Food, firewalking rituals and surreal processions at the most vibrant food festival in the world.

Food, firewalking and festivities at Phuket Vegetarian Festival | Anantara Vacation Club

Food, firewalking and festivities at Phuket Vegetarian Festival. Photo:

A spectacular visual feast of incredible body piercing processions, amazing vegan and vegetarian cuisine and firewalking rituals; the Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2014, from 24 September – 2 October, promises to take visitors to this Thai beach paradise on a somewhat strange and fantastical journey into a unique celebration of Chinese tradition in Thailand.

What is the Phuket Vegetarian Festival about?

The Vegetarian Festival, or Jia Chai as it is known in Hokkien Chinese, began in Phuket over 180 years ago and marks the start of Lent for the Taoists, when a strict vegetarian diet is followed. The nine-day event is held on the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar.

Phuket Vegetarian Festival is unique

The festivities in Phuket are unique and are believed to have come about after a Chinese theater troupe visited Phuket to entertain the miners living and working here. After falling ill with a fever in the jungle, the story goes that in order to channel protection from and show reverence to their Nine Emperor Gods they cleansed their bodies and spirits with a vegetarian diet, meditated and pierced their bodies. The troupe recovered and the ritual lived on. With over a third of Phuket’s population being Thai-Chinese, this part of the country celebrates the Vegetarian Festival more intensely than anywhere else in Thailand.

An incredible visual feast

Incredibly show-stopping processions start from Phuket’s six Chinese temples and are vibrant, extraordinary and colourful displays of culture, religious devotion and celebration that are exciting, intriguing and at times shocking. The event begins with the raising of the 10 meter Lantern Pole to bring about a connection to spiritual powers and to summon the gods.


Warding off evil spirits

Foods and gifts are presented as offerings to the gods; fireworks light up the skies; firecrackers fill the busy streets; and drums beat loudly to ward off evil spirits. Incense, candles, music and dance create a heady mix of religious ritual and an exciting, electrifying atmosphere.

A rare and surreal performance

Ma Song, devotees of the gods, walk across hot coals and parade down the streets in a meditative trance, their bodies pierced in incredibly unusual ways with all types of objects; assured the gods will protect them from harm. They believe this self-inflicted body-mortification is a way for them to take badness away from the community, bestowing peace and good luck to the people. It is not surprising that the rare and surreal performances of the Ma Song and the dynamic energy of the Phuket Vegetarian Festival attracts visitors from all over the world.

r-ngan kin jeh at Phuket Vegetarian Festival Photo:


An appetising array of interesting vegetarian cuisine

Aside from the theatrics, the festival is also about sampling wonderfully appetising vegan and vegetarian cuisine which is so varied you may never have tasted anything like these dishes ever before. The array of food throughout Thailand during this time is incredible and stalls and restaurants display yellow flags with red characters to identify that dishes are meat-free.

Anantara Vacation Club celebrates at Chaam

At Anantara Vacation Club Phuket Mai Khao, Club Owners can relax in luxury in the best position to experience the wonder of the Vegetarian Festival. Our stunning Chaam Restaurant is serving a creatively tempting menu of vegetarian delights during the festival. Enjoy Khao Tang Na Tang crispy rice crackers with yellow tofu and coconut milk dip; savour Gaeng Kiew Waan Pak, a classic green curry with coconut cream, vegetables, Thai basil, pea eggplants and kaffir lime leaves; and try Pizza Vegetarian Panaeng, a creative pizza twist with a vegetable topping with roasted peppers, caramelised onions and mozzarella.

Vegetarian pizza at Chaam Restaurant Anantara Vacation Club Phuket

Reserve your vegetarian lunch or dinner at Chaam during your stay at Anantara Vacation Club Phuket Mai Khao, between 23 September and 2 October 2014, by contacting

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About Anantara Vacation Club Editorial Team

Anantara Vacation Club, launched in 2010, is an exclusive collection of luxurious Vacation Ownership resorts and suites, offering each generation the opportunity to explore the world’s most exciting destinations. Owners can purchase Club Points that determine the length of stay, time of year and the size and type of accommodation. Visit: Contact us:

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