At least not if you’re staying in Chiang Mai… I…
The world’s most infamous party seems to be a bucket list staple for backpackers in South East Asia. It was on my list and I can now happily cross it off. Maybe I’m just getting old or I’m too much of a square but the party didn’t seem to live up to the hype or the expectations in my head. That may also be because I had somewhere picked up the idea that these parties were meant to be some kind of massive water fight, which isn’t the case. I had heard lots of bad stories about the Full Moon Party; from drunken injuries to drugged drinks to scams and even murders. As soon as I told my family and friends I was planning on going I was told to be careful almost daily up to the night of the party. Especially as a young woman travelling alone. What I found however was a lot of people looking to have a fun night of dancing and drinking on the beach. These are my tips for a good and worry-free Full Moon Party experience.
1. Wear Shoes
I cannot stress this enough. And when I say shoes I don’t mean flip flops. You will probably just lose or break those if you wear them. The beach gets very messy as the night goes on. Drunk and/or high people aren’t very good at finding bins so empty beer bottles are everywhere. Inevitably some of them are going to get broken and the sand becomes a minefield of broken glass. Nothing will ruin your night more than needing to go to a Thai clinic for stitches.
2. Stay on the Island
Yes, the prices jump during the full moon period. Yes, you will probably have to stay for a minimum of 5 nights. But the alternative of getting a speed boat (long tail) from Koh Samui could be very dangerous or even fatal. I saw a lot of these boats pulling up to the beach overloaded with revellers. Long Tail boats usually have a maximum capacity of 10 passengers and even then they ride low in the water. I saw boat after boat with 20 plus passengers on board. Many of them looked like they had taken on water during the trip over. Vaguely terrifying for the people on board I’m sure. It is also not worth the hassle of trying to get the boat back. Thousands of drunk people trying to pack onto small boats just seems like a recipe for disaster to me.
3. Eat Something and Drink Water
It’s always a good idea to have a decent meal before you go out drinking but the energy will help you make it through the long night of partying. There are lots of street stalls to eat at along the beach and the streets leading back into town. Grab a couple of spring rolls or a pancake during the night to keep your energy levels up and to help mitigate the inevitable hangover. Remember to drink water as well as the booze over the night. You’ll feel better for it in the morning.
4. Buy Some Paint
You’ll see lots of stalls on the beach offering body painting in UV paint. The full moon party is a neon world, you get used to it. You can buy the neon paint at stalls in town and not only is it cheaper than getting your body painting done by the people on the beach it’s a lot more fun to do it yourself. It makes a great ice breaker if you’re a solo traveller. Just walk up to someone with a pot of paint and a paintbrush and say “paint me” and then return the favour for them.
5. If You Think You Need a Nap Go Back to Your Accommodation
It’s a bad idea to pass out on the beach. That’s just common sense. There are designated free nap areas if you can’t make it back to your bed. Just don’t pass out on the middle of the beach. Not only is it unsafe for you and your possessions but you become a tripping hazard for other revellers. Plus, you don’t want to be asleep on the beach when the sun comes up. You may just be confused for a lobster if you do.
6. Stay Out of the Water
The beach becomes a massive urinal to every male (and probably a few drunken females too) on the beach. Also a popular spot for those that can’t hold their liquor to bring it back up. I’d give it at least a tide change, or two, before going swimming again.
7. Buckets are More Expensive on the Beach
The beach is prime real estate so everything sold at beach stalls will be at a premium. You’re looking at a minimum of 400baht per bucket if you buy them on the beach. You can get cheaper buckets with Thai spirits if you head back into town by a couple of streets. Or, if you don’t want to drink Thai alcohol head to the 7-eleven and make your own. You can buy the 375mL bottles of imported alcohol or normal size bottles of spirits, empty buckets, thai red bull and mixer at the mini-marts. You’ll save yourself a few baht and you’ll know exactly what is in your drink. If you’re drinking beer instead of buckets then you’ll save money by stocking up at the 7-eleven too. Remember to keep an eye on your drinks. Drink spiking is not unheard of.
Standard Bucket Recipe for Do-It-Yourselfers
4-12 shots (120-375mL) of chosen spirit.
375mL mixer (1 can)
1 bottle of Thai Red Bull
Mix it all together in a child’s toy beach bucket. Drink slowly. Sharing is recommended.
Note: If you’re using Thai spirits use less. They’re very strong.
8. Don’t Bring Your Valuables
With the exception of your cash, leave everything you would hate to lose locked up in your room. Stories of stolen or lost items always come up the day after the party. If you must bring a camera then a waterproof one is better. Just make sure you attach it to yourself in some way. You may find that if you put it down it may not be there when you come back to it, that is assuming you can remember where you put it down in the first place.
9. Avoid the Drugs
I’m not going to tell you not to do drugs. It’s your body and you decide what you do with it. Just remember that drugs are still illegal in Thailand even though they are readily available. It’s not uncommon for police to be patrolling in plain clothes trying to sell drugs in order to catch unsuspecting tourists. You’ll either have to bribe the cop or you could end up in jail. If you must do them then be discreet and don’t buy off randoms at the beach. I’m personally anti-drug but either way I think the risks out weigh the gains when a possible consequence of doing them is spending time in a Thai prison.
10. Take a Taxi to the Party
If you are staying too far away to walk then take a taxi to and from the party. Most of the accommodation includes a free taxi to the party so don’t be tempted to drive a scooter there. More importantly don’t drive it back from the party. I find it amazing that people come here and hire scooters when they have never driven one before. I find it even more insane that they then drive them after drinking. Everywhere in Thailand I see tourists with bandages and scraped up skin from scooter accidents. They’re the lucky ones. Many more end up in hospital. Too many end up dead. It is borderline crazy to drive a scooter on uneven, winding, occasionally unpaved South East Asian roads with little to no experience riding them. You have to have a death wish to do it drunk. Your travel insurance probably doesn’t cover you for driving a scooter normally, it definitely won’t if you are intoxicated when you crash.
11. Bring some small change
If you need to use the bathroom you’ll have to pay for it. You’ll be charge between 10-20 baht if you need to use the bathrooms near the beach. You can get around it by going back to your accommodation or for the guys you can piss in the sea (You won’t be the only one doing it, but yes we do judge you for it). It’s not a bad idea to bring a couple of packs of tissues either if you know what I mean
The full moon party is a lot of fun and a great place to let your hair down. Be smart though and make it through to the sunrise with nothing more than the impending hangover to worry about. Party on!