Nearly thirty years ago, a group of 15 or 20 visitors to a little-known Thai beach threw a little party to celebrate the beauty of the evening’s full moon. Today, anywhere from 10,000 to 30,000 people flock to Haad Rin, a little beach on the island of Ko Pha Ngan, to do the same—every time there is a full moon.
With the beach already buzzing full of people and small lamps, the party officially begins at dusk, when the golden moon rises over the white sands of Haad Rin. Over the next several hours, until the sun rises again, the beach turns into an all-out dance floor, as the DJ lineup switches things up from trance, to techno, to drum-and-bass, to reggae, to pop—pretty much any and everything to keep the crowd moving. Some will take a break to eat (there are beach vendors selling all kinds of yummy foods), perhaps take a dip into the warm Gulf of Thailand, or even shoot some of the impromptu fireworks you are bound to see.
All you’ve heard about conservative Thai culture doesn’t apply here—and that’s not surprising considering that very few partygoers are actually Thai. Pretty much anything goes, although police have made an effort in recent years to curb some of the rampant drug use that the party had become known for.
But while you have to keep your wits about you—Thai drug laws are strict (or, more likely, you’ll be expected to pay a hefty bribe) and the parties are often marred with petty theft—the Full Moon party is truly something to experience, unlike anything you’ve seen before or will likely see again.
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