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Koh Phangan Full Moon Party draws 20,000

The popular Full Moon Party on Koh Phangan in this southern coastal province drew about 20,000 tourists on Friday night.

Hotels on Koh Phangan, particularly along Haad Rin beach in tambon Ban Tai where the party is held each month, enjoyed full bookings. The beach was packed with Thai and foreign revellers, numbering about 20,000. About 98% of the visitors were foreigners.

On Saturday, many foreign tourists began leaving the island just north of Koh Samui for other tourist sites, while Thai tourists prepared to return to work after a long holiday weekend. The next Full Moon Party will be held on Aug 12.

Tawich Somwang, chairman of a business group on Haad Rin beach, said most of the foreign visitors to Koh Phangan were from European countries. But he said he had noticed more tourists from the Middle East including Saudi Arabia and Oman, since Thailand and Saudi Arabia restored long-suspended diplomatic relations.

Many years ago, he said, many Saudis were regular visitors to Koh Phangan. But that all changed in 1989 after the theft of gems from the home of a Saudi prince, and subsequent murders of Saudis in Thailand, led to a break in diplomatic and other ties that lasted until this year.

The return of visitors from Saudi Arabia is helping to boost tourism on Koh Phangan, he said, adding that more Indian travellers are also coming to the island.

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