Haad Rin Nok Beach is only about 800 metres long but on Full Moon Party nights more than 12 powerful sound systems crank out tunes and it hosts up to an amazing 30,000 partygoers during special events such as New Year’s Eve.
In short, Koh Phangan’s Full Moon parties are the most celebrated and longest-running dance culture events in the world.
With such an impressive ensemble of partiers and music in a beautiful setting the result is a lot of mad, pretty much uncontrolled beachside fun.
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The party kicks off early evening with a lot of people arriving after ten o’clock when locals and brave-or-inebriated visitors try their skills at skipping the fire swing – a petrol-doused rope swung by two pretty strong guys. Youngsters swing ‘fire sticks’ and revellers applaud their skills and sometimes try a few tricks themselves.
The chosen drink of the night is almost invariably a ‘bucket’ consisting of a ‘mickey’ of either whisky, vodka or sugarcane rum, a bottle of Red Bull and ice, sold along with a handful of straws so that friends (and sometimes complete strangers) can share. Noisy vendors line the streets and the beach, selling these colourful and cheap creations.
The entertainment options are enormous: You can mellow out at a hillside bar and watch the frolics from a safe distance or you can climb onto a dancing platform directly in the line of fire of huge speakers or dance in the sand, flop about in the sea, wander into town for a snack or – if it all gets too much – collapse in the free-of-charge sleeping area and tent.
As for the music, just about everyone agrees that it’s definitely hit and miss with bedroom DJs next to professional mixers and scratchers. Still, by the early hours the whole beach is dancing, wandering around in a haze and enjoying life while those that took it a little easier fare better than the heavy early-evening drinkers and it’s all worth it once the eastern skyline starts to glow and the sun rises.
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• With such alcohol-fuelled pandemonium there are bound to be accidents – Health & Safety precautions are almost non-existent at Full Moon parties. But there are First-Aid posts along the beach and several pharmacies in town.
• Police search incoming traffic for illegal drugs. Several Hawaiian-shirted police officers wander through the crowd looking for drug offenders so do not be foolish and ask for trouble. Buckets are powerful enough.
• Speedboats ferrying revellers over from Koh Samui can be dangerously overcrowded so make sure to wear a lifejacket.
• Do not take valuables along if it can be helped. If you absolutely have to then carry them in tight-fitting clothing as pickpockets are not unknown at these events.
• It gets hot surprisingly quickly after sunrise so be prepared with sun lotion and protective clothing.