Famous with the backpacker set since the mid-1980s, the monthly Full Moon Party held on the island of Koh Phangan in Thailand is the stuff of legend. Begun by an impromptu group of less than 50 revelers, this gathering has grown to include more than 20,000 people on the evening of every full moon like clockwork twelve months out of the year. Is it a tourist trap of epic proportions? Yes. Is it amazing and worth checking out nonetheless? You bet.
Originally housed in a single, small, beachside disco, the modern event has spread out across the many bars and clubs in the peninsular resort area of Haad Rin. The R&B, drum and bass, house music and reggae carry on until well after dawn; and for backpackers seeking youthful, excessive bacchanalia in Thailand, the Full Moon Party is something of a command performance. For those budget travelers who take the trouble to prepare an itinerary of destinations in advance, Koh Phangan is typically (and quite rightly) one of the central components of their plans.
Despite Thailand’s incredibly strict laws prohibiting the use and distribution of narcotics (namely the possible enforcement of the death penalty for individuals convicted of dealing), drug culture flourishes throughout the country. Drugs are easy to procure and local police tend to look the other way, but it’s worth noting that the potential consequences for engaging in such activities are as extreme as it gets.
Getting into Koh Phangan is easy enough. Three ferries a day depart from Koh Samui. A night ferry leaves from Surat Thani, and a very fast catamaran from Ko Tao. Accommodations are plentiful and affordable.