Jamie's Phuket Blog

Phuket Vegetarian Festival Schedule 2017

The 2017 Phuket Vegetarian Festival was on from 19 - 29 October 2017. In 2018 the festival will be held from 8 - 18 October 2018. The dates change every year, as it's based on the Chinese lunar calendar. It's my favourite Phuket event / festival and I always take too many photos! I sold my "nice" camera a while back, and for the last few years have been using a combination of an old (but OK) Lumix mixed with iPhone photos! I am thinking of buying a new fancy camera during 2018. I'll get the schedule updated to 2018 sometime!

There is a lot to this festival, it took me a few years to understand, and there are still parts of the festival I have not seen much - I have only attended one firewalking event and it was so crowded. And until 2014 I had not experienced the crazy last night procession in Phuket Town - and this was great - absolutely crazy!

Most of the events happen far away from the main beach areas, mostly in and around Phuket Town, or at the various Chinese shrines around the island. If you are in Phuket during the festival, do try to see something! This year will be different, though - see UPDATE below ...

I have written loads about the vegetarian festival on the Phuket blog in the past and there are hundreds of photos on the blog and my Flickr account. For more information about Phuket's most unique and bizarre festival start at:

Phuket Vegetarian Festival - My Favourite Festival in Phuket.

Recent Vegetarian Festival Blog Posts

2016 Vegetarian Festival Photos
Food at the Phuket Vegetarian Festival
2015 Phuket Vegetarian Festival
The Crazy Last Night of the Vegetarian Festival

Phuket Vegetarian Festival Schedule 2017

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VERY VERY IMPORTANT UPDATE: There was some question about the schedule because the dates chosen for the funeral and cremation of King Bhumibol coincide with the festival dates. Thailand's beloved King passed away in October 2016 and the cremation is to be held on October 26th 2017. As I understand it - all morning street processions from the 19th to 28th, with all the piercing and firecrackers will be cancelled. BUT the final night procession on October 28th WILL (probably) be going ahead, since it's after the cremation.

In addition, people wearing black mourning clothes will be allowed to visit shrines - normally people do not wear black during this festival - white is the color of choice, although you see plenty of people wearing normal clothes. I believe some of the activities in shrines like bladed ladder climbing and firewalking may go ahead too. Not 100% sure!

Due to these changes, I might just skip the festival this year. Normally I am very enthusiastic about it and love to attend processions and visit shrines in the early hours when piercing takes place. But since none of this is happening, I'm not really "feeling" the festival right now.

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Schedule - 19th to 29th October 2017

You can download a pdf file of the actual 2017 schedule for the Phuket Vegetarian Festival here.

The start of the 2017 festival is Thursday 19th October in the late afternoon when the "lantern poles" are raised at all the participating shrines. The Emperor Gods are said to descend down the poles into the shrines at midnight. I often attend Kathu shrine (my local) as I did in 2011 : Photos of Pole Raising and Midnight Ceremony.


Thursday October 19th

At all the Chinese shrines, sometime between 4 - 6pm - raising of the Go Teng pole. Events at the shrines will go on all evening. The lanterns are hung from the pole at midnight, signifying the start of the festival. There will be plenty of firecrackers and fireworks too. In 2011, I went back to the shrine just before midnight expecting some bizarre ceremonies, but it was far more hushed and reverential and kind of spooky. Did not leave the shrine until 1am and people were still gathered there saying prayers.

20th - 21st October - there are no big events on the first 2 days of the festival except for a small procession from Naka shrine on the 21st, but people can visit any shrine at any time, and the Jae (เจ) food is to be found all over the island but mostly around the shrines and especially in Phuket Town. The festival has many aspects and the food is one part of it. I normally try to stick to the strict diet during the festival. No meat, no alcohol. Not just "no meat" - the food is specially prepared with clean utensils and certain other ingredients like garlic and onions are not allowed due to the strong flavour. Don't worry if you are not vegetarian, almost all restaurants are open as normal in tourist areas. In fact, it can be hard to find the festival food near the beaches.


