Songkran: 13th – 15th Beginning on the 13th of April Thai people all over the country celebrate the Thai New Year, the most important holiday on the Thai calendar. The holiday is best known for revellers playfully splashing water on each other and dabing scented powder on each others faces as a new year blessing. Over the years this has escalated into a huge water fight where anyone is fair game. People roam the streets armed with high pressure water pistols or stand by the side of the road with buckets and hoses, ready to drench any passer-by. If you venture out during this period, the 13th in particular, expect to get soaked!
Traditionally, however, Songkran is a time of cleaning and renewal. During Songkran Thais perform religious rituals such as cleaning Buddha images, giving alms to the monks and going to the temple to pray. Songkran is also a time for families. Many people return home over the Songkran holiday and pay respect to their elders by sprinkling scented water over their hands. The festival is a 3-day public holiday.
Phuket Vegetarian Festival A colourful event held over a nine day period in late September/early October, this celebrates the Chinese community’s belief that abstinence from meat and various stimulants during the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar will help them obtain good health and peace of mind. Though the origins of the festival are unclear, it is thought that perhaps the festival was bought to Phuket by a wandering Chinese opera group who fell ill with malaria while performing on the island. They decided to adhere to a strict vegetarian diet and pray to the Nine Emperor Gods who would ensure purification of the mind and body. On recovery, the people celebrated by holding a festival that was meant to honour the gods as well as express the people’s happiness at surviving what was, in the nineteenth century, a fatal illness. The festival always falls on the first days of the ninth Chinese lunar month, and for nine days participants observe the following commitments:
Cleanliness of the body during the festival
Clean kitchen utensils not to be used by others who do not participate in the festival
Wear white during the festival
Behave physically and mentally
Avoid eating meat
People in mourning should not participate
Pregnant women and menstruating women should not attend ceremonies
One of the most exciting aspects of the festival is the various, (and sometimes gruesome) ceremonies which are held to invoke the gods. Firewalking, body piercing and other acts of self mortification undertaken by participants acting as mediums of the gods, have become more spectacular and daring as each year goes by. Men and women puncture their cheeks with various items including knives, skewers and other household items. It is believed that the Chinese gods will protect such persons from harm, and little blood or scarring results from such mutilation acts. This is definitely not recommended for the feint hearted to witness.
The ceremonies of the festival take place in the vicinity of the six Chinese temples scattered throughout Phuket. The main temple is Jui Tui Shrine not far from the Fresh Market in Phuket Town. The first event is the raising of the Lantern Pole, an act that notifies the nine Chinese gods that the festival is about to begin. The pole is at least ten metres tall and once erected, celebrants believe that the Hindu god, Shiva, descends bringing spiritual power to the event.
For the next few days, the local Chinese/Thai community brings their household gods to the temple, along with offerings of food and drink. It is assumed that the household gods will benefit from an annual injection of spiritual energy that fills the temple. Visitors can observe and even participate in the lighting of joss sticks and candles that are placed around the various gods. Usually street processions take place, where visitors can see participants walking in a trance. Other events include hundreds of local residents running across a bed of burning coals, or climbing an eight metre ladder of sharp blades while in trance. Apart from the visual spectacle of this festival, visitors can partake in specially prepared vegetarian cuisine made available at street stalls and markets around the island during this time. The vegetarian dishes are not easily distinguished from regular dishes – soybean and protein substitute products are used to replace meat in standard Thai fare and look and taste uncannily like meat. Look for the yellow flags with red Chinese or Thai characters to find vegetarian food stalls – and keep your camera handy!!
Loy Krathong Is held on the full moon of the 12th month in thetraditional Thai lunar calendar. In the western calendar this usually falls in November. “Loi” means “to float”. “Krathong” is a raft about a handspan in diameter traditionally made from a section of banana tree trunk (although modern-day versions use specially made bread ‘flowers’ and may use styrofoam), decorated with elaborately-folded banana leaves, flowers, candles, incense sticks etc. During the night of the full moon, many people will release a small raft like this on a river. Governmental offices, corporations and other organizations also build much bigger and more elaborate rafts, and these are often judged in contests. In addition, fireworks and beauty contests take place during the festival.
