A Tranquil Beach with a Wild Side

Haad Rin Beach, renowned for hosting one of the world’s top three beach parties, typically boasts a serene and peaceful atmosphere, much like any other Southeast Asian resort. However, on the night of the Full Moon Party, the beach transforms as countless travelers from around the world gather, filling the expansive shoreline to capacity. Returning to this spot after nine years brought back a wave of nostalgia.

Why Koh Phangan is Less Known Among Koreans

Despite its global fame, Koh Phangan remains relatively unknown to Korean travelers, likely due to its distance from Bangkok and the lengthy, 13-hour journey involving bus and ferry rides. This makes it less accessible for short-term travelers compared to long-term Western backpackers. However, its proximity to other famous destinations like Koh Samui, Koh Tao, and Koh Nang Yuan makes it a great addition to any Southeast Asian itinerary.

A Relaxed Stay at Haad Rin Beach On my previous visit to Koh Phangan, my schedule was tight, leaving time only for the Full Moon Party. This time, I indulged in the leisurely pleasures of Haad Rin Beach, including swimming and relaxing. While the beach becomes a makeshift public restroom during the Full Moon Party, the water quickly clears, allowing for enjoyable swimming. There’s a distinct charm to swimming in the sea compared to resort pools, and no visit to a Southeast Asian resort feels complete without a dip in the ocean.

*Exploring the New Walking Street* The biggest change I noticed in Koh Phangan was the addition of a walking street filled with new restaurants and bars, enhancing the island’s lively atmosphere. This street also provides easy access to Hat Rin Beach, unlike my previous route from the opposite side.

*Gearing Up for the Party* Shops lining the path to the beach sell outfits and accessories for the Full Moon Party, with neon-colored items that glow in the dark being particularly popular. The infamous bucket drinks, a mix of whiskey and other beverages, are a staple of the party experience.

*Day to Night Transformation*

By day, Haad Rin Beach is a peaceful retreat, but by night, it fills with mats and cushions laid out by various restaurants and bars, creating a comfortable space for partygoers to lounge and enjoy food and drinks. Fire shows are a common sight, though the performers here seemed less skilled compared to those on Koh Chang, the origin of Thailand’s fire shows.

*Safety First* First aid stations are a common sight due to the frequent accidents during the Full Moon Party, especially from fire jump rope mishaps.

*The Pre-Party Pool Party* Pool parties are a regular feature in Koh Phangan. Unlike the wild Full Moon Party, the pool party I attended was more relaxed, with a DJ playing hypnotic music and drinks like bucket cocktails and cocktails served by bustling bartenders. While they also offered “happy balloons,” it’s best to avoid these.

*Casual Fun and Games* The pool party offered simple pleasures like barbecue skewers and games such as pocket pool. Watching others enjoy themselves, I realized I’ve become more reserved compared to my younger days when I’d easily make friends with strangers.

*Preparing for the Full Moon Party*

Some attendees were already getting body painting done in preparation for the Full Moon Party the next day. Despite the challenging journey to Koh Phangan, the experience at Haad Rin Beach and the pool party was worth it. While I’m unsure when I’ll visit again, the memories of this vibrant Thai beach destination will stay with me. Whether you’re there for the world-famous Full Moon Party or the laid-back pool parties, Koh Phangan offers a unique blend of excitement and relaxation that’s hard to find elsewhere.