The first Full Moon Party was an improvised party on the beach in 1985 in which only a handful of travellers were involved. The party gained fame within backpacker circles and has now grown into an institution, with parties now drawings crowds in the thousands every month at the time of the full moon.
Nowadays the Full Moon Party is more of a monthly festival party with a lot of drinking, dancing, fluorescent paint, and fire rope games bringing people from all over the world to enjoy.
Most visitors to Koh Phangan and the Full Moon Party have plans to visit Koh Tao as a part of their trip. They may decide to visit a week before the party starts and Get A PADI diving license beforehand.
Koh Tao is the diving Mecca of the small group of islands that form the Samui Archipelago. It attracts both non-divers and experienced divers and there are an abundance of dive centres to accommodate their diving needs.
It’s also a hugely popular location for professional level diving courses from Divemaster Internships to PADI Instructor courses. Many people have arrived on Koh Tao for a short stay and are still resident after 10 years – it has an almost mystical appeal (and great diving of course!).
Getting Ready for the Full Moon Party
The Full Moon Party takes place on Haad Rin beach and the beach itself becomes lined with booths selling buckets of alcohol and the different bars blasting out different types of music. With each bar having its own sound system and DJ, you will be sure to find something that suits your tastes whether it be Drum and Bass, Old Skool jungle, Dubstep, Techno, Trance or House.
Most people will opt to dress in the luminous vests and shorts for the party then have local artists add fluorescent paint to their body with impressive designs on them. Many others will opt for the cheaper and possibly more fun approach by having their friends paint them and then return the compliment to their buddy.
The main action happens down on the beach but there are some very cool bars set a little back from the beach that have their own vibe, some even offering free food. These places give you a good spot to start from and a place to chill later on if you need a break from the hedonistic party.
Once you reach the beach the party is in full swing and you will find yourself walking from one end of Haad Rin beach to the other taking in the huge crowd and enjoying the party, stopping off at the different bars for a dance.
Beverages & Buckets
The beverage of choice is, of course, the bucket, the drink of choice for the crowds of backpackers who converge on the party. The coloured plastic bucket is filled with a hard spirit (usually either whiskey, vodka or the local rum of Sangsom), a bottle of Red Bull is then added to it with some ice to complete the mix.
The buckets usually have many straws sticking out the side for you and your friends to share the concoction and enjoy it together.
Please try to think about how you dispose of the bucket and straws after you have emptied the bucket as many of the straws find their way into the sea, which harms the marine life. Each bucket will cost around 200-300 Thai Baht.
Top tips to make sure you enjoy your Full Moon Party experience….
Have a Meeting Spot
Half the fun of the party is sharing the experience with your friends, partying the night away creating stories and memories to share when you return home. But with thousands of people dancing and partying on the beach, it is very easy to get separated in the neon coloured crowd.
Before you become intoxicated make sure you organise a meeting spot in case you lose your friends. You don’t want to be walking up and down the beach aimlessly when you could be dancing the night away.
Leave your Pockets Empty
As we have already mentioned you will probably end up having one or two buckets throughout the night meaning you will most likely end up a bit tipsy so it is important not to take belongings of value with you. Leave your phone, camera phone, wallet and anything else you care about at the hotel.
It is best to make a copy of your passport and only carry the cash you intend to spend that night. A good tip is to take a card from your hotel just in case you cannot remember where you are staying, you can then show your card to a taxi driver to help get you back to your hotel.
This is a familiar concept for scuba divers as we always dive with a buddy and it is a good idea to employ the buddy system when you are out at the Full Moon Party. Whatever you do, don’t leave your buddies side to make for a safer night. But of course sometimes things will happen were you may get split up and that’s why you have a meeting place
Take it Slow and Steady
Try not to drink too much early on and take it slow when consuming your buckets, hammering down too much alcohol will likely have you passed out on the beach missing out on all the action. Consider drinking a bottle of water intermediately through the night to have more chance of seeing the night through.
Stay Away from the Fire
It may look like fun but that big rope with flames on it will hurt if it catches you. You may be the worlds best skipping rope champion but the guy next to you who is on his 5th bucket may not be and can get caught up in the rope. You don’t want your night to be ruined by spending 2 hours in the local clinic getting your burn treated, it is best to stand back and watch other people make the mistakes.
Carry Some Small Change
As the night goes on and as you have been consuming alcohol it will not be long until nature calls and you need to go to the toilet. All the bathrooms off the beach will charge a small fee of between 5-10 baht for use of their toilet. This means having some coins in your pocket to enable you to go to the toilet in peace.
Beware of the Water
This point fits in with the above point, as a lot of people will forget to take coins or run out of money and they will choose to use the sea to relieve themselves. Swimming around drunk is never a good idea anyway but is even less appealing when you consider it will be other people’s urine that you are taking a dip in.
If you want to make it to the next morning it is a good idea to prepare your body for the marathon party ahead. Spend the day relaxing, chilling out, eating good food so you will have the energy and stamina to last through the night.
Wear Appropriate Footwear
The full moon party is a beach party and it may seem like a good idea to party with the sand between your toes but it is wise to have something on your feet. As the night grows old glass bottles will inevitably drop on the ground and get smashed.
This means there is a high chance of you or your friends cutting your feet whilst you are dancing, so keep your feet safe and don’t lose your shoes!
Take a Day to Recover
It is wise to book an extra day in your hotel for the day after the party. Staying up all night, consuming your own weight in buckets and then getting on a ferry is not a great idea. It is best to give yourself a day to recover, wash off your body paint and get some sleep and organise your journey away from Koh Phangan the following day.
The PADI Open Water Course is the entry level scuba diving certification giving you a diving license to a depth of 18 meters where you can encounter turtles, barracudas, stingrays and see lots more of the amazing underwater life around the Coral Reefs of Koh Tao.
Koh Tao is famous for being the number one place in the world to get your scuba diving certification with lots of cheap deals on offer, superb dive sites and excellent diving conditions. The PADI Open Water Courseusually lasts 4 days and comprises of a classroom session to gain the necessary knowledge of diving, a swimming pool session to practice skills and then 4 dives open water out in the sea.
After completion you will remember this week for the rest of your life.
Author: Neil Davidson (PADI MSDT #294100)