Koh Phangan, Thailand (Full moon party island).

Gavin and I got on a very, very busy boat over from Koh Samui to Koh Phangan. The boat company had literally squeezed as many people on as possible, anymore people and I am pretty sure the boat would have sunk. Anyway, we managed to stay afloat and arrived at Koh Phangan after around an hour or so. The pier the boat pulled into is named ‘Haad Rin pier’ and this is the very beach that the famous Full Moon Party is on. Just like the majority of the other people on the island, the full moon party which was being held the following night was the reason we were there.

Gavin and I had booked our accommodation about 4km away from Haad Rin. This was due to recommendations from friends because a lot of crime happens in the area at the night of the full moon party. After getting off the boat, we got a ‘taxi’ to our accommodation in Baan Tai. By ‘taxi’ I mean that we hopped in the back of an open top truck and held on for our lives as the driver whizzed up and down some the steepest and sharpest island roads. After checking into our ant-infested room, we got lunch at a local cafe and then explored the area of Baan Tai. It didn’t take us long to realise that apart from a few shops, restaurants and coffee shops, there wasn’t much else around. So we flagged another ‘taxi’ down and went back to Haad Rin.

We wandered down to the full moon party beach, which was absolutely packed full of people of different nationalities. It could have been because the beach was packed full of people but Gavin and I both thought that the beach itself would have been bigger. It was probably only about a kilometre long (maybe even less)! It was hard to imagine at this point, how so many people were actually going to fit on it the following night for the full moon party. Gavin and I chilled on the beach until the sun went down and then wondered about the shops and bought ourselves some very brightly coloured full moon party t-shirts to wear to the party. We then found a nice little bar/restaurant by the beach where we got dinner. After dinner, we walked back along the beach and noticed it starting to get very busy, stalls selling the famous ‘buckets’ of alcohol were popping up everywhere and a couple of fire shows started. Gavin and I always had the intention to not drink that night and save ourselves for the full moon party but after seeing this we decided we would have one drink on the beach and watch the fire show. Gav got a beer and I tried a Thai rum and lemonade for the first time, which although was pretty strong, it was actually not too bad. After we watched the fire show we sat at some busy picnic tables on the beach. Here, our accents were obviously sticking out like a sore thumb as we got overheard by another Scottish couple, Colin and Siobhan. We sat chatting with them for a good while, having some much missed Scottish banter. Colin and Siobhan were only on Koh Phangan for the one night, due to their accommodation being so bad they no longer wanted to stay for the full moon party and decided they were going to return to their accommodation in Koh Samui the next day. Therefore, they were both on the buckets making the most of the ‘full moon warm up party’ instead (Yes, it is a thing!) it didn’t take much persuading before Gavin and I decided we would join them. The plan was just to get one bucket to share (just as a trail run, so we knew how strong they were going to be). When ordering it, we had been warned to always make you sure watch them make the buckets in front of you, as I was watching I couldn’t believe how long he free poured the Thai vodka into the bucket for, I took my first sip thinking it was going to be absolutely disgusting and so strong, but it actually tasted really nice (they do a good job of masking the alcohol with sugar syrup). We danced in the beach party crowds most of night with Colin and Siobhan and then ended up getting another bucket to share…. And another!

Turns out they are pretty strong! In the end, we somehow managed to lose Colin and Siobhan in all the crowds and then before we knew it was 3am and we were getting chicken kebabs from street vendors and cheese toasties from 7 eleven. We then drunkenly experienced the dangers of clinging on all the way back to our accommodation on the back of a ‘taxi’.

This next morning, I didn’t manage to make it down for the free breakfast (gutted!). Gav, however, was up at 11am and straight down for his cheese omelette feeling as fresh as a daisy. When we he came back up I was still attempting to drag myself out of bed. When I eventually did, we went down to the small town of Baan Tai again. Here, we wondered around some of the shops before finding a cute little coffee shop called ‘Bubba’s’. We ordered a bagel with avocado and poached eggs for lunch. This was the first really good western food we had eaten in ages! Thailand doesn’t really thrive on avocado or any of these of kind ‘super health’ foods. It’s just pad Thai and fried rice and noodles everywhere! Along with the food, the coffee at ‘Bubba’s’ was also amazing! Again, one of the first proper coffees (that wasn’t from a Nescafé sachet) that we had had in ages aswell. We got speaking to the owner while we were sitting in ‘Bubba’s’, who is originally from Norway. He was telling us that he worked a few years in Australia, before recently moving to Thailand and having just opened up his coffee shop a few months ago. We ended up speaking for ages, he was so friendly and helpful, giving us lots of hints and tips for onward travels to Australia. Overall, really nice place, good food and good chat so if your about the Baan Tin area when in Koh Phangan defiently check it out.

