Vegetarian Festival in Thailand


For some strange reason Cody and I had decided not to attend Thailand’s Vegetarian Festival. And then we came to our senses.

Now this is our kind of festival (not so much the stabbing anything you can get your hands on in your face) but the vegan food galore is amazing!!

Vegetarian Festival

Great Vegetarian Food Everywhere


The vegetarian festival started about 150 years ago in the Kathu district of Phuket Thailand by a Chinese theatre company.

When the actors became feverishly ill they chose to go with a strict vegan diet to please the 9 Chinese gods hoping they would be relieved of their illness.


Vegetarian Festival

One of the 9 temples in the Phuket area

Their plan worked-now whether or not they were nursed back to health due to a vegan diet or the 9 Chinese gods, we’ll never know.

Vegetarian Festival

Some of the best croissants we have ever eaten

The Vegetarian festival is held on the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar and is mostly observed by the Thai-Chinese community.

This year it was held from October 5th to October 13th.

Vegetarian Festival

Firecrackers going off everywhere

We headed down to Phuket where the vegetarian festival is celebrated in full force around 9 major temples where sacred rituals and offerings are conducted.

The most ghastly rituals at the festival take place at the street processions where devotees are in a trance.

People walking barefoot over hot coals, cutting their cheeks open to insert a plethora of different objects into them, and piercing their tongues with spikes.

Vegetarian Festival

At least he had some shade during the day

The devotees claim to feel no pain as they are in a trance.

The point of the festival is for merit making, spiritual cleansing, good fortune, and to banish evil.

Participants also abstain from alcohol, and other vices.

If you’re not into blood and gaping wounds there are some great fire works and even better, amazing vegan food!!

Vegan food everywhere you turn! If you don’t want to head down to Phuket for the gore, you can always head to Chinatown in Bangkok for the incredible array of  food.

Food vendors and restaurants switch to a vegan menu to cater to those observing the festival.

Just look for venues displaying a yellow flag with red writing, which lets you know their food has been cooked with no animal products.

Vegetarian Festival

Vegan Vegan Vegan

Even 7/11 participates! Look at all the goodies!! We only wish these options were available all year round.

Have you checked out our Vegan food blog about Myanmar yet? Our favourite food in Myanmar

Comments To This Entry.
  1. Mindy & Ligeia November 28, 2013 Reply

    Although the self-mutilation isn’t our scene, the abundance of vegan food is certainly enough to entice us to visit! We wondered the exact same thing about the vegan goodies from 7-Eleven. Why can’t those be available all year round???

    • Giselle and Cody November 28, 2013 Reply

      I KNOW!!! Why can’t they have all of those delicious yummies all year round?
      We were very happy that we made the choice to leave Laos early to attend the VegFest.
      So much great food.

  2. Ayngelina December 4, 2013 Reply

    That all sounds awesome except the splitting cheek open part…

    • Giselle and Cody December 5, 2013 Reply

      Ayngelina, before we left on our trip we both said this is one festival we would love to attend. The food and colours and shocking face piercing make for great photos and exceptional video. Even looking back at the photos of the festival it’s still hard to believe that it actually happened. We put the tame photos up as well 🙂

  3. Franca December 4, 2013 Reply

    We saw people piercing themselves with big metal spikes and hooks in Singapore for the Thaipusam festival. It was quite gross. I wish we were in Phuket for the food though, I have to admit we miss these delicious vegan and vegetarian dishes so much.

    • Giselle and Cody December 9, 2013 Reply

      Franca, what time of the year is that festival in Singapore?
      We wish you guys were in Phuket as well. It would have been a big Vegan party!! Hahaha

  4. Camels & Chocolate December 4, 2013 Reply

    This looks like my kind of festival! While I do eat meat, I tend to go more vegetarian while traveling in Asia (I don’t like picking out bones, ew).

