Get in your body's good books at Thailand's annual celebration of health and wellness, the Phuket Vegetarian Festival
Christmas and New Year are looming around the corner, and with them reminders of eating and drinking to excess. A good strategy to avoid any waistline-worries in the holiday season is to live well in the few months leading up to December. As it turns out, Thailand has just the thing you need.
A couple of centuries ago in Phuket, a travelling Chinese opera group fell ill with Malaria and was bed-ridden for days. After deciding to adhere to a strict vegetarian diet to honour two of the Chinese Emperor Gods, the opera group suddenly staged a miraculous recovery that fascinated the locals, who inquired about how such a recovery was possible.
Since that day, locals in Phuket and all around Thailand have staged a 9-day vegetarian festival in the ninth month of the Chinese lunar calendar to bring good health and good luck to themselves and their families.
This is probably one of the most dramatic and photogenic festivals in Thailand, and aside from simply abstaining from eating meat, locals hold processions, ceremonies, as well as some activities not for the faint hearted. Local Ma Song, or Mediums for the Gods, will attempt extreme feats such as fire-walking to honour the gods.
Khao Lak is the perfect jumping-off point to sample this festival without having to worry about huge crowds and loud festivities neat your hotel. Just an hours drive north of the island, several day trips to take in the festival can be broken up by generous amounts of lying on the perfect beaches of Khao Lak. Don't strain yourself!