I had heard many things about the full moon party in Thailand from friends back in the UK. They all said it was amazing but that it was dangerous. I agree with the amazing part but don’t agree that it’s dangerous if you act normally, and that’s where the problem lies….
I normally like to write my posts like a shit sandwich; start off with positive things to say, add some shitty things in the middle, then finish with some good again. It’s a great way to disguise a rant. But today my first thought seems to be moving towards the shittier end of the scale first.
The amount of alcohol that people drink in Koh Phangan is crazy. The bucket is what is mostly consumed, each one containing a full bottle of alcohol (a small, 300ml sized one), a soft drink (just one small can) and a red bull or similar energy drink. These are served up in a bucket that you can carry around with you, usually one per person! Before you know it, you have drunk half the bucket and subsequently are hit by a slap in the face from the alcohol monster within.
This leads many overly excited drinkers to consume far too much for their own good, get completely smashed and do silly things like pass out on the beach, or play with fire ropes. Well, you know the saying “If you play with fire you are going to get burned”.
So what about safety? I, like many other people drank a lot of alcohol, many buckets a night in fact, but I never got myself into a state where I was unable to look after myself. If you were in such a state in most places in the World, even really developed areas, you are very likely to get your money, phone, wallet, etc stolen from you. That’s life, it might not be nice, but deal with it and stop putting yourself in a risky position. People know that there are thieves and pickpockets but they still get this way, it’s totally irresponsible. I’d even go so far as to say that if people didn’t get like this the thieves would leave and go somewhere else that was more fruitful, leaving everyone to have a great time.
The Good Stuff
So, moving on from the bad things. I had a great time. The atmosphere was brilliant, everyone there is there to have a good time. You are on a beautiful island and planning to go to a beach party so life is good. It makes for a fun experience.
People are mainly there for partying so every night is a party night on the beach. There are fun things to do, like fire rope jumping! Or things that are less dangerous like arm wrestling, basket ball hoop shooting or you can even have a go at fire blowing! This is all for free, too, as the bars along the beach must pay for the entertainment to get people down there.
There are some really cool guys doing fire shows, too. They are really skilful and great fun to watch. It’s a blaze of fire, flesh and boozed up brits abroad. It’s true that there are a large number of UK and German tourists there.
We were down in Phuket at the time so we made our way by bus and ferry. It was quite a long journey. From Phuket we drove up to Surrat Thani whic took 4.5 hours, where we then changed and drove for 1 more hour on a larger coach to the ferry terminal. The boat from there took 3 hours, which included a stop off at Koh Samui. The bus and ferry ticket cost us 800 bhat which I thought was pretty good. So you’re looking at 1,600 bhat to get there and back, plus 100 bhat each way from the ferry terminal on Koh Phangan to your hotel.
Note: The standard rate for the taxis out there seems to be 100 bhat per person, whether it’s short 5 min ride or 25 mins, It’s the same. You all share the back of a pickup truck/jeep type thing.
We were travelling in June which is considered low season so things weren’t quite as busy. I much preferred this as I can imagine in high season that it gets absolutely crazy with people. There were still plenty of people there though.
When to Go
I can only comment on my experience, but I have heard from others that in high season you can’t move on the beach. It wasn’t like that in June, it was perfect. Lots of people but not too many. Granted, you are more likely to experience rain but who cares. You are walking around with just shorts on and body paint and it’s not cold. You also get better deals in the low season on everything.
Places to Stay
I stayed in a place called Drop in Resort. It was a huge place, with multiple swimming pools and even a gym. The pictures looked amazing online. It was opened in 1989 and I think we were looking at the original pictures! When we arrived it was run down, the toilet in our room did not work or any other toilet in the hotel, one of the pools was totally unusable and the gym equipment looked as though it was one of Man’s early inventions.
But, apart from that, the place was OK. It wasn’t too expensive and it served a purpose. For us to crash after a long night out partying. We made the mistake of booking before we went. In low season I can see that if you get there 3-4 days before the party then you are going to have no problem finding a place to stay. You have much better bargaining power, too.
We saw many places for a room with AC for 300 bhat a night. Your own room that is, not a dorm. If you want to stay in a dorm you can expect to pay only 100 bhat a night. Your choice, 200 bhat extra a night for some sleep? Or you could go and buy some sleeping pills instead…
The Long Journey Home Scam
We paid 800 bhat to get us home and we were told that we would get dropped off at our hotel. We got the same ferry back to the mainland from koh Phangan, then to the bus terminal area in Surrat Thani. All fine. Had some food, had to wait for over 1 hour here. I think they do this to make sure you buy food and drink from them. It’s really annoying when it’s an hour as you only need 30 mins max.
Then we were shuttled to a large coach where we were told we would only get dropped off at the main bus terminal in Phuket. Getting to Patong or Chalong (where we were staying) was going to cost us another 300 each! We didn’t take that and said we would get a taxi when we arrived. It was too much and another way that they try to get you to prepay for things.
Note: Not always, but most of the time in any SE Asian country, when somone asks you to pre pay for something like this you are paying well over the odds. You don’t know how much it should be so have no idea if it’s a good deal or not.
So we continued the coach knowing we would get a taxi at the other end. When we were near to the station, and most of the people had got off at an earlier stop, the driver pulled over onto the hard shoulder of the highway. He spoke to someone on the phone and then asked us all where we were going. We told him Chalong and he told us to get off the bus because he had another minibus that would take us there….We got off, waited with him until the minibus arrived and then, when we were asking what the deal was with the minibus driver, the coach driver started running back to his coach, got back in and drove off! Leaving us with little option but to take the minibus.
The guy wanted 300 each, but we didn’t accept that and started to walk off when he wouldn’t accept 200 each either. Eventually he took 200 each because he knew that we were actually very close and that we were his only chance of filling the bus. In hindsight, we could probably have got it for 100 each. Anyhow, we made it home. Broken. Tired. And one guy hospitalised 1 day later when he was admitted to hospital and diagnosed with pancreatitis! Oops…