Last Updated on August 16, 2022 by Jeremy
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If we had to speculate on what the biggest beach party in the world is, we would quickly say the Full Moon Party. Koh Phangan Thailand is known for this celebration that occurs when the moon is at its brightest, and there is are some pretty wild stories that have come out of it.
As the celebration only occurs once per month, I never thought that my travel schedule would line up in order to make it.
As luck would have it, I arrived on a gorgeous Koh Samui beach just before the party was about to take place and was all set to head to Koh Phangan to attend.
But in a stroke of randomness at the last second I changed my mind– I decided to skip the Koh Phangan Full Moon Party.
The Infamous Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan Thailand
Koh Phangan's Full Moon Party takes place around the full moon each month on Haad Rin beach.
In what started out as a small party in the 80s has now exploded into one of the top parties in the world with 20,000+ visitors each month arriving to stay up dancing and drinking the night away and having a great time.
As I started to think of it, the thought of staying up all night at a beach party with tens of thousands of party-goers just did not sound like my kind of scene at all.
In fact, the only thing that sounded interesting to me was the beach itself, which is still there (and admittedly much better looking) when the party is over and the masses have left.
After hearing several tales of travelers having their wallets stolen, getting injured, or not enjoying the experience, I was a bit turned off on the idea and decided to move on.
The Alternative – Avoiding the Madness of the Full Moon Party
Having just arrived in the islands of Thailand (after traveling East Asia for three months prior), the only thing I could think of was the beach. More specifically scuba diving and the neighboring island of Ko Tao was calling my name.
In a stroke of genius, I decided to leave the 20,000 partiers and head over for one solid week of scuba diving in Ko Tao with perfect seclusion.
My roommates in Koh Samui would have to go on to Koh Phangan without me, but we would meet up again later.
When leaving your Koh Samui hotel, everyone boards the same ferry whether they are heading to Koh Phangan or Ko Tao. When entering the ferry I noticed tons of people gathered and awaiting their transportation to the party on Koh Phangan.
The number of people awaiting these ferries was astonishing and I was glad that I had chosen a more peaceful retreat.
All travelers get a sticker that says what island they are supposed to get off at, and I noticed that the sold-out ferry was almost completely loaded with travelers heading to Koh Phangan.
An hour later and the ferry emptied out entirely, leaving only a select few that decided to go on to Ko Tao. Upon arrival we were greeted with the same scene that we had upon leaving Koh Samui, a frenzy on the pier with hundreds of travelers anxiously awaited the boat's return trip to Koh Phangan.
The party was sure to be a doozy.
Quiet Ko Tao – My Personal Paradise
The term desolate is not what one would think of with one of the most popular islands in Thailand, but during the full moon party, Ko Tao is just that.
Every dive instructor I spoke with said that the days leading up to the Full Moon Party are often the slowest- just what I was searching for.
With only a few travelers on the beach, Ko Tao was mine to enjoy, and eight dives later I would say I accomplished my goal quite nicely.
Even though there were still some travelers left on Ko Tao, many made an overnight trip to Koh Phangan just to take in the Full Moon Party (and return the following morning). The three girls in my hostel were one of many in this group and were talking about their excitement for the Full Moon Party every day leading up to the event. Fast forward 24 hours later, and only two returned.
They lost one of their friends.
How you can lose someone, I will never know. Coming back to Ko Tao without them, well, that's even worse.
Luckily she resurfaced later and everyone appeared quite disheveled. One of the girls even had a nasty cut that she had to tend to before continuing her diving class- not something that seemed very thrilling to me in the slightest.
As the hungover party-goers began to arrive in Ko Tao, my time on the island was ending and my time in Koh Phangan Thailand was about to begin. On one of the final nights I was on the beach watching the sunset as per my standard routine and a familiar face walked by, one of my roommates from the hostel in Koh Samui (I did say we'd get back to them).
We talked about the party, and I discovered that he lost his wallet (or it was stolen) and he had absolutely no money and was bumming from the other roommate we had in Koh Samui until he could get some transferred.
