Full moon parties (FMP) are held once monthly on Haad Rin Beach on the island of Koh Pha Ngan (pronounced Koh pin-yawn). For the few days preceding and following the full moon, backpackers flood the island. Prices for accommodation can double or even triple. The number of attendees is staggering and the atmosphere becomes something akin to ‘frosh week.’ A typical FMP can see ten thousand people on Haad Rin, which is not an incredibly long stretch of sand. FMP around New Year’s Eve can see upwards of twenty-five thousand party-goers. With rumors of people dying during these epic parties, personal safety is paramount.
Here are some tips for how to survive – and even enjoy – the experience:
1. Don’t show up too early. The whole point is to make it to sunrise! Eat a proper meal before departing for the party.
2. Establish a meeting point upon arrival. If you become separated you’re basically looking for a needle in a human haystack. In the dark.
3. Pace yourself. It’s a long night, make it a social one. Excessive partying is so much of an issue that there are on-site ‘chill out zones’ and clinics where dehydrated party-goers can receive IVs. Don’t be one of those people.
4. The bathroom situation is a logistical nightmare, especially for girls. Bring small change to pay washroom attendants. You won’t regret bringing some wipes either.
5. Do not play in the water. Not only is it full of human waste but partying and swimming are a fatal mix.
6. Yes, special shakes have drugs in them. Avoid consuming them and all other drugs. This is not the time nor the place to be experimenting. Plus, FMP are rife with undercover cops looking to bust young tourists.
7. Watch your bucket. Mixing drinks in sand pails is tradition, however such a wide brimmed vessel has distinct disadvantages. Not only is sand likely to make it into your cocktail, there’s ample opportunity for your drink to be spiked. Keep a close eye on your bucket and politely decline to sip from other buckets.
8. Have fun, get painted and meet new people!