travel guide to Phuket Island

The Phuket vegetarian festival: anthropology of customs and food culture

Are you a vegan? Do extreme acts of faith and religious mindset, such as body piercing, getting attacked willing by firecrackers, and walking on fire to test your faith seem interesting to you? Well, then Phuket vegetarian festival or Nine Emperor Gods festival in Phuket Island, is definitely for you.

Focusing on the celibacy of both mind and body, featuring some extreme religious ritual performances this will be a once in a lifetime opportunity for you to attend.

There sure are some spectacles unique to this festival that you probably won’t get to see anywhere else.

In Phuket culture, this is considered the most important festival of all. Close to the tail end of September and budding October, the ninth Chinese lunar month is when Phuket Vegetarian Festival is celebrated.

What is the Phuket vegetarian festival all about?

things to do in Phuket Island
by tripsavvy

One of the best things to do in Phuket is attending the Vegetarian festival. It’s one of the well-renown festival around the globe, offering a unique display of cultural activities, in a spectacular nine-day annual event.

Hokkien descendants celebrate this festival all over the island of Phuket. It is said that the festival can help in spiritual purification and physical balance while delivering good luck and fortune in the lives of the attendees.

History of Phuket Vegetarian Festival

history of Phuket Island
by wikipedia

It all started back in the 1800s when Chinese laborer immigrants were the most prominent part of the Phuket island population.

A pandemic spread unrestricted in Kathu town in Phuket which led to a lot of death in that time. Among the people affected by the epidemic were some of the fellows of an opera troupe that had arrived to perform in the town from China. This may seem a little strange to you if you don’t really believe in higher powers or aren’t even much religious. However, this is how it apparently happened.

The members of the Chinese opera troupe devoted about 9 days and nine nights of their time abstaining from meat and impure activities. They convinced some of the locals in the area to follow their lead as well. Together, they all prayed to Nine Emperor Gods and Jade Emperor God.

It was an inspired action from the traditional prayers during the ninth Chinese lunar month in China. Somehow the infected fellows of the Opera troupe started getting better. It became a great topic of discussion in the area, attracting a lot of attention. Presently, it has become a famous tradition, a part of the local life, a festival celebrated annually with great enthusiasm by the locals. It attracts a lot of national, international travelers.

The Mar Songs

Phuket vegetarian festival:  travel guide to Phuket Island
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A curious thing to notice during this festival is a few people going into trance channeling their deities. It is apparently a display of their god’s power. These mediums are referred to as Mar Song.

The belief sustains even during the modern times among the local practitioners of extreme acts of faith during this festival that their God will keep them safe from any harm. This strong belief in their Nine Emperor Gods leads to some of the practitioners piercing their bodies and purposefully injuring themselves in a show of their faith.

It can be said that this festival contains a level of risk and is not recommended to those of the faint heart.

The mar song is a medium of faith go into trance, embodying one of the Nine Emperor Gods.

Fire-Walking Parade Celebration

Phuket vegetarian festival:  things to do in Phuket Island
by fun4emily

As the name suggests, this event is highlighted by the heavy use of fireworks which is used to test the faith of its participants. It comprises of potential danger towards the Mar Song and their guards as well as the carriers of floats.

The focus of the firecrackers is towards these partakers of the parade, as they continue to show their strong faith towards their deities, despite the very possible risk of injury. Even if you’re not one of the participants and merely an onlooker of the parade, you should be aware that standing too close can be dangerous as some of the fireworks may hit you too.

The finale of the festival

When the participants of the parade reach the end, the believers around the area, visiting from various parts of Thailand and even foreign devotees, start their prayers. Incense and candles are lit by the practitioners and devotees, floats are set on fire as heavy amounts of fireworks are set off. Announcing the end of the prayers.

Tips to celebrate The Phuket vegetarian festival:Phuket vegetarian festival:  things to do in Phuket Island

by travel begins at 40Here are some tips for you to follow if you want to celebrate this vegetarian festival of Phuket island just like a local. Live in the moment, enjoy this wonderful cultural experience.

Restrict your diet

Eat healthy balanced vegetarian food, stay away from meats of any kind, and too many spices as well.

 Mingle among the locals

Mingle among the locals in Phuket city ask them about the best things to in the area nearby. You can find the hidden gems that way anywhere in the world following the same advice.

Wear a Facemask

The entire area is filled with smoke as heavy use of incense as well as intense fireworks cause a foggy atmosphere in the area.

It is highly recommended that you bring yourself a good facemask or a scarf that seems it can reduce your smoke intake.

Plug for your ears

The fireworks are so intense that he won’t be able to hear anything else for quite a while as it goes on and on and on during the parade. what you should do is buy yourself some earplugs.

You can find them being sold in some of the stalls, or you can bring a pair with you to the celebration.

What to avoid doing during the Festival?

Phuket vegetarian festival: things to do in Phuket
by travel begins at 40

These are some of the things to keep note of, that you should try to avoid if you want to really partake in the local experience of the festival.

Don’t harm other beings, it goes without saying that no eating meat as well.

Don’t lie or cheat with others.

Don’t partake in gambling, drinking, or sexual debauchery.

Avoid unnecessary jewelry, heavy makeup, expensive clothing well.

White-colored attire is preferred to gain entry into the halls of the shrine. A symbol of peace and balance.

