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Can Koh Pha Ngan’s Full Moon Party recover from Covid-19 hiatus?

Neill Fronde



After a year long hiatus, can Thailand’s world-famous Full Moon Party recover, or will it evolve in the post-Covid-19 era? Before April last year, Haad Rin Beach on Koh Pha Ngan was invaded each full moon by backpackers and partygoers. The beach hummed to the thump, thump of the music and the buckets of exotic cocktails (and plenty of other substances) flowed freely.

The event draws up to 30,000 partiers every month now, after simple beginnings as a hippy beach gathering in the 1980s. But due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the event has been on hold and some fear it may be the end of the line for the iconic party.

While the party has been a cash cow, attracting more than half of million-plus visitors to the island of Koh Pha Ngan each year, critics have become increasingly vocal about the downside of an event so large and so wild. Drugs, alcohol abuse, petty theft and more bad behaviour, along with the ecological damage, have received increasing scrutiny and bad press.

But the event supports thousands of small businesses, vendors and jobs for local people, bringing tens of thousands of customers to bars, restaurants, food stalls, hotels, hostels, taxi drivers, and even migrant workers who help clean the event and resell the gathered and scrubbed buckets from the beach back to bars. P Noi, the owner of Full Moon mainstay Tommy Resort, believes the event is crucial for the island economy but concedes there is room for improvement.

“We accept constructive criticism, but there’s no reason why the Full Moon Party cannot come back when tourism opens up again.”

Calls have increased for a more sustainable and more organised and contained event, or even the permanent closure of the Full Moon Party. Organisers see the need for Covid-19 measures like masks and social distancing for the near future, but also look ahead to a slow evolution of the party. Attracting higher-quality businesses and better regulation could control the wild atmosphere enough to be sustainable and reduce criticism.

The island already boasts a vibrant counterculture seen with parties like Eden and Lost Paradise raging even if Full Moon Party is on hold. Fancy pool villas with stunning ocean views have increased on the island to cater to high-end tourists and families, and Koh Pha Ngan has become a destination for digital nomads avoiding city life, as co-working spaces have cropped up. The north of the islandhas a massive yoga and wellness community in the Sri Thanu area that’s been very profitable, even during the pandemic.

Still, with the amount of tourism supported by the monthly event, a permanent close down of the Full Moon Party is unlikely. Locals are eager to see the party, along with the customers it brings, returning to Haad Rin. Other full moon events have been tried around the world, but nothing has yet to compare to the magic of the massive all-night beach party. Many hope this year hiatus allows for improvements to create a party to evolve and sustain for years to come.



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  1. Avatar

    J West

    Sunday, March 28, 2021 at 6:19 pm

    It’s laughable to compare the “ high quality tourist” Thailand wants and the dragged out lowlife addict that attends a full moon booze and drug freak show. Sure….it’s been somebody’s cash cow….like the degenerate creep sex for sale shows of Pattaya and Cowboy/Patpong were somebody’s cash cow, but at the expense of everyone’s right to peace , order and good government? Is it time to show Thai youth that their future is not collecting puke buckets and reselling them to beer bars? Is it the pimps who’ll decide what another generation of impoverished Thai boys and girls do for money? Does Thailand need a national referendum on these issues or will a motley rabble of international losers decide . Maybe Covid is a game changer, for the better.

  2. Avatar

    Robert Elliott

    Sunday, March 28, 2021 at 7:16 pm

    J West. Well said and sadly accurate.

  3. Avatar

    Kuhn David

    Sunday, March 28, 2021 at 7:17 pm

    The “Full Moon Party” is one of the things that should be put away, permanently.

  4. Avatar


    Sunday, March 28, 2021 at 7:50 pm

    J West I’ve been to the full moon party and I don’t take kindly to being called a drugged out lowlife addict, it’s the sort of ridiculous generalisation only ignorant people come out with. It’s actually a bunch of students drinking too much, maybe some take drugs but I didn’t see any of that, the bottom line is they’re having a good time dancing on the beach and the people I met were really nice.

    Hope all’s well at the monastry.

  5. Avatar

    toby andrews

    Sunday, March 28, 2021 at 11:23 pm

    I doubt a lowlife addict that attends a drug freak show could be coherent enough to travel all the way to Thailand.
    I am guessing a lot of them ARE very nice.
    Why not?
    Some were probably ripped off; a few of them robbed of their Smart phones, but too few to prevent them attending the next full moon party.
    I approve of Full Moon parties. Many discos in the West have Smart Phones stolen.

  6. Avatar

    J Weat

    Monday, March 29, 2021 at 11:03 am

    Toby, 555555, sad fact, lowlife addicts and the scum who make a meal out of them find their way to Thailand all too often. And it’s the disreputable rabble that has given the rest of the expat community a bad rep. Bad guys out. It’s time to recognize that if you can’t do that *hit at home, you can’t do it here.

  7. Avatar

    Ian v5.00121

    Monday, March 29, 2021 at 11:06 am

    J West, you are bang on. That event is a toxic nightmare, it makes money for a few families. But it’s a party for c***s who don’t know any better.

    Buckets and d**kheads with shockingly bad music

  8. Avatar


    Monday, March 29, 2021 at 11:19 am

    Super opinionated a**holes commenting on other peoples definition of fun and lumping thousands of people from all around the world who attend as a singular group. Give it a rest

  9. Avatar

    peter pope

    Monday, March 29, 2021 at 6:12 pm

    I lived on the other island facing k.phangan and hoped that this island would sink and take all the scum and it’s drugs with it. Covid might just be that solution. So just open up and let all the idiots come again but make sure there are no return boats….. like Hotel California….. you are welcome to check in but you can never leave !

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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.

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