The Two Sides of Koh Phangan: Full Moon Party To Couples Retreat

Maybe you’ve heard of the island of Koh Phangan in Thailand?

No? How about the full moon party. It’s likely you’ve heard about this party of epic proportions.

There’s also more to the island, which Trudy and I discovered as we visited well outside of the full moon party madness.

I thought I would write an article about both experiences and the island itself, as I’ve seen it in very different lights over the years.

Being 19 & The Full Moon Party

Memories flash to mind whenever I think on my extended stay on Koh Phangan as a youngster. I lived there for about 2 months as I was meandering my way back from Europe to Australia. So what’s to love?

Well imagine a full-on rave party (less the drugs – not really my thing) that encapsulates an entire beach. People roam the beach & bars, their faces & legs painted in a multitude of bright colours.

Fire spinners entertain out the front of bars, and music booms out across the beach. Backpackers flock from all around South-East asia to attend.

Full Moon Party Paint Thailand
Some friends and I prepare for the full moon… and this photo is embarrassing.

I stayed at the infamous “Paradise Bungalows”, who love to claim they are the original place and origination of the full moon party back in the 70’s.

Full Moon Party Beard
Epic full moon beard!

People carry the infamous and alcohol fuelled Thai “buckets”, with their straws poking out and waving wildly.

Thailand Buckets Full Moon Party
The large selection of colourful buckets.

Music heaves from the bars scattered along the beach. People are everywhere. This is the big night, and certainly not the time to be claustrophobic. You’ll meet new people and dance and jump and spin until dawn creeps its way onto the beach lighting up the still grooving stragglers…

So I’m not 19 anymore, and I did recently go back to Koh Phangan but it wasn’t during the full moon and the Christmas period. It was a lot less busy, and Trudy and I tried to see a different part of the island.

Being 25, Koh Phangan As A Couple

Whilst I revisited some of the old haunts that I remember loving (come on Mama’s Chicken Schnitzel!) we discovered many new things and I got a completely different perspective on the island and what it has to offer.

If partying is not your thing, Koh Phangan is still a beautiful place to visit. Much of the partying is basically focused in the Haad Rin beach area.

The island is large enough to explore, whether you’re brave enough to rent a motorcycle or are willing to get a taxi there’s many spots most full-mooners won’t even see.

beach chairs Koh Phangan

We did a yoga class with an expat who was living in a hut overlooking large glistening rocks and turquoise ocean. She had a beautiful place, and told us how much she loved the island.

Yoga View In Thailand

She was certainly quick, however, to point out that the monthly full moon parties were destroying the island. Many of the locals and expats we talked to hated it.

Remember how I stayed at Paradise Bungalows? Well the place which used to be quite spacious was now packed with rooms and a swimming pool. It looked completely different, I didn’t even recognise it. It’s not that it wasn’t good or looked bad, just that you can see how the party has grown in popularity to such a degree that this place was completely reshaped and rebuilt over the last 5 years. I saw this all throughout Haad Rin.

Either way, Koh Phangan is still a great spot to get a massage.

massages in Haadrin

Head off the main thoroughfare and walk away from the beach and discover some of the smaller restaurants. This little vegetarian place opened up recently and was serving up delicious food.

haad rin cafes

And there are still plenty of spots you can wind down and relax…


hammock in Thailand

Trudy jumping


The people who started, loved and attended the full moon party moved on long, long ago. This is just a party for backpackers – so for that reason some will absolutely love it, and others will hate it. For many, it will just depend on where they currently are in the big old game of life.

In my opinion, no matter what you’re after, Koh Phangan is still worth a visit! So book yourself a flight to Thailand and start exploring.

This post was brought to you in partnership with Lauren & Emirates.

4 Responses to “The Two Sides of Koh Phangan: Full Moon Party To Couples Retreat”

  1. I like the full moon beard.

  2. Stephen says:

    Headed here in two days! I cannot wait Tom.

  3. The Full Moon Party sounds amazing…in theory. Then I think about buckets of alcohol and my liver hurts! Great pictures!

  4. I’m in the same boat. Was there five years ago, now traveling as a couple. Nice take on things

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