Aside from the stunning beaches and gorgeous landscapes, one of the best things about Phuket is the incredible amount of major events it hosts. Whether they’re held to honor a religious belief or just for fun, the many festivals of Phuket are as colourful and exciting as they are varied. Here are a few of the events worth planning your next trip around.
Songkran, the Water Festival
Kickstart the Thai New Year by getting wet and wild. The Water Festival, also known as Songkran, is a Buddhist festival marking the beginning of the Thai New Year with a giant water fight.
The exact date varies every year depending on the lunar calendar. However, to make it easier for visitors to plan ahead, the dates for the celebrations are fixed on April 13 to 15 each year. And since the Thais love to celebrate, expect the festivities to last throughout the week. The streets are closed to traffic and are used as arenas for this water war. Locals, visitors, young and old—all eagerly wait to splash passersby with buckets, water guns, balloons and anything else they can get their hands on.
Songkran water fights are spread all over Phuket, with the wildest ones taking place in Patong, Kata and Karon. It all ends in a full-scale water war zone on Bangla Road until late at night. So don’t expect to go through the day without being absolutely soaked.
Phuket Vegetarian Festival
Date Varies in Late September and October
The Phuket Vegetarian Festival (or Nine Emperor Gods Festival) is one of the most important events on the island. The festival is held during the ninth lunar month of the
Chinese calendar, so the dates change every year. During the 10 days of the event, locals of Chinese ancestry strictly observe a vegetarian or vegan diet for the purposes of spiritual cleansing and merit-making.
The ceremonies of this unique event aren’t meant for the fainthearted. Participants walk the streets displaying various acts of self-mutilation—from piercing cheeks with swords, to walking across burning coals—believing that such acts will bring good luck to the local community. If you can stomach the gore, the festival promises to be a fascinating experience. In addition to the street processions, there are also plenty of ceremonies in the six Chinese temples across Phuket. The first ceremony takes place at Jui Tui Shrine, where participants raise a 10-metre pole— an act intended to notify the Chinese gods that the festival has begun.
This high-energy, three-day event is an annual celebration marking the beginning of high season in Phuket. The Patong Carnival is full of entertainment, sporting events, colourful parades, cultural performances and live music. And in recent years, the long running festival has been paired with the Patong Seafood Festival, so visitors can enjoy some delicious Thai food, as well as other Asian cuisines, at one of the many street food stalls along the beach. The carnival’s main events are held along the famous Bangla Road, as well as Soi Post Office and Soi Dr Wattana.
Date Varies in November
You won’t want to miss Loy Krathong, or, the Festival of Lights. This national event is held every year during the night of the full moon on the twelfth month of the Thai lunar
The highlight of the festival is the releasing of a Krathong, a floating offering made of banana leaves carrying a candle and some incense sticks, out into the ocean, rivers and lakes. It is believed that the “boat” will carry your bad luck into the distance, and enable a better start to the following year. Get your cameras ready, for this presents an unforgettable sight, with countless lighted boats flowing out into the water. All of Phuket’s major beaches take part in Loy Krathong festivities, with Patong beach being a popular place to celebrate.
With all of these exciting activities, it’s a good thing Phuket’s many beaches are available to help you unwind after a good night’s sleep in Hotel Indigo Phuket Patong. Whether you love fascinating foods or active events, there’s something for everyone on Phuket’s festival calendar.