The first time I went to Thailand I travelled to Koh Phangan, the full moon party island (which I did not find out until later) to visit my friend Cass.
I knew nothing about Thailand, other than the words I associated with pictures on postcards advertising palm trees and beaches, on other people’s fridges.
I knew it was a popular “gap-year” destination – but I didn’t take a gap year and I hadn’t considered visiting an area I had prematurely judged as being ridden with mosquitoes and “too hot” until I found myself in Singapore 1200km away from a long lost friend living on the island of Koh Phangan, in Thailand.
When I booked that first trip to visit Cass, I had NO IDEA she was living on THE Full Moon Party Island. It was only when I did a bit of googling AFTER booking my trip to visit her that I discovered the significance of where she was living.
I was excited – my dancing feet had been far too still in Singapore, Cass and I met on a dance floor at a trance party in South Africa – so it was fitting that we would meet again at the infamous full moon party – yet when I expressed my delight at the discovery of her location, and the perceived party that was to follow, she met my enthusiasm with hesitation and apprehension.
Cass informed me, after I probed her hesitation, most of the “locals” don’t bother with full moon – it’s a series of bars open along a beach, no organised “main stage”, a miss mash of music and an abundance of inexperienced drinkers – people getting “messy” without an anchor other than “the sake of the party.”
The full moon parties are there, every 28 days, and with the global popularity of the Koh Phangan Full Moon Party and 28 delay of the event itself, the “half moon” and “quarter moon” parties have been born.
In truth, every week, every few days, there is a party of some sort on Koh Phangan, and in general, the smaller the number and the less well known the party, the better the quality and people (Jungle Party, the night before the full moon being an exception – amazing music and an incredible vibe.)
I eventually did experience the full moon party (on my second visit which was a much longer 6 week visit) and I can tell you it was probably my least favourite party and least favourite time of the month on Koh Phangan – but I’m glad I DID go – it’s become such an integral part of what has made Koh Phangan into what it is today, that I’m not sure I could really claim to know the island if I hadn’t experienced it for myself. (Side note – if you DO go to the full moon party, go as late into the evening as you can – the “real” party is from 10am the following day – and the locals will kill me if I post the name of that venue, but if you deserve to be there they will be sure to invite you.)
I’ll be happy to do a separate post on the various parties, places to recover from parties and places to prepare for parties on Koh Phangan, but in the mean time, take a look at this video (up at the top of this post) that I made on my very first visit to my very first Thai Island – Koh Phangan: