Saturday, March 19, 2011 was the night that the full moon was the closest to the Earth since 1993. As luck would have it, that fell directly on the evening we arranged to attend the full moon party on Haad Rin Beach on Koh Phangan. Thailand has gained a reputation for having wild full moon parties, and the biggest, wildest one is where the full moon party orignated on Koh Phangan. Every full moon 20,000-30,000 people (almost entirely foreigners) descend on the beach for buckets, dancing, firerope skipping and a great time. Having arrived the day before we had some time to get our bearings in the area before heading to the beach. On the way down a couple sharks were enjoying a trademark bucket sold by hundreds of shops around the island.

The bucket is the most common mixed drink on the island, consisting of a bottle of rum, a Coke and a Redbull (did you know that Redbull is from Thailand? Cool). We bought one for 250 Baht on the beach. You may notice my awesome shirt. Plenty more where that came from.

One of the unique things to the party is that every couple hundred yards Thai locals set up fire skipping ropes. They douse a big rope in oil, light it up and swing it around. Lots of people jump in and the longer it goes, the more people join. It’s only a matter of time before the rope gets tangled on someone and they get burned. Some of the burns we saw people get were pretty gruesome. Sometimes the rope would get tangled on peoples’ heads and they couldn’t get it off for several seconds. It was very entertaining but pretty dangerous so Kristof and I contented ourselves with just watching.

We walked down the length of the beach and climbed up some rocks on the far end to get a view of the whole party. It reminds me of the edge of Black Rock City from way out on the playa.

A very cool Romanian family brought their little daughter to the party. Despite all the loud techno music and party people she seemed to be having a very good time. We played in the sand for a little while together.

We danced for a while at one venue on the far end of the beach, playing some hip electro-house dance music.

There was a ton of people. Here are crowd pictures.


It had been overcast for most of the evening but an hour or two before sunrise as we were leaving the moon showed itself. It didn’t look that big, being so high in the sky; any time it’s closer to the horizon it looks much bigger. Oh well, still a full moon I’ll never forget.

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Filed under: Southeast Asia

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