Full moon frenzy
Culture / October 25, 2010
By Matthew Bossons [Travel Bureau Chief]
Almost every backpacker has heard the stories that surround the mythical full moon parties hosted in Ko Phan Ngan, Thailand. These parties are a place for friends, music, light shows, fireworks, great food and, obviously, copious amounts of liquor and beer.
Full moon parties started in 1985 on the crescent moon shaped beach that sits between the ocean and the village of Haad Rin on the small tropical island of Ko Phan Ngan, situated in the Gulf of Thailand. There is much debate over how exactly the parties started but one thing is known for sure, they are a hell of a good time.
When I first arrived at the town of Haad Rin in the back of an old pick-up truck, on the evening of the full moon, I had no idea what to expect. The town was lively and full of excitement; stores were packed with tourists and bars and restaurants filled to the brim with happy smiling customers. Laughter and music filled the small bustling streets as fireworks exploded overhead. I was extremely overwhelmed by this, as were my companions I had arrived with, but we didn’t let this faze us.
It must have taken the lot of us about 20 minutes to make our way to the beach. There was a small alley the crowds seemed to be funneling into, so we all followed the steady flow of people and made our way out onto the beach. The scene on the beach was like nothing I had ever seen before: roughly 30,000 people dancing, drinking and singing on a huge expanse of sand. Nightclubs lined the edge of the beach, packed with dancing tourists and locals alike. While makeshift bars and beer stalls had been set up about every 30 feet on the sand to accommodate the thirsty masses.
Music thundered through the night sky as dozens of DJ’s battled it out for crowd approval; I just danced to whatever. I heard everything from reggae to dance to hip hop and rap – music for everyone. I liked this style of party, because if you didn’t like genre of music you simply walked two minutes down the beach to the next DJ and dance to his beats. All night I made my way from one group of people to the next, enjoying the music, the lights and the atmosphere.
One of the most memorable things from the full moon party were the buckets. A bucket is exactly how it sounds, it is a bucket. But poured into this bucket is a 375ml bottle of rum or whiskey, a can of red bull, a can of coke and a hand full on ice. They were cheap, accessible and very tasty. As you can imagine, I indulged all night.
Sadly, the buckets were the end of of my roommates’ night and at about 2:30am we hopped into the nearest taxi and made our way back to our rooms. We both made it home safety and awoke the later that day around noon to hear that the party raged well into the morning light. I can honestly say I had the time of my life, and I would highly recommend checking it out if you ever find yourself in southern Thailand. Be warned though, the Thai authorities take drug usage very, very seriously. Even being caught with a small amount of marijuana can result in a long jail sentence, and possession of harder drugs like ecstasy and heroin could, in extreme cases result, in the death penalty. Other than this I would recommend leaving valuable items back in your room as pick pocketing is common on the beach. If you heed these simple warnings you will have an extremely memorable night. I know I did.