The ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar marks the advent of Thailand’s world-renowned series of Vegetarian Festivals. Each October, the Hat Yai Vegetarian Festival is celebrated amongst the city’s Chinese community and is a magnet for visitors seeking a dose of authentic Thai-Chinese culture.
For 10 days, local residents observe a strict vegetarian diet for the purposes of spiritual cleansing and good health. A succession of sacred merit-making rituals is performed and processions are held throughout the festival, in the belief that good fortune will be bestowed on those who take part.
Vegetarian Festival in Hat Yai
Spread over a period of 10 days, the festivities of the annual Festival are a vibrant spectacle to behold. Colourful processions of Gods and golden dragons progress through the town, passing Chinese shrines and temples. Crowds of locals also assemble to receive blessings. You’ll also notice that many locals set up small shrines of incense, tea and fruit in front of their own homes.
Don’t miss the thrilling performances put on by mediums throughout the festival – though be warned, some of the recitals are not for the faint of heart! An array of terrifying acts are played out to show the power of the Gods, including self-mutilations and walking through fire.
One of the highlights of Hat Yai’s Vegetarian Festival is, of course, the marvellous array of food for visitors to feast on. A plethora of food stalls and shops prepare special menus for the festival, serving tasty vegetarian dishes for visitors to try.
How to get to Hat Yai
The city’s train station is served by regular services from Bangkok to the north, and Sungai Kolok from the south in Malaysia. The airport is situated 12km from the downtown district and is served by flights from Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Once you arrive in the town for the festival, most of the major attractions in the centre are within walking distance from each other.