Koh Phangan is an island that originally became famous for Thai people because it was a favorite spot for three former Kings of Thailand. It is an island of coconut palms, majestic mountains, white sand beaches, waterfalls and unspoiled nature. These are the reasons why backpackers and hippies were drawn to Koh Phangan in the 1980s and 1990s. However, the phenomenal success of the Full Moon Party has made Koh Phangan now famous for its large outdoor parties.

The main party not just in Koh Phangan but also in Thailand is the beach party in Haad Rin. It falls on the night of the full moon (if it doesn’t clash with a Buddha day holiday) and attracts well over 20,000 party-goers. It is the largest monthly beach party in the world, and as such has a cachet that cannot be rivaled by any other outdoor party in Thailand.

People tend to hate or love the Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan. It is crowded and mostly full of young people. While most are happily dancing, socializing and watching the fire shows, many are passed out or vomiting on the beach. Despite efforts to put bins on the beach the sand gets full of broken glass and other litter. Some people go into the sea for a swim and need rescuing, most go in the sea to urinate as the queues for the toilets can be long.

The music at the Full Moon Party varies over the 12 sound systems. It is mostly trance music, with a few places playing house music or RnB. Famous DJs rarely take to the decks at the FMP (as it is called) probably because the bars are not interested in paying their asking fees. For famous DJs the Black Moon Party in Koh Samui is better bet.

A good business idea can always be copied. This is a truism in Thailand. Hence the proliferation of massage houses, tattoo parlors and Irish bars in the country. The same philosophy has lead to a number of other outdoor parties in Koh Phangan. The better and more famous of these are the Half Moon Party, the Black Moon Party, the Jungle Experience and the Shiva Moon Party. All these parties occur in the jungle or on the beach at Bantai.

The music at the Bantai parties is primarily Koh Phangan’s version of Goa trance music. Koh Phangan and European resident DJs have taken this type of trance and given it a techno or progressive house twist. Those who go mad for the parties on Koh Phangan are usually devotees of this type of music. There is very little break beats such as drum and bass or hip hop at the parties. This makes the musical scene on Koh Phangan somewhat out of synch with dance music developments in London, New York and other major capitals around the world.

In the end, the parties are more about going wild in the jungle or on a beach, drinking frightening amounts of cheap Thai whiskey and maybe dabbling with other substances. The phases of the moon are just an excuse for a party, although the fact that the moon is a symbol for lunacy is a significance that is not lost on everyone who attends the parties.