The Full Moon Party is an annual celebration paving the way for new year celebrations and events celebrating party culture. Thousands of people from all over the world come to Thailand to experience multicultural events.
Known for music, sex, and drinking, the Full Moon Party has received international recognition. Yet, this can come with its consequences. So, can it be “dangerous”?
The Full Moon Party can be dangerous. With reports of theft, assault, and murder, there’s a chance that you could have a potentially harmful experience. However, there have also been positive remarks towards the party as well. It is important to take care of yourself and try to remain cautious.
When planning your next or first trip to the Full Moon Party, you should consider the historical background and the activities that take place. There have been records of dangerous encounters that might change your decision or make you cautious when experiencing the adventure for the first time.
What is the History of the Full Moon Party in Thailand?
What is now known today as the Full Moon Party is a popular destination for party-goers every month of the year? Located in Koh Phangan, the party has now become a multicultural event that attracts thousands of people from all over the world (4).
The history starts back when settlers came to the island. The first inhabitants were believed to be Hainan Chinese; they loved fishing and gained valuable resources working at tin mines around the island. You might have heard of Koh Phangan because it neighbors places such as Koh Samui and Koh Tao in the Gulf of Thailand (4).
Long before the early 1900s, it was very unusual for tourists to visit the island due to limited transportation options. Later on, Koh Samui began to promote and increase its tourism business. Around the same time, the arrival of tourists led to the construction of the first-ever bungalow in Koh Phangan (4).
It is believed that the first Full Moon Party happened around the late 1980s on Haad Rin Beach. A group of hobbies huddled around a campfire, played the guitar, and drank alcohol till the morning. This was the start of the very “first” of the mystical parties that paved the way for the Full Moon celebrations to come (4).
Full Moon Party as an International Phenomenon
Around 30,000 travelers descend towards the shores each month, hoping to enjoy a night of drinking and dancing. Under all creativity lies humble beginnings. At the start, groups of travelers and sound systems brought different styles of music to bungalows. The arrival of electricity and commercialization drew people to the island (2).
In the 90s, before social media was a significant phenomenon, tourists already talked about the Full Moon Party. People from all over the world would come to Thailand to taste the crazy beach party life. At some point, the coastline of Haad Rin became full of hostels, music, and bars. Techno, drum, bass, dance, house, reggae, and blues were the most common forms of music.
Events were made to capitalize on the success of the Full Moon Party, where most of the tourist industry benefited from that counterpart. Today, the party is stronger than ever. Despite dangerous happenings, the party remains an international event.
The Wild Side of the Full Moon Party
Backpackers became interested in the event as it gained more popular recognition. The main attractions at the party are the fire skipping ropes, drag culture, and alcohol buckets (1).
The Nation describes the party with “loud psychedelic flyers and posters all over the island-the Half Moon, the Black Moon, the Shiva Moon – and each one a bacchanal of all-night techno music, half-naked foreigners, and unabashed drug and alcohol indulgence” (1). The party can get wild rather quickly, which is why it is not for everyone-for familiar residents or farmers; it is another sleepless night (1).
The Full Moon Party is also featured in international films such as The Beach and Last Stop for Paul (1). Additionally, the party is featured in the Thai film Hormones and the subject of one of Comedy Central TV Show episodes. Furthermore, Stacey Dooley’s documentary on Tourism and the Truth in 2011 also discussed the beach (1).
Koh Phangan itself is an ecstasy-driven island. The island is famous for marijuana, heroin, magic mushrooms, opium, ecstasy, LSD, amphetamines, and other designer drugs. Moreover, there are dozens of beaches and health retreats. The southern part of the shore has cigarettes, dogs, and remains in debris (1).
Efforts to Shut Down the Full Moon Party
At the start, there were efforts to tolerate the signs of advertising, such as with a special mushroom omelet or amphetamine tea (1). However, there was a limit to collateral damage. Immigrants saw that the Full Moon Party was on the verge of a breakdown. Drug dealers began to go to guesthouses with marijuana. The governor of Surat Thani spoke of trying to keep control of the people but finding no way for them to listen (1).
Moreover, the number of crimes increased during the Full Moon Parties. There have been more muggings, robberies, assaults, and sexual attacks on tourists in recent years. There have also been break-ins with party-goers away from their rooms (1).
Tragic Events at the Full Moon Party
Foreigners are quick to warn you about the potential dangers of attending the Full Moon Party while on your trip to Thailand. For one, the British Embassy warned that western tourists had been victims of gang attacks in Koh Pangan (1).
