If You’re Going to Thailand Make Sure You Go to a Full Moon Party!
Thanks to the phenomenal success of the Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan there are now full moon parties to enjoy all over Thailand and probably in several other locations in the world. I too have organized a celebration of the moon’s completion in Japan in the town where I live. Nothing, however, compares with the full moon parties in the place where it all started: in Haad Rin.
The town of Haad Rin was a sleepy hippy hang-out until somebody thought up the idea of a beach party for a friend’s birthday that happened to fall on the night of the full moon. About 180 people attended but it was decided to do the same thing the following month. By 2000 much of the sunrise beach front, Haad Rin Nok had become devoted to bars that rolled out sound systems once a month. Today 30,000 people attend full moon parties in Koh Phangan. It is the pivotal enterprise of the economy of Haad Rin and the surrounding area.
I’ve been to several Full Moon Parties. They have all been great, although they have changed over the years. The height of the police crackdowns has passed. While illegality is inevitable where so many people gather to have fun, the party now is very much more about drinking buckets of Thai whiskey, coke and red bull rather than ingesting chemicals. The party now is much better organized with medics on hand as well as a safe zone for people to crash.
Moreover, the music at the 12 main sound systems has solidified. The predominate style is the Koh Phangan take on psy-trance which is tough with a strong techno influence. One spot bucks the trend that is the Orchid. The bar pulls in crowds of people seeking breakbeats, drum and bass and hip hop.
The amount of accommodation in Haad Rin has greatly increased. Haad Rin is hemmed into a narrow peninsula sealed with mountains. This has meant the resorts and other developments have not been able to spread far. Thus the town remains compact and the hotels, resorts and guest houses are close together. Few rooms are available on Haad Rin Nok so most places to stay are in the town or along the west, sunset coast (Haad Rin Nai).
The most peaceful spot is the third beach of Haad Sarikantang just south of Haad Rin Nai. It is only 20 minutes walk from the party but it feels like a million miles away from the crowd noise, psy-trance and mayhem of the full moon party. There are a couple of good mid-range resorts in Haad Sarikantang worth checking out.
Also worth checking out is the Backyard Party in the jungle near Haad Rin Nai. It starts at 11am after the Full Moon Party finishes. Only the hardened party goers make it but it still retains some of the chaos and charm of the full moon parties back in the pioneer days.
It is not surprising that the idea of the full moon party has become so popular. Folklore around the world mentions the importance of the full moon and the effect it has on the psyche of man. It is a profound symbol, part of the collective unconsciousness and the ideal thing to celebrate on a Thai beach.