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Koh Phangan – The Island That Never Sleeps

 

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The infamous Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan is nothing but legendary. It’s an all night rave with thousands of young and old travellers from all over the world who fly to Haad Rin Beach in Koh Phangan just to partake in all the untamed rebellion and craziness that the legendary Full Moon Party is famous for. Survival tips are very crucial for party goers to keep their fists pumping in the air until sunrise, especially for the first-timers.

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I flew with Air Asia from Kuala Lumpur to Surat Thani airport at 1040, an hour and 25 minutes journey. There are two options available from the airport to Donsak pier (ferry terminal – to Koh Phangan and Koh Samui);

  • you can choose the bus, which is mostly available upon your arrival for 250baht (1 1/2 hours) but then you have to wait for the next ferry that leaves at 4pm.
  • share a car shuttle with maximum 5 travellers for 1,600baht +- (1 hour) and catch the 1pm ferry.

I shared a car with four people, so we paid 320baht each and we managed to arrive at the pier on time for the 1pm ferry. The journey was around 2 1/2 hours to Koh Phangan from the mainland for 270bath. The weather was perfect and sunny, too perfect that people started stripping and drinking under the sun.

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I arrived around 1600 local time and from there I took the truck-like taxi for 100baht to my hotel, located in Haad Rin beach which is on the other side of the island (from the pier). Please remember to book your hotel as early as possible because the rooms are usually fully booked weeks before the Full Moon Party (FMP), so you might end up staying a bit far off from the party location which is not recommended as you might need to spend more on transportation – usually they charge you extra during the FMP (150-300 baht). Take note that most hotels require you to book a minimum stay of 4-5 nights (yes, although you only plan to stay for 3 nights or less).

I stayed at Seaview Sunrise, the hotel is at the far end of the beach, but still fairly close to the “main point” of the party and very much close to two hill bars called Dragon Bar and Kangaroo Bar. This hotel provides free wifi and the food is cheap, nice and perfectly portioned. They also provide free towels and soaps, “unwanted” items that have been left behind by travellers which you can take for free and they also provide free floaties!. It was a decent fan room with breathtaking sea view (literally a few walks away to the beach) and perfectly nestled under coconut tree shades in the humid-tropics. If you’re craving for some meat lovin’, head down to Crazy Elephant. They have a variety of food to choose from and they have a dinner buffet on every Sunday and a day before and after the Full Moon Party – 250baht money well spent!).

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A day before the Full Moon Party, travellers have started to flock to Haad Rin, camping out by the beach and filling in all the hotels. Everyone was in the party spirit,  preparing themselves for the craziest and wildest party. You will see fluorescent tops, pants, shades, bikinis and hats lined up by the street and locals have started putting out their mini stalls to sell cheap local liquors or “buckets” as what they call them. The price for each bucket range from 150baht to 400baht.

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The day has finally arrived! I started the day very slow, spent the noon at the beach getting toasted and after that, I went to get some paints and a flashy top to be worn that night. My friends and I spent an hour or so painting our body with colourful fluorescent paint; stamping weird shapes and flags. You can also get someone to do it for you for around 100baht.

And so the night began, the beach was filled with people dancing and having fun to the music. It was wild, loud and simply crazy – massive crowd with all shapes and colours! Neon lights beaming everywhere, reflecting the crazily painted bodies of those party animals (myself included). Things you wouldn’t miss seeing; stretched of mini stalls selling all types of beverages, fried food, neon sticks and more people dancing on elevated stages. It was an interesting sight to see people walking around with at least a mini bucket in their hand and getting drunk even before dinner! You’d want to be safe all the time, I’ve heard people got caught on fire, almost drown in the sea and skinny dipping went wrong! I had my fair share as well, ending the night hammered with small cuts & bruises. One of the ways to know if I’ve had a good night, waking up the next morning with some cuts on my legs – without fail!

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 10 Ways to Survive the Infamous Full Moon Party

  1. Don’t bring your handphone but if you insist, put it in a waterproof plastic case (which you can get for 120baht at the store). Hang it around your neck or sling it across your body, just in case you get too adventurous and out of control that you decide to jump into the sea and/or slide down the water slide available at one of the bars.
  2. Drink slow. Again, drink slow. As slow as possible. I saw a lot of people who were already drunk even before 9pm. Remember, this party is more like a marathon. It runs all night until the break of dawn, so if you want to experience it…you should drink SLOWLY.
  3. Don’t bring too much cash. Just bring enough for beverages and food (mineral water is less than 100baht, a bucket is 150baht to 600baht, food is around 100-300 baht).
  4. Keep yourself hydrated. There’s a lot of fire shows, a lot of people, crowded areas, so it gets a bit humid. It’s important to drink a lot of water.
  5. Don’t sleep by the beach. Chances of you floating away are high (if you lose consciousness – passed out).
  6. Stick around your friends. There’s a lot of drunk people and even sober ones who might have bad intentions. There are dark alleys and some deserted areas at night, it is dangerous to be alone especially when you are drunk.
  7. Fill your tummy with food to get more energy for fists pumpin’.
  8. Stay away from drugs. Po-po is everywhere, the last thing you want to do is to get thrown into the next ferry back to Surat Thani / Samui.
  9. If you need help, find policemen. Local authority will set up a tent at the beach for tourists, in case they need help of any kind.
  10. Make sure you lock your hotel room, hide all your valuable stuffs. There were cases where people lost their money and valuable items in the hotel room.

I went back pretty late after a crazy and tiring night out but brace yourself, no matter how early you go to bed, you will never get to sleep peacefully. The music was so loud and the neon lights were piercing through my windows – I felt like I was sleeping in a club. And that is why ladies and gentlemen, I dubbed this island to be The Island That Never Sleeps because the loud music continues for days and nights. The hotel should come with a warning sign; please prepare earplugs and eye mask…or even better, they should provide some for us.

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The day after the Full Moon Party, the beach felt quieter as most travellers left the island which I assumed they have left to either Koh Samui or Koh Tao (said to be the most beautiful island in Thailand). Bars and restaurants are still operating as usual but with much less crowd. I didn’t get the chance go to other island as my stay was pretty short but Koh Phangan is more than enough for me and Haad Rin beach is no less beautiful than the spectacular scenery going on in the rest of the island.

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My flight back home was at 1130, which means I had to wake up as early as 0400 to catch the earliest ferry to the mainland at 0500. The journey was perfectly smooth; ferry, bus and flight were on time. I landed safely in KLIA2 at 1400 local time. Tiring journey but filled with excitement and memorable experiences. The beach, food, people and the party will surely be missed. Those who wish to have one of the most unique experiences in partying the night away on the beach under the full moon can check for the dates here.

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