Last night, approximately 20,000 tourists attended the famous, or infamous, Full Moon Party on Koh Pha Ngan, which is expected to put tens of millions of baht into the pockets of locals on the southern island. The event was heavily guarded by police, immigration officers and local officials to ensure safety for partygoers as it spins back up to full speed following a few years when the party was closed down.
The Full Moon Party is a well-known tourist magnet that takes place on the Gulf of Thailand island of Koh Pha Ngan, located a short ferry ride from it’s better-known (but slightly dowdier) island sister, Koh Samui. The beach party event has been taking place since the late 1980s when a group of bohemian tourists threw a small beach party to celebrate the full moon… inspired, apparently, with some chemical assistance.
The event has grown in popularity since then and now attracts thousands of the hipster, beach party crowd from all over the world.
Surat Thani Governor Wichawut Jinto and senior police officers were present at the event to oversee the deployment of security measures (although we imagine they were back in bed with a cup of Ovaltine by 10pm).
The beach, which is nearly a kilometre long, was packed with eager and suitably-attired tourists, and authorities estimate that the four-day holiday period, which began on Thursday, will generate a significant amount of money for the island. Certainly the local hotels are cashing in on the confluence of a full-moon and a government-announced four day weekend.
Pol Lt Gen Sukhun Promayon, commissioner of the local Tourist Police, stated that security measures were in place to “increase visitor confidence” and prevent the presence of illegal drugs at the venue, a ‘measure’ that or may not have been entirely successful. This well-intentioned measure comes after “concerns” over alleged drug use and the safety of partygoers at previous events.
The monthly event used to attract around 20,000 – 30,000 visitors to the island, in pre-Covid days, a number that seemed to be enhanced as the event continued until the wee hours of the next day.