From Ko Samui: There are at least 3 ferries a day from Ko Samui's "Big Buddha" pier directly to Haad Rin. Other ferries go to Thong Sala, a short songthaew ride away.
Songthaews run as taxis and cost around 100 baht a ride. Try to pre-book a return trip to Thong Sala after the party to avoid paying the extortionate rates that drivers can charge drunken tourists in the early hours of the morning.
Haad Rin is compact enough to be walkable, although it might be better to take a motorbike to some of the resorts on the headland. Motorbike hire is widely available. Although there is minimal traffic, the hills around Haad Rin are steep and may challenge inexperienced riders. Resorts can order transfer by minibus, songthaew or motorbike to and from the pier.
- Sea Walk (opposite Sea Gardens resort, a few streets down from Chicken Corner.). Various good shops, bars and restaurants including a great Italian restaurant called I Sapori.
Most people come for the party, but there are thing to do for the other 27 days between full moons.
- Jetskiing is available on the beach. Be careful as jet ski owners may falsely accuse you of scratching and damaging a jet ski and then try and charge up to 90,000 baht.
Banana boat rides are not for the faint-hearted, the ride is hard and fast.
- Just-Some-Shop (Next to the 7-Eleven near the beach.). A large, Thai family's shop that sells everything from dinner plates to buckets to fireworks. Pretty cheap and you can find everything you need, including that luminous body paint you've always wanted.
Haad Rin is packed with both small and large open air restaurants serving Thai and Western food. Street food is readily available all night and several restaurants near the beach are open 24/7.
- All Arena, Soi Drop Inn. Italian, with very good pizza, not far from the beach.
- Casanostra (near the 7-Eleven.). Homemade Italian food.
- Kingfisher. Good breakfast, fresh seafood and grilled steaks and big burgers.
- Om Ganesh (next to the ferry pier). Excellent Indian restaurant serving tasty curries
- Little Home (off Central St, next to Arena Gym). Great food in a roofed, but open restaurant. Homely atmosphere provided by the owner's children, pets and Thai soaps on TV. Always busy, even in low season and non-FMP weeks. It's almost impossible to get a table on the night of FMP. Reasonably priced.
- Same Same Burger. Western style hamburger and chips. Different burger and meal types available. Good for late night meal, open 24 hrs.
If you're after party heaven you can't do better than Haad Rin. It is most popular one night a month, the night of the Full Moon Party. Every bar is hopping, the beaches packed with trance, dance, buckets and various other suspicious substances. However, if the sight of thousands of bottles and other rubbish repulses you, make sure you leave the beach area before the sun comes up, or grab a garbage bag and help tidy up a little.
While the Full Moon Party itself is only one day a month, the 3 to 4 days before the full moon party each have several different "parties" per night at different locations in or near Haad Rin, the most famous of which is the Jungle Party and the Pool party. While the full moon party is huge, the days leading up to it are often considered better parties as full moon can be incredibly large, hectic and crowded.
The most popular form of drinking here is "buckets" which consists of a pint of alcohol, ice, and mixer inside a small bucket. These are generally sold at beachside or street side stands. Prices vary from 150-400 baht depending on the type of alcohol. Buckets of local spirits Sangsom and Hong Thong are the cheapest at 150-200 baht each.
- Cactus Bar. A busy place that tends to play R 'n B, pop and all the other chart rubbish that you can hear in any cheesy nightclub the world over. Serves its purpose as it separates hardcore ravers from the annoying backpackers.
- Club 9. The largest indoor club on Ko Pha Ngan just steps away from the famous party beach. Attracts people for its mixture of full moon entertainment, live music, reputable DJs, themed parties and private VIP service. Offers a fresh entertainment atmosphere that differs from the repetitiveness of the beach party scene.
- Coral, Coral Bungalows (Along the road into town, on Hat Rin Nai (Sunset Beach)). Pool parties to give some craziness on nights where there isn't some lunar celebration happening. Free taxis cruise the town to take you there. Don't arrive too early - some people got on the taxis at 19:00 expecting a party to find hotel residents eating dinner and swimming at sunset. Lots of sweaty, luminous dancing on tables and questionable activities in the pool. Not quite full on Full Moon madness, but certainly memorable.
- Drop Inn Bar (at the top end of Haad Rin). one the biggest bars on the beach. Cocktails are cheap, they have plenty of beach seating and great fire shows. Music is generally commercial dance mixed in with house. One of the best music selections on a regular night.
