Phuket diary

Phuket Vegetarian Festival

Phuket is an exciting place the whole year round. Whatever time you are on the island, there is usually something going on worth taking a look at. Whether it is high season or low season, if you’re looking for thing to do in Phuket, you won’t have to look for. There are activities for families, couples, solo travelers and everyone else in between. There is our guide to a few of the events and goings-on in Phuket that are worthy of your attention.

February

Chinese New Year

Phuket has a pretty big Chinese contingent, so Chinese New Year is always a fun time. The action is centered around Phuket City and its many Chinese temples and shrines. Expect to see street parades, shows and performances. This is also a great time to sample some Chinese food. Chinese New Year in Phuket is always worth making the effort for.

Old Phuket Town Festival

The Old Phuket Town Festival was canceled in 2008, but it was back on in 2009. off Thalang Road, Krabi Road, Phang Nha Road and Soi Rommanee become transformed into rows upon rows of food stalls. It’s all a lot of fun, with music and exhibitions galore.

Phuket Blues Festival

www.phuketbluesfestival.com
There are hardly any decent music festivals, but the Phuket Blues Festival flies the flag for bringing together an international ensemble of musicians for a couple of nights of fun. The event has grown in popularity and seems to get bigger each year. The 2007 event at the Hilton Arcadia was a good time and the bands could really rock the crowd. The people at the Phuket Blues Festival are usually of the mature variety, so families are, of course, welcome, but that isn’t to say you won’t have fun. Drink, dance, eat — all the usual antics.

March

Phuket Food Festival

Every year for about 10 days in March, Saphan Hin plays host to a real local food festival. It’s totally no frills, but is a decent glimpse into what makes the island tick. The food features local specialties and oddities, some of which will make you question your ability to try new things. A rather off-key brass band plays throughout the night, accompanied by singers of varying ages and talents. There are also some carnival games to try your hand at, where you can win things like fish and combs.

April

Phuket International Cricket Sixes

www.phuketcricketunion.blogspot.com
Believe it or not, Phuket has a pretty big contingent of cricket fans and players. The international sixes tourney is a popular event every year, with games played at Karon Stadium. There are usually a few former cricket stars who make the trip to Phuket for the occasion.

Songkran

Every year from April 11 to April 13, everyone in Phuket and the rest of Thailand goes nuts for the Thai New Year festivities. Phuket is a great place to spend Songkran. Water guns go on sale at stalls all around the island. Everything is usually pretty tame until the final day, at which point people take to the streets for the big water fight. The water fights goes on everywhere, with people driving around in the backs of pickups armed with water guns. Patong is the most lively spot for Songkran and the celebrations go on well into the night. Enjoy it, wear clothes you don’t mind ruining and don’t get mad when someone covers you with wet talc.

Phuket Bike Week

www.phuketbikeweek.com
Phuket Bike Week coincides with Songkran. Bikers from all around the region show up on the backs of some two-wheeled beauties. There isn’t much to see if you aren’t into motorcycles.

May

Phuket International Rugby 10s

www.phuketvagabondsrfc.com
Every year at the end of May, Phuket plays host to an international rugby tournament. It always has a decent turnout and goes from strength to strength. Games are usually played at Karon Stadium.

June

Laguna Phuket Marathon

www.phuketmarathon.com
Every year several thousand people descend upon Phuket to take place in the Laguna marathon. Runners compete in a full marathon, half-marathon, 10k run or fun run. What better way to see the sights of Phuket than by running a marathon.

July

Kalim Surfing Contest

www.phuketboardriders.com
As the low season kicks in, the surf kicks up, and the surfing season in Phuket is welcomed with the first surf contest of the year, held at Kalim Beach.

Six Sense Phuket Raceweek

www.phuketraceweek.com
Those in the know describe this regatta as one of the best in the region. Every year, Phuket Raceweek attracts an huge group of people from around the world. If you’re into sailing, be it as a spectator or a competitor, Phuket Raceweek is a must-see.

Bastille Day

There are usually some celebrations of Bastille Day in some of the more upmarket hotels and restaurants. This year there are events at Movenpick and Wine Connection Chalong.

Asarnha Bucha Day and Buddhist Lent Day

July 17 and 18 are public holidays. Asarnha Bucha Day commemorates the day Buddha gave this first sermon after enlightenment to his five disciples. Buddhist Lent Day marks the start of the annual three-month Rains Retreat. Monks choose one temple to study and meditate at during this time and they cannot leave the temple until three months is up.

August

Her Majesty The Queen’s Birthday

August 12 is a public holiday to mark HM The Queen’s birthday.

October

The Phuket Vegetarian Festival

Every year in October, Phuket takes 10 days off for the Vegetarian Festival. If you have never experienced the Vegetarian Festival, you really have to. It’s like nothing else you will have ever seen. The torturous acts people inflict upon themselves defy belief. As well as the sadism, the Vegetarian Festival is also the best time to sample some of the finest vegetarian food in the world. Pretty much every restaurant and food stall changes its menu for the Vegetarian Festival.

Phuket Vegetarian Festival history
Pictures from the 2007 Phuket Vegetarian Festival
Bladed ladder climbing at the Phuket Vegetarian Festival
Final day of the Phuket Vegetarian Festival

November

Phuket International Women’s Club Annual Ball

Contact Sue Arnulphy. Tel: 087-2776948.
In some circles, this is the most eagerly awaited event of the year. The PIWC hold their annual ball to raise money for local charities. This year’s event is on November 29 at the Hilton Arcadia.

Patong Carnival

On November 1 to 3, Phuket marks the beginning of the high season with Patong carnival. Patong springs to life during this time, with all manner of street parades and concerts. Bangla Road is the center of the actions, where you’ll find stage shows, food stalls and all sorts. Patong is absolutely packed during this time, but the event is worth seeing is only for the sheer magnitude of it. There are usually some decent Thai indie bands who play out during the festival.

Loy Krathong

On the full moon in November, Phuket’s residents send out thousands of little krathongs into Phuket’s waterways. The small candlelit boats look fantastic when they are all together. Loy Krathong is celebrated all over the island. You can buy a krathong from the side of the road. You might also want to buy one of those floating lanterns to send off into the night. Krathongs are tradionaly made from the leaves of banana trees. The floating of a krathong is said to take your bad luck with it. Loy Krathong is a pretty romantic time, so grab your loved-one and head to the water.

December

His Majesty The King’s Birthday

One of the most exciting days of the year for Thais. December 5 is HM The King’s Birthday and is a public holiday.

Phuket King’s Cup Regatta

www.kingscup.com
the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta is an even bigger sailing event than Phuket Raceweek. It is Asia’s largest and most famous regatta and it’s also the time of the most extravagant parties in Phuket. Seeing is believing.