The region is mainly known for murder during the night, in 2004. Three girls were gunned down in a fight on Haad Rin beach. Other attacks mention an Israeli tourist of 31 years of age being stabbed eight times with a knife. In 2008, an Indian tourist was stabbed while breaking up a fight during the Full Moon Party (1).
Murders became very common in the region. On New Year’s Eve 2022, a British tourist named Stephan Ashton was shot dead (1). He was only dancing with his friends at the beach bar when he was caught in a fight between a group. The suspect caught in action was found with a homemade gun (1).
There have also been other tragic events that have caused injuries during the party. At least one man has reported dying at the Full Moon Party, while dozens left with severe burns due to firework malfunction (3). The event had around 10,000 to 30,000 people during a New Year’s countdown for 2017. Out of nowhere, the fireworks display sent burning embers into the crowd.
Participants of the party, Madison Reidy, only 21 years old, explained the moment she felt stinging sensations in her arms, legs, and face (3). Another party-goer called the evening a nightmare. People were trampled over each other as everyone tried to get out of the situation as quickly as possible (3).
7 Quick Tips for Surviving the Full Moon Party in Thailand
Of course, many events could be potentially dangerous, but there are ways we can attend while aiming to be cautious of our surroundings. Here are some tips that can get you through the party unharmed! (5)
1. Pace yourself
It is essential to pace yourself when it comes to time. Most come to party relatively early, get to drink, and do not witness the best of the events. You should avoid getting fully drunk and wait to experience the sunrise with a few cocktails (5).
2. Wear proper shoes
The worst thing you can do is not wear appropriate shoes for an event like this. Flip flops are not your go-to, especially with the fighting and potential dangers of getting your foot cut on grass. It is a better option to wear trainers or pumps (5).
3. Be careful with buckets
The Full Moon Party is popularly known for having buckets of drinks. However, they can potentially hurt you or even kill you. You should purchase buckets from a vendor near the clubs rather than buying them for low prices. The cheap buckets might not be of absolute alcohol or sealed correctly (5).
4. Book ahead of time
When traveling to Koh Phangan during the busiest season, it is essential to find pre-accommodations. Most hotels require you to stay a minimum of 3 nights, so it is necessary to plan, depending on your price range and duration from the Full Moon Party.
5. Bring a change of money
Unfortunately, it costs money to pee at the Full Moon Party. This means you should probably bring loose change if you do not hope to end up in any emergencies (5).
6. Do not bring a heavy bag
You may lose your belongings when spending time at a crowded location. It is better to bring a small purse to keep loose money in your clothing (5).
7. Try out body paint
The Full Moon Party can be rather dark and scary. At times, you would want to be wearing something luminous and bright, especially if you are planning to go as a group and need to find your friend (5).
All in all, the Full Moon Party is an adventurous and exhilarating experience for any party-goer that wants to drink and dance the night away. However, yes, the Full Moon Party is dangerous. There have been accounts of tragic incidents that have left dozens of arms and many dead. It is essential to be aware of these incidents before making the serious decision to attend a risky partner. Even then, there are helpful tips you can follow if wanting to go to the party, safely and consciously.
1. Hays, Jeffrey. “Full Moon Parties, Drugs, Sex Tourism, Dead Tourists and the Dark Side of Thai Tourism.” Facts and Details, https://factsanddetails.com/southeast-asia/Thailand/sub5_8g/entry-3316.html/.
2. Hulme, Kyle. “How Thailand’s Full Moon Parties Became an International Phenomenon.” Culture Trip, The Culture Trip, 19 Oct. 2017, https://theculturetrip.com/asia/thailand/articles/how-thailands-full-moon-party-went-from-small-gathering-to-international-phenomenon/.
3. Mann, Tanveer. “One Dead, Dozens Injured after Being Hit by Fireworks at Full Moon Party.” Metro, Metro.co.uk, 12 Dec. 2019, https://metro.co.uk/2017/01/02/one-dead-dozens-injured-after-being-hit-by-fireworks-at-full-moon-party-6356330/.
4. Sylvester, Phil. “How to Survive Thailand’s Full Moon Party.” World Nomads, World Nomads, 14 Aug. 2019, https://worldnomads.com/travel-safety/southeast-asia/thailand/full-moon-mayhem-surviving-the-party/.
5. “10 Top Tips for Surviving the Full Moon Party Thailand!” RSS, https://dreambigtravelfarblog.com/blog/full-moon-party-thailand/.