The festival probably originated in India as a Hindu festival similar to Deepavali as thanksgiving to the deity of the Ganges with floating lanterns for giving life throughout the year. Krathong floats in the shape of lotus blossoms are most popular and are made from materials easily found in each locality. Loi Krathong customs and traditions reflect local beliefs and cultural evolution and interesting regional variations can be seen. In Tak province, the banana-leaf floats are replaced by coconut shells which are threaded together and launched simultaneously so they appear as long chains of hundreds of glittering lights on the River and the sea, hence the origin of its name, “Loi Krathong Sai”.There are various accounts about the origins of Loi Krathong. However given the river-based culture that forms the foundation of the traditional Thai way of life. Many also believe that by setting adrift the krathong, one symbollically casts away one’s grief, misery and ill-fortunes. Coins are also placed in the krathong as offerings. For the romantic at heart and young couples, Loi Krathong is the time to make wishes for happiness together and success in love.
Phuket King’s Cup Regatta The annual Phuket King’s Cup Regatta , the jewel in the crown of Asia’s yachting circuit, takes place each December off the shores of Phuket. With a range of yacht classes that includes everything from racing yachts and sport boats to cruisers and classics, the Regatta is the region’s premier international sailing event, attracting some of the world’s best yachtsmen. The King’s Cup Regatta was inaugurated in 1987 to celebrate the 60th birthday of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand. It has been held in early December every year since then. In addition to exciting competition, the Regatta is also a major social event for the island, with several parties and other activities held throughout the week.
Most of the action is at Kata Beach – the bay bustles with crew preparing to sail off in the mornings, while in the evenings the hotels lining its shore play host to glamorous soirees for participants and fans of the event. The Regatta is held under the Royal Patronage of HM the King, and organized by the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta Organising held under the Royal Patronage of HM the King, and organized by the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta Organising Committee and the auspices of the Royal Varuna Yacht Club, in conjunction with the Yacht Racing Association of Thailand, the Royal Thai Navy and the Province of Phuket.
Thao Thepkasattri-Thao Sri Suntorn Festival
Location: Heroines Monuments, Wat Pranangsang and Talang Chana Kasuk Memorial Field, all in the Thalang area
This festival has a strong historical connection to the island and lately has been promoted as one of the most important events in Phuket. The fair lasts many days and largely consists of sporting and cultural experiences. During the festival, there are a few things goings on at the same time at a few other locations in Thalang District in the north of the island such as at Wat Pranangsang and Talang Chana Kasuk Memorial Field. The main events take place in a big park east of the Heroines Monument. You can’t miss this colourful setup, especially at night. To fully appreciate the event it’s best to go accompanied by an interpreter
Food Festival Phuket
Location: Saphan Hin
The fair distribution of food and beverages. Stage shows and many other activities.
Organised by the Phuket Provincial Administration Organization (PPAO), the festival is held every year to showcase Phuket’s traditional food.
At the official opening on Sunday night were Phuket Governor Maitree Intusut, PPAO President Paiboon Upatising, PPAO Deputy Mayor Chowarit Na Nakorn and other officials.
Gov Maitree said he was very pleased to join in the festival, and believed the festival helped preserve Phuket’s unique food.
Lots of different food is on offer, including an enormous dish of moo hor, a traditional Phuket sweet pork dish usually served with rice.
There will also be a competition between vendors to see who can make the best dry prawn chilli sauce, similar to narm prik.
The festival is open from 4pm to 11pm, and includes night time entertainment.
Date: April 13–15
Coming to Phuket during April? Then you’re in for a big surprise if you’re here from April 13 – 15. This is the time of the Thai celebration of New Year, Songkran – an event that marks the beginning of the solar calendar (it translates as ‘the passing of’). For some, it’s a period of reflection and carrying out of familial shows of respect to elders. But for others (in fact for most people) it’s a perfect excuse to get merry, hit the streets and throw tons of water around at anything that moves out there.
Traditionally speaking, Songkran tradition was the time of year when the rice harvest was in and farmers had to wait for the rains to begin in order to plant their rice. This would be the driest point of each year so it would seem sort of illogical to waste water by pouring it over elders’ hands but amazingly, gradually over the years Songkran has developed into an orgy of water throwing using buckets and water guns.
The turtle season
Held on Songkran, the nationwide Thai water festival, on April 13 which is also National Fisherman?s Day. Baby turtles are released into the sea at various locations.
Phuket Bike Week
Location: Patong Beach
Once you hear the roar of packs of big bikes rumbling around the hills and highways of Phuket Island, you’ll know that Phuket Bike Week is coming. This annual event is always set in the month of April and is usually organized to coincide with Songkran, Thailand’s biggest festival.