After having spent the majority of the afternoon chattering away in bubbas coffee shop, gav and I returned back to our room and started to get ready to head out for the full moon party. We showered, got changed into our brightly coloured ‘full moon party’ t-shirts and splattered some neon paint on ourselves and we were good to go. At around 7.30pm, we flagged down one of the ‘taxi’s to haad rin. We managed to squeeze in among about 8 other fellow neon-glowing tourists, also heading for the full moon. We gathered from speaking to them that most people were heading to a restaurant, bar or hostel to pre drink first before actually going down to the beach for around 10/11pm. Arriving into Haad Rin, the whole town was already jumping! Crowds of brightly coloured tourist filled the streets and the street corners were edged with stall after stall of pop-up bars and bucket selling stands. Gavin and I found a restaurant to get our dinner and a drink in before heading down to the beach. We were too buzzing to get to the beach front and see all the action that we ended up scoffing not our food down as soon as it came and we were walking on to the beach with our first drink at round 8.30pm. We originally thought this was going to be too early for it all kicking off.. But how wrong we were. Walking down the Main Street to the beach was a task in itself, you had to literally squeeze through the crowds (and watch out for drunk people falling over you). The sound of all the Thai locals behind their stalls calling out to you to buy buckets and alcohol is drowned out as you get closer and closer to the beach. Arriving at the beach front the music is so loud, you can actually feel the bass go right through you!

Buckets at the Full Moon PartyFirst thing we spotted in between the large crowds was an opening where there was just enough space for a fire show. Thai men were swinging around chains with fire on the ends, doing tricks, flinging them up in the air and catching them with their feet. It was crazy to see, all their skills were very impressive and the movement of fire patterns looked amazing in the dark! It wasn’t long before they then brought out the skipping rope (lit with fire of course). This wasn’t just for the trained Thai men though, anyone could jump in! We saw quite a few brave girls, (who clearly had a talent for skipping) jump round the rope a few times and come out in one piece, however, we also saw quite a few drunk guys earned themselves some nasty burns after a slip up! Next was the conga rope! A rope on fire, hanging just low enough for people to make it under and no more! We watched this for another 5 minutes or so and left to get drink before witnessing anymore injuries. We cut back up one of the side streets to buy a bucket (They are cheaper to buy here than on the beach). I got a mango daiquiri flavoured one and Gavin got a strawberry daiquiri flavour.

As we made our way back to the beach with our buckets we bumped into various other tourists who were just keen for a chat, people from all over- Canada, Germany, France… So it took us a while to actually get back on the beach in between all the drunk chats. Although we managed to arrive back on the beach just in time for a huge sign, saying ‘welcome to Thailand 2016’ get set alight. We managed to get a spot right beneath and watch it go up in flames. The heat from standing under it was unreal and when all the letters caught fire it looked amazing !

Welcome to Thailand 2016

We sat on the beach watching the fire and chilling for a while, before going to one of the many music stages along the beaches. There is probably about 10 different music stages along the beach front bars, each playing different genres of music. Starting from the right side of the beach, the music genres vary from hip-hop, R&B to more chart music, then further in the middle is chart remixes, dance and house and then the last couple of stages on the left side of the beach is techno and dubstep with the far end left of the beach being a quieter area for people to sit and chill out by the sea (or more commonly drunkenly pass out).

Full Moon Party

We danced for what was probably an hour or two before going off the beach to get ourselves another bucket. Again, resulting in another journey up the street of meeting lots of new people and chatting away. When we returned to the beach with our buckets, we decided to check out ‘mellow mountain’ , a bar right at the end on the beach on the left hand side. We had been recommended this bar by some friends back home aswell as many of the people we have just met at the full moon party. The bar is situated high up, almost right inside a cave in the mountain which overlooks the beach. From the bar you get a full view of the beach party, seeing all the lights, fires show’s and different music stages on the beach! You can see massive crowds of people dancing, bobbing heads out swimming in the sea, and outlines of bodies totally passed out on the beach. The number of people we saw in this mess throughout the night was unbelievable! We saw drunk people, barely able to stand getting carried home by their friends and even worse, others who were already on the floor- left by themselves! Further down on the beach there is also a ‘sleep area’ which is basically a nurse bay filled with beds on the sand. At the start of the night when we first walked by the ‘sleep area’, it was quite with only a few bodies inside genuinely looking like they were just taking a nap.

Sleeping area at the Full Moon Party

However, as the night went on the number of bodies inside the ‘sleeping area’ was forever increasing and the nurses were rushed off their feet. We even saw the nurse have to place cold wet blankets over a person who was so bad that they were lying shaking and foaming at the mouth. It was such a horrible sight, enough to put you off drinking completely! This is the reason that you probably hear so many horror stories about the full moon party, of how it’s dangerous and a lot of crime happens. But speaking from experience, you just need to be sensible with your drink. If you let yourself get into such a state, of course it’s going to be dangerous for you- no matter where you are! We had heard all the warnings before going and we were very cautious, taking with us only our phones and enough money to last the night. However, looking back now, at no point did we feel unsafe! At the full moon everyone is just happy, loving life and wants to chat and be your friend. It’s such a great atmosphere and you meet people from all over the world. We had an incredible night at the full moon party, not returning to our accommodation till around 5.30am.
The next day was our last on Koh Phangan and although we both woke up surprisingly fresh after the full moon party, we hadn’t planned on doing much that day. We got out of bed early afternoon and after grabbing some lunch we then walked down to Surat Thani which was about a half hour walk from our accommodation. When we got there, there was a bit more of a buzz about the place, a good few more shops, restaurants and a huge area filled with street food stalls. We stayed here for dinner that evening, trying a selection of lots of different street food: fresh spring rolls, sushi, chicken skewers, coconut Oreo shakes and topped it off with a slice a homemade banana loaf. All for around the same price as one main meal in a restaurant. Safe to say we enjoyed dinner that night. We then walked off our food babies and made our way back to our accommodation where it wasn’t long before we passed out and were up for another early boat back to Koh Samui.

full moon party, Thailand

Full moon party, Thailand

Gillian O'Neil

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