The first Full Moon Party was improvised at a wooden disco not far from the beach in 1985 for giving thanks to about 20-30 travelers. They quickly gained fame through word of mouth, and the event now draws a crowd about 20,000-30,000 every full moon evening. The party carries on until the sun rises the next day. The bars on the sunrise beach of Haad Rin town stay open and play music such as R&B, drum and bass, house, dance and reggae.
The modern event has become a part of the itinerary of many travelers to Asia. It is characterized by unruly and potentially dangerous attractions such as fire skipping ropes, wildly variable alcohol strength 'buckets', and a drug culture. It is seen by many as the "ultimate party experience", although drug laws are still strict, and police enforcement is stepped up during the parties The Full Moon Party is featured in films such as Last Stop for Paul and the Thai film Hormones. It was also featured in the first episode of the Comedy Central tv show Gerhard Reinke's Wanderlust. In 2011, the island's parties featured on Tourism and the Truth: Stacey Dooley Investigates, a documentary investigating the negative impacts of tourism on local people and the economy.