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Phuket Vegetarian Festival Schedule 2018

The 2018 Phuket Vegetarian Festival is on NOW! The festival runs from 8 - 18 October 2018. The dates change every year, as it's based on the Chinese lunar calendar. Next year it'll start on September 28th. 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! Last year I more or less totally ignored the festival because all the main events and processions were cancelled due to King Bhumibol's funeral taking place the same week. In 2018 I expect things to perhaps be even wilder to make up for the sadness of 2017.

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 that I didn't get great photos. And until 2014 I had not experienced the crazy final night procession in Phuket Town - I have now been a few times and it's absolutely crazy! Most of the events happen far away from the main tourist 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, I do recommend that you try to see something!

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 2018

Schedule - 8th to 18th October 2018

The start of the 2018 festival will be Monday 8th 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.

Not too much happens for the next couple of days, but the Chinese shrines are always interesting to visit any evening or any time during the festival really. The first big street procession will be on the 11th October ... or actually the 10th - a few years ago the small "Naka" shrine joined as a newcomer in the festival and will be the first to have a procession. All the main street processions pass through the old Phuket town area, all of them start early (around 7am or earlier), all finish either at Sapan Hin (south end of town) or back at their home shrines if the shrine is in or near Phuket Town.

Monday October 8th

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.

9th - 10th October - there are no big events on the first 2 days of the festival except for a small procession from Naka shrine on the 10th, but people can visit any shrine at any time, and the Jae (āš€ā¸ˆ) 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" - it's vegan, so no dairy either and 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 special festival food near the beaches.

Wednesday October 10th

Street procession into Phuket Town from Naka Shrine, located next to the weekend market just outside Phuket Town. This shrine is a newcomer to the festival and has only been doing processions for a few years. I visited in 2014 and it was quite crowded with "pro" photographers looking to get the first photos of the festival. Some photos here.

Thursday October 11th

Street procession starting 7am for Sapam Shrine - this shrine is a few km north of Phuket Town (about a 10km walk from the shrine to Sapan Hin). To see piercing taking place at any shrine you have to be there before 7am. Try 6am. In the evening, around 7pm (better get there earlier), there will be another procession around Kathu village for the Birth and Death Gods (Lam Tao and Pak Tao). I was there last few years for this very noisy procession! A similar procession also takes place at several other shrines on the same evening. I believe there is a very big one at Jui Tui Shrine.

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

Walking through the firecrackers

Friday October 12th

Today's big street procession is from Sam Kong Shrine. Procession goes from the shrine in the north of town (not far from Tesco Lotus), past the Bangkok-Phuket Hospital and through the old section of Phuket town. The shrine is not far from my house and I find that they have some pretty gory face piercing! The Sam Kong area is also a good area for food hunting during the festival though parking is a b*tch, there are stalls all along the street here for half a kilometer. It's a good one to attend early in the morning.

Saturday October 13th

The street procession today is from Tha Ruea shrine which is in the Thalang area of Phuket in the center of the island - this used to be the main town in Phuket a couple of hundred years ago and there are several historic temples in the area and the annual Heroines Festival celebrating an important date in the history of Phuket - the Heroines story predates the Vegetarian Festival by several decades.

Sunday October 14th

Lots of things going on today... In the morning (7am), a huge street procession in Phuket Town for the Bang Neow Shrine, which is in the south of the town on Phuket Road, one of the biggest and most important shrines participating in the festival. Expect very big crowds in town on this day. I have been in town many times for the Bang Neow procession, but have not tried to get into the temple due to the number of people. There is also a smaller procession starting 7am from Cherng Talay Shrine which takes place in Thalang district in the Cherng Talay area. A good one to see if your hotel is in Kamala, Surin or Bang Tao beaches and you don't want to head all the way to town.

Also on this date ... 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

Did I overdo the HDR?

Monday October 15th

Street procession starting at Jui Tui shrine, which is probably the biggest shrine in Phuket town - just west of the main market. I went to see the procession in 2013 and 2014 - it was very crowded but I got lots of photos! It is hard to get into the shrine early morning, better to find a spot just outside or along the procession route - the route is always easy to find - just follow the people and the little shrines that people set up outside their houses - that means the procession is coming this way! The area around Jui Tui and along the street from the market is always busy and lined with food stalls during the entire festival.

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!

Tuesday October 16th

Street procession from Kathu shrine to Phuket Town. It's a long walk this one, about 10km from Kathu Shrine all the way to town, around the old town and ending at Sapan Hin. Kathu is my "local" shrine. The shrine is only about a mile from my house. I have been there early (6 - 6:30am) the last 4 years to watch piercing rituals. Should try to get there even earlier. 6:30am is a bit too late really! Must make an extra effort! I think 5:30am would be better. But hard work! Things happen early in the morning that are mysterious. The piercing may freak people out the first time they see it. I am now just looking for better camera angles and want to get some video too.

