TRAVELOGUE  »  How it Took 26 Hours to Get to Thailand’s Full Moon Party

Leaving Paradise for the Full Moon Party

With our new friends Claire and Karen in tow, Carrie and I left the Perhentian Islands in Malaysia at 7:30am to head to Koh Phangan, Thailand, for the Full Moon Party.

Referred to as the best and biggest party in the world, we had based our entire schedule for Malaysia and Singapore around getting to the party.

It was something that we just had to experience. Little did we know that getting there would be an experience all in itself.

 

Boat Perhentian Islands Malaysia
Carrie, Karen and Claire on the boat ride from the Perhentian Islands

It’s Tough Getting Into Thailand

Our day began with a quick boat “taxi” to the speedboat ferry that would take us from the Perhentians back to the mainland.

From there we hired a proper taxi to take the four of us to the Thailand border at Sungai Kolok.

Getting our passport stamped to leave Malaysia was quick and painless. Getting into Thailand was not.

 

The Sungai Golok border crossing between Malaysia and Thailand
Entering Thailand at the Sungai Golok land border crossing

 

The Sungai Golok border crossing between Malaysia and Thailand
The Sungai Golok border crossing between Malaysia and Thailand

Crossing the Malaysia – Thailand Border

First we had to undergo a health check, which involved filing out a form swearing that we had no swine flu symptoms and getting our temperature checked.

After mine came out at 36.7 degrees Celsius the nurse showed it to me and said, “very close.” I freaked out a bit until I saw the sign that said 38 was the minimum for concern. What was she scaring me for?!

Next we had to wait on a long and hot line to get our passports stamped with our Thai visas.

While waiting, a money changer approached me and tried to give me a terrible exchange rate. As everything does, it turned into a little scene that ended with me refusing to give him my money.

 

A health check at the Sungai Golok border crossing between Malaysia and Thailand
A health check point at the Sungai Golok border crossing between Malaysia and Thailand

Meeting Reuben

The encounter did have a positive effect though, as Reuben, a Spaniard traveling alone and standing behind me in the line, asked me why I didn’t want to change money with that guy.

We continued to talk about traveling and soon established that he too was going to the party without pre-booked accommodation.

And just like that, we had a fifth member of our crew.

 

A health check at the Sungai Golok border crossing between Malaysia and Thailand
The line where I met Reuben

Getting to the Thai Train Station

After successfully getting through the border check and entering Thailand we found that the train station we needed for the next leg of our journey was about 4 kilometers away.

There were no car taxis anywhere so we had no choice but to all hop on the back of motorcycle taxis with our big bags. For ten minutes we caravaned through the streets of Sungai Kolok: waving, hooting and hollering at each other.

 


Motorbiking and Training Our Way to Surat Thani

Carrie and her bags on the back of a scooter in Sungai Kolok
Carrie and her bags on the back of a scooter in Sungai Kolok

Depending on whom you ask, our motorbike ride to the train station was either a fun or terrifying experience. Claire said she had never been more scared in her life!

Safely arriving at the train station and buying our tickets to Surat Thani, we joined a train full of other Western travelers heading to the same place.

The ride was long, dusty, hot and highly entertaining. Reuben was sitting next to a Thai who was drinking beer for 10 hours straight.

Karen and Claire drank whisky with a Thai police officer in the food car.

Carrie and I met an army officer who loves scuba diving as much as we do. Good times were had by all.

 

Inside a local Thai train car
Inside the Thai train that took us to the Full Moon Party

A Straggler Changed Our Plans

We finally arrived at Surat Thani at around 9pm and quickly started looking for cabs to take us to the boat dock.

However, we had somehow picked up a straggler (we’ll call him San Diego because that’s where he’s from and I don’t know his name) who invited himself into our group to try and save money on the cab.

He alternated between making sure to latch onto us and trying to find his own cheap deal. In the end he tagged along with us, which made us need two cabs instead of one and we all had to pay an extra 10 bhat for helping him. No problem, I would hope the same would happen to me in that situation.

 

Looking out the window of a Thai taxi
Looking out the window of a Thai taxi

Our Hot and Cramped Overnight Boat Ride

The boat, which doubled as a cargo ship filled with food, beer and other dry goods, wound up costing double the normal price due to the Full Moon Party.

The inside was lined with mattresses both on the floor and elevated in the aisles. Everyone had an assigned spot, though we did have to kick a few sleeping locals out of our beds after playing cards until nearly 1am.

It took a while, but we all finally fell asleep to the rocking of the sea.

 

The overnight ferry to Ko Pha Ngan, Thailand - home of the Full Moon Party
The overnight ferry to Ko Pha Ngan, Thailand – home of the Full Moon Party

 

The sleeping quarters on board the overnight ferry to Koh Phangan
The sleeping quarters on board the overnight ferry to Koh Phangan

A Groggy Sunrise Arrival at Ko Pha Ngan

Arriving at 5:30am, we were awoken by the sounds of the ship’s horns and countless taxi drivers on the jetty.

They all were shouting  “good morning! You want taxi? Where you go?” through the boat’s windows.

Still groggy, we had no choice but to enter the taxi gauntlet waiting for us and try and figure out where we were headed.

 

Ko Pha Ngan ferry dock with Songthaws
Haggling for a taxi ride at 5:47am after an overnight boat ride to Koh Phangan

 


Finding a Hotel and Getting Rid of ‘San Diego’

Not surprisingly, it was at this point that San Diego reappeared after being MIA all night and tagged along with us. Our destination: a hotel with a room big enough for six.

Well, that one didn’t work out; but, we did find a wonderful AC room that we could cram the original five into.

San Diego had been both trying to find his own place and make sure to stick with us all morning just in case, so we were a-ok with him doing his own thing.

We even helped find him a cheap single room, but were completely done with him. Finally, at around 8:30am we all plopped into our beds and passed out.

 

Rainbow Bungalows in Ko Pha Ngan, Thailand
Our room inside the Rainbow Bungalows in Ko Pha Ngan, Thailand

Final Transportation Tally

  • 1 train ride
  • 1 motorcycle taxi
  • 3 car taxis
  • 3 boats
  • 26 hours of travel
Full Moon Party sign Ko Pha Ngan Thailand
Welcome to the Full Moon Party!

Click here to see what the Full Moon Party looks like?