Full Moon Party by Evan HB
Full moon parties have a bit of a reputation among the backpacker community – they offer us the chance to let our hair down, roll around in glitter and make some pretty questionable decisions. There are some amazing Gili full moon parties that are well worth scheduling your trip around…
Yeah, I’m not too sure on that one, to be honest. What originated in Thailand as drinking at beach bars to honour the moon has turned into a huge rite of passage for travellers. These parties initially started as a way of giving thanks to the moon and the universe, apparently. Not sure how that transpired into drinking neat rum out of buckets, but, hey – I’m not complaining.
Full moon parties have evolved into huge gatherings of people, normally tourists, at various beaches around South East Asia, with Thailand being the main hub. People go pretty all out, so expect to see plenty of glow-in-the-dark costumes, UV paint and a never-ending supply of glitter.
As with most events when you’re a traveller, full moon parties tend to revolve around alcohol. Buckets are a pretty big deal – huge containers full of ridiculously strong and syrupy punch with a handful of straws chucked in and a guarantee of a hangover the next day.
There are normally fire-shows on the beach, too, and you can expect fireworks at the bigger events. There’s often live music that transcends into DJ sets full of trance, D&B and EDM. Basically, picture a carnival on a beach, chuck in some cheap booze and you’re pretty much there. While there’s no major moon-worshipping rituals anymore, the full moon does make a pretty stunning sight as you party in the sand.
Gili T is the party hotspot of the trio, and there are plenty of cool beach-side bars to drink at before the main event. Gili Trawangan beach parties are some of the best around, thanks to the stunning scenery and buzzing atmosphere.
Boats at Gili Trawangan by Tom Roeleveld
Head to Pandawa Beach Club (anchor link to accommodation guides on new site!) for one of the official Gili full moon parties. The vibe here is super chilled, but don’t let that put you off smothering yourself in UV paint and glitter. Villa Ombak’s (anchor link to accommodation guides on new site!) bar opens ‘til around 4am for each dark and full moon, so wander down and get loose.
If you don’t fancy going out-out, you can wander and find smaller, unofficial gatherings. These tend to be word-of-mouth kind of events on Gili T and Gili Air, so you’re more likely to stumble upon them by accident than click ‘attending’ on a Facebook event. Gili Trawangan beach parties tend to pop up as you walk around the island.
full moon party by Roberto Trombetta
Space Bar on Gili Air (anchor link to accommodation guides on new site!) is already a pretty cool place to head in the evenings, and often hosts moon parties. These happen twice a month, for both the full moon and dark moon, so hopefully your trip will coincide nicely.
While Gili full moon parties don’t tend to get as wild as those in Thailand, we still have more than enough going on. Nights on the islands here are often more focused on having a good time, and the full moon parties feel more… authentic than nights in Koh Phangan where everyone is taking drugs and getting a little bit too loose.
While you shouldn’t expect a full-on ritual or ceremony, full moon parties in Gili T centre more on celebration than just getting ridiculously drunk. Thailand is lovely, there’s no doubt about it, but there’s a reason your parents panicked when you booked your flight to Phi Phi.
full moon party by Roberto Trombetta
Yep, the Gili islands are all pretty safe, as long as you’re sensible. By all means, get cracking on the Vodka-Joss (if you don’t know that this is, I both envy and pity you), but take normal precautions to stay safe. Watch your drink at all times – I tend to opt for bottles that I can keep my thumb over, or just make sure I’m keeping an eye on my glass at the bar.
Drugs can be found in the Gilis, but we definitely recommend staying away from them! There is currently a death penalty for drug trafficking in Indonesia, so be smart and steer clear.
As with all nights out, only take the essentials. You don’t need to take your passport or any valuables with you, and it’s wise to keep an eye on your bag and phone at all times. While live-streaming the whole event might seem like a great idea, you’ll probably regret it in the morning anyway.
If you’re headed to one the Gili Trawangan beach parties, be wary of going barefoot in case of broken glass, dropped cigarettes and other dodgy stuff. We do our best to keep everything nice and clean, but things inevitably get a little bit messy at the beach parties!
Stay safe near the water – going for a swim to cool off might seem like a great idea, but alcohol slows down your reaction time and can make it risky. If you can’t resist a dip, go with a friend and keep an eye on each other. You can never be too careful!
Maternal rant over.
Gili Trawangan (view to Lombok) by noeltock
Plan in advance. While it’s not as hectic Koh Phangan, hostels here do tend to get booked up around the time of the Gili full moon parties. Book in advance through our online accommodation guide (anchor link to guide) and snag yourself a sweet deal in the process.
Most hostels in Gili T are close to the ‘strip’ – the main area of late-night bars and clubs. Your hostel will probably have a bar on site, so make the most of any Happy Hour there before venturing out. Check out our guide to the best pre-drinking spots in Gili T and gear up for a big night.
We arrived on Gili T. by Jabiz Raisdana
Full moon celebrations are usually cancelled for local holidays or, most recently, in respect for the late King of Thailand’s passing. Take this into account and check local holidays in Indonesia, such as Ramadan, before you travel.
While full moon parties are often enjoyed (or at least tolerated) by locals, make sure you stay respectful. These nights tend to get a bit of a free pass, so wear what you like and make the most of it. Walking home after a night out back in England, we used to be that annoying group singing at the tops of our lungs, chucking around kebabs and drunkenly dancing with strangers in the street. Ah, university, how I miss you. Gili T works a bit differently – remember you’re visiting, or living, in a country with strong cultural and religious values. Bear that in mind as you stumble home and try not to get too rowdy.
Jiggy Boat Party by Jiggy Boat Party I Jiggy Bar I Jiggy Island
Thought I’d save this bit right ‘til the end, as most of you are probably only interested in the cheap alcohol, which is fair enough. That said, the way that the moon works and affects us is actually pretty interesting. If you’re anything like me, you’ll only have a very a vague awareness of the lunar cycle, and most of it will have come from reading Harry Potter.
The full moon occurs once a month, and is, for me, one of the most beautiful things that Mother Nature offers us. The dates and times vary each month, so it’s worth checking a moon calendar to find out the full moon party dates for 2017.
This natural phenomenon occurs when the moon is fully lit by the sun, hence we get to see all of it. For this to happen, the Earth has to be between them, and the sun’s rays light up one whole side of the moon. This shows as a full, bright face in the sky. The moon itself doesn’t expel any light, which is why we also get the new moon, where no moon can be seen unless there is a solar eclipse.
Full moon by Kristin Brenemen
While there may not be much science behind it, there are many people who believe that the moon affects us in certain ways. The moon is believed to hold immense power, and is thought to affect our sleep patterns and moods. Pay attention ladies – the moon is said to have a strong influence on our lives in particular, and is seen as a source of powerful, feminine energy. I am 100% about celebrating that!
In the same way that the moon’s gravitational pull affects the ocean (hence the tides change), it is believed to alter our bodies. Given that we are around 75% water, there could actually be something to it – do we have internal tides? Who knows.
Either way, the full moon can cause agitation in some people, while others benefit from a ‘cleansing’ energy that awakens various emotions in the body. Search #fullmoon on Instagram and you’ll see a whole heap of posts dedicated to the full moon, and how it raises questions and creativity in many people. You could also Google it but, let’s be honest, Insta is the new search engine.
And, just to fulfil those weird werewolf myths, some studies have found that admissions to hospitals for dog bites almost double when it’s a full moon. So, next time you head to any full moon parties, keep a glitter-covered eye out for any stray dogs…