Don’t leave it until the last minute though as boats and courses do fill up quickly in the days after the party.
Author: Matt Bolton (PADI Course Director #463559)