Most potential tourists think of the mainland when they are considering a trip to Thailand, but this nation in South-east Asia actually includes hundreds of different islands located close to the coast of the mainland. Many of these were traditionally uninhabited but today they welcome visitors from around the world for some unusual activities, such as the Full Moon Party that is held on Koh Phangan.
Some of the best festivals in this exotic part of the world take place only on an annual basis, which can make it very difficult for tourists to experience them. The Full Moon Party, however, happens at least a dozen times each year since there is a new party every time the moon becomes full. At its heart, the Full Moon Party is an enjoyable beach party that lasts all night long.
The Full Moon Party
Most activities at full moon take place on or around Haad Rin Beach on Koh Phangan. Though the party started out as a small event drawing as few as 20 tourists, over time it has become a large festival attracting up to 30,000 tourists each month. Much drinking and live music are integral parts of the party these days, with beach bars staying open until dawn and music incorporating such diverse genres as reggae and rhythm and blues, plus some dance tunes.
Some more unconventional activities are also an important part of the Full Moon Party. Tourists may be invited to participate in adventurous events such as skipping over flaming ropes or drinking from “buckets” containing alcoholic beverages. Many tourists who have attended a Full Moon Party regard it as the ultimate experience of its type, where inhibitions are loosened and thousands of people are simply intent on having fun.
Koh Phangan itself is located in the Gulf of Thailand and is famous for much more than the Full Moon Party. Backpackers also find the island an appealing destination at all times of the year. In addition, those that choose to visit Koh Phangan may want to explore the island’s nearby neighbours. Both Ko Tao, located slightly to the north, and Ko Samui, located to the south have much to recommend them.
Tourists to South-east Asia that enjoy scuba diving or have an interest in seeing some native wildlife at close range, favour Ko Tao. The island itself is shaped rather like a turtle; coincidentally, it is a vital breeding ground for both green turtles and the species known as the Hawksbill turtle. Because turtle populations had fallen over recent years, in 2004 the Royal Thai Navy and a number of local scuba diving outlets organised a program to assist these species. The coalition introduced hundreds of young turtles to the aquatic ecosystem at that time. This not only buoyed the turtle population, it also improved the scuba diving experience available on Ko Tao.
Thailand’s third largest island draws more than a million tourists each year. They come to Ko Samui for the peaceful and natural ambiance. Sunbathing on the sandy white beaches surrounded by coconut trees is a popular visitor pastime, as is scuba diving amidst the coral reefs in the nearby waters. Two of the most popular scuba diving beaches on Ko Samui are Chaweng and Bophut.
Whether attending the Full Moon Party on Koh Phangan or enjoying the nearby tropical islands for their lush beauty or scuba diving opportunities, tourists visiting Thailand’s islands can enjoy a tropical holiday experience that easily rivals any to be found on the mainland.
Top image by JoeStump
Bottom image by Johannes Jander