  5. So happy we were able to connect down there! I’ve strongly believe I can honestly say that I’ve never seen anything so crazy… and I’ve seen some PRETTY CRAZY stuff! It was a plus – yet a weird correlation – that it was topped off with endless amounts of delicious vegetarian foods! Until our next crazy adventure together… happy travels! 🙂

    • Giselle and Cody December 9, 2013 Reply

      Ian, it’s always awesome running into you. It was a pretty crazy festival and super fun as well.
      Eating noodle soup on the side of the road and having people with swords shoved through their cheeks is always a great time.
      can’t wait to run into you next time. Take care!!

  6. Diana Edelman December 4, 2013 Reply

    Well, minus the gore, I would really love this. Shall we meet and go next year??

    • Giselle and Cody December 9, 2013 Reply

      Hmmm, I think we will be in Africa next year during this time but…….things are always changing for us so who knows!!
      Maybe we will meet you next year in Phuket 🙂

  7. Erica December 5, 2013 Reply

    I really got into the food but for some reason the hardcore cheek splitters made my stomach drop – and I worked in the bod mod industry for years!

    • Giselle and Cody December 9, 2013 Reply

      Yeah, we watch so many gore and horror movies but at times some of the piercings made our stomachs go a little weak.
      I mean who really needs to put 9 swords through their cheeks 🙂

  8. Elizabeth December 6, 2013 Reply

    Sounds like an amazing time was had. Great reasons behind the festival and food looks delish!

  9. Laura December 6, 2013 Reply

    Love the idea of a vegetarian festival — the fun of street food without the possibility of any sketchy meat!

    • Giselle and Cody December 9, 2013 Reply

      No gross meat at all. the food was very cheap and super delicious.
      Grilled Tofu for 25 cents….how can you go wrong?!

  10. Toni December 7, 2013 Reply

    This is crazy! The food looks amazing!

  11. Alex December 8, 2013 Reply

    I love me a good festival but I’ve always avoided this one as I don’t think I could take the self mutilation! I’m glad you found an aspect of it you could enjoy 🙂

    • Giselle and Cody December 9, 2013 Reply

      The self mutilation was a lot much at times but we still enjoyed it all. Kinda sad we missed out on the bladed ladder climbing, crossing the bridge of nails and the boiling hot oil bath. Haha at least there was amazing food.

  12. Katie December 11, 2013 Reply

    Awesome write-up. I attended this festival in 2011 and was really kinda grossed out by all of the peircing. I only went to one march and then couldn’t handle seeing anymore but I agree that the food was amazing. I would probably go again just for all the delicious food.

    • Giselle and Cody December 15, 2013 Reply

      After awhile the piercing did get a little tiresome but we can never get tired of great food!
      We would definitely go again for all the food….maybe we can meet up 🙂

  13. Hiruka December 15, 2013 Reply

    This looks like really good time. The food is very delicious and maybe some day I will go to the festival and have all the delicious vegetarian food.

  14. Sherry Nash December 18, 2013 Reply

    I love all festival in all over all world. Also I love to taste different food wherever I go. I came across on your blog to read about Phuket area as my friends had told me about before some time. So, I’d like to visit there, when I get any festival there.

    • Giselle and Cody December 20, 2013 Reply

      Sherry, this festival was one of the top ones we have been to.
      We also loved Holi Fest while we were in India.

  15. […] I’m seriously stoked. I can’t wait to get all of Thailand’s amazing fruit and vegan food into […]

  16. Jason October 2, 2014 Reply

    WOW!! Just read your article about Toronto Vegfest and now I find this. What a huge change between the two!! That’s crazy what they do to themselves to ward off evil spirits. I have seen photos from this festival before but never knew the story behind it.

    I noticed you two have a lot of tattoos. Do you think you could ever do something like this?

    • Giselle and Cody October 9, 2014 Reply

      There is definitely a huge difference between the two festivals 🙂

      We were very excited to have attended this festival but cannot see ourselves partaking in any of the events. We will jus stick to getting tattooed and not shoving huge objects through our cheeks. 🙂

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