Monkeying around: 11 facts about the cutest Thai festival
THIS WAS CALLED one of the world’s strangest festivals and for those who don’t know any better, it probably still sounds like it is.
Every year, Thailand holds the Monkey Buffet Festival in Lopburi, about 150km northeast of its capital Bangkok. Unlike what its bizarre name suggests, it’s not a festival dedicated to a buffet of our closest living relatives.
Lopburi, aptly nicknamed the city of monkeys, is said to be home to a monkey population of 3,000. The annual festival, held near the Khmer temple of Phra Prang Sam Yot, is one of the few non-spiritual events held in the Buddhist-majority country.
“Historians trace the origins of Lopburi’s monkeys back to the Ramayana, an ancient Sanskrit story,” ati wrote.
“In the tale, a heroic monkey with human abilities rescues a bride-to-be from a ten-headed demon. That monkey is said to have founded Lopburi, leading residents to believe that their current monkey neighbors are direct descendants of his bloodline.”
Locals regard the long-tailed macaques as nuisances, as they’re known to snatch cell phones. But come November, they will spoil the mischevious creatures with an abundance of food.
And it’s likely the cutest festival that you can come across while on holiday in Thailand.
Here are some quick facts about the festival:
- The brainchild of hotelier Yongyuth Kitwattananusont, the first festival took place in 1989,
- Kitwattananusont conceived and launched the idea with the help of the Tourism Authority of Thailand.
- The festival’s architect once opened the festival by parachuting into the grounds dressed as a monkey.
- Each year, 4,000kg of food is provided for four separate banquets: 10am, 12noon, 2pm, and 4pm.
- The buffet spread includes fruit salads, fruit carvings, mixed greens, sticky white rice, and traditional Thai desserts.
- Aside from food, the festival also has live performances and dances.
- Monkey food fights are common at the festival, just don’t get caught in the crossfire.
- They can also get aggressive when feeding so you have to be on your guard.
- They’ve been known to steal purses, bags, sunglasses, hats, and whatever they can grab.
- The festival, which usually occurs on the last Sunday of November, attracts thousands of tourists each year.
- Admission to the Phra Prang Sam Yot temple is THB150.
This year, the Monkey Buffet Festival will be held from Nov 24 to Nov 25, 2018 (Saturday to Sunday).
To get to Lopburi, you can either take a bus (three-hour ride) or a train (two-hour journey) from Bangkok.