What is the Phuket Vegetarian Festival?

The Phuket Vegetarian Festival or the Nine Emperor Gods Festival happens every year, during the ninth lunar month. This year, (2019 in case you’ve been living under a rock) it falls between September 28 – October 7th.

It is one of the most auspicious events on Phuket island for the Chinese community.

What Can You Expect?

Before the festival commences the roads leading up to the Chinese temples are adorned with hundreds of yellow flags.

If you don’t want to miss a thing, roll out of bed before dawn and find you way down to a temple in Phuket Old Town. The first day of the Thai vegetarian festival starts early in the morning with Tao Buddhist worshipers, dressed in white watching over the erection of a large bamboo pole rising up to the heavens inviting the divine to come down to earth.

This festival should be attended at least once in your life to witness the the devotees (mah song) getting in to a trans-like state before fire walking and getting extreme piercings/mutilations. The sheer volume of the firecrackers and bizarre spectacle of the processions through historic streets of Old Phuket Town is not to be missed.

Phuket Vegetarian Festival

I went to see what it was all fuss was about a few years ago, I can safely say, I have never seen anything else quite like it. (Well there was a stag weekend in Amsterdam years ago but what happens in the Dam, stays in the Dam).

The streets are aligned with food stalls (it’s Thailand!) but Chinese followers refraining from eating meat, drinking alcohol, engaging in sex, quarrelling, telling lies or killing! They also wear white clothing to signify purity and cleansing of the body and soul.

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Phuket Vegetarian Festival History

Legend has it the Phuket Vegetarian Festival (thetsakan kin che in Thai) started around 150 years ago when Chinese tin miners fell ill on the malaria stricken island. A wandering Chinese opera group on the island were also ill and decided to abstain from eating meat and pray to the Nine Emperor Gods. To everyone’s amazement they made a recovery from, at the time a fatal disease. This has now developed into an annual and international festival.

thai vegetarian festival

Phuket Vegetarian Festival Calendar

For this full Phuket Festival Schedule, click here. The link will take you to the official website.


If you have attended the Phuket Vegetarian Festival or intend to for the first time this year, let us know in the comments below.

Phuket Vegetarian Festival

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