The Full Moon Party of Ko Pha Ngan is as notorious as the film that made it so famous- The Beach. It is synonymous with the ‘ultimate party experience’ and no doubt on the ‘things to do before I die’ lists of many!
Think of a Full Moon Party and immediately images of young, drunken travellers comes to mind: head-to-toe in UV paint, whiskey bucket in hand, raving it up on a Thai beach, Haad rin to be more specific. The publicity this monthly revelry has received in the past few years has turned it into an almost tourist attraction; it is now a holiday destination for young people rather than the enigmatic shindig it once was, experienced by only afew hardcore travellers.
The Full Moon party of today is alive with rowdy ‘Gap Yah-ers’ and 20- somethings out to appreciate the stunning beauty of the area…or rather the extensive bucket bars and loud music! Long gone are the days of it being a select group of travellers, today the full moon draws in a crowd of around 20,000-30,000 – that is a lot of people for one beach! Perhaps I am painting an undesirable picture for you of an event that is without a doubt the most popular travellers destination in Thailand; that is not my intention.
Speaking as a past ‘Gap Yah-er’ myself, I am guilty of being one of those drunken, dancing, UV clad travellers, having attended the Full Moon Party of April 28th 2010 (not even a year ago!!) My experience of it was one of total hectic, hedonistic fun; I absolutely loved it!
Talk of the Trail
There is no doubt a great amount of hype surrounding the party; travelling through South East Asia it is all you hear about and it is on most peoples travelling itinerary. Whether it is exchanging their outrageous full moon stories to others, or chattering away in eager anticipation of which one they are planning on attending, it always crops up in conversation.
We stayed in Coral Bungalows, a hub of socialising and partying, and it is here that the infamous pool parties are held in the run up to the actual full moon.
TIP: Remember to book early to guarantee accommodation, as it is absolute chaos a few days before trying to find yourself a bed, and prices will go through the roof. I recommend getting there around a week or so in advance.
Late Rises and Even Later Nights
Days are spent in a hung-over slumber by the poolside, topping up your tan and eating far too much pad thai (it really is the life!) However, Ko Pha Ngan is a nocturnal way of life, and it is at night-time when everyone comes out to play. Haad Rin beach is a buzzing stretch of raised platforms, blasting music, bright lights and bucket bars. Walking along you will witness the extremities of party entertainment- fire breathers and rings of fire, where delusional people, obviously believing themselves to be fireproof, jump through the fire!
The atmosphere is almost surreal, everyone is laughing, dancing and drinking surrounded by the rolling waves, lit up palm trees and full moon. To say it is just a massive party on a beach, I feel, is an understatement. It is what you make it of course, and who you are with.
Less Spiritual, More Spirit Fuelled
Don’t go to Ko Pha Ngan if you are looking to be culturally enriched in the Thai way of life, there are plenty of places in Thailand you can go for the real Thai experience (such as Chiang Mai in the north- for elephant riding, amazing Thai curries and markets) The purpose of the Full Moon is to provide a hedonistic paradise for young, care-free travellers to enjoy their freedom in one of the most beautiful places in the world. I have honestly never felt such a sense of contentment as being surrounded by friends, old and new, dancing myself silly under the clear starry sky and full moon of Thailand.
Would I do it again? Maybe not. The idea of being isolated from reality on a beach in Thailand, with a lack of responsibilities and an abundance of time, is a novelty that could probably never be relived, as much as I would love it to be! All I can say is…DO IT whilst you can; before it becomes even more touristy and before you are too old!