thailand | full moon party 101.
April 19, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Oh the Full Moon Party, what a night that was. All the warnings + all the advice I got beforehand still didn’t prepare me for the insanity of this experience. If you’ve never heard of the FMP, it’s an all-night beach party on the island of Koh Phangan, Thailand in Haad Rin (the most southern tip of the island) and it takes place about once a month the night before a full moon. Each one attracts anywhere from 15,000-30,000 backpackers and tourists from around the world, it’s absolute madness.
Not only did Riley + I hear a lot about it during the weeks leading up to our trip, but we met up with a mutual friend from high school who had been to two FMPs already while on exchange in Bangkok. Unfortunately, not everyone that goes will be as lucky as we were to have a seasoned expert, so I thought I’d recap everything and anything you should know if you’re making a trip to Thailand anytime soon, or if you plan to in the near future. Of course, these are all suggestions based on my experience there and what I was told – you might hear differently from others!
Before arriving in Koh Phangan:
Book your accommodation ahead of time: Riley + I noticed while we were doing our research before we left that all listed available places to stay in Koh Phangan only offered 5- or 7-night stays. We only wanted to stay 3 nights and fortunately found one place that was able to accommodate us. Lots of people arrive without booking, and I wouldn’t say it’s an issue because there are tons of hostels but if you’re only looking to go for so long, it might be a good idea to book ahead.
Book an accommodation in Haad Rin: There’s pros to being right in Haad Rin (proximity to the FMP + ferry dock, more chances to meet other travellers) and cons (if you plan on sleeping at all during your stay, then unless you’re Riley and can fall asleep anywhere, the noise will most likely keep you up) just as there’s pros to being outside Haad Rin (no FMP noise, nicer accommodation options) and cons (farther from the FMP, fewer chances of meeting other travellers), so know what you want and book accordingly. Riley + I didn’t stay right in Haad Rin, luckily our accommodations made up for it but it definitely would have been nice to have been closer to the action.
If you do book ahead of time, be aware of location: When booking our hotel, we were under the impression that it was a 5 minute drive from Haad Rin, when really it was about 30 minutes away. The hotel maps might be deceiving so if you know people that have gone, ask around and get specific names of places instead of relying on online maps.
Arrive a few days before: Koh Phangan is such a beautiful island and offers so much more than the FMP, so take advantage of this! It’s nice to have a bit of time to explore the island, meet other travellers, relax, get settled and get over your jet lag if need be!
DON’T PLAN TO LEAVE KOH PHANGAN THE DAY AFTER THE FMP: I can’t stress this enough and could list about 549 reasons why this is so important. Bar none, the most stressful and insane day of our trip was the one following the FMP. Just trust me on this one. If you want the full story send me an email and I’ll gladly share it. So take my word for it and plan to stay at least one more night following the FMP.
Preparing for the Full Moon Party:
Buy your fluorescents – Highlighter yellow shirts, neon pink shorts, glow-in-the-dark face/body paint, bright blue headbands, highlighter orange wristbands, bright green party beads, you just have to buy it all. You’re not going to want to wear anything you own because it will get destroyed. Plus, the neons + fluorescents are way more fun! Just imagine a sea of 30,000 travellers all decked out in the brightest + most obnoxious colors, it’s so amazing. And don’t worry about finding stores that sell FMP apparel, they’re everywhere.
If you’re staying outside Haad Rin, check with your hostel/hotel/hut about transportation options: your place of accommodation should offer a shuttle service to and from the FMP, so look into this, check what the pick up times are and plan accordingly. The cost might be included in your reservation or you’ll have to pay for it separately.
If you plan on bringing your camera, have any photos you’ve taken on the trip uploaded or saved elsewhere besides your memory card. Bringing a digital camera is of course risky but if you want your pictures to turn out then I’d advise bringing one, just be prepared in case you lose it or it gets stolen. Cameras are replaceable, losing all your pictures could ruin your trip. After all, you could always buy a disposable.
Buy lots of bottled water – It’s the first thing you’re going to want the next morning and also the first thing everyone else on the island is going to want the next morning, so beat them to it and stock up the day before.
Hints & Tips:
Buckets – Ah the buckets. For 100-300 baht ($3-$10) you’ll get one, half full of vodka/rye/rum or gin and half full of a soft drink or Red Bull. Throw a bunch of straws in there and you’re good to go. My seasoned expert of a friend gave us some good advice that’s worth passing on. When you buy a bucket, be aware of the seal on the spirit bottle. Don’t buy a bucket with a spirit bottle that’s been broken. There’s lots of reasons behind this, such as the original alcohol being switched out for alcohol that’s laced.
Shoes – They will be destroyed, it’s pretty much a guaranteed thing. Wear shoes that you don’t care about, and if you wear flip flops then tape them to your feet, otherwise they’ll fall off and then you’ll run the risk of stepping on all sorts of awesome stuff like glass.
Getting split up with friends – As soon as you get there pick a place to meet in case anyone gets split from your group. Sounds very elementary school, but when you’re on a beach with 30,000 other tourists it could take you hours to find them.
Money – bring more than you think you might need. It’s always best to be on the safe side in case of an injury, accident or emergency.
What Not To Do:
Don’t take your shoes/flip flops off on the beach or village – There will be glass everywhere. Don’t have your night ruined by a trip to the emergency room.
Don’t do anything involving drugs – don’t even bring them up in conversation as a joke around any locals. Thai laws are not ones you want to mess with.
Don’t pass out on the beach – just don’t.
Don’t swim at night – this should also be a no-brainer, you know, with the whole drowning thing, boats coming and going and not being able to see people in the water even with all the fluorescent clothing thing, and the general sanitation thing.
Don’t bring anything to the beach which you aren’t prepare to damage or lose – your passport, wallet and credit cards for one.
Don’t participate in the flaming jump rope if you don’t think you’ll get through it without lighting your hair on fire or burning yourself – or maybe just don’t do it at all.
Before Leaving Koh Phangan:
Check the ferry schedule and book one ahead of time – There are only limited times that the ferry docks in Koh Phangan. Your flight might not leave from Koh Samui until 6:00pm but you might have to catch a ferry as early as 11:00am. Plus, hundreds of other backpackers will be in the same boat, no pun intended. If you’re taking the ferry to Koh Samui, as far as I know there are two ferry docks on that island – one right by the airport, and one about a 30-minute drive away. We almost missed our flight by 30 seconds (I wish I was kidding) because we missed our intended ferry, had to wait almost two hours for the next one that took us to the dock further away from the airport, once we got to the airport none of the shuttles were operating so we had to run to our terminal with our massive bags, empty stomachs and dehydration on about two hours of sleep. I’m getting nauseous just remembering it, and I still can’t believe we made our flight. Allot an entire day of travelling the day you leave Koh Phangan – this might not be the case but at least prepare for it.
A lot of this stuff might sound obvious, but it honestly helped so much being aware of most of these things before my friends and I went. Yes, we were careful and cautious but we still had so, so, so much fun! Just try to use your best judgment and you’ll have the greatest time.
If you’ve been and think I’ve missed something then let me know and I’ll add it!