The Full Moon Party on Thailand’s island of Ko Pha Ngan should be on your bucket list if it isn’t already. It was definitely on mine, and I had the pleasure of crossing this little activity off of that list late last month. Teaming up with a couple from Australia/Germany that we met in Chiang Mai at a cooking class, Erica and I partied from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m., and I am going to share our experience with you and give you a few tips on how to make your time at the Full Moon Party as awesome as possible.
First, let me take you on a mental journey to the environment that will envelop you. Picture it: you’re on a beautiful beach as the sun is setting, and the smell of ocean water fills your every breath. You see people of every known nationality walking the beach, likely with an adult beverage in hand. You also see lines of stands selling every intoxicating drink combination imaginable. You feel the sand between your toes as you watch the sun set slowly over the horizon. As the volume of people picks up, you feel enticed to answer the siren-call of the vendors selling buckets of liquor for 300 baht (10 USD), so you acquiesce and sip from a small bucket filled with a small bottle of spirits and a mixer of your choice. The sun sets, and different types of music begin to blast in various areas across the beach; hip-hop here, pop music there, rave-type music even further down, all accompanied with strobe lights. The Full Moon Party is now in full swing.
This is the exact environment we found ourselves in, and as you can imagine, it was a sensory overload. All of my five senses were engaged as we walked along the beach and wondered how best to enjoy the experience. My attention was quickly drawn to the 10-foot jump rope being turned by gentlemen standing on platforms that people were taking turns on. Oh, and it was on fire.
Though I cannot personally advise that you try this, my friends and I decided to jump the rope (for blog research purposes, of course). While no serious injuries were sustained, our male friend did singe the hair on the back of his head after we took a tumble on our joint jumping effort! Plug: If you want to see the video, check it out on Instagram (@oneblackexpat).
There is no need to set yourself ablaze to have fun though, as the whole beach is a party for you to lose yourself in. We partied until we couldn’t anymore, and had a great time. However, here are a few pointers we learned along the way on how to enjoy the Full Moon Party, and they will help you have an even better time than we did:
Buy your liquor and bucket at the nearest 7-11 before going on the beach.
A kind stranger warned us that the buckets sold on the beach may not always have the advertised ingredients (which explained the mysterious “we sell REAL alcohol” signs we saw earlier). Buying your own liquor not only saves you a few baht, but it also lets you know exactly what you’re drinking.
Book a stay at a hotel on the island of Ko Pha Ngan if possible.
We stayed on the nearby island of Ko Samui and still had a tumultuous time getting back to our hotel via the speedboat we paid for (the people who paid extra for the VIP tickets were ushered onto several boats before us regular people, thus resulting in an extra 2.5 hours of waiting). Though many people say you have to be on the island a few days earlier to book accommodation for the Full Moon Party, we met a few people who were able to secure a room the night before (though it was low season). Just bite the bullet and stay on the island, getting there at least three days earlier, if you can.
Watch your alcohol consumption.
Though the Full Moon Party is a time of fun and jubilation, getting overly inebriated and passing out on the beach aren’t good ideas. While you will be one of many if you do lose consciousness and take an unintentional beach siesta, it just isn’t advisable. Know your limits. Eating a substantial meal before drinking is my advice as that tends to keep me from getting too tipsy too fast.
Scout out the bathroom you will be using before the party starts.
There will be an abundance of people who will create their own bathrooms on the beach. Don’t be that person. Before the drinks commence, find the bathroom that is up to your cleanliness standards and use it for the remainder of the evening. There is nothing worse than paying the obligatory 10 baht to use a restroom that you are too disgusted to use once you walk in.
Only bring the money you plan to use.
Do not bring excess money, as there is really no need to. 1000 bath (about 30 U.S. dollars) per person is more than enough to get the food you’ll need before and after the party and drinks for the night. Keep your money in a secure place so you don’t lose it, and spend it wisely.
Go with a group of people.
We were in a group of four people, which made for a wonderful time. Everyone looked out for each other (as well as talk each other into doing push-up contests and other challenges on the sand), and it turned out well. I don’t think we would have had as much fun without a group.
Go to the Full Moon Party with common sense and an adventurous spirit, and you will not be let down. Admittedly, we went to the party during the low season, so it wasn’t as packed as I’m told it is during the high season. There were just enough people to have a better time than I could have expected. We did meet a guy who lost the tip of his finger later on in the evening (I have no idea how he accomplished this) so make sure you don’t leave your sensibilities at home. If you ever get the chance to make it happen, just go.
What must-do experience is on your bucket list?