It has a number of concurrent fun events to entertain bikers, their friends, families, and onlookers including motorbike and custom bike exhibitions, Miss Phuket Bike Week competition, a beach party, concerts and a ride for peace, just to name a few.
Lately, the bike week has been promoting the theme ‘ASEAN Ride Together’ to show the spirit of unity among Asian riders as many participants come from Malaysia, Singapore and neighbouring
The event’s main attractions take place on Patong Beach at Loma Park as well as at various locations in Patong, such as the football field across the road from the park and Jungceylon Mega Mall.
The top activity that most motorcycle enthusiasts look forward to every year is the motorcycle exhibition. It’s a chance to have a closer look at some fancy shiny big bikes and choppers of various brands including Harley Davidson, BMW, Kawasaki and Yamaha. The custom bike show is also another highlight of the week-long event. It never fails to draw a big crowd year after year.
Every early evening onwards during the week there are always some parties going on at the main stage in Loma Park. Within the same area, there are plenty of things to do and see such as checking out new tattoos and enjoying local street food. A must-do is to shop for some cool souvenirs including motorcycle gear such as helmets, leather products (including boots, jackets and gloves), T-shirts, caps, pins, stickers, bandanas and key chains.
Phuket Gay Pride & Festival
Location: Patong Beach
Colourful, eccentric, outrageous and full of fun, Phuket’s annual Gay Festival held in Patong is a riot of well-toned bodies on floats and in parades. This is light years away from Patong’s Gay Scene of yesteryear when things were much more discreet.
The Gay Festival nowadays attracts revelers from the world over and is a week of fun and well-organised activities, parties, competitions, quizzes, parades and over-the-top costumes and characters. Based from Soi Paradise and gay-friendly hotels, the festival certainly leaves its mark on Patong Beach.
Baba (Peranakan) Wedding Festival
Location: Phuket Old Town
Thai Peranakan Association will host its yearly mass wedding ceremony Baba (Peranakan) style in Phuket old town. The event is not only for lovebirds who want to have a lovely traditional Straits Chinese wedding; it’s open for all to come and witness as well as help celebrate this beautiful festival. It’s also a chance to explore two of Phuket’s grandest vintage Sino-Portuguese mansions used for the wedding; the Hongyok Mansion on Thepkrasattri Road and the Blue Elephant Cooking School & Restaurant Phuket, the historical former Phuket governor’s Phra Pitak Chinpracha Mansion. Packages for those who are interested in participating in the mass wedding this year cost around 40,000 baht including, a two-night hotel stay and a full wedding ceremony.
Cape Panwa Phuket Race week
Location: Cape Panwa Bay
Four days of exciting, international-standard yacht racing off Phuket’s East Coast. Plenty of social activities throughout the event. Now in its tenth year, 34 boats entered the event in 2012 with approximately 500 participants, as entrants from around the world helped maintain Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Raceweek’s reputation as the most exciting and fastest-growing Regatta in Asia.
Venue: Near Kathu market
Kathu Festival, or the ‘Kathu Street Culture Festival’as it is known in full, is a rather new event compared to other well-known festivals on the island but it’s getting popular and draws a bigger and bigger crowd each year of its existence. Spectators will enjoy checking out the street stalls, stage shows, live music, exhibitions and Thai traditional children’s games.
Por Tor (Hungry Ghost) Festival
Date: (21 – 27 Sep)
Location: All Chinese Shrines on the Island
The ‘Hungry Ghost’ festival is an important merit-making event for the ethnic Chinese. Special food, flowers and candles are offered to ancestors on altars. Other offerings are made to ‘feed the ghosts without relatives’ that are said to have been released from hell for the month. Experience this beautiful event for yourself at any Chinese Shrine on the island during the festival. Or if you want to enjoy one of the biggest Hungry Ghost celebrations in Phuket head to the fresh market on Ranong Road. The whole market and nearby areas will be colourfully decorated and feature interesting activities from about noon until midnight including the traditional merit-making ceremony, lion dances , magic shows, live concerts, cabaret shows and many more stage shows. Also expect to see plentiful local food stands during the event.
Phuket Vegetarian Festival
Location: Chinese Shrines on the Island
A colourful event held over a nine-day period in October, this celebrates the Chinese community’s belief that abstinence from meat and various stimulants during the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar will help obtain good health and peace of mind.
