Travel Bite: Thailand’s Full Moon Party

Travel Bites are short guides designed to inform, entertain and whet your wanderlust appetite in less than five minutes.

The first time I attended the Full Moon Party on Koh Phangan’s sunrise beach I missed the sunrise. I was… distracted. The second time I partied all night at Thailand’s most famous shindig I made sure I stayed ‘til dawn.

Full Moon Party, Haad Rin.
Full Moon Party, Haad Rin.

The day of the party started with a hangover. An epic one. My night had ended walking back to my hostel at 6AM with the sun already shining. I managed a couple of hours’ kip before waking with a banging head, sweating in the heat and feeling more than a little queasy. Then the reality hit me that the Full Moon Party was tonight and I was not in the mood for partying.

After spending all day dreading the evening, night fell and it was time to get in the spirit of things. We’d befriended the mixture of Irish, English, French and Dutch travellers in our hostel room and all of us had a laugh getting ready together. It is practically compulsory to wear a logo-ed Full Moon Party singlet and cover yourself in fluorescent body paint for the occasion. So we did. Much amusement was had painting ridiculous designs onto each other’s skin.

My first beer of the night was a challenge. The second was slightly easier. Then I switched onto buckets of Thai whisky mixed with lemonade and orange juice and everything was just fine. We started in the streets of Haad Rin town, buying our alcohol from street stalls covered in handmade signs promoting their prices: “300baht whisky bucket!!! ”. Before long we followed the droves and hit the beach.

Down on the sand was mayhem. You could hardly move for bodies. It was hot and sweaty and loud. Twenty different beats blasted from twenty different bars. The music choices weren’t great: cheesy pop tunes or hardcore-dance-techno-dubstep (that’s a genre, right?). We desperately tried to stick together as a group and failed spectacularly. But somehow we all ran into one another at one bucket-selling stall or another.

Although most of the night is undoubtedly a blur, a few moments stick out. Being hoisted up onto our massively tall Irish friend’s shoulders gave me a view of the party like no other. People, as far as you could see in every direction, covered in paint and sweat holding up buckets with glee. So many smiles. The moon above huge and white and beautiful, calmly watching as we celebrated her most glorious phase. Then there was the time I popped to the bathroom on my own and was propositioned by a Thai lesbian who tried to woo me by paying for my entry to the toilets (pretty steep at 10baht). I thanked her with a hug. My travel buddy disappeared halfway through the night and returned an hour later with a tattoo. Classic Full Moon Party shenanigans.

Sunrise at Sunrise Beach.
Sunrise at Sunrise Beach.

But the dawn – the dawn is the ultimate moment of the night. You feel like a survivor; you’ve made it to this point, hopefully without having to use the sleeping area (the people there seem more unconscious than snoozing, actually). As the sun rises and you survey the littered beach, still packed with dancing bodies downing beer and eating questionable pizza slices for breakfast, it all seems a little surreal. Quite frankly, you’ll never see anything like it again.

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