SLIDESHOW: The Dark Side of the Full Moon: Haad Rin at Dawn

Koh Phangan Thailand: home of rainforests, waterfalls, enviable coastlines, Buddhist temples, and the infamous Full Moon Party. The Full Moon Party is a monthly event held on Haad Rin beach on the south tip of the island. It began over 25 years ago as an impromptu gathering of travelers on the beach, and it has grown a life of its own, attracting upwards of 10,000-25,000 people each month. The party has gained a somewhat notorious reputation worldwide for its drug and alcohol-related injuries, sexual assualts, and even deaths. However, we went to the party in April to witness a concern of our own which we could find little to no exposure on in the media or online.

Over the years we’d heard myths from friends back home in California that there was a very serious problem with the impact of trash from the party which was not being properly dealt with. For this reason we’d never wanted to personally attend the party ourselves. We’d heard that the beach was covered in bottles, straws, plastic, and cigarettes by dawn- all making its way to the ocean by incoming tides. One friend told us a story so wild we thought it couldn’t be real–his account of watching Thai women rake the trash into the ocean after the sun rose, and as the shore pushed the litter back to land, she’d shovel back out to sea.
We’d been to Thailand before, enjoyed and admired its culture, cities, and islands. Was this beach really being trashed by tourists on a monthly basis? Who was responsible for keeping it clean before this becomes an ocean conservation issue? We decided to attend the event and document the scene for ourselves. Our intention is to turn our footage and various interviews into a short documentary. Here’s a small glimpse of what we captured in snapshots.

6 thoughts on “SLIDESHOW: The Dark Side of the Full Moon: Haad Rin at Dawn

  1. Oh man, really nicely done, you guys. How awful though. Puck flastic. At least those tourists are staying well hydrated. Ick! I have an ocean conservationist friend who is majorly taking on spreading awareness about our global plastic problem, and he might be stoked to re-post this video on his many social forums that he is active on. Want to be put in touch?

    • Hi Sam
      Definitely wack!! Please forward it on to your friend. This slideshow was just a peak, but we hope the video we are going to produce will really shed some light on the problem.

  2. crystal says:

    wow, thanks, i also had my doubts to attend a ‘full moon party’ while visiting SE Asia, and didnt make it to one, but thanks for the real photos and the music, what a great and powerful images your video makes ! great !

  3. Woods says:


    Went to Phangan. Didn’t do a full moon party. Figured 20,000 anyone on a beach partying is going to massacre a beach let alone pissed up farangs. What was the verdict tho? I know they charge a clean up fee on arrival. Were there people sweeping rubbish into the sea or was there a responsible clean up afterwards? I watched the slideshow but it didn’t seem to answer the question…?

    • There were some people cleaning up but unfortunately not enough and not before a lot was washed away into the ocean. A lot more can be done and we are finishing up a short documentary about the subject that should be finished in a couple of months.

      • Woods says:

        Good stuff. Let me know and I’ll spread the word. I must admit It looked grim from your photos. it’s a real shame.

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