Though the origins of the festival are unclear, it is thought that perhaps the festival was bought to Phuket by a wandering Chinese opera group who fell ill while performing on the island and who were miraculously healed through a strictly vegetarian diet
Phuket Travel Fair
Held on November 1 of each year, the first held in 2528 at Patong to the solicitation. To tourists. Visiting Phuket during the high season. Increased activity within the Mii. Of interest. Many such. Miss Visitor Contest, management and competitive water sports.
Loy Kratong Festival
A festival of quiet celebration, the origins of Loy Kratong are unclear, but it is believed that it started in Sukhothai, (north of Bangkok) one of the most powerful cities in Asia, around 800 years ago. On this particular night, on nearly every expanse of water, be it a river, lake or the ocean, you’ll notice thousands of lights drifting across the water like fairy dreams.
Gently flickering, dipping and dancing in the breeze as they go, they make a spectacular sight. All of Phuket’s major west coast beaches take part in Loy Kratong festivities, with a mix of locals and tourists. Nai Harn (on the large lake) and Patong usually have the most activity with locals visiting beaches like Kata and Karon.
Laguna Phuket Triathlon 2013
Location: Laguna Phuket
Southeast Asia’s premier multi-sport event, the Laguna Phuket Triathlon, has been going on for almost two decades. The event comprises a 1.8km swim, 55km cycle and 12km run. Over the past eighteen years the popular race has attracted thousands of age group athletes as well as triathlon legends Mark Allen, Greg Welch, Craig Alexander, Paula Newby-Fraser, Michellie Jones and Chrissie Wellington, to name just a few.
Phuket King’s Cup Regatta
Phuket’s famous international yachting event, The King’s Cup Regatta, returns to the azure waters of the Andaman Ocean in December for a week of partying, sailing, beautiful people and great fun. This year marks not only the event’s 20th year of prominence on the Asian yacht racing calendar, but also coincides with the auspicious Diamond Jubilee celebrations of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world’s longest reigning monarch.
The event was launched in 1987 to celebrate His Majesty the King’s birthday on December 5. A yachting enthusiast himself, His Majesty King Bhumibol also happens to be patron of the King’s Cup, making it a regal event in every sense of the word. To add further lustre to Phuket’s prime international sporting event, the sailing regatta was named ‘Yachting Event of the Year’ at the Christofle Asia Boating Awards 2006. Its popularity has gained significant momentum on the international yachting scene, while media attention has grown steadily over the years.
The King’s Cup Regatta attracts some of the world’s best yachtsmen, ‘yachtswomen’ and their expensive boats to the waters of Kata Beach, off the island’s west coast, where these local and visiting sailors vie for the coveted trophy, creating a truly spectacular sight in the process. Beginning on December 2, the races run until December 9. Thus far some 86 yachts from 18 countries have been entered, a figure that is certain to rise as the regatta date draws closer and many boats normally enter late.
Chao Le Boat Floating Festival
The ceremony will be in the middle of the 6th and 11th of each year by a group of fishermen at Rawai Beach and is home Sapum celebrates on the 13th day of the dinner and the village at Laem. (North of Phuket) is celebrates on the 15th lunar day of the ceremony, which is similar to exorcise the Chao Loy Krathong Ceremony of the Thailand. The ships were built of wood, nails and broken cutting hair for a doll, not replace them. Put into the boat. Then float to bring sorrow. Woe to the sea and then dance around the boat. Also known as the “dance Ragegeg” enough.
Phuket Seafood Fiesta
During May of each year during the monsoon. This is the highest number of tourists. The best hotels in Phuket. Relatively few. Thus, Phuket. It has provided. Seafood Festival. Regularly held in Phuket. In order to attract tourists. In a variety of activities such as The parade march. Fair food. The restaurant is famous in Phuket etc.
Wat Chalong Fair
Location: Chalong Temple
Wat Chalong (or Chalong Temple) Fair is probably the biggest of all temple fairs on the island. It was first started in 1933 by local farmers who lived near and around Wat Chalong. After a long period of hard work and when the harvest was complete, they would get together and create a kind of fun fair on the temple’s grounds. In later years, they set up the fair during the Chinese New Year because they wanted to make sure that Thais with Chinese heritage would join in, too. The fair lasts seven days each year and is a colourful, crowded, aromatic, noisy but fascinating spectacle. Claustrophobic people stay away.