EventsKoh Samui

Tourists flock to Koh Phangan for New Year’s beach party

PHOTO: Raja Ferry is overcrowded as travellers flock to the New Year's party on Haad Rin Beach. (via The Thaiger)

Expats and tourists are flocking to Koh Phangan for the legendary Full Moon Countdown New Year’s party on Haad Rin Beach, packing ferries and overwhelming some in the tourism industry after a quiet two years due to the pandemic. While many hostels and hotels remain shuttered, those that are open are reporting to be sold out and in some cases overbooked as travellers who waited until the last minute are paying premium prices of upwards of 10,000 baht for a room for the night.

Raja Ferry, transporting people from Donsak pier on the mainland in Surat Thani, has been packed with tourists. Not only were most of the seats taken, about half of the people on board had to sit on the ground. There was no room for social distancing. Most people took off their masks as it was so hot inside the ferry. And there was no Covid-19 check to get on the island.

Authorities said that to access the main party, the Full Moon Party Countdown on Haad Rin Beach, proof of vaccination or a negative result from an ATK test is needed. Those unable to provide proof will be given an antigen test kit to take on the spot for a fee of 200 baht. That said, there are already thousands of people inside the party zone at the hotels, hostels and resorts along the beach. Hotel owners have not been given any information on how authorities plan to test those people.

The party itself will charge a 200 baht admission fee to enter the beach zone, with the money being used as always to pay for beach cleanups after.

Tomorrow morning’s cleanup may be extra tough though after a bizarre new rule introduced by town authorities banning the reusable buckets that Full Moon Party is famous for and allowing only single-use disposable cups. Normally by 2 am, locals begin collecting buckets from the beach, sanitising them, and reselling them to bars to be reused for the next party, but tonight may see loads of additional disposable plastic littering the beach and sea.

The party is officially allowed to run until 1 am, though local authorities have said that only music must end then, and drink sales and consumption can continue. If last night was any indication, the partying will continue until morning. Street vendors selling buckets and food as well as small bars off the beach continued to operate well into the night last night, while music had to be turned down for the seating and bucket sellers on the beach.

A number of parties around the island also went on last night without incident seeing throngs of people, with popular events like OXA Beach forced to close their entrance gate early after a much higher turnout than expected.

Party at OXA Beach, Koh Phangan, December 30
Party at OXA Beach, Koh Phangan, December 30

Spirits are high with tourists bursting with excitement for the party tonight and local vendors emerging from a nearly 2 year long hibernation, thrilled to see customers back on the island.

Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.