While full moon parties may be a backpacker staple on the islands of Thailand, they are not a particularly ecologically, or ethically conscious choice. In addition to that, they are more dangerous than they look, for those who attend, and for the communities left in their wakes.
The history & current realities
Tourism in the islands grew significantly thanks, in part, to the full moon party. Soon there were also half moon parties and quarter moon parties. The attitude of giving thanks was gone, replaced by loud music, backpackers in bikinis or board shorts, free-flowing Thai buckets (a sand pail sized bucket filled with alcohol), drugs, sex, and violence.
If you’re going to attend a full moon party, be responsible, avoid drugs and don’t get so drunk that you’re an easy target. Go with friends or a group from your hostel. Never wander away from the party on your own, always have a group of friends around you — not ones you made at the party, ones you’ve known prior to arriving.
The impact & ethics
Travel should be about exploring new destinations, getting to know new people — both travelers and locals, learning about new cultures. There is nothing cultural about a full moon party. It’s an excuse to get drunk, high, or both, and spending a night not caring.
- Have dinner in a local restaurant — there will probably be plenty of seats available
- Spend a couple days on an island that doesn’t have full moon parties
- Arrange a small party at the hostel or guesthouse where you’re staying so you’re in a controlled environment and can enjoy yourself without worry
- Look for ways to give back to the community where you’re staying
- Help clean the beach the following day
All of these things will have a more positive impact than attending a crazy full moon party. While it may sound lame to someone who is traveling in Thailand for the first time, and who may be too scared to be somewhere that is not overflowing with fellow backpackers, the truth is, the odds are good that you will look back on your full moon experience and say, “WTF was I thinking?!”
Leave the keg party mentality at home when you travel. I’m not saying you should never drink, that’s not my place. I’m just saying that when you spend your time and money on things that have nothing to do with alcohol, sex, or drugs, and, instead, invest in learning and local experiences, you are more likely to have exceptional travel experiences. Ones that you will remember and cherish for a lifetime — not ones that put you in unnecessary danger, damage the places you are visiting and which you may come to regret.
- Check out our Bangkok Indie Travel Guide
- Book a flight to Bangkok
- Find an adventure trip in Thailand
- Read Cast Away on the Similan Islands
- Read Cheap Eats in Bangkok: Life Beyond Pad Thai
- Read 7 Sustainable Ways to Dive Into Thai Culture
- Read Round the World Trip for Foodies
- Find out why you might want to add Thailand to your RTW Trip
- Read more about Thai food
- Read Visiting Thailand: Indie Style