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About two decades ago, a group of tourists found that the best place to see the full moon was on a small island off the coast of Thailand called Koh Phangan. One part of the Island is long and thin and is conveniently placed so that the sun sets on one side of the Island and rises on the other end, leaving the moon to shine in all its glory on the sea below.

The group decided to arrange a party along the crescent-shaped, sunrise beach of Haad Rin to celebrate the night of the full moon. Word soon spread, and over the years, people began to come in their thousands from all over the world to join the party.

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In the glitz and glamour

It’s fun to watch the moon making its first appearance just over the sea. Sitting arrangement is made outside the bars on the beach lined by one after the other. The place is lit by lamps and burning torches, which makes the scene even more romantic. Sounds systems that had been set up and tested previous days begin to make noise. The dazzling beach sparkles and explodes into a dancing frenzy as different DJs visiting from all over the world take their turn on the turntable.

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Music in the moonlight

The music is mostly techno and trance, but you can also feel beats and bass. There is always a lot of chilling that can be done. The Jugglers spin fire in time with the music and fireworks explode into the darkness leaving trails of smoke. The crowd on the beach dances in front of sound systems at bars like the Vinyl bar and Tommys. Other travelers make their way up the hill away from the beach to a club from where the sea isn’t visible, the club is known as ‘The Backyard’. There’s a wooden dance floor which is suspended in the trees, and you can dance under the sparkling stars, or you can just chill while the moon makes its journey across the sky. Others still wade out into the ocean to cool down.

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A word of warning

Always be aware of the strong currents in this bay. They have claimed more than one life. Stay in the shallows and don’t go out in the water alone at night, wait till morning when it’s safer.

The pace can get intense, the dancing is frenzied and goes on well past sun up. But no matter how relaxed you feel or what people are doing around you, it’s important to remember that the best policy is to stay away from drugs. There was once a time when drug taking was very much part of the scene in Koh Phangan. It was done openly and without much attention from the authorities. Now, however, it’s a very different story.

Now, it doesn’t matter whatever you are told, they are very much illegal, and the penalties are incredibly stiff. You could quite easily find yourself with marks on your passport, which could prevent further travel. And it’s worth noting that each year the jails are occupied by more than just a few travelers. It is also wise not to bring any valuables to the party. Thousands of people are there, you’ll never catch the thief.

Best time to visit

This can be experienced in February on the full moon day, but sometimes the parties are organized the day before or the day after the full moon, so it’s better to be there a little early and be a part of the build-up. You can take a plane from Bangkok to Koh Samui, which is the closest Island. From there a boat can be taken straight to Haad Rin. If your budget is not that good, it is possible to get a boat all the way from the main land to Koh Phangan.

Once you are on the Island, most taxis want to take you to Haad Rin whether you want to go there or not! It’s worth noting that Haad Rin gets very crowded in the time proceeding towards the full moon, so unless your plans are to stay awake for the whole night, you must find a place somewhere else on the Island. This shouldn’t be too difficult. There are many bungalows on the Island, and you might be glad of an escape from the thumping music which carries on well till the next day. There is an excellent taxi service which will ferry you around the Island at any time of day and night, although you might find the roads a little hairy when it’s dark.

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