Below - Birth / Death Gods Procession at Kathu Shrine in 2014

Evening parade of Ma Song and god statues in Kathu


25th October : Fire Walking at several locations including Sapam Shrine, Sapan Hin (participants from Jui Tui shrine), Baan Tha Reua Shrine and Sui Boon Tong shrine (just west of the market and not far from Jui Tui shrine in Phuket Town). Fire walking kicks off around 8pm. Maybe I'll try to get some firewalking photos again this year.

Below - Phuket Town Procession Photos - Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2014

Ma Song Girls in Phuket Town 2014

Vegetarian Procession in Phuket Town 2014

Thursday October 26th

Later in the day, there are lots of events on the schedule at various shrines including bladed ladder climbing at Sam Kong and Bang Neow shrines and "nail bridge crossing" at Sapam Shrine. Not sure what that is! We did go to watch bladed ladder climbing one time at Sam Kong, I did not take a camera as it was a bit rainy outside, the weather can be a concern at this time of year, but usually not too bad and sometimes darn hot! The bladed ladder climbing did not seem too dramatic. Can't say I saw any bleeding feet!


Below - Kathu Shrine Piercing and Firecrackers - Phuket Vegetarian Festival

Firecrackers in Kathu village

Happiness is a Vegetarian Festival Procession

Later in the evening on October 27th - fire walking at Bang Neow, Cherng Talay and Sam Kong shrines. Got to be worth a look!

Saturday October 28th

In the evening/night of the last day (28th October) there is be a huge procession around Phuket Town, with people carrying statues of the gods to Sapan Hin. Millions of firecrackers and fireworks. It is absolutely mad. I went for the first time in 2014. Again in 2015. And will go again another year with better preparation. There is so much smoke and so many firecrackers, it's advisable to wear long trousers, a shirt with long sleeves and something more than flip flops or you'll get burnt feet! Need to wear a cloth or face mask over your face too, to avoid too much smoke inhalation! And earplugs would be a good idea. It's like a warzone. A friend had a firecracker land in his pocket a few years ago and melt his iPod!

Earlier in the evening on the last night there is the "Bridge Crossing for Purification" ceremony at the shrines. We did this in 2011 and it was an evening I enjoyed very much. Everyone in white, lots of smiles, no bloody faces, seemed like the whole village was there!

VERY VERY IMPORTANT UPDATE: There was some question about the schedule because the dates chosen for the funeral and cremation of King Bhumibol coincide with the festival dates. Thailand's beloved King passed away in October 2016 and the cremation is to be held on October 26th 2017. As I understand it - all morning street processions from the 19th to 28th, with all the piercing and firecrackers will be cancelled. BUT the final night procession on October 28th WILL (probably) be going ahead, since it's after the cremation.

In addition, people wearing black mourning clothes will be allowed to visit shrines - normally people do not wear black during this festival - white is the color of choice, although you see plenty of people wearing normal clothes. I believe some of the activities in shrines like bladed ladder climbing and firewalking may go ahead too. Not 100% sure!

Below - Crossing the Bridge for Purification - Phuket Vegetarian Festival

Crossing the Bridge for Purification

Below - Final Night in Phuket Town - Phuket Vegetarian Festival

Running the Gauntlet - Last Night of the Phuket Vegetarian Festival

Sunday October 29th

At about 5pm the lantern poles (Go Teng poles) will be lowered at the shrines marking the very end of the 2017 Phuket vegetarian festival.

See you there?

You can download a pdf file of the actual 2017 schedule for the Phuket Vegetarian Festival here.

Where are the shrines? Location Map - Chinese Shrines in Phuket


View Phuket Vegetarian Festival Chinese Shrines in a larger map



Phuket Vegetarian Festival Schedule 2017  |  Jamie's Phuket Blog



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