This is my eighth blog post out of nine, about the eight weeks I spent in Thailand with my girlfriend Emily. You can read about our time in Bangkok here, Chiang Mai here, the Elephant Nature Park near Chiang Mai here, Chiang Rai here, Pai here and Sukhothai & Ayutthaya here and the Andaman Coast here.
My birthday fell during Songkran Festival [Thai New Year], but also on the date of a full moon. As we were going to be in that general area, it seemed crazy not to celebrate my birthday at the infamous Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan! We asked around to find out whether Full Moon Parties were worth going to or not and if they are safe. It generally seemed that anyone who had been to one said it was a great experience and the people that had horror stories or advised us not to go, were people who hadn't actually been themselves!
A little worse for wear towards the end of the night...
Our friend Janie's birthday was the day before mine, so we had some lovely food and drinks at a restaurant on the other side of Koh Phangan, where we were staying. The next day [my birthday!] we had a relaxing day on the beach, ready for a big party night ahead. Myself, Emily, Sam and Janie who we met in Pai and my friend Jess from home all travelled to Haad Rin Beach [also called Sunrise Beach] in a taxi. We were the only people in the taxi for most of the journey and played some drinking games on the way there, with drinks we had bought with us from good old 7-Eleven.
Jess is on the right helping give a man buried in sand some nice sand boobies!
When we arrived in the Haad Rin area, we were immediately hounded by people on market stalls, trying to charge us loads of money to paint florescent patterns on us. We walked a little further and found a stall charging a fairly small amount for a pack of six different coloured florescent paints. We thought this was a great option and headed to a bar for a drink and to paint ourselves and each other as brightly as possible!
There is a small fee to enter the beach, which goes to the local government and contributes to the clean up effort after the party. You get a rubber wristband in exchange for your fee, which we were quite surprised about. It was nice to get a souvenir from the night and it'll look great in my festival wristband frame!
Florescent fun in a bar before heading onto the beach
We spent a few hours wandering up and down the beach, stopping every so often for a dance, to have a drink or to see some other funny thing going on. In one place there was a big water slide set up, running down the side of a bar. It was great watching people drunkenly throw themselves down this. We found it entertaining that there were designated sleeping areas, with marshals watching out for you. This seemed to be right in the centre of the party action, where you'd have to be quite out of it to get some sleep!
Conscious that we needed to hunt out a taxi and travel 50-minutes back to our hotel, we called it a night at around 3am. Some of the after-parties go on until lunchtime the next day, but getting back after 4am was plenty late enough for us. We had a lot of fun and I'd recommend going to a Full Moon Party if you get the chance. It's not mindblowingly amazing by any stretch of the imagination, but it was definitely good fun and something to tick off the bucket list!
Cheesy photo with my snazzy glow stick hat!
We took some precautions to stay safe, including leaving our valuables safely locked in our hotel room. We took a camera, but had this strapped to my shorts when not being used. We took just enough money each to buy a few drinks and to get a taxi home. When we were there we only drank drinks that we saw the seal being broken on and watched them being poured. We stayed together as a group wherever possible and didn't go off on our own. We also didn't go crazy with the amount we drank; we just had enough booze to have a good time and enjoy the mayhem! We didn't encounter any problems at the party, but I can see how you might if you drank too much and weren't being sensible.
Having been to many festivals, including big dance music festivals, I didn't think the atmosphere was much different to any festival I have been to. There was lots of loud music, people having a good time and you can get yourself into trouble if you drink too much, just like anywhere else. Bad things do happen at Full Moon Parties, for example you do hear of muggings, but I think on the whole it's a safe and fun experience.
Group photo next to the famous flaming Full Moon Party sign