Below - Street Procession - Phuket Vegetarian Festival

Firecrackers in Kathu village

Happiness is a Vegetarian Festival Procession

Later in the evening on October 16th - fire walking at Bang Neow, Cherng Talay and Sam Kong shrines. Got to be worth a look!

Wednesday October 17th

The last full day of the vegetarian festival. There is a street procession for Sui Boon Tong shrine in town early in the morning which I attended for the first time in 2016, then events such as firewalking at Kathu shrine in the afternoon - I went in 2010 and I did take some photos, but the firewalking seems to draw very big crowds. Maybe I'll try again this year at one of the shrines. Maybe come with a stepladder to shoot photos over everyone's heads! Or a GoPro camera on a selfie stick might work!

In the evening/night of the last day (17th 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 2016. 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! Read more @ Final Night of the Phuket Vegetarian Festival.

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!

Below - Crossing the Bridge for Purification - Phuket Vegetarian Festival

Crossing the Bridge

Below - Final Night in Phuket Town - Phuket Vegetarian Festival

Running the Gauntlet

Last Night of the Phuket Vegetarian Festival

Thursday October 18th

At about 5pm the lantern poles (Go Teng poles) will be lowered at the shrines marking the very end of the 2018 Phuket vegetarian festival. The 2019 date for your calendar : 28 September to 8 October.

See you there?!

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

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

View Phuket Vegetarian Festival Chinese Shrines in a larger map

Peranakannitat Museum (Phuket History) in Phuket Town

Right in the heart of old Phuket Town housed inside 2 buildings you can find the Peranakannitat Museum (also called the Baba Museum), which was officially opened in May 2017 by Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, but then soon after the grand opening it closed again mainly because the items on display for the visit of the princess were all borrowed from local Phuket people, and not permanent museum exhibits! I have checked now and then over the last year and a half to see if the museum is really open, and finally last weekend - yes, it was! I'll start by saying - it's still under development, but it does have 2 definite plus points - free entry and aircon!

Chartered Bank Building in Old Phuket Town

The main entrance to the museum is on the corner of Phuket Road and Phang Nga Road (see map at the end of this blog post). This building was originally the Chartered Bank, built around 1900 I think, just when Phuket Town became the main town on Phuket Island and the tin mining industry was booming. It was the first bank in town and the police station was built directly opposite (the building with the clock tower). There's no huge "MUSEUM!" sign anywhere ... I was not sure it was open, even though an "OPEN" sign was hanging on the door handle ...

Phuket Peranakan Museum

I opened the door, happy to feel aircon on a hot, hot day. Inside the room was largely empty save for photos of the princess on the wall and a couple of (quite impressive) displays of old Chinese style tableware. And on the far side of the room a desk and several surprised looking young ladies, a couple of whom were dressed in olde Baba / Nyonya style clothes. Oh my goodness! A visitor! One of the young ladies spoke decent English. I signed in to a visitors book, was given an information brochure and was happy to hear that there is no entry fee. I had a quick look at the displays in the main room (which would have been the ground floor of the bank).

Phuket Peranakan Museum

Behind the desk is a back room that was originally the bank vault. Inside is a small collection of jewellery and some explanations of what the jewellery is/was for.

Phuket Peranakan Museum

Phuket Peranakan Museum

(above) Gold jewellery on display in the former bank vault of the Chartered Bank.

I should explain a few of the meanings of words ... Peranakan is the name given to people of mixed Chinese and Malay decent. By "Malay" I don't mean "from Malaysia" but "from the Malay peninsular". In the early 19th century many Chinese left Southern China and settled in places like Singapore, Malacca, Penang and Phuket. The majority of the Chinese were male and many married local ladies. Phuket had a huge influx of Chinese at a time when the tin mining industry was taking off. The names Baba and Nyonya are also used - Baba are the men, Nyonya are the ladies. There is a big Baba Wedding ceremony here in Phuket every year which I have attended a couple of times.

So I was informed by the museum staff (volunteers, I guess, since it's a free entry!) that an Audio Visual presentation would start at 1:30pm on the 2nd floor of the museum. The presentation takes place 5 times per day at 10am, 11am, 1:30pm, 2:30pm and 3:30pm. Every day except Monday when the museum is closed. Well .. I was there at 12:30, so had an hour to kill walking around old town and finding some cheap local food for lunch. Plenty of cafes and restaurants around old town. Back at the museum, I was taken upstairs - just me! A good view from the 2nd floor looking over the road to the clock tower - the building used to be the police station in the early 20th century ...

Phuket Old Clock Tower

The "audio visual" presentation took place in several small rooms. One of the volunteers guided me, and several Chinese tourists who also turned up to watch halfway through the first part. It started well with a film showing Chinese heading away from war torn South China to seek their fortune and ending up in Phuket after many weeks at sea.

