I accidentally attended the most infamous beach party in the world last night. Koh Phangan’s monthly Full Moon Party attracts between 20,000-30,000 revelers whose median age likely hovers around 20. The oft-sleepy island balloons for a few days as the beach plays host to pounding electronica music, alcoholic drinks served in children’s sand buckets, and men lining up to pee in the ocean. Or, at least that was what I had heard. So when I realized that my newest travel partner, Terra, and I were going to be in town for the melee, we just had to see it for ourselves.
After three very wet days in the Khao Sok National Park, Terra and I decided to head to Koh Phangan for relaxing beach time and to drink beers as we made fun of European mens’ bathing suits. Needless to say, we got a bit more than we bargained for. Did I expect the Full Moon Party to be a complete and total blast? No, actually, I did not. I expected to hate it, as my hard-partying 5:00am nights are (mostly) behind me. Yes, it is happening—I am slowly turning into a 30-year-old. GASP!
As I think back on the night that will live in infamy, I present this guide for how to enjoy the party, if you’re a self-proclaimed “adult.”
Step 1: Get a place near the party at Haad Rin Beach – We learned this important lesson the hard way as it took us nearly three hours to coordinate a shared taxi to drive us home to Si Thanu Beach. We were overcharged, delayed multiple times, and threatened along the 12-mile trip. Not ideal at 3AM. Even if you’d prefer to spend more time in less populated spots, stay in Haad Rin for the night of the party.
Step 2: Pound caffeine at 9:00PM – Two Birdy coffee drinks each and we were good-to-go!
Step 3: Buy a neon tank top – For around $5 (or less if you’re a skilled negotiator, or have bigger boobs than mine) you can be the proud owner of a thin neon tank top with “FULL MOON PARTY” silk-screened on both the front and back. While it won’t help your friends to spot you in this crowd, it surely will back at home.
Step 4: Get glow painted – Various stalls offer glow-in-the-dark body paint for makeshift tattoos. It’s an easy way to step up your outfit and fit into the young crowd. No one will notice the handful of gray hairs on your head (or complete lack of hair all-together) with that giant appendage drawn on your chest. Bear in mind that the paint is probably manufactured for circus rides or military planes and will likely give you a rare form of Thai cancer. I passed, to say the least.
Step 5: Buy a bucket-o-booze – There are few guarantees when it comes to the infamous Full Moon Party booze buckets: they will be strong and they will be foul. Once you accept these facts, you should buy one (for around $5), at least to say that you tried it. You may never look back at your childhood sand castles in the same way again. Side note: make sure to watch as they mix, as stories abound about dirty ice, knock-off alcohol, and even drugs being slipped into drinks.
Step 6: Make new friends – Everyone is feeling friendly, so why not ask the person to your right how many months it’s been since they graduated from high school? You’re dying to know, and you just might end up with a new pen pal or international BFF.
Step 7: Eat something – Anything. Like, now. In order to party through the night, you need sustenance. I’m pretty sure that my 2AM schnitzel saved my life.
Step 8: Attend the party with the tallest guy on the island – This is key. Terra is 6’6” and is the perfect navigational beacon in a crowd of “normal” people. Most partyers lose at least some of their friends by the end of the evening, which can lead to trouble. Be sure to pick a meeting spot in case you find yourself alone, and keep the business card of your hostel on you in case you need to ask for directions.
Step 9: Don’t fall asleep – If you become one of the dozens of tourists who fall asleep on the beach mid-party, three things are guaranteed when you arise: you will have been drawn on, your wallet will be gone, and you missed your ride home. Even I couldn’t resist the urge to mess a few dudes who fell asleep before midnight. Poor form, indeed.
Step 10: Pet some stray dogs – Everyone acts differently when enjoying a night on the town—some flirt like crazy, others cry about frivolous things, and there are those who become stage-five clingers. What’s my M.O., you ask? I pet street dogs. Like, all of them, with abandon. It makes me happy and I always have hand sanitizer handy, so I don’t see the harm in it. I’ve had my preventative rabies shots and have only contracted ring worm once on this trip, so I don’t plan to stop any time soon. Good thing I’ve adopted my very own Thai street dog to fill this void in my life once I return home.
At this point you may be wondering, “Who is this Terra person?” Well, we met in San Francisco just three weeks before my big trip, and despite all of my efforts to scare him away, he decided to come visit me for a few weeks in Cambodia and Thailand. That sure escalated quickly.
If you have any additional tips for fellow “adults” interested in attending a Full Moon Party, please comment below. Party on kids!