Phuket Vegetarian Festival

20 - 28 Oct 2017

You might of been expecting to read about a tasty vegetarian food festival, but the Phuket Vegetarian Festival is anything but.

  • When? 20th - 28th October 2017
  • Where? Phuket
  • Price: Free

If you've heard stories about ping-pong shows and creepy crawly platters coming out of Phuket and thought that's as bizarre as it will probably get, think again. Some of the crazy goings on at the Phuket Vegetarian Festival might make you think eating a scorpion is pretty normal. During this annual celebration, you can look forward to some incredible acts of self-mortification which are pretty gruesome (although highly entertaining) to say the least.

This nine-day festival is held within the 9th lunar month in the belief that avoiding meat and other things such as sex, drinking and swearing, will bring good health. This idea comes from an unusual story in which a Chinese opera group fell ill with malaria in the 19th century while in Phuket. They prayed to the Nine Emperor Gods (hence the festival's other name - Nine Emperor Gods Festival) and stuck to a strict vegetarian diet. When they survived the illness, people were amazed and created a festival in honour of the gods and to celebrate the group's recovery. 

Today it is one of the most highly-anticipated events of the year with a number of parades and a sea of people wearing white. Yet, the most noticeable aspect of the festival is the vast number of people who walk the streets with their faces and bodies pierced with knives, swords, pins - in fact, pretty much anything. They do so in the belief that gods will bring healing waters so their physical wounds will be healed. If you don't like blood you're at the wrong festival.

Expect to see firewalkers, processions and lots of firecrackers - which can be loud, annoying and extremely dangerous, so always be aware and alert if you decide to go.

Despite the mad celebrations, Phuket Vegetarian Festival is an important cultural event for the people on the island and is a unique sight for any tourist. If you attend, remember to wear white out of respect for the festival traditions. 

For those who were expecting to read about a food festival, we should mention there are also an array of vegetarian stalls offering some tasty food. Although we're guessing you won't be that hungry after spending five minutes in the thick of the action. You can always grab a scorpion later along Bangla Road.

  • Get there: Fly into Phuket or drive from mainland Thailand - the drive from Phuket International Airport will take around an hour to the city.
  • Stay: Find accommodation in Phuket City on the southeast of the island to be at the heart of the festivities.

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*We do our very best to verify the dates of our events but please check with the official event provider before booking your flights. We would hate for you to be disappointed!