An April 2005 trip
to Ko Pha Ngan by Vagabondo
Quote: Upwards of 10,000 revelers carousing on the spectacularly beautiful Hat Rin beach while contemporary house music blares from a series of high energy bars until sunrise.
Full Moon Party Environment
As the name suggests, this expansive beach party takes place on nights in which the moon, as determined by a lunar calendar, is scheduled to be full (which happens about 12 times per year). The party, which attracts some 10,000 revelers each month, takes place on Hat Rin beach on the Thai island of Ko Phangan. There are several beautiful beaches around the island but all of the Full Moon Party (FMP) action takes place on Hat Rin. I decided to stay at bungalow guesthouse on Hat Rin because I wanted to experience the FMP from the proverbial front row, but other people seeking daytime serenity can stay at one of the more low-key beaches and take taxis into Hat Rin to party at night. The nights leading up to the FMP were just as much fun as the actual FMP. My group arrived on Ko Phangan three nights prior to the FMP and we could feel the energy and excitement build as more and more travelers arrived on the island and patronized the bars and restaurants in the Hat Rin area.
The scene at night on Hat Rin can be described as loud, crowded, and high-energy; and the people can be described as youngish (18-35 years old), thirsty, gregarious, and adventurous. There are about a dozen bars literally on the beach at Hat Rin and each bar competes for patrons by attempting to provide the most desirable party atmosphere through various combinations of music, lights, and live entertainment. The majority of the bars set up plastic tables and chairs in the sand directly in front of their beach-side entrances and some of the bigger drinking establishments actually erect bars out in the sand where the ubiquitous ‘buckets’ of alcohol are sold for about 200 baht (about $4). Prior to purchase, the plastic buckets typically have a pint of Mekong whiskey, a 12-oz Coke, and a little bottle of the famously potent Thai Red Bull resting in it and ready to be mixed. Upon purchase, the bartender will pour the contents of those various bottles into the bucket and throw a grip of straws in the bucket before sending you on your way.
The purpose of the numerous straws is to encourage multiple people to drink out of one bucket, but the buckets are so inexpensive that people just drink the intoxicating contents of their own buckets. At the beginning of the night the plastic tables and chairs on the beach are well organized into rows but as the night goes on and groups start mingling people feel free to move the furniture around at will. There is really no reason to remain at one bar all night. There are no entrance fees levied on patrons at any of the Hat Rin bars and there are no lines anywhere because the parties spill out of each bar out onto the beach, through the plastic table and chair area and all the way down to the slowly encroaching waterline. Although the crowd naturally thins out throughout the night, the party continues until well after dawn. There is not such concept as 'last call' anywhere in Thailand, and certainly not on Hat Rin, so people were still carousing at 8am when I finally turned in.