Partying smart in Thailand

Thailand is a partier’s dream, but it can come with a price

A selection of bucket combinations at a typical bar on Koh Phanan. (Roslyn Rosalia/Flickr Commons)

A selection of bucket combinations at a typical bar on Koh Phanan. (Roslyn Rosalia/Flickr Commons)

The most notorious of all the party spots in Thailand is, of course, the full moon party, which takes place on every full moon on Koh Phangan. The full moon party is an all-night beach rager with the bars along Haad Rin beach providing the music and alcohol.

The most economical way to get sloshed in Thailand is by purchasing a literal bucket of alcohol. There are several combinations available, and no consistent measurements. A little friendly chatter also goes a long way in convincing the pourer to give you some extra. Buckets can be bought for as little as 200 baht, around $7 (the price of a single shot in many Canadian bars).

In a place where people drink a mickey’s worth of vodka out of a child’s pink toy bucket, it is imperative that you take what measures you can to stay safe. The party culture in Thailand goes hand in hand with neo-hippie culture, which can mean lots of drugs. Apart from being a risk to your health, doing drugs in Thailand could also get you some serious jail time.

Thailand’s drug laws are very strict. If you are caught trying to take drugs with you over the Thai border, you could even face the death penalty, so it really isn’t worth it. Bribing police is a practice in Thailand, but as a tourist this could mean that they take your money, then arrest you anyway. In November, a Dutch man was sentenced to 103 years in prison for laundering drug money, though he will only serve 20.

Drinking also makes you an easy target for scammers, and the best parties are also the best opportunities for thieves. In Ao Nang, in southeast Thailand, a scammer took the form of a young student particularly adept at card tricks and Connect Four. My companions willingly took bets against him knowing that they would lose, but most scammers aren’t so innocent and fun. My friend Napas and I had our phones stolen in the same night while at a bar on Khao San Road, and a few months later, yet another of my Thai friends had her phone stolen, also on Khao San.

Some of the news stories out of Thailand’s party scene seem so crazy that they couldn’t possibly be made up. In November, a pair of women in Pattaya were caught on video putting Xanax on their nipples and in the drinks of their foreign paramours, who they then robbed.

If anything happens to you while partying, immediately go to the police, but they can’t always be counted on. The best plan of action is to party in groups, leave valuables at home, and try to keep your wits about you.