Vegetarian food culture and hotels

best vegetarian restaurants in Phuket Island
by holidify

If you are a tourist, looking for places with good vegetarian food in Thailand and you need not be vetted.

It is well known that meats and non vegetarian food are a dominant part of food culture in Thailand. However, there are a lot of vegetarians (mostly around Buddhist monk communities) which gives rise to several varieties of vegetarian food that can be relished in Thailand.

Ranging from vegetables, fruits, and derivative recipes made from them there are also mock meats available.

If you are one of those non-vegetarian food lovers, who has recently started showing interest in vegetarian food, then these mock meats are a must-try. These are mostly made up of protein alternatives such as soy.

Relish in the vegetarian experience in Phuket City

Whether or not you are a habitual vegetarian it is highly recommended that vegetarian food be consumed during this festival. It’s about respecting the local culture and customs of the place you are traveling to.

If you are looking for the best places to eat vegetarian food, then look for the stalls and vendors with yellow flags attached. Take a short walk of the food shops and you’ll find numerous Vegetarian and vegan restaurants as well as food stalls available in the vicinity.

Best hotels for vegetarians 

1. O-Oh Farm Ta-Eiad

best restaurants in Phuket city
by happycow

Mainly known for their famous Asian, Thai, and vegan cuisines, and excellent friend, and cozy setting. This has led to a lot of frequent tourists and visitors to Phuket making this restaurant their go-to destination for vegetarian needs.

Are you partying around, hopping from one travel destination to another? or perhaps here for the vegetarian festival?

Either way, visiting this relaxing restaurant will give you some Peace of Mind despite your hectic schedule.

O-Oh farm is well known for its hospitality. Here you can relax in the open-air lawn, feeling yourself rapidly rejuvenated, enjoying the delicious spread of healthy vegetarian food.

Best cuisines– Thai, Asian, Vegan (Best Vegetarian food to try here- Avacado Salad, Quinoa Shushi)

Timings- 8:00 am to 10:00 pm

Where to go- 18 Chao Fah Tawan Tok Rd, Tamban Chalong, Amohoe Mueang Phuket, Chang Wat Phuket

2.  The Vegan Table

best vegan Phuket hotels
by happycow

This restaurant is dedicated to vegan food enthusiasts. It can be titled the best place to eat vegan food in Phuket. It is no doubt a fact that, the vegan table is famous among vegetarians and vegans in the region.

Claiming a dining experience heavily focused on vegan food culture, the vegan table presents itself as an eco-friendly restaurant, known for its amazing spread of vegan food and drinks.

Some of the customer favorites are the vegan cheesecake, smoked tofu summer rolls as well as sourdough toasts with toppings like mushrooms and avocado.

Best cuisines- Thai, Fusion, International, Italian, Western, Bakery, Juice Bar

Timings- Open from Tuesday to Saturday: 8:30 am to 6:30 pm

Where to go- 106 Ratsada Road, Tambon Talat Yai, Amphoe Mueang Phuket, Chang Wat Phuket

3. Yo Green

foodie things to do in Phuket city

If you are a recently turned vegetarian still missing the delicacies of nonvegetarian recipes, then perhaps you’d like to taste some Mock meats?

These resemble non vegetarian foods heavily while supplementing you with a good amount of protein. The best thing? It’s quite affordable, well within the budget range.

It is one of the only few completely vegetarian diners in all of Phuket. One thing you should be aware of that the staff here does not usually speak English. However, you can communicate with them using Google Translate. You can even visit this place on your food tour with a local guide.

Some of the best dishes that you should taste in this restaurant feature spicy noodle salads and red curry fried rice.

Best Cuisines- Thai, Indian, Organic, Fusion, Juice Bar, Western

Timings- From Monday to Saturday: 11:30 am to 10:30 pm, Sundays are different timing, starting from 12:30 am to 10:30 pm (It stays closed on Wednesday)

Where to go- 54/9 Bangla Road, Soi Patong Resort, Patong, Kathu, Phuket

4. Dok Bua

Dok Bua vegetarian restaurant in Phuket city
by TripAdvisor

Dok Bua may be a relatively small restaurant but the staff is quite friendly. They are more than willing to customize their recipes according to your taste.

You can either choose spicier stuff to eat or less spicy food. Many possible varieties of food of the recipes present in the menu can be offered to you by the chefs.

It’s a place famous abound its frequent visitors the causes reasonable pricing as well as fresh organic ingredients that are locally sourced.

Dok Bua is definitely one of the best places to see in Phuket to sate your vegetarian hunger. It’s a hidden gem, but wouldn’t you agree that the explorations are one of the best parts of travel in any new place?

Some of the most popular dishes served by the place feature, Spicy salad with Mock livers and veggies and Tempura vegetables with dip.

Best Cuisines- Thai, Chinese, and Fusion

Timings- 10:30am to 8:30pm

Where to go– 2 Soi Ratchapruk, Samkong, Phuket, Thailand


Well, now that you know all about Phuket vegetarian festival, aka the Nine Emperor Gods festival in Phuket then perhaps you would like to plan your travel accordingly. The best time to do so is during the 9th lunar month of the Chinese calendar, which is usually between September and October.

Go on now explorer, have fun, happy travels.




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