If I say bread, people think of butter.
If I say pop people think of corn.
If I say Koh Phangan people think of full moon parties…
Which is a shame because the island is so much more than that.
Koh Phangan is an island notorious amongst travellers as a party island. Every year it hosts an array of full moons, half moons, black moons… Well, there’s basically a party for every time the moon is present. But it also has a whole lot else.
Powdery sand, clear turquoise water, coral reefs, secluded bays, coves, mountain lookouts, waterfalls, or for the more culturally inclined, there are Muay Thai camps, art enclaves, yoga retreats and temples.
I went to Koh Phangan whilst island hopping and was amazed by the sheer amount of travellers that I met that only came over for the moon party. Their typical itinerary was to arrive, party, and then go home the next day. Unless they were too hungover… In which case they would leave the day after that.
I know travel style varies from person to person but when you go to a place solely to party, you miss out on so much. Like these views
And an array of opportunities to monkey around! I like to explore as much of a place as possible and get a real feel for what a place is truly about. But having said that I also enjoy a good party. Unfortunately, the full moon was a few days after I was due to leave, but I did manage to go to half moon. Which unbeknown to me at the time is a completely different thing!
For those wondering what the difference is: Full moon parties take place along Haad Rin beach with sections upon sections of different bars playing different music, whereas half-moon parties take place in the jungle with one DJ and one bar.
I didn’t know what to expect but when I got there it was like a scene out of a movie. People (of all levels of drunkness) were queuing to enter and as you walked inside the path was lined with food stalls, a bar and people ready to cover you in UV paint doodles. Which is quite obviously a must!
Once you’re painted up and ready to party you follow the path into the trees where it opens out into a large circle. Stairs circle the outer rim leading to the bar, and the ground is covered with people dancing, doing limbo or watching fire dancers.
Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of this as I’d had various people advise me against taking my camera due to the absolute carnage that happens at these parties. However, when I got there I was bummed that I had listened to everyone as it would have been an amazing photo opportunity. My advice is that if you’re not planning on getting stupidly drunk and trust yourself not to lose it, then it’s definitely safe to take your camera as long as it’s not your prized DSLR. Point and shoots or the ever-trustworthy iPhone would be the safest.
The next day I rented a scooter and set off for a drive around the island, stopping every few minutes just to admire the views.
Koh Phangan, to me, has an almost bohemian vibe to it. It feels relaxed, and spacious and has a much more chilled-out vibe than other islands I have visited.