Koh Phangan: Home to the Full Moon Party.
After visiting Koh Phangan for the full moon party back in 2015, I went back a year later to find the island was a lot more exciting than I had thought! Here are a few of the experiences I feel that all travelers need to know before visiting the island so that you can make the most of your time there.
I had no idea this existed until we literally stumbled across it on our drive up the coast, and we could not believe our eyes! I would recommend that, as well as the full moon, this goes on everyone’s checklist for Koh Phangan.
This is a seriously fun day out. Set on a lake and accessible through a bar with a great vibe and awesome staff, this is Thailand’s real life version of Total Wipeout. You can either time yourself to get up on the leader board which has three categories; male, female and children; or you can just go at your own pace, chill out on the floating mats in the sun and take your time trying to cross over the giant red balls. Only 8 people had EVER crossed these when we were there back in January and we also failed to make this list. They are a lot more slippery than they look!
The water is a perfect temperature so it doesn’t matter if you fall in! You begin by swinging off a platform into the lake, go through obstacle courses including monkey bars and then climb a huge inflatable pyramid where you then jump in and try to cross three giant red balls. If you do fall off, you just get up and carry on and this does not affect your time score. Ten-out-of-ten for fun and make sure you get pelted into the air on the massive inflatable cushion!
Slip ‘n’ Fly
The Slip ‘n’ Fly party opens around the same dates as full moon and half-moon parties. This means there is a lot more going on than that in Haad Rin which is why I encourage backpackers to get a bike and get up to see other places of the island. Although one slide is supposed to be smaller and less thrilling than the other, they are both absolutely insane! The only thing I would advise here is that you do be careful, it is impossible to control your landing and a few people ended up with serious injuries. Standard Thai H&S regulations enforced here – absolutely none. Such a good day though otherwise and definitely worth a visit. Check out their Facebook page: Slip ‘N’ Fly Party Facebook
Full moon party (of course)!
The best places to stay for full moon would be those along Haad Rin Beach – my preferences include Tommy Resort and Sunrise Resort. Not only are the ON the beach giving you direct access to the party and an easy stumble home, but they are good quality hotels with a bit of security. Safety first kids! If you are in a bit of a mess leaving that full moon party (which is everyone on that beach) then Sunrise Resort is the perfect stay. They also have a pool with a pool bar and waiter service if you fancy a bit of flash-packing. Having saying this, the only downfall to these fabulous hotels is the price. They are pretty expensive especially around full moon dates so if you are on a tight budget prepare to fork out for one of these – mostly asking for minimum 3 night stays. Also make sure you book well in advance! I use Booking.com wherever I go because it is so easy to reserve rooms without paying until you get there with free cancellation just in case, this is so useful when travel plans constantly change.
Exploring the Island
Considering I had only viewed the rest of the island from the tuk-tuk to and from the pier, I was surprised to discover what else Koh Phangan had to offer; not just the full moon party and not just in Haad Rin.
Every backpacker familiar with the Thai culture will know that the easiest way to get around in Thailand is to rent a motorbike. Not as tiny as Koh Tao; Koh Phangan is still quite small – you can drive the whole Island in 2-3 hours (depending on if you stop at some of the hidden gems that we found). The roads are quiet and calm which makes for a nice drive so if you’re a nervous driver like me even after plenty of practice on the Thai roads then this is a great place to practice your skills. The route is basically completely around the outside of the island which you can circle again and again so it makes an easy and relaxing tour.
Starting from Haad Rin, you can drive up the west coast of the island to pass coastal scenes, secret view points and some amazing beach front bars. Our first point of interest was the view point where we used to come for the scenery and a shake every morning. You won’t be able to miss the View Point Cafe when driving out from Haad Rin. It features a small area to sit with a sofa where you can relax with perfect sunrise or sunset views.
Carry on past the cafe and you will leave Haad Rin. Keep going up the north west coast – it’s a long straight road but the scenes are amazing. Keep looking left and you will eventually come to what can only be described as the perfect postcard picture opportunity. As can be seen below:
If you leave Haad Rin around 5pm you will catch the sun setting over it for the best shot! Also, don’t worry too much about falling in, the water is so shallow you’ll be able to stand – I had no trouble at a tiny 5 ft.
Immediately after the palm tree, at 6.30pm every night a small french wine bar called L’Alcove comes to life. This is on the same road heading to the north of the island up the west coast. I highly recommend a stop in here, or even make a night of it. I spent my entire time in Thailand drinking Singapore Slings or Samsong rum, so to finally find a wine bar made me a very happy lady! Not only do they have a variety of the finest, the setting is absolutely beautiful and service is also great! You are sat on the beach with pillows, insense candles, nibbles, wine and even a live band on Saturdays and Tuesdays. A definite must-do for a romantic, chilled out evening. This would be perfect an evening or two after full moon, where you can still recover but also still get out and enjoy your time on this beautiful island.
To sum it up, I would recommend staying a few days either side of the full moon party as the island really does have a lot more to offer. Not only does this island offer amazing viewpoints, a relaxing scenic drive, beautiful hotels and incredible sunsets; you also get the insane, party, backpacker nightlife and atmosphere which is why we are all attracted to this crazy island in the first place.
Check out our travel video below of our time in Thailand including Koh Phangan (and The Challenge footage) and Australia!