The first Full Moon Party was improvised at a wooden disco not far from the beach in 1985 for giving thanks to about 20-30 travelers. The Full Moon Party gained fame quickly through word of mouth, and the event now draws a crowd about 20,000-30,000 every full moon evening. The party carries on until the sun rises the next day. All the bars on the sunrise beach of Haad Rin town stay open and play music such as R&B, drum and bass, house, dance and reggae.
The modern event has become a part of the itinerary of many travelers to Asia. It is characterized by unruly and potentially dangerous attractions such as fire skipping ropes, wildly variable alcohol strength 'buckets', and a drug culture. It is indeed seen by many as the "ultimate party experience", although drug laws are still strict, and police enforcement is stepped up during the parties.
The Full Moon Party is featured in films such as Last Stop for Paul and the Thai film Hormones. It was also featured in the first episode of the Comedy Central tv show Gerhard Reinke's Wanderlust.
The idyllic paradise of Koh Phangan is host to Thailand's Full Moon Parties (a series of parties following the lunar cycle). The origin of the parties is not entirely clear. Depending on who you ask they started anywhere between 1987 and 1992. What remains fairly constant in the story is that travelers and backpackers staying on Koh Phangan came to the conclusion that Haad Rin was very probably the best place in the world to experience a full-moon and organized small parties to celebrate the fact. These parties continued on a low-key basis for a while; just a group of friends getting together on a regular basis to celebrate. However, as it does, word spread. Friends of friends began to turn up, then friends of friends of friends…
The parties spread to bungalows near Haad Rin… and then of course the rest is history.
Although the parties became a bit notorious (the drugs scene in the early days being a major obstacle to people in Thailand genuinely accepting them) they got bigger and became more sophisticated. Rather than a crowd of people huddled around a tape deck operated by a car battery, in came sound systems, and then DJs. Some of the world's best DJs now descend on Koh Phangan to spin house, hip-hop, trance and techno to the willing masses. With parties now bringing in regular crowds of 5,000 and parties held on key celebrations like New Year's Eve, etc. bringing in upwards of 12,000 people at a time, the Full Moon Party is now a globally recognized event.
The Full Moon Parties' evolution has made them better organized, better publicized and much safer. They are now multi-venue events, with upwards of six world-class sound systems operating at any one time. This year the parties are reaching a new levels which proposed mega events organized by some of Thailand's key players on the music scene.
The Full Moon Party is an all-night beach party that takes place in Haad Rin on the island of Ko Pha Ngan, Thailand on the night before or after every full moon.