Hotel occupancy was as high as 80 per cent during the past weekend, especially in Patong, which also welcomed hundreds of international visitors to take part in the Muang Thai Patong Phuket Mini Marathon, said Phuket Governor Chamroen Tipayapongtada.
The governor said that this year’s festival is expected to inject an additional 3 to 4 billion baht into the local economy, a boon ahead of the official tourism high season, when island-wide occupancy rates are expected to level out at between 70-75 per cent over the coming months.
Meanwhile, tourists – domestic, Chinese and Westerners – have packed Phuket streets over the past five days to observe and participate in the numerous famous parades, as well as fill their stomaches with a variety of healthy and not-so-healthy Thai Chinese vegan delights.
The main event yesterday (Oct 18) drew a number of key officials, including Phuket City Mayor Somjai Suwansuppana, who joined devotees from Bang Neow Shrine for their street procession in the morning.
Following is the remaining itinerary.
Monday October 19
There will be a street procession starting at Jui Tui Shrine, which is probably the biggest shrine in Phuket Town, it takes about an hour for the whole procession to pass. Jui Tui features something that Bang Neow does not – female Ma Songs.
Later in the day, there are lots of events on the schedule at various shrines including bladed ladder climbing at Sam Kong and Bang Neow shrines and “nail bridge crossing” at Sapam Shrine.
Tuesday October 20
There will be a street procession from Kathu Shrine to Phuket Town, and later in the evening there will