Despite our week long luxury stay in Samui feeling like it was over way too soon, we were all happy to be getting off our bums and moving on to the next island, the infamous Koh Phangan.
Koh Phangan used to be a small, lush paradise that die hard hippie backpackers used to stay on to enjoy the peaceful oasis. Then, some of the backpackers realised the full moon looked incredible in Had Rin and started to have a little bit of a boogie whenever the full moon came around. Flash some 20 years later, Koh Phangan is now one of the most flocked to islands with the Full Moon Party pulling around 35,000 travellers every month. Quiet oasis it is not.
Hopping off the ferry, we were quickly greeted by hundreds of taxi and tuk tuk drivers who all spoke impeccable English. Negotiating discounted rates for a public taxi we were quickly able to seal a deal with one of the drivers and were on our way to our accommodation, My Palace Guest House.
While it was not the palace it promised, it was the only cheap place we could find online that didn’t have a minimum stay of 5 nights. This rule is implemented throughout the full moon party week due to the huge influx of people that flock to the island. While our place only had a 3 night minimum stay, you could tell why. Bedecked in plastic coverings, our beds and pillows were covered in nylon sheets and seemed to increase our body heat at night. The pink, tacky, granny decor was rather musty which, along with the weird signage about extra charges all over the place, was a bit of a step down from Samui. But – we weren’t there for luxury, we were there to party! So we put our university hats on and set out to find a big supermarket where we could stock up our mixers.
One major perk of Koh Phangan was how much smaller it is compared to Koh Samui. Instead of a built up town, Phangan is made up of sandy lanes, scattered restaurant shakes and semi-large supermarkets. Feeling far more like we were on an island, we had everything we needed in walking distance and had soon stocked up on beers, bottles of Coke and (to my excitement) fizzy lychee drink. Checking out a cheap restaurant, we had a disappointing dinner of bad service (the woman running it hated standing up from her chair) and bland food had us full – if not satisfied – and ready for an early night, reserving our energy for the next day.
The day of the party had us all feeling a little unprepared for what we had ahead of us. Numerous blogs advise you not to show up until 11pm so we knew we had a long day ahead of us and plenty of time to relax. Opting for a relaxing time by the beach we wondered down the somewhat neglected beach of Baan Tai feeling s little sorry for the travellers who had shelled out for a beach hut. However, as we walked, the beach improved and we were soon passing more luxury resorts along the pristine white sands. Settling in for some sunbathing and chit chat we all felt a bit better about the night ahead of us, getting excited about the ping pong table at our guest house (realising it can serve us well for beer pong) and definitely feeling like we were about to check off a serious must-do bucket list item in Thailand.
Flash forward to the night itself, we all decided to get ready in mine and Fitzs room which was big enough for 4 people and even had a double bed and bunk beds. Having lived together last year, we had become notorious as flatmates for throwing each other amazing birthday parties or at the very least, simply celebrating in style. Since we were all extremely sad to be missing the opportunity this year, we decided our pre drinks would be a mini birthday party with everyone wearing party hats and eating a very small, very sickly sweet birthday cake.
Rebecca and I soon realised getting ready that putting makeup on for the first time in 4 months is actually really difficult and struggled with our liquid eyeliner for longer than we care to admit. Finally giving up, and deciding we would forever look like aliens with makeup on, we made our way out for a lethal game (or three) of ping pong, sake and rum. Sufficiently sozzled at 10.45pm we headed out to find a public taxi with four spaces.
Since the entire island of Koh Phangan seems to revolve around the full moon, it wasn’t hard to find a driver willing to take us and we were soon bundled into a packed car full of party goers. Getting there we felt a little underdressed as we hadn’t covered ourselves head to toe in neon paint like everyone else seemed to have done. Have no fear! Within seconds of walking down the path we were offered vats of the stuff by random party goers and were soon neoned up!
Buying our bracelets and going into the beach we were soon surrounded by hoards of people, loads of shacks selling foods, buckets and neon painting we could not believe that we were in off season with barely 8,000 people attending this already packed beach.
Making it just in time for a huge fire sign to be lit, we definitely felt like we were experiencing an amazing beach party like no other. Moving from bar to bar, eating delicious street food and occasionally popping out for a cheaper bucket (full of red bull and entire bottles of alcohol) the night passed by unbelievably fast.
📷 Still looking good, despite terrestrial rain
I wish I had more pictures from the night itself but before we knew it, the sun was rising on the beach. Realising our night was almost over, we snapped a few pics before hanging out in the beach, messing around and chatting to the other party goers.
📷 The Stratford Crew
📷 A lot of messing around
At 8am we decided t was probably time to call it a night (or day?) and head back. Not willing to shell out for another taxi we decided to walk down the length of the beach which stretched all the way back to our accommodation. Chatting all the way, we met some dogs, came across a swing and just generally tried to hold onto the fact that we had just been to a beach party and managed to not be absolute grannies.
📷 Messing around on the walk home
Sleeping the entire day, we dragged ourselves out of bed for some pizza and sugary drinks before literally collapsing back into bed. Feeling like we had managed to avoid an awful hangover, we were all ridiculously happy with how the night had turned out. Not only had we managed to stay up later than our usual 9pm bedtime, we had actually all enjoyed ourselves far more than we had expected.
Feeling really happy with our time in Koh Phangan, we were keen to leave before the magic of the party wore off. Keen to sleep somewhere without plastic sheeting, we agreed to wake up early the next day to pack and head to the pier for our next bucket list adventure of diving on Koh Tao.