I normally spend New Year’s Eve asleep. It’s not really my scene. But this year, when my brother and his friends decided to go to Thailand I said I would go too.
So at 8pm on 31 December 2013 we piled into the bed of a passing ute and headed to Haad Rin beach, Koh Phangan. Koh Phangan is home to the famed Full Moon parties. On New Year’s Eve it costs BHT100 to get on to the beach. When we arrive it was already reasonably packed with half dressed bodies.
It didn’t take long to find something familiar – Irish and Kiwi flags being flown by cocktail stations! We ran into Aussies and Kiwis left and right, even a colleague of my brother. It seems as though this is the place every young tourist goes to celebrate the New Year and the only Thai people were those selling alcohol on the beach. When I got back to Bangkok on Friday most of the people in my dorm had also just arrived from Koh Phangan.
There was a lot of black light and neon. A firey jump rope. A pirate ship. Several mosh pits. Cocktails in buckets. And a long clean up job New Year’s Day for someone. For the most part, the party is quite safe, just remember to wear shoes!
As someone who doesn’t really drink, if at all, it was a long slog to midnight. But the fireworks were spectacular. Worth the wait, they lit up the jungle and the beach in a moment of clarity during a chaotic night. I was very sad that Tiernan couldn’t be there, but it was nice to hang out with family and friends during the holidays!
I am not sure I would go again, or even recommend Koh Phangan as a New Year destination. The weather was on the bad side of average. There are better beaches and snorkelling spots to be found (I would argue that the Philippines tops Thailand in those assets). As a result, there is not much to do during the day besides sleep off the night before.
We stayed in a really nice villa (though I didn’t like the owner holding the passport of one of the party as security, so I will not be promoting them) and we were able to hang out by our private pool all day. To be honest, you can swim in a pool anywhere in the world. The barbeque did redeem Koh Phangan a bit.
Hot travel tip: never leave your passport with anyone as security. Offer a copy. Maybe a cash bond or a credit card if you are up for it. But never leave your passport. You can cancel a card, but lose your passport and you could be very stuck indeed. I would rather risk losing a hundred bucks than my valid travel document. It is not that easy to replace a passport or get emergency travel documents. And your embassy is not going to be impressed.
There is just no valid reason to leave it as security, be it for a bike or a house. Sure, they’re making sure you can be accountable for damages, but remember the flip side is that they can hold it against you and force you to pay money you didn’t owe. Thailand is notorious for passport theft and fraud, don’t help it by leaving your passport. End rant 🙂
Happy New Year, everyone!