- Kangaroo Bar. Below Mellow Mountain and offers the exact same thing, including "happy shakes".
- Mellow Mountain (Built into the side of a cliff at the end of Haad Rin beach). The most (in)famous location in Haad Rin. After a precarious ascent up the stairs, expect to find 'special shakes' (the "Happy Shake" is the house special, 500 baht each) full of fungal fun. A very chilled out, laid back atmosphere - perfect if you want to escape the bustle of the beach party. Like many similar places in Thailand, police generally ignore the goings on, but be aware it is illegal and so you could be arrested. Many visitors to Haad Rin venture here for at least a look, even if not trying a shake. A full bar is available.
- Vinyl Club. For dancing to techno, but serves drinks as well. Next door is Zoom Bar which offers more of the same.
Anywhere up to a week before a Half Moon or Full Moon Party, the hotels in Haad Rin and the immediate surrounding areas get booked out as the population around the beach swells and most accommodation require a five night stay if you are staying during the full moon period, with the more comfortable places being taken first. If you're planning to visit about this time, look into staying outside of Haad Rin, and taxi in and out, rooms on the other side of the island are not only cheaper but also much quieter.
- Black & White, Sunset St area (Sunset Beach, near the pier). Basic apartments, a little noisy with revellers but to be expected in a party hotspot. Laid-back family running the shop and apartments, quite happy to let you wait while they finish dinner before you book in. Seems to cater specifically to Israelis, with Israeli flags and Hebrew script on every sign. 500-1,000 baht.
- Coral Bungalows, Hat Rin Nai (on the road into town, Sunset Beach). Check-out: 11:00. Decent little resort, nice pool, on Hat Rin Nai beach. Basic but clean rooms, air-con, tiny strongbox. Resort also has lots of facilities like a gym, laundry, restaurant, water sports and if you're lucky you can get a free taxi to your hotel if you act like you're going to the pool party. 300-1,200.
- LunaC Bar/Hostel (LunaC Bar/Hostal) (behind Drop In Club' on the full moon beach about 10 seconds from the beach), ☎ +66 82 6935037. Fun cheap hostel next to the beach. They have one dorm with air-con and give you discounts off the bar below. Great if you want to meet people or want to be right in the action for full moon party. 400 baht.
- Palita Lodge, Haad Rin Nai Beach. 1,800 baht.
- Phangan Sunrise Resort. All rooms have twin beds with light comfortable duvets, shower and bathtub, large balcony, strong box, minibar, Wi-Fi.
- Phanganburi Resort (Haad Rin Nai Beach). Check-in: 11:00, check-out: 10:00. 2,375 baht.
- Sarikantang. Check-in: noon, check-out: noon. All bungalows have been tastefully furnished blending traditional Thai and modern design elements to create very comfortable open air environments. Each bungalow has a private balcony with hammock and balcony furniture. Swimming pool and beach bar.
- Seaview Sunrise Resort. Affordable beach front accommodation in the middle of the renowned full moon party beach. 600-1,600 baht.
- Tommy's Resort, 90/13 Haad Rin East, ☎ +66 77 375215-6. Excellent location. Beach front bungalows, lively bar playing music throughout the day and great for a drink at night and at the full moon party. 1,000 baht.
Be careful where you sleep and store your belongings if you're going to the Full Moon Party, as every month at this time many people have their bungalows broken into and valuables stolen. There are safety deposit boxes available at many resorts and in the town itself, but there are also reports of theft from some of these. Try find somewhere where you can at least use your own padlock, or stay at one of the higher end resorts if you can afford it. Alternatively, consider not staying at Ko Pha Ngan. You can get a boat over to the party from Ko Samui. If you do have stuff stolen, expect a long line queuing to report thefts at the police station the next day, and to have to pay for a report if you need one for your insurance. It might be a great night out, but it's not so great in the morning when you find yourself with no money and no passport.
Like most of Thailand, visitors should never attempt purchase drugs from numerous young Thai men around town and the beach quietly indicating to people they have them for sale. These sellers are nearly always either undercover law enforcement or in league with law enforcement, who will then promptly arrest you shortly after the transaction is complete. You will then be required to pay a very large fine of up to 5,000-10,000 baht or more on the spot. However, drugs in Ko Phangan may be purchased and used hassle free at various locations that specialize in them, but never from a street tout.