You've heard about it, you've seen it in movies, you've seen several knock offs but now you want the real experience. The Thai Full Moon Party is where it all began, and lucky for you this is an ultimate guide on how to get there, what it's going to be like, when it's going to be on, and every other bit of information you need.

It's a massive post, so either bookmark, print, or click/tap on the Table of Content sections you want to read. The FAQs might have your answer as well. Enjoy!

Table of Contents

  1. FAQs and Quick Answers
  2. What is the Thai Full Moon Party & What to Expect
    2.1 Entry
    2.2 The week leading up to the party
  3. How to Get to the Full Moon Party
    3.1 The most common routes
    3.2 Flight & Ferry to Koh Phangan
    3.3 Train & Ferry to Koh Phangan
    3.4 Bus & Ferry to Koh Phangan
    3.5 When you make it to Koh Phangan
  4. Where to Stay During the Full Moon Party
    4.1 Staying on Koh Phangan
    4.2 Staying on Koh Samui
  5. When Is It and When Should You Go
  6. How Much Will Everything Cost
    6.1 Budget Traveler
    6.2 Vacationer
    6.3 Luxury

FAQs and Quick Answers

If you're in a hurry and want to have some quick answers to some questions, look at this section. There are links to the expanded sections within this article as well. Highly recommend sticking around for all the tips on how to get there, what to expect, where to stay, how much it'll cost etc.

What is it?

It's a giant beach party that stretches all along from one end of the beach to another with antics such as; heavy drinking, loud music, jumping flaming skipping ropes, dancing, and unspeakable 18+ activities.

Where does it happen?

The party happens on Haad Rin Nok beach on the Thai Island called Koh Phangan in the Surat Thani province. More information on how to get there right here.

When does it happen?

It happens every single month, on the day/night of the full moon. So the timing is literally a matter of: is it a full moon tonight? Note that they'll also throw them on day's like NYE or Christmas. Some dates change for Buddhists holidays. Full times and dates for 2020 below. You can also check this page.

We break down the best time to go in this section.

  • Monday 06 January 2020
  • Sunday 09 February 2020
  • Sunday 08 March 2020
  • Tuesday 07 April 2020
  • Thursday 07 May 2020
  • Friday 05 June 2020
  • Monday 06 July 2020
  • Monday 03 August 2020
  • Tuesday 01 September 2020
  • Thursday 01 October 2020
  • Thursday 29 October 2020
  • Saturday 28 November 2020
  • Friday 25 December 2020
  • Monday 28 December 2020
  • Thursday 31 December 2020

How much does it cost?

It depends. The cost is made up of your flight to Thailand, how you get to the island, how much you spend on accommodation, how much alcohol you drink, and what you eat while you're there. Full breakdown here.

Where should I stay on the island?

There are many beaches all over the island, and many options on places to stay. If you don't want to get taxi's all the time, or rent a scooter for the entire duration -  staying closer to Haad Rin beach is the better option.

Here's the section on places to stay, pros & cons, and other useful details.

When should I book my accommodation?

Places will fill up 2-3 days before the party. Don't panic as you'll always be able to find something but if you want a place that's close, cheaper and good, you want to book in advance, and arrive 4-5 days before the party.

Is it safe?

Yes. All you need to do is exercise common sense, and be aware of what you're putting into your body. I did this solo, and you'll most definitely meet people to have fun with and watch your back along the way.


Without further adieu, here's the full breakdown and ultimate guide for the Thai Full Moon Party.

What Is The Thai Full Moon Party & What Should You Expect

Just some party people

Legend has it that it started in the 80s when a group of backpackers threw a birthday party for their friend on the beach. This slowly turned into more and more people coming to that same beach on the full moon and having more and more parties. Some quick lore for you there.

So essentially, it's a big party that happens on the beach. Each beach club or bar that's on the coast is playing their own music, and having their own activities but it all meshes into one giant sea of people going from one side of the beach to the other, on a quest to have a good time.

Entry

Entry is free as it's in a public place, so you should expect most of your money to go towards alcohol. And speaking of which, the go-to drink for the full moon party, is a cocktail - don't expect a fancy martini, I'm talking cocktail buckets.

