Many of the people who attend the Full Moon Party are probably not aware that Koh Phangan is under the administration of Surat Thani Province. Indeed the Full Moon Party has been for several years the biggest tourist attraction in the province. While Surat Thani might not benefit directly from the party it does bring lots of transit traffic many of whom use the airport, train station and hotels in Surat Thani City and the wider area.
The Full Moon Party in Haad Rin can be reached from Surat Thani in 1.5 hours using the Lomprayah Ferry service. If you want to bring a bike or car the Raja Car Ferry Company uses the nearby port of Donsak. This ferry takes 2.5 hours to reach Koh Phangan.
Once in the port of Thongsala there are a bank of pick up trucks that operate as taxis waiting to take new arrivals to where ever they want on the island. It usually costs 100 to 150 Thai Baht for 1 person in a shared taxi to Haad Rin. The journey lasts 15 minutes.
To get into the party it is necessary to pay a 100 Thai Baht admission fee. This fee gets you entry into the biggest outdoor dance party in Thailand and probably, South East Asia. Figures vary vastly as to how many people attend the party. It is probably between 5,000 (in the low season) and 30,000. No matter – the party is really busy. Where ever you go you will find crowds, especially around the 10 or so sound systems that line the beachfront of Haad Rin Sunrise Beach. The beach is where most of the action happens after midnight. Many people pace themselves and start the party late. Others are partying at pre-FMP events at their hostel, resort or in a bar.
Haad Rin is a small village that has grown into a new little tourist town thanks to the Full Moon Party. It is thronged with bars, restaurants and shops. The streets are filled with young people covered in luminous paint drinking and whooping. There is a carnival atmosphere everywhere you go.
The party is fuelled by ‘buckets’ that are sold everywhere. They consist of a quart bottle of spirits, a can of fizzy drink and a bottle of Red Bull. They represent a large ‘portion’ of alcohol. As a consequence you see those at the peak of alcohol happiness as well as those who have over imbibed and are in a sorry state.
Lots of people are in strange costumes and wigs. Just as many are behaving strangely, hopping around and pulling faces. If parties were like movies then the Full Moon Party would be XXX rated.
Where there are larger amounts of drunken people there are obviously predators. These are mostly pick pockets, drug dealers and prostitutes. The party is policed but it is important to follow a few basic guidelines:
- Don’t bring valuables to the party. If you want to use your smartphone at the party then don’t let it leave your person. Smart party goers just bring 2,000 Baht for expenses and leave their passport, cards, etc. in a resort safe.
- Wear flip flops, crocks etc. The beach is strewn with broken glass.
- Don’t try the burning rope challenge. Whether drunk or sober playing with fire can lead to very nasty burns that will need medical attention and that could spoil a holiday in paradise.
- If you are sick or want to pass out head for the small cordoned off area on the beach where volunteers look after those the worse for wear. They can also call for medics if necessary.
Many people don’t stay in Haad Rin or even on Koh Phangan. They catch a ferry over on the day of the party and then leave the following day. It is a short hop to both Koh Samui and Koh Tao. It is also possible to get back to a hotel in Surat Thani. The only thing is that after staying up all night you are going to struggle the following day.
It is a good idea to book Full Moon Party accommodation in Haad Rin in advance. All places increase their room rates for the party. Nearly all insist on a minimum stay requirement of between 4 and 6 nights.
The cheapest options are hostels such as Same Same, Fubar and Om Ganesh. Then there are various grades of bungalows, some close and some not so close to the FMP.