Connect with us


Has the full moon set on Koh Pha Ngan’s Full Moon Party?




A full moon used to mean a full beach of party-goers along the Haad Rin strip on Thailand’s Koh Pha Ngan. But it hasn’t been like that for a year now as the Gulf of Thailand island waits out the restrictions and border closures caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The crowds of backpackers and revellers aren’t flocking to the monthly event and the shops, bars and cheap accommodation along the tourist strip are shuttered and locked – some of the shop owners and staff will never return.

What started as a back-packer and hippy off-the-beaten-track adventure in the 1980s, in recent years attracted a broader clientele. It’s still a difficult place to get to – either flying in to Koh Samui on the monopolised flights of Bangkok Airways and catching a ferry, or catching a ferry from the mainland of Surat Thani. Koh Pha Ngan now has a lot more to offer than just it’s monthly party of bass-thumping beats and buckets full of…. well we don’t really know what’s in them (neither did the people who drank them).

The sound system was loud, but not very good, security is almost non-existent, good DJs are patchy and there’s a general “it will be OK” attitude that pervades the organisation of the Full Moon Party. There have been different proposals put to the organisers over the years to bring the event up to international standard beach parties, but they’ve fallen by the wayside as the organisers argue “it it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Koh Pha Ngan’s monthly beach rave had its own special attraction despite any perceived or real quality lapses.

The south-east corner of the island actually has 2 Haad Rin beaches, one facing east for sunrises and the more famous, and longer, beach that hosts the monthly beach party.

Has the full moon set on Koh Pha Ngan's Full Moon Party? | News by ThaigerThere’s still a hippy vibe on the island with its numerous yoga and spa retreats but the businesses that remain are barely hanging on without the feature act that would book out most of the accommodation for the BIG night. The Full Moon Party attracted more than 50% of the one million visitors that headed to Koh Pha Ngan every year.

The party has also attracted plenty of bad publicity, as any huge beach party would – illicit drugs, alcohol abuse, sex crimes, the garbage left after each event. And even some cases of violence. But the vast majority of visitors to Thailand’s Full Moon Party just had a damn good time!

A year-long break has allowed some reflection after nearly 4 decades of growth and popularity of the party. Locals and local businesspeople are wondering if there could be a Koh Pha Ngan without the Full Moon Party. Has the island outgrown the one-trick-pony that WAS the monthly beach rave? Could a more sustainable economy be built around wellness, spas and diving?

The island is part of a trio off the coast of Surat Thani. Koh Samui is the largest and most popular. But Koh Tao and Kho Pha Ngan have had their own share of publicity. Koh Tao with its diving and, latterly, some bad world publicity surrounding a high profile murder case and other mysterious misadventures to tourists. Koh Pha Ngan had its big party, and in the last decade or so, some excellent retreats concentrating on wellness, yoga and relaxation.

But the three islands all suffer the same core problem – an airline monopoly that makes trips to the archipelago expensive. Sure, there are ferry services but they are not 100% reliable and can take day out of your itinerary with delays, blah blah. The 3 islands have thrived despite the tyranny of distance and inconvenience. But they could have become much more mainstream if there was an open skies policy for flights to the island or the ferry infrastructure was improved. Perhaps one of the allures of the 3 islands is that they ARE hard to get to?

Has the full moon set on Koh Pha Ngan's Full Moon Party? | News by Thaiger

MAP: Google Maps

But despite the retrospection from townsfolk and businesspeople on Koh Pha Ngan, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few – the island simply cannot survive without the monthly tourist invasion, despite the challenges. Cutting off 20-30,000 monthly visitors, who usually stay for a few more days either side of the party, would be a fatal blow to the island’s economy in the long term.

But the 12 month’s rest for Haad Rin and the organisers will certainly bring some changes to the event. In the short term there will be mask-wearing and social distancing guidelines, a challenge for any alcohol-fuelled social gathering. And the problems of getting there will remain. But Koh Pha Nganians are sure that the event will not only survive but thrive once the tourists start coming again.

The locals are also sure there will be a greater appreciation for the island’s natural beauty and the other tourist assets that need the same amount of investment and attention as the monthly beach party. Cutting off the island’s main economic lifeline proved that Koh Pha Ngan needed to diversify its economy.

For now they’re not sure when the tourists will start flowing back and the party resume, maybe later this year or 2022, but the beach will still be there.

And the full moon will again set in the Gulf of Thailand as the partygoers glance westwards.

Has the full moon set on Koh Pha Ngan's Full Moon Party? | News by Thaiger

PHOTO: Koh Samui Travel


Get more from The Thaiger

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS
👋 Have your say on our Thailand forums
🔔 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
📺 Subscribe / Join YouTube for daily shows
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🐦 FOLLOW us on Twitter
📷 FOLLOW us on Instagram


Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.



  1. Avatar

    Beat Weber

    Tuesday, April 6, 2021 at 11:32 am

    Who came up with the idea to move the FMP to Sunset Beach?
    It has always been on Sunrise Beach, aka Haad Rin Nok.

  2. Avatar


    Tuesday, April 6, 2021 at 7:46 pm

    Must be crazy to hold this event in the Covid-19 virus pandemic! Full Moon Party is for revellers intoxicated with alcohol and drugs to sustain an all night function to its max.

  3. Avatar

    Jaime H.

    Saturday, April 24, 2021 at 5:05 pm

    FMP is a perfect Petri dish to grow and spread Covid. “In the short term there will be mask-wearing and social distancing guidelines, a challenge for any alcohol-fuelled social gathering. And the problems of getting there will remain. But Koh Pha Nganians are sure that the event will thrive”. Are these guys fukking crazy? Apparently so.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

If you have story ideas, a restaurant to review, an event to cover or an issue to discuss, contact The Thaiger editorial staff.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Coronavirus (Covid-19)2 hours ago

Thai Red Cross order of 5 million Moderna vaccines in proccess

Bangkok3 hours ago

Peaceful pro-democracy protests in Bangkok by Taloo-Fah

Coronavirus (Covid-19)4 hours ago

Kanchanaburi prison builds field hospital for 379 Covid-19 cases

Welcome back to Thailand!

Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in Thailand - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages!

Coronavirus (Covid-19)5 hours ago

Covid-19 train sends 1,490 infected from Bangkok to hometowns

Thailand6 hours ago

Covid-19 Poll: People trust doctors, social media, 85% confused.

Coronavirus (Covid-19)10 hours ago

Record high as Chon Buri hits nearly 800 Covid-19 infections

Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Coronavirus (Covid-19)10 hours ago

Covid outbreak closes Nakhon Si Thammarat rubberwood processing factory

Thailand11 hours ago

Nearly 600 temples now offering free cremation services

Thailand11 hours ago

Phetchabun chicken processing plant sees over 3,000 infections

Phuket11 hours ago

New Covid-19 infections drop, still worrisome for Phuket Sandbox

Phuket12 hours ago

Phuket “car mob” protest demands the removal of PM, calls for mRNA vaccines

Thailand12 hours ago

Samut Sakhon Governor Veerasak offers to resign if communication in his province doesn’t improve

Coronavirus (Covid-19)13 hours ago

Sunday Covid Update: 15,335 new cases; provincial totals

Coronavirus (Covid-19)13 hours ago

Covid UPDATE: 15,335 new infections, provincial numbers

Coronavirus Infections13 hours ago

DDC says infections still rising, possibly falling in Bangkok

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism5 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism5 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism5 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Southern floods, Face mask fines, Thai Air Asia woes | January 8