Behold the infamous bucket 

These cocktail buckets usually have about 4-5 shots worth of alcohol in them, so keep that in mind if you're ordering one for yourself. They cost around 150-200 Baht so around $5-6 USD.

The week leading up to the party

There'll be a party on the beach every night in the days leading up to the actual party. Some people prefer these parties over the actual full moon party as there are less people and it's less intense. The Full Moon Party, and these other parties will all have a few things in common.

  • Loud music
  • Lots of dancing
  • Flaming skipping ropes to jump through
  • Flaming limbo to duck under
  • Fire shows

There's a common theme here right? 🔥 The temptation to give it a try is of course high but consider the fact that the emergency services on the island are very basic, and you'll see many people with burn marks on their ankles.

Hot Tip: There are actually many special parties during the week, these will cost about 500 Baht ($16 USD) each if you're wanting to go. There'll be posters everywhere with the details.

  • The Jungle Party - A day before The Full Moon Party
  • Waterfall Party - Sometime during the week

Many people prefer these if they're chaos averse, but as they're smaller venue based parties, the music does tend to be more music and less noise than the actual party. The experience, isn't quite the same though.


How To Get To The Full Moon Party

There are many beaches on Koh Phangan, but the sunrise beach or Haad Rin Nok will be the destination of the full moon party. To get to this beach first we need to get to Koh Phangan.

The most common routes

Bangkok ➡️ Surat Thani ➡️ Koh Phangan (Cheaper)
Bangkok ➡️ Koh Samui ➡️ Koh Phangan (More Expensive)

Once you land in Bangkok, or Phuket, or wherever you may be - you need to get to the mainland before you can take a ferry over to the island.

The mainland is Surat Thani and this is going to be the cheaper option as the airport on the neighboring island to Koh Phangan (Koh Samui), although closer, is going to be considerably more expensive.

You can get to Surat Thani by bus, train, or  flight.

Flight + Ferry to Koh Phangan

The fastest and easiest way to get to Surat Thani (The mainland where we take a ferry to Koh Phangan) is by booking a flight. A one way flight can cost you between $25 to $75 on average and takes 1 - 1.5 hours. Depending on what extras you get and how close to the dates you book.

Definitely go carry-on only if you want to save on luggage costs - the Osprey Farpoint 40 is the best bag for that. Other tips on cheap flights here.

Once you arrive at the airport, there will be multiple companies right there at the counter to take you directly from Surat Thani Airport to Donsak Pier via shuttle, and from Donsak Pier to Thong Sala Pier on Koh Phangan - with a joint ticket. When you get to the main lobby in the airport, you'll see all the companies, just tell them you're going to Koh Phangan.

Here is a list of times and prices:

Travel Company Airport Bus Stop Koh Phangan Ticket Price
Lomprayah 08:00 11:30 850 THB
Songserm 08:20 12:15 600 THB
Phantip Travel 08:30 15:30 500 THB
Seatran Discovery 08:30 13:30 700 THB
Phantip Travel 09:30 15:30 500 THB
Lomprayah 10:30 14:00 850 THB
Seatran Discovery 10:45 17:00 700 THB
Phantip Travel 10:45 16:30 500 THB
Phantip Travel 13:30 18:30 500 THB
Songserm 13:45 17:40 600 THB
Lomprayah 14:30 18:00 850 THB
Phantip Travel 14:50 20:30 500 THB
Raja Ferry 15:30 20:30 540 THB
Phantip Travel 16:00 20:30 500 THB
Raja Ferry 16:10 20:30 540 THB

Note: You can also get a flight to Koh Samui, a neighboring island. And proceed to get a speedboat from there to Koh Phangan (Takes 30 mins) from one of the many piers. But this is quite a bit more expensive, and the alternate options are really not that much more a hassle.

Nonetheless, it's an option if you'd like to keep it in the cards - you can always check Skyscanner for potential cheap flights.