Phuket Peranakan Museum

The second part might have been good but the sound was not working - showing the Chinese settling in to Phuket and having families. Then we had a display showing family life in a typical shophouse style house with the skylight in the middle, followed by small displays about Nyonya clothing and some local foods. It maybe needs a little more work, maybe more signs explaining things, but anyway ... free entry and aircon!

Phuket Peranakan Museum

(photos above show parts of the audiovisual display)

And that was about it .. for now. Over the road in the clock tower building, work is underway with some more presentations of photos and information. I think I'll head back next year and see what's been added. I'm a big fan of museums although I do realise most people visit Phuket for beaches and museums may not be top of the list of things to do! But my Phuket blog does try to suggest more than just the usual attractions, and I do recommend looking around old Phuket Town and so .. why not have a quick look at this museum while you are there!

NOTE - there is another place by the main road in the north of Phuket called the Peranakan Museum, quite a big place. I might check it out soon, but as far as I know it's just a couple of rooms of displays and then some souvenir shops and a restaurant .. a place for bus loads of Chinese to browse, I suspect. (website here)

More places to visit near the Peranakannitat Museum

Thai Hua History Museum
Chinpracha House
Kopitiam Cafe
Old Chinese Herb Shop
Abdul's Roti Shop

Phuket Peranakannitat Museum - Location Map

Ao Sane Beach

You might not have heard of Ao Sane beach. I know people who live here who don't know it, or they have heard of it, but have never been, or don't know how to get there! Ao Sane beach is still a small, quiet beach and when I visited last weekend (September 9th 2018), I felt like I'd gone back in time. First time I went to Ao Sane was 2006 and it's really not changed since then! The southwest corner of Phuket makes for a nice drive in a car or on a moped, there's plenty to see in this area such as the Big Buddha, Karon Viewpoint, Phromthep Cape and plenty more - see A Tour of South Phuket. The roads are quiet here and the scenery is great even if the area is a lot more developed than it used to be.

Ao Sane Beach is not well known and is a little big hidden. You need to get to the larger Naiharn Beach, and at the north end of the beach follow the road that passes around the entrance to The Nai Harn Resort. Then you have about another 600 meters of narrow, twisty cliff-side road before reaching a small parking area and a big sign saying 'Ao-Sane Bungalow and Restaurant'. If you carry on straight you enter the Baan Krating Resort.

Ao Sane Beach Parking

There's space for lots of mopeds, but not so many cars. And I saw a couple of signs saying they will fine you and remove your vehicle if you block the road, so I guess there has been an issue in the past! You could also just park at Naiharn, where there is more parking space, and walk about 1 kilometer from there to Ao Sane.

Ao Sane Beach Entrance

And then you walk down a steep concrete path (see photo above) for about 50 meters to the beach. Ao Sane is not big - the beach stretches only about 130 meters from end to end with granite rocks at either end, and some pretty big granite boulders on the beach and in the sea too! The view looking east (see below) towards Phromthep Cape and Ya Nui Beach is great.

Ao Sane Beach

At the east end of the beach there are some beach chairs in the shade. Not too many, and I am guessing you'll need to pay to rent one. With the restaurant only a few steps away, this is a place you could easily sit for some hours and have a few holiday drinks interspersed with a swim or snorkel in the sea. I believe the snorkeling here is OK when the sea is calm and there used to be a tiny dive shop run by a German guy .. I know he has gone back to Germany, but I hear that he sold the place . it was not open when I visited, but maybe in high season.

Ao Sane Beach

Ao Sane Beach

The restaurant has plenty of tables, mostly in the shade. Looks pretty much like it did back in 2006. Nothing fancy, prices reasonable (maybe a bit more than I'd want to normally pay for Thai food, but ...). And very quiet and relaxing. No loud music, no traffic noise, just the sound of the ocean. I had not planned more than a quick visit to take photos, but figured a beer would be nice and why not have lunch too.

Ao Sane Beach Restaurant

Ao Sane Beach Lunch

Thai food prices were about 90 - 150 Baht. I went for fish and chips (200 Baht) and it was a very good portion! And went very well with a cold Chang beer. I sat for nearly an hour enjoying life. I think a trip with the whole family will be on the cards soon - and then I can have more than 1 beer and let my wife drive :)

To the west side of the restaurant are a few bungalows, some looking better than others. The low season rate - 500 Baht per night. Basic, but right on the beach with a restaurant next door. Deal? I am not sure where else in Phuket you can get a beachfront bungalow for 500 Baht.

Ao Sane Beach Bungalow

I need to spend a bit more time in this area. The nearby Nui Beach is on my list for a visit soon and Naiharn beach is very nice too. Rawai Beach has places to eat and you can hire boats out to nearby islands and one day I really should get to the restaurant at Bon island. Too much to see, too little free time.

Ao Sane Beach - Location Map