The vast majority of young backpackers who come to Thailand will intend on hitting up the legendary Full Moon Party, which has been staged monthly on Haad Rin beach, on the island of Koh Phangan for over 20 years now. With 10,000 – 30,000 people hitting the beach for a massive party every month, it’s no wonder that many backpackers heading to Thailand almost plan their trips around the event. Check out what we think of it all as we give our opinion on what is better... Full Moon or Half Moon?!
Full Moon Vs Half Moon
Full Moon vs Half Moon, what is better? ...
Even as long ago as 2008 when I first set foot in Thailand (and probably long before), there was a rumour circulating around the backpacker trails and forums of South East Asia, of a party in the jungle, which (dare I say it)...“is better than Full Moon”.
Yes, you guessed it, they were talking about the Half Moon Party, which is staged twice every month in the Jungle in Baan Tai, on the island of Koh Phangan. Nowadays, almost as many people have heard about this as they have the Full Moon Party. So which is better? Full Moon vs Half Moon? Fair question, but not all that easy to answer...
Many people will automatically assume that Half Moon is better because it’s slightly less well known, and so therefore less ‘commercial' than the bigger Full Moon Party. They also believe this because, no doubt they have heard a few horror stories from Full Moon parties. Stories of people getting drunk and losing their money/phones/cameras or friends in the crowd, only to wake up alone with major sunburn on the beach the next day. Yes, this does happen to some people (at both half and full moon) but that is almost a given at any event with 20000+ drunken youngsters; some of which are away from home for the first time.
Truth be told, there are hundreds of thousands of young travellers who have had an amazing night at both of the parties and I am convinced that you can have an awesome time at either, so long as you do it right! Many factors come into play each time, such as: who you’re with, the weather, how crowded it is and the DJ's, which can all contribute to the experience.
Full Moon vs Half Moon- What's the real difference?
The main differences with full moon vs half moon are that the Full Moon Party takes over the whole of Haad Rin beach (and even the town to some extent), with many bars, shops, stalls and hostels getting in on the event. There is also a wide variety of music, plus some really cool after parties that start after sunrise. Whilst the Half Moon Party is run by one organisation and takes place in a confined venue in the jungle in Baan Tai. It's a very cool venue with two music stages and several bars. Both have plenty of entertainment...DJs, dancers and fire dancers, plenty of UV paint, heaps of backpackers getting high on life, and of course buckets of Samsung.
At TruTravels we have spent many years getting the fine art of partying down to a tee, and as we have collectively attended both of these parties (which happen to be the biggest on our home island of Koh Phangan) more times than most people have had hot dinners. We have actually just launched our full moon party pack too- check it out! So we should probably share some of the tips we have acquired over the years with you!..
Full Moon Party- Rule Book
Rule #1- Time it right!
Never even consider hitting the main Haad Rin beach until after midnight! This gives many of the types of people we don’t want to bump into enough time to fall into a bucket induced coma somewhere out of the way, or safely back to their hotel having been carried back by their pals. At about 1-2am there will still be plenty of people out, but most of the abrasive drunks and creeps will have left along with the light weights and early peakers. This means that you're less likely to be bothered by the aggressive lads on tour, and the crowds are slightly thinner ,so it’s far easier to stay in your group and not lose your mates.
We usually jump in a cab from our Hostel pre party at Echo Beach Backpackers between 12 and 1am, head to one of the bars near the beach like Sand Castle or Fubar for a few, then roll down to our spot at Drop in Bar, one of the main bars on Haad Rin beach in the centre of the party.
Rule #2 - Have a meeting point.
The second important bit of advice would be to make sure you establish a meeting point with your group of friends, before you all start heading off in separate directions and inevitably losing one another. This may sound a bit like a school trip, but trust us, it’s a smart idea if you don’t want to spend the night pushing through crowds looking for a familiar face. Many people who head here for the first time have no idea where they entered the beach party. We always use our mate Tommy/Bobos Bars on the beach as the meeting point and let everyone know to head back here if they get lost. This way they are always likely to find other members of the group to party on with.
Rule #3 - Pace Yourself
The best part of the party in our opinion is sunrise, so it’s important to pace yourself if you want to see the amazing spectacle that is the sun coming up over this beautiful beach, while pockets of party goers still dance in the sand. Granted, the beach may be a bit of a mess, but it is well cleaned by the local beach clean team which is funded by the 100b Haad Rin entry fee on the night, and many good hearted party goers, including us on several occasions, get stuck in and help clean some of the party debris from the beach.
Sunrise taken on Had Rin Beach, Koh Phangan
For the most hardcore of ravers there is still the option of heading to the infamous after party at Back Yard Pub, situated on a hill/cliff behind Sun Rise beach. It starts at about 8am and the vibe here is usually pretty relaxed and always interesting due to the wide range of partygoers and stragglers it attracts. Many of the islands locals skip full moon altogether and head straight to Back Yard the next day. If you make it to the afterparty then we salute you, just don’t forget to save some cash for a taxi back and watch out for sunburn, as it’s pretty unlikely anyone will have sunblock on them at the party. Most of all, stay safe and enjoy the beats.
Half Moon Party
This one is a little more straight forward, mainly due to it being in a confined area so there are less options and less things to potentially go wrong. As with Full Moon, we would still advise against getting there too early. Allthough discount tickets can be brought before 10pm, you are likely to be the only ones there until at least 11-12pm, at which point it becomes hard to get a drink due to the crowds arriving. The other thing to bare in mind is that drinks here tend to be slightly more expensive than at other local bars as there is a captive audience, so you may wanna get a few cheeky ones in at your hostel or a local bar before you go.
Again, we always have a big pre party at the Beach Bar at Echo Beach hostel. There you will always find a lively crowd, cheap drinks and good DJ’s. At about midnight we start making our way up to the main party. The venue for Half Moon is very cool but also quite big, so it’s wise to pick a spot that you and your group will aim to stay near or meet at to avoid getting separated.
They usually have two stages set up with different DJ’s, so you can go between the two according to your music taste. We prefer the deep house stage but a bit of variety is also nice. There are always loads of taxis waiting at the exit after the party but on our trip we take care of all of that so you don't have to worry!
You can of course join us at either party if you are on the island or by joining one of our Full Moon or Half Moon Experience trips that start in Bangkok and finish in Koh Phangan. Finally to answer the original question 'Full Moon vs Half Moon- which is better?'. I would say that I have personally had some of the best experiences at the Full Moon Party, but it does depend on doing it the right way. I have also had many a great night in the Jungle at Half Moon too, but in my opinion there's just something about dancing on a beach, surrounded by friends when the sun is coming up over the horizon that you just can’t beat!
Words By Joe
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