Train + Ferry to Koh Phangan

The cheapest option is taking a sleeper train to Surat Thani (where we take the ferry to the island from). This takes 8+ hours but costs between $16.5 to $50. You also get to save on accommodation for 1 night, which would be a further saving of $6 to $13.

You can book trains in advance, or through the station. It's slightly cheaper (250 baht or $8) at the station but around full moon time, a lot of places will fill up. So you should book online. Link and Price list below.

Seat Type Online Price Station Price
1st Class A/C Sleeper 1,589 to 1,829 THB 1,339 to 1,579 THB
2nd Class A/C Sleeper 998 to 1,258 THB 728 to 1,008 THB
2nd Class A/C Seat 858 THB 608 THB
2nd Class Fan Sleeper 758 THB 508 THB

You can book through 12Go Asia.

When you arrive at the train station in Surat Thani, there will be multiple companies available at the counter (ask an official if you can't find it) that will take you to Donsak Pier, and from there, on to a ferry to Thong Sala Pier on Koh Phangan.

From the train station to the island, including shuttle to Donsak Pier and the ferry, is between 3 h 15 mins to 4 h 45 mins depending on the company. There are price differences between the faster boats and slower boats, but a joint ticket is usually between 500-1000 Baht ($16-33) - similar to those from the airport.

Bus + Ferry to Koh Phangan

The bus is an outlier option, it's usually more sensible to take it if you're not in Bangkok, and you're closer to Surat Thani. For instance, if you're in Krabi or Phuket, it's a quicker ride to Surat Thani. You can also book these through 12Go Asia. But if you ask one of the many travel agents or your hostels front desk, they should be able to organize it for you.

Hot Tip: Ask a few before committing to one as the prices will differ, and bargaining is an option.

When you make it to Koh Phangan (Thong Sala Pier)

You made it! You're finally on Koh Phangan. You came from Donsak Pier on the mainland and now you're at Thong Sala Pier. From here you'll see a bunch of Taxi services i.e. pickup trucks with seats in the back, ready to offer you a lift.

The more people who get into one, the cheaper it becomes for everyone. They'll usually charge around 100 baht per person and go around the island dropping you off to where you need to go. If you want to go directly to where the Full Moon Party is, you tell them you want to go to Haad Rin Nok (the sunrise beach).

Which brings us to the next section, where should you stay?


Where To Stay During The Full Moon Party

Most people opt for the easiest option which is staying where the party happens - Haad Rin Beach, on Koh Phangan. But there's also the option of staying on a neighboring island called Koh Samui and taking the speedboats that run during the full moon party. We'll go through both options.

Staying on Koh Phangan

By far the easiest and most convenient place is to stay in Haad Rin on Koh Phangan. You're in walking distance to the party, you won't have to taxi around everywhere, and it's the biggest hot spot for organizing activities.

That being said, the island isn't huge and getting around is quite easy. So especially if Haad Rin is proving hard to find accommodation in (this will be the case if you try to arrive a day before the party) there are other options. Map and list below.

Map of Koh Phangan - Quick link to Google Maps here
  1. Haad Rin - Closest you'll get to the party with party hostels, restaurants, and bars everywhere.
  2. Ban Tai - Further out but on the same coast, a hot spot similar to Haad Rin but will require either a taxi or bike hire to get to and from Haad Rin
  3. Haad Yuan - Close to Haad Rin, walking distance even but expect a 15-20 minute walk. More relaxed and you can find some nice bungalows on the beach for reasonable prices.
  4. Thong Sala - The capital of the island and where you'll land when you get off the ferry. Not a bad place to stay, but you will be going back and forth to where the action is, a lot of the time.

There's many other places on the coast marked in red worth staying, and many beaches on other sides of the island worth exploring. But don't stay on the north side of the island, otherwise it'll take you forever to get to the party.

Hot Tip: Wherever you stay, make sure you book/arrive at least 4-5 days prior, get some partying and exploring in before the party. Prices will go up, and accommodation will be scarce closer to the party date. And note that a lot of places will require you to book at least 3 days to stay. So any plans to just have 1 night there might be a problem...

