This blog post tries to give you an honest impression of my experience during the full moon party on the Thai island Koh Phangan on 13th and 14th Octobre 2019. In hindsight, I would rate it a 3.5/5. The pre party, the Jungle Experience Party is utter trash, the Full Moon Party itself was a quite enjoyable beach party and worth a visit. At the time of writing, I was 28 years old and not the youngest lad anymore, therefore my trip journal must be understood within this context.
Arrival and Goodtimes Backpackers hostel
We took the Songserm ferry from Kao Tao to Koh Phangan. The two hour trip was reasonably priced (700 baht for two persons which equals 23USD) and we immediately booked the Goodtime Beach Backpackers hostel close to the landing peer in the city. It's not necessary to take a taxi, the distance can be backpacked in 25 minutes.
It's not difficult to give a positive recommendation for the Goodtimes Backpackers hostel, because the doorms are clean, the beds are more or less comfortable, there is air conditioning in the rooms and the bathrooms are clean. The hostel itself is a party hostel and thus very social. You will encounter mostly young western folks that are looking for an presumably unforgetable Full Moon party night.
The hostel is only 20 meters from the beach and even has an own pool. The large outside area with a ping pong table and pool table creates a perfect nurturing ground for new friendships and travel connections. Therefore, the hostel itself is definitely a good catch if you are somewhat young, extroverted and you are looking to party a bit.
The day before the full moon party - Jungle Experience Party
The day before the legendary Full Moon Party on Haadrin Beach starts, the so called Jungle Experience Party is heavily advertised. Put quickly, do not go there!!! All in all, the party is a huge scam. The entry fee amounts to 700 baht per person, which is the same amount of money you pay when you actually want to go to a well established techno/minimal club in Berlin.
Furthermore, most party hostels on the island organize a taxi that takes you to the Jungle Experience Party for which you need to pay an additional 100 baht. One taxi is capable of transporting up to 15 passengers, so the total amount earned accumulates to 1500 baht for a taxi drive that merely takes 5 minutes. Therefore, it's a really good opportuntiy to milk cash from backpackers.
The common climate in the hostel prior to the Jungle Experience Party is a peer-pressured buildup. Honestly, the best part of the Jungle Experience Party is the anticipation to collect good memories and have an unforgetable night. All the hostel staff recommends to visit it, probably because they recieve a large share of the overpriced 700 baht ticket.
The party itself is supposed to be in the Jungle - But there is a asphalt street going directly up to the entrance of the huge commerialized festival area where the party takes place. The staff wrongly stated that there is no road to the Jungle Experience Party and that taking your own motorbike would be dangerous. This is absolutely wrong. You can simply drive your own bike when you plan do not get drunk. At the entrance to the festival area, there is no real jungle to be seen, maybe a couple of palm trees.
Instead, there are many shaks and Thai street-vendors that try to sell you overpriced alcohol and food. There is one stage where some semi interesting techno/house music is played. It's not particularly bad music, but it's not worth paying 700 baht for. The people there are mostly young folks around the age of 18 to 25 years trying to hook up and getting as drunk as humanly possible. They seem to not care about their surroundings that much, because must of them are very intoxicated and too young to know that there exist better parties.
In the late hours during the Jungle Experience, I saw a girl stumbling through the party crowd, unable to keep her balance and orientation. It seemed as if she was drugged with KO pills. Luckily, a friend of her managed to grab her and get her away from the party crowd. Soon after, an ambulance arrived. Stories like that are common and you often hear similar stories in hostels. The most heard advice is not to drink anything that you didn't open yourself and to never leave your eyes from your drink.
When you finally managed to convince yourself to get back to your hostel because it won't get any better, you need to find a taxi. It's not a problem to actually find a taxi, since the whole festival area is full of locals that try to sell you their taxi services, but most of them cost around 500 baht for the 5 kilometer trip back to your hostel. We decided to just walk in order to not pay again the overpriced tourist-tax. After a one hour walk, we finally managed to return to the dorm and get some sleep.
In conclusion, the party was heavily overpriced and not worth at all to attend. The music was mediocre at least. The same probably applies to similar parties - Such as the Waterfall party on Koh Phangan. After talking with a guy from the hostel, he confirmed that the Waterfall party is even worse than the Jungle Experience Party, because there is not even a Waterfall.
The Full Moon Party
Every month during full moon, there is a huge party on the south-east part of Koh Phangan: Haad Rin beach. The location is perfect for a beach party. There is a constant breeze coming from the open sea, such that the hot climate is somewhat neutralized by the wind. The wide beach allows you to find some private space even with thousands of party people dancing on the beach.
The music is a mix between techno, dubstep, minimal to hardstyle and mainstream party music. You can just walk to the next stage when you are tired from the music from the current stage. But you can be assured that there is music style for every taste on the wide beach. The overall atmosphere is really positive and welcoming. I haven't encountered a single fight or negative experience. Some guys are pissing into the sea, but this isn't a major problem because the sea is kinda rough with many waves. Some folks are on drugs, but I haven't seen anything too crazy. When heading back to the mainland, two girls in the ferry told us that they were kinda shocked from the full moon party, because they saw a heavily drugged women in the sea, trying to find a spiritual experience. In reality, she was having an psychotic episode and wanted to drown herself in the waves. Therefore dear kids, do not take drugs whose origin you are unawre of.
The full moon party isn't anything magical. If you don't plan to attend, you will miss out an experience that you can easily find on any large festival in your home country.
The organization is extremly thought-through. You may even buy your own alcohol and food for a cheap price in the many small 7/11 mini supermarkets in Haad Rin city. The entry fee is a meager 100 baht and also 100 baht for the taxi drive from your hostel. I managed to not pay for the hostel taxi from Goodtime Backpackers and my travel mate even arrived with his motorbike, even though he needed to spend 50 baht to park his motorcycle.
In general, I wouldn't recommend to arrive with your motorbike to the party, because there might be police stops that charge you for driving under the influence or for a missing motorcycle drivers license (since most car licenses from Europe do not allow you to drive a scooter larger than 50cm3). Even if you are allowed to drive motorcycles in your country, you will need an international drivings license.
The island Koh Phangan is worth a visit during the Full Moon Party. Below are my major recommendations for your stay on this island:
- Do not go to the Jungle Experience Party that happens before the legit full moon party!!!. The party is a scam and you kinda get pressured into it by the party hostel environment.
- Rent a motorbike and drive around the island. Honestly, driving from beach to beach and cruising around on the steep jungle roads is my favourite experience from this island.
- Go to the Full Moon Party and dance a bit, but don't expect to discover something magical and unique. It's just too mainstream and touristy to be special. Nevertheless, it's not a bad investment of your time. You can also go as a couple, it's definitely not a single party folk exclusive trip. I would not buy and consume drugs, since the laws in Thailand are very strict and you never kow what you end up consuming.