We left Koh Samui in the early afternoon, grabbing a bus out to the ferry port. Getting on the ferry out to Koh Pha Ngan is really simple and fast. The challenge comes when the tourists all run on and off the boat, as if being on it 2 seconds earlier than you will make a difference to the journey. We arrived in darkness on the island and walked off the bus (purposely not taking the first taxi trying to win our business). It was worth it, as we were crammed on to the same taxi’s as everyone else, but paid a less than the first tourists who were caught in their trap. We were staying for the first few days in a standard beach hotel at Haad Yao. We were so tired we immediately dumped our bags and tried to find some where open with vegan food. This proved slightly challenging, but ended with a romantic meal on the beach, followed by an after-dinner massage.
So for those who haven’t had a Thai massage, I’ll give you a quick break down. Its similar to a deep tissue massage. The big difference for me, is in Thailand, they just see you as a ‘body’. So in most of my massages in Thailand, they’ll also massage the muscles on my chest, and in a few places you’ll go to there are not curtains between the beds. I have absolutely no problems being semi- naked in front of others. But I know not everyone does. So if you are uncomfortable with this, just let them know before you have a massage. But, you’ll be missing something. The muscles in my chest are surprisingly tense (I suspect from hunching over a laptop all the time!).
In the few days before the full moon party, we hired out a moped and explored the island. A lot of people just descend on the island for the full moon party. To the point they’ll literally just get the ferry to and from the island, not even staying one night. If you’re thinking about this, to be honest, this would be a mistake. The island is very beautiful in the areas beyond the full moon party beach. So we spent our time sipping coffee in vegan cafes, driving the moped up and down numerous steep roads with incredible views out across the sea. There is definitely a tourist vibe on the beaches of the island, but a wealthy chic- hippy vibe inland. Which gives it a distinct culturally mix (with normal Thai life as well).
After our days of soaking up the distinct cultural mix, we headed to Haad Rin for the full moon party. We stayed here a couple of extra days either side of the party. This is obviously a party town, for one night a month. So on nights outside the full moon party, its like arriving to your mates house party 2 hours early, whilst you uncomfortably shuffle around talking to the one or two other people there. You still have most of the bars open and booming, along with the food stalls, stand up bars, fire performers… But on the full moon party night everything explodes! There are huge numbers of tourists that descend, and there are even more crowds of vendors trying to sell you things, and more fire displays.
So on the plus side, the atmosphere was really fun. There was lots of different types of dance, trance, RnB, Reggae music. There were lots of stall with different types of food, and everyone happily wonders around in neon smiling. If you keep your eyes out though, you see families of locals pinicing on the beach laughing. There are number of fortune tellers, waiting for over- drunk patriot’s to appear. And the fire performers are amazing. You’ll also commonly get skipping ropes set on fire, where you can (if you dare)… try and skip through it. Or try and do limbo, which is also on fire). And you might get rewarded with a free shot. I think you can see a theme here? Alcohol… fire… I leave you to add what happens next.
The negatives? Well, I’d come with an expectation that there would be something special energy wise. That people would talk to others (rather than sticking to the friend groups they arrived with), or even just be marginally friendly. And well, my experiences was that people were just there to get exceptionally drunk as quick as possible. So it wasn’t uncommon to see people passed out alone on the beach at 10pm. Their friends not bothering to put them in the recovery position (or were too drunk to even notice they’d disappeared). There wasn’t any special atmosphere. So if you like getting hammered to the point you may vomit over yourself, then due to drunkeness, pee in front of 100 people in the sea, then I’d give the actual full- moon party a miss. I would however say, walking out on the beach in the early hours of the morning, after the party, there was an empty calmness, as the final hustle and bustle of cleaning the beach was over and done with. Its also kind of funny seeing the passed out people being cleaned around. And I’ve never seen someone passed out standing up. It did help me to know to NEVER swim in the sea on this beach…. Urgh….