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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Experiencing Thailand's Full Moon Party

Thailand’s Full Moon Party is essentially an all-night beach party, mostly attended by Westerners and at one time regarded as something of a backpacker’s rite of passage. It is timed to occur just before or after every full moon or on the night it first appears. The event originated in 1985, in Haad Rin, on the island of Ko Pha nGan or Koh Phangan, in the Gulf of Thailand, which is in the south east of the country. Around 20 to 30 travelers met in a wooden disco, not far from the beach, as a celebration to give thanks. 
The power of word of mouth is not to be underestimated, however and nowadays the famous Full Moon Party attracts anywhere between 20,000 and 30,000 people every month. The most beautiful moon in the world is still reckoned to be seen at Ko Pha nGan.

In celebratory mood

Backpackers and travelers who have managed to find cheap hotels in Thailand tend to head down to the beach as soon as they can.  A relatively simple celebration against the backdrop of a yellow moon rising over white sands on a crescent shaped beach has grown over the years, now attracting many tourists, featuring local delights and experiences. Beginning just as dusk falls, small tables are set out on the beach, where the bars stay open all night playing music. The genres include dance, house, psychedelic trance, techno, drum and bass, R&B and reggae. Dancing is the main focus of the event and all tastes are catered, however, there are also other sideshows to experience.

Entertainment includes jugglers, fire-eaters and fire skipping has become a feature. There are sometimes impromptu firework displays and the whole event is beautifully coordinated.  In essence this is the kind of place that makes people unwind and enjoy themselves in an atmosphere of cordial relaxation. 

Staying safe 

As with any major party, taking some basic precautions should mean the focus stays on enjoying what's going on rather than worrying about events on the periphery.  Make sure that all valuables are safely stowed at the hotel and bags or other items of luggage join them.  Take enough money to cover drinks, but don't flash cash ostentatiously. In the same way, rushing to consume anything that's offered by strangers is a bad idea…there's no guarantee that there'll be an honest answer to 'what is it?' queries after all. 

One thing it would be remiss to avoid mentioning is drugs.  Drugs are illegal, so staying safe is all about staying on the right side of the law and avoiding potentially compromising situations.  It makes sense to stick with judicious alcohol consumption and enjoy the vibe of the place.  If you take the latter option, you won't be disappointed.  The Full Moon Party is famous for serving ‘buckets of alcohol’, which usually comprise large doses of liquor, for example bourbon or Thai whiskey, mixed with either a soft drink or a caffeine drink such as Red Bull.  

If there is a problem, there’s now a police tent and a medical tent on the beach to provide help for those in distress and to deal with troublemakers.  They are happy to help and have even been known to participate in a few group pictures. 


This is a guest post written by a Nomadic Experiences travel contributor


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