The reputation of the Koh Phangan Full Moon Party lives on.
You may be thinking, what about the stay on Koh Phangan? Well, I didn't do anything at all.
My resort had a low season special for a full bungalow on a nearly private beach for $13/night. I did absolutely zero exploring of the island and just relaxed, enjoying one of the best travel decisions I had ever made.
Looking for things to do in Thailand? Check out the Phi Phi Islands, the Koh Lanta Hammock House, our favorite island Koh Lipe Thailand, and gorgeous Koh Samui beach options!
About the Author: Jeremy is a full-time travel writer based in Pittsburgh and primary author of this site. He has been to 70+ countries on five continents and seeks out new food, adventure activities, and off-the-beaten-path experiences wherever he travels.
15 thoughts on “Why I Skipped the Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan, Thailand”
Hello, I’ll be in Koh Samui from the 26 till the 27 of March and in Koh Tao from the 28 till the 31 of March The full moon party is on the 31of March and I DO NOT WANT TO GO THERE… Will Koh Samui and Koh Tao be way more crowded than usual? Do you think I should go visit some other islands? Thank you for your answer Mouhad
Hi Mouahd. I suspect they will be busier and probably noticeably so too, but not as much as the full moon party will be.
I did exactly the same! I was in Ko Samui and more I was thinking about that crazy party, less I wanted to go. I went straight to Ko Tao and I loved it!
True, Anonymous, I did skip the party. But I had another island paradise almost completely to myself that filled up to capacity with partiers after the full moon party had ended.
Whose dream are you talking about with your comment? Certainly not mine.
wow, how could you skip one of the most celebrated and epic parties in the world when that close to it? You certainly are not living the dream my friend….
Like you we wanted to avoid the FMP as much as possible. That being said Haad Rin is an awesome beach and worth a visit for a nice swim. If you’re looking for some remote R&R on Koh Phangan we had a great time at Mai Pen Rai Bungalows on Than Sadet bay on the east coast. If you’re looking for some great snorkeling on Koh Tao I can vouch for View Rock Villas on Hin Wong Bay. Loved your Koh Tao sunset pic!
Just another day in paradise!
Sounds like a good choice. A couple days of private diving sounds like a dream!
Hey Noah – I stayed at Haad Thian Resort in Koh Phangan. It was out of the way of all of the major activities so I stayed at the resort the whole time I was there with the exception of scuba diving one day.
I was there in November 2010 and remember they had a low season special for buy 3 nights get 1 free so I was in a nice bungalow (not perfect, but very good) for $13/night averaged over 4 nights. There was barely anyone there so it was nice and relaxing. Beach to myself, free kayak to use, nice pool. Good recovery time after so much diving!
What’s the name of the Bungalow you stayed at? That picture looks amazing. A hammock on the beach is exactly what I need.
Much like Ibiza, I’ve never *really* seen the appeal in the Full Moon Party. All seems a bit ‘rapey’ for my liking.
Good on you for finding your own slice of paradise instead.
Often it takes both wisdom and courage to NOT follow the lemmin…err, crowd. Good for you for taking “…the one less traveled by,…” (for clearly for you, it “…made all the difference.”
While I do like a party the full moon party seems pretty overwhelming to me. I can definitely see the appeal in heading to Ko Toa and enjoying some peace and quiet.
Consider me convinced! I have had no interest at all in going to the Full Moon Party but have been excited about diving in Koh Tao. Perhaps the Full Moon Party is just the time to do it!
I would highly recommend it to everyone especially if looking for peace and quiet, although I wouldnt necessarily go out of my way to go there during a full moon party. If you happen to be there in an off week, it should be fine too.
I should make a note though that some dive shops change their scheduled dive sites if less people are there. So it might be worthwhile to be there a little before or after the party as well if you do go at that time. Out of my 8 dives, I still got out to Chumphon Pinnacle twice, which was the highlight of my dive trip there. They just postponed it 24 hours for more people.