As we started planning our trip to Thailand, we were on the fence about checking out one of the infamous moon parties located on the island of Koh Phangan. We’d heard wild stories of the full moon from our friends who had traveled the area. Tales of over 30,000 backpackers packed on the beach, drinking buckets of the local rum mixed with Redbull syrup (which, by the way, is illegal in most countries), dancing the night away to giant speakers pumping electronic music. We wondered if maybe we were getting a little old for this type of scene. Hey, we’re not exactly spring chickens anymore! So that’s when we started investigating the Koh Phangan half moon party.
As we researched more it seemed like everyone not only recommended the half moon, but said that it was actually better than the full moon party. The half moon is a bit more low-key than the full, but still a raging party. It’s located in the middle of the jungle, as opposed to on the beach. The half moon is also a properly organized festival ran by a private company called Half Moon Festival, as opposed to the free-for-all atmosphere of the full moon. They’ve been running this gig for a while now and put on an awesome show! Because it’s properly organized it does mean there’s an entry fee (1,000 baht with a free bucket), but it also means that there are proper bathrooms (I shudder hearing stories of the bathroom situation at the full moon, or lack thereof), security to keep things safe and just an overall festival vibe. Think of a tiny version of Coachella on magic mushrooms.
As soon as we entered I knew we had made the right decision to go to the Koh Phangan Half Moon Party. The entrance to the festival was relatively organized and you can tell the organizers put a lot of thought into the set-up. When you first enter you’ll see artists available to do black-light body painting at a cost (much more economical to do at your hostel before-hand) and the bar where you can claim your free bucket. Past this is the first of two stages. This stage is much smaller than the main stage, but has great music and is a nice escape for when you want a breather from the crowds. Continuing on you’ll pass another bar and a food area. The food is simple with pizza, Thai food, etc. and actually pretty reasonably priced for a festival. Finally you’ll make it to the main stage area. There is plenty of room to dance, whether you want to be right up front by the speakers or down in the lower area.
” He was introduced as one of the best DJs in the world, which was a pretty big stretch, but he was actually pretty good “
We were a little nervous about the music because neither Jules nor I are massive fans of electronic. We can get down to some Groove Armada and Tiesto, but the more obscure psy-trance stuff is not really our favorite. Whether you’re in our boat or love to get down to the hardcore stuff, you’re in luck. The festival has a good mix of the two. When we first entered the festival around 11:30pm, DJ Rio Vegas was just coming on. He was introduced as one of the best DJs in the world, which was a pretty big stretch, but he was actually pretty good. He mixed mainstream songs, including some old-school, with electronic beats that everyone seemed to enjoy. It made for some great dancing and singing along.
The crowd at the festival is more regular backpacker types than super hippie folks, although it’s a good mix. Everyone seemed to be enjoying the music. As the night continued the music at the main-stage become much more psy-trance. If you prefer mainstream electronic music, I would recommend heading to the festival a bit earlier, maybe around 11. We were told the party doesn’t really get started until that time anyway. If you’re a big psy-trance fan, get excited to party all night!
Unfortunately we totally forgot about the first smaller stage until the end when were exhausted from all night dancing. As we were leaving the DJ was pumping some great electronic tunes with R&B features and a saxophonist accompanied him. We had to stop by for a 5 minute dance because the music was that good. Unfortunately it was about 6:30am at this point and our legs were on strike from dancing for so long. If you are bored with the music at the main-stage at any point, definitely check out what’s going on at the smaller stage!
The festival also announces which DJs will be playing at the upcoming party, so check out their website to see what’s in store for you!
” Not only is it safer to have a buddy, but getting down with your new group of friends is a bonding experience like no other “
If you’re heading to the Koh Phangan Half Moon Party, we highly recommend having a few days either before or after to check out the rest of the island. There are some beautiful beaches, fun moto rides and gorgeous jungle hikes. The island receives a lot of tourism from the parties, but there is a lot more to do than just down buckets.
If you’re looking for a hostel, don’t miss Baan Thai Backpackers. It’s been one of our favorite hostels on our trip so far and the perfect place to stay for any Koh Phangan party.
The half moon party is the best if you have a bit of a crew to go with. Definitely check out whatever pre-party your hostel puts on to meet people. Not only is it safer to have a buddy, but getting down with your new group of friends is a bonding experience like no other. We were lucky to meet an incredible group that took our half moon experience from amazing to one of our favorite dance parties ever!
Party safe and we hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
Thanks once again to Half Moon Festival for inviting us along to check out the Koh Phangan Half Moon Party. We had an amazing time and hope to make it back again sometime!