If you are lucky enough to be in Phuket for any of the many varied festivals Phuket has to offer, then you should definitely include these to your list. From the religious to the superstitious and the fun to the gruesome, they are sure to create a lasting impression!
Por Tor (Hungry Ghost) Festival Phuket
If you are visiting Phuket in August then head to Phuket City for the Por Tor Festival. Although the exact origins of the festival are somewhat hazy, the Phuket locals make offerings of food to hungry ghosts. They place offerings at shrines which are dotted all over the island, but the main one is the Seng Tek Bel Shrine on Phuket Road. If you are over that way, it is also worthwhile visiting the bustling fresh food market on Rangong Road, where you will be greeted by an amazing array of foods. Most popular, are the traditional red turtles cakes known as Ang Ku. These cakes are red as this is a lucky colour, and the shape of a turtle representing a sign of long life.
Vegetarian Festival Phuket
This festival with a slightly misleading name is held for nine to ten days in October (dates vary year to year with the Chinese lunar calendar) and is a somewhat macabre event. Don’t expect to see a laid back, hippy style crowd as you would perhaps find during other vegetarian festivals! Dating back to the 19th century, it celebrates a period of abstinence resulting in good health. Things you might expect to see are extreme body piercings, mediums walking the streets, locals walking on hot coals and climbing ladders adorned with knife blades - it is definitely not for the feint hearted! Having said that, you will also find a huge variety of Phuket vegetarian food on offer which is labelled with yellow and red signs to show they are ‘asje’ or ‘je’. Embrace the crazy atmosphere and enjoy some tasty food en route! If you want to feel part of this vegetarian festival, then wear white and visit a shrine where you can light some incense sticks.
Loi Krathong Festival Phuket
Celebrated on the night of the full moon of the 12th month in the Thai lunar calendar, the literal meaning of Loi Krathong, is ‘a basket to be floated on water’. Traditionally made from the trunk and leaves of a banana tree, these floating baskets have now more often been replaced by bread wrapped in banana leaves (which are bio-degradable). They are usually decorated with flowers and incense sticks and candles. As the full moon takes place, locals set these Loi Krathong floating on nearby rivers, the sea or ponds and the waters become a sea of lights. The belief is that if the Loi Krathong floats away – it will take away your sins and bring you good luck.
Chinese New Year Phuket
The Phuket Chinese New Year falls in January or February and is a great time to visit Phuket and celebrate the new year! Be prepared for firecrackers, Chinese dragons dancing in the street and lanterns everywhere. China Town in Phuket is where you’ll find the best of the action!
Songkran Festival Phuket
Just to confuse you, as well as there being a Phuket Chinese New Year, there is a Thai New Year or Songkran Festival in Phuket which is an even bigger festival than its Chinese relative. The origins of the festival were to bless family members with water, but it has now turned into one massive water fight and is great fun! It also ties in with the end of the dry season in Thailand.
Top tips are:
- arm yourself with a water gun or water carrier of some kind
- don’t take electronic valuables that might get damaged by water
- be prepared to get soaked, although you won’t mind as it is the hottest time of year
- if you are pouring water on a statue of the Buddha (which is acceptable) you do need to remember to be respectful
- This is a three day public holiday in Thailand and Phuket
One of the great festivals of Thailand and a favourite with the children!
We hope that you enjoyed reading about the Phuket festivals. If you want to see more updates from us including other blogs with tips and tricks for Phuket, check our main blog page out. For daily updates, follow us on Twitter, like our Facebook page, and engage with us on Instagram.
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