A Brief History of Koh Pha Ngan and the Full Moon Party

A popular destination for party goers worldwide and home to the infamous Full Moon Party, Koh Pha Ngan, Thailand is a sight to behold. The way in which the Full Moon Party evolved from small beginnings into a multicultural event attracting tens of thousands of people cannot be understated. Moreover, the history of the island and how it came to be is one that is rarely explored when discussed. Join us as we take a look into the history of the festival and how it has evolved into the event it is today.

Photo via Wikimedia

The Skinny

Many sources provide differing years in which settlers came to the island, but one of the first permanent settlers are believed to be the Hainan Chinese, who survived through their love of fishing, and gained valuable resources from working at the tin mines available around the island. Koh Pha Ngan belongs to a group of islands situated in the Gulf of Thailand, neighbouring places such as Koh Samui and Koh Tao, all of which are very popular tourist destinations. However, before these islands became widely known to foreigners they were very revered areas by the locals, being visited by many Thai kings over the past few centuries. The island had been relatively unknown by outsiders until the late ‘80s due to the limited motorised transportation options available in that part of Thailand. It wasn’t until the sister island of Koh Samui started promoting itself to foreigners did the area really start to explode in popularity. Consequently, the arrival of tourists in the area led to the construction of the first bungalow in Koh Pha Ngan, paving the way for an influx of tourists over the coming years.

Photo via Wikimedia

So they say, the first Full Moon Party was conceived somewhere around the late ‘80s, located on Haad Rin beach, with a bunch of hippies huddled around a campfire, playing guitars and drinking alcohol until the early morning. Many tourists today claim to have been present during the inception of the event, but it’s hard to know whether or not they were truly the ‘first’. News of this mystical party spread through word of mouth and caused the number of tourists on the island to grow year by year. Eventually, the locals started to take advantage of their new found fame and grew it into a commercialised event which now spans the whole of Haad Rin beach (which is around 20 or so kilometres).

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Modern Day

Nowadays, in my opinion, the Full Moon Party has seemingly lost some its charm, taking place every month and still growing in size, to the point where it seems unsustainable at times. On the other hand, the island and its locals have created a large number of supplementary events taking place before and after the Full Moon Party in order to fill every tourists’ partying needs. These events include the Half Moon Party, Jungle Party, Waterfall Party and much more. The smaller nature and scope of these events lend themselves to being far more intimate and crowded, creating a sense of community you can’t really achieve in the Full Moon Party..

For those reading this, what are your opinions on Koh Pha Ngan? I’ve met various people from all walks of life who go and either seem to love or hate it, in my opinion I’m quite indifferent, but please feel free to add your thoughts in the comments.