You’ve done it! No matter how many months or years of planning, saving and fantasizing, you’ve traveled across the world to Thailand’s infamous Koh Phangan Full Moon party - an all night rave of 10,000+ people. The party originated in 1987 by some long haired, hippy-type backpackers who just wanted to stay up and party by the light of the moon. Since its origin, travellers young and old from all over the world flock to Had Rin Beach in Koh Phangan once a month to partake in all the untamed rebellion and weirdness that the legendary Full Moon Party has become known for. Regardless of whether it’s your first time, how much you have prepared yourself or how many Red Bulls you’ve consumed, here are a few criteria that will keep your fists pumpin' in the air until the sun comes up.
- purchase international travel insurance
- stuff your belly with a large meal before the party
- bring enough money
- paint your body creatively
- pace yourself
- share your bucket of booze with your friends
- drink water throughout the night
- bring a pair of sunglasses worthy of the event
- keep your eyes on your bucket
- write the name of your guesthouse on your hand
- be aware of lady boys, thieves, or lady boys who are thieves
Booze + dancing platforms on sand = accidents. Make sure when you are traveling you have adequate travel medical insurance to cover those unforeseen alcohol-induced accidents. Medical visits are a whole other industry on Koh Phangan during the Full Moon party, and if you don’t have insurance you’ll have a headache - not just from your hangover but from paying high-priced medical fees.
If you know you’re about to consume large amounts of alcohol and party like a rockstar, you have to be prepared. Don’t allow yourself to run out of energy halfway through the night. Food contains much needed energy and controls your blood alcohol level. Amateurs are the ones that claim ‘eating is cheating’ but are also the ones that will miss the sunrise in the morning.
Bring enough money to purchase food and buckets all night, but not too much that you would be upset that if it was lost or stolen. The Full Moon party is full of fun lovin', booty-shakin’ party animals. Unfortunately, there are a few people there to take advantage of others and will prey on those when they are not paying attention. Bring enough money to cover the costs of the evening, so that if theft does occur, you don’t end up losing more than you were planning on spending anyway.
Paint your body with the most creativity you have ever mustered. If you were ever looking for a reason to paint your body and get all wild and crazy, the Full Moon Party is what you have been waiting for! Glow in the dark paint is readily available to paint entire bodies with intricate and inappropriate words and designs. Never again will you have an excuse to attend a party half-naked covered in paint, so take full advantage of it!
Pace yourself. It's not a sprint. It’s a marathon. The idea behind the Full Moon party is to party all night long by the light of the moon. If you drink too much too fast, not only will you miss out on the entire nights events, but often times the morning-after party is even better than the Full Moon itself. If you suffer from the medical condition known as Fomo (fear of missing out) you’ll take this advice and manage to keep partying long after the sun has risen.
The reason so many straws are served with your bucket is to test your generosity. Those who fail the test are left with ice-cubeless warm buckets of booze. If you constantly share with your friends (not strangers) and share the rounds, your bucket-o-booze will be regularly filled with an icy chilled beverage throughout the night. Sharing is also an excellent way of pacing yourself!
This is the one night where friends won’t get in your grill about having a bottle of water. Dancing in tropical climates leads to nothing but sweat, so be sure to hydrate and hydrate often to maximize your Full Moon experience.
After a long night of dancing in the dark, when that sun comes up, it is bright! Sunglasses will help protect and also hide your tired bloodshot eyes! Note: Darker sunglasses will allow you to freely look around and be witness to all the mornings’ weirdness without appearing to stare.
Be warned: this kind of party attracts those types of people your parents have warned you about since you were a child. The phrase is “stranger danger”, and these types of people may be out to drop something in your bucket to make you sleep, the polar opposite of your goal. Be sure to be aware of strangers and those around your bucket. If you have the slightest inkling that your bucket/drink has been tampered with, just ditch it. It’s not worth the confusion of waking up the next morning on a Thai fishing boat heading out to sea.
Drunk? Confused? Can’t remember where you are staying? It’s a good thing you wrote it on your hand or somewhere on your body you can point to. That way when you’re asked, you have a definitive answer.
As noted previously, be aware of those who are around you. There have been complaints of attractive lady boys who have an eye for drunkenness, and those who meet that criteria may be surprised to return home with their camera, money and dignity gone. Sure ‘she’ is attractive, and ‘she’ seems pretty into you and perhaps is looking for a little action. Your drunkenness tells you she’s a ‘she’ as you kiss her, but that little voice saying “leave her alone” is saying ‘she’ used to be a man. The reason she’s in your pocket is to take your money and whatever else ‘she’ can get her thieving hands on.
First ones there are the first to pass out. Show up at a decent hour, maybe 11pm, well rested, well fed and eager to consume some dancin’ juice. Any earlier and you might be struggling to keep those eyes open for the sun celebration.
Don’t bring it unless you want to lose it! People report things being taken out of pockets, dropping camera’s or just losing track of them. Don’t bring your passport, debit cards, or credit cards, unless you're looking to make the rest of your trip extremely difficult. If your guesthouse has a safety deposit box, use it for anything important. That way if you do end up passing out on the beach and losing the contents of your bikini/pocket, you can smile, shake the sand off yourself and stumble your way back to your accommodations.
Drinking from random people's drinks is an awesome way to make the wrong friends. With all the types of drugs readily available throughout Thailand, you drinking from the wrong bucket could lead to severe drunkenness/sickness or much much worse, and it rhymes with tape. For some, sharing drinks with friends is bad enough, but at least you know the person. Sharing a stranger’s drink could lead you into some serious trouble.
Those who are unfamiliar with the tide changes in the ocean should know that ocean tides fluctuate throughout the day and night. When the tide is low, the beach appears to be much bigger and offers room to lay down and maybe have a quick nap. Hours later, still in their dreamful bliss, the tide comes up and either wakes them with a soaking (best case scenario), OR carries them out to sea to the devil’s water bed. Passing out on the beach can be dangerous, and also leaves you wide open to thievery. Some recommend adult water wings, just in case.
The sanitation and plumbing in Had Rin has not yet been updated by western civilization standards. If you are looking to relieve yourself, you better have money to pay the bathroom supervisor each time, or be shameless and willing to pee in front of 20,000 other people. Since alcohol leads to losing certain inhibitions, guess what turns into the bathroom for the 20,000 people . . . That's right: the ocean. Still feel like cooling off in the deep blue pee . . . I mean sea?
If you make it until morning, you’ll see the remnants of thousands of disrespectful travelers who have turned the once-beautiful beach into a garbage dump. The Thai people put up with it since the party drives their economy, but they end up paying for it by spending days on end picking up after drunken hooligans. Garbage cans are there to be used, so rather than being a contributor and using the beach as a garbage disposal, show your respect to Thailand and their people by putting your rubbish in the bins provided.
Thailand’s Full Moon Party is one of the biggest beach parties in the world. It can be an amazing experience and your ticket to let loose and celebrate travel with some 15,000 other people. If you just keep in mind a little bit of traveler’s wisdom and be respectful, you’ll come home from your adventure with some incredible stories. Safe travels!
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