You can find hostels and other accommodation on Booking, Hostelworld, Agoda or Airbnb. Check the reviews to understand what type of atmosphere the hostel provides, this way there won't be any surprises in terms of quality etc.

Staying on Koh Samui

Koh Samui is the more developed and a bigger island that is more resorts than backpacking, still worth exploring if you're so inclined. When places fill up on Koh Phangan, some people opt to stay there.

If you're staying on Koh Samui, the best area to stay is as close to Bangrak Pier as possible as this is the pier that will connect you to Thong Sala Pier aka. Koh Phangan. This isn't the only pier but it has it's pluses.

A lot of the attractions are close to or in Bangrak. So if you want 2 islands in one, this may be the best option. Here are some of the attractions:

  • Big Budda
  • Many beaches
  • Wat Plai Laem
  • Muay Thai Fights

On full moon party day, and the following morning, the speed boats will be going back and forth between multiple piers. Tickets can be purchased in advance or at the piers themselves. The trip usually takes 30 minutes.

Note that Bangrak isn't the only pier and you should check timetables and other ports from Koh Samui to Koh Phangan, and from Koh Phangan back to Koh Samui.

Things to note:

  • Speed boats will start leaving from Haad Rin (Full Moon Party Beach) as early as 5am
  • Ferries (that cost significantly less) will start leaving from Thong Sala as early as 7am
  • There are also even earlier 4am speed boats leaving from Ban Tai

Check the map above to see where these locations are.


When Is It and When Should You Go

The Full Moon Party is held every month on the full moon, although you should keep an eye out for the date you're going to go, and check to see if it's on a Thai Religious Holiday. In which case, the event may not be on. But the dates for 2020 are below. Updates are usually here.

  • Monday 06 January 2020
  • Sunday 09 February 2020
  • Sunday 08 March 2020
  • Tuesday 07 April 2020
  • Thursday 07 May 2020
  • Friday 05 June 2020
  • Monday 06 July 2020
  • Monday 03 August 2020
  • Tuesday 01 September 2020
  • Thursday 01 October 2020
  • Thursday 29 October 2020
  • Saturday 28 November 2020
  • Friday 25 December 2020
  • Monday 28 December 2020
  • Thursday 31 December 2020

You should go during High Season which is from November to March. This is the cool season, and its the perfect temperature/climate that attracts backpackers from all over.

There are 2 options you should avoid: Going when it's the middle of Monsoon Season which is from July to October, and going when it's Christmas & New Years time (which is heavily in the high season zone).

The busiest time of year would be around Christmas and New Years - the island fills up with travelers, tourists and party people ready to go nuts on vacation. The island is said to have double or even sometimes triple the amount of people at the party - it's even more expensive than usual, the party is a lot less fun, and there's much more trouble.

Monsoon season at its worst has tropical thunderstorms, high wind speeds, and heavy rain. On average, it just rains for a few hours a day and then its back to sunshine though. If you have the option, don't go during off season, but if not, be careful and let the party continue!


How Much Will Everything Cost

Again, costs really depend on a few things:

  • Where you're flying in from
  • How you're getting there
  • Where you're staying
  • How long you're staying
  • Your spending habits

So here's a few different breakdowns for a week in Ko Phangan so you can see where the money goes. Note that as it's an island, the prices will most definitely be higher than Bangkok or Chiang Mai for instance.

Note: If you're really into minimizing expenses and traveling Southeast Asia on a shoestring for a bigger trip, I'd definitely recommend getting Lonely Planet's Southeast Asia on a Shoestring Guide.

Amazon affiliate link here: https://amzn.to/2tIh1qW

Now for the breakdowns.

Budget Traveler

You like Thai food, you like cheap hostels, you prefer buying your alcohol at the 7/11 rather than on the beach. You're on the ball when it comes to transport, and you're ready for a ball at the Full Moon Party.

Total expenses estimate (for the week) for a Budget Traveler: $218 to $324
This doesn't include flights to Thailand.

Transport (getting there + being there): 1600 - 2000 Baht ($50-$65)
You flew or trained it into Surat Thani, and then took a ferry to Koh Phangan. You got the flights well in advance for cheaper, or you got a more modest ticket for the train. You did everything to make getting there as cheap as possible.

And your day to day transport is mostly walking with a few exceptions for days you want to explore other parts of the island.

Hostel per night: 400 - 500 Baht ($13-$17)
Prices increase in Haad Rin especially, when it's Full Moon week, so this is much more expensive than going rates in Bangkok. If you're traveling with someone like a girlfriend/boyfriend though, you can potentially get a private room for the same price and skip the dorm. Just be on the lookout!

Food/Water per day: 200 - 300 Baht ($6 - $10)
There's a lot of western food on the island which will be relatively pricey. Getting it is sometimes okay but there's such a variety of delicious Thai food on the island for less than half the price, it's a win win.

Expect Thai dishes to be from 60 to 120 ($2-$4) and full western meals from 100 to 300 ($4-$10). Water on the island from 7-11 is about 20-30 Baht for a 1.5L bottle.

Drinks per day: 150 - 300 Baht ($5-$10)
You're buying your tall local Chang Beers from the 7-11 for the cheapest price you'll get them, or you're finding cheap buckets from stalls along the side of the road.

Entertainment (for the week): free
You don't go to any of the paid parties, or paid gigs during the week. You instead opt to go to the free shenanigans and beach parties on Haad Rin leading up to the night.

Vacationer

You're not on a lean budget, you want to have fun and experience most things. You're okay with spending some more for the convenience and the experience.

You flew into Surat Thani on the flights that were available at the time, you booked in at a popular party hostel or somewhere more private for a bit more. You're eating pretty much anything you feel like, and going ham on the parties and alcohol.

Total expenses estimate (for the week) for a Vacationer: $358 to $617
This doesn't include flights to Thailand.

Transport (getting there + being there): 2500 - 3500 Baht ($65-$115)
You flew into Surat Thani, and then took a ferry to Koh Phangan. You got the regular priced flights and once on the island, you walked, hired scooters every other days and used taxis when you needed them.

Hostel/Bungalow per night: 550 - 800 Baht ($19-$27)
Prices will still be high on the island, but in this range you can have the experience of staying in a party hostel, be right on the beach, or stay on a different neighboring beach like Haad Yuan in a bungalow for the same price.

Food/Water per day: 300 - 600 Baht ($10 - $20)
You treat yourself to western food and some fancier Thai food that's right in the hub. You indulge in snacks and shakes at times. You don't really hunt around for the cheapest options.

Expect Thai dishes to be from 60 to 120 ($2-$4) and full western meals from 100 to 300 ($4-$10). Water on the island from 7-11 is about 20-30 for a 1.5L bottle.

Drinks per day: 300 - 600 Baht ($10-$20)
You're buying drinks from 7-11 or enjoying some at the bars on the beach depending on the mood and where you are, and how drunk you're planning on getting.

Entertainment (for the week):  600 - 1000 Baht ($20 - $33)
You spend most nights partying on the beach but you also didn't miss the Jungle party the night before the full moon, or a hostel hosted party.

Luxury

There's not cost breakdown for you, as you're prepared to spend $620+ for the week - potentially upwards of $1000.

You flew in to Koh Samui instead of Surat Thani for the convenience, on an expensive flight. You're staying in a bungalow resort type place that costing 1500 Baht ($50) or more a night.

You're going to every party, entry fee or otherwise. You're indulging in all types of food, cocktails, treats. And you're sparing no expense on this party island getaway. If you can afford it, more power to you!


And there you have it, the ultimate comprehensive guide to the Thai Full Moon party, updated for 2020. This should have every bit of information you'd want or need. If you have any questions or additions, please message us on Instagram  @thriftybackpacker or email us at admin@thriftybackpacker.co.

If you liked this, checkout our ultimate guide for traveling the world on a shoestring below.

How To Travel The World For Free | The Ultimate Backpacking Guide
Travel doesn’t have to be expensive, it doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, with the amount of options and opportunities available today, you can pretty much travel for free, forever.

I hope this helped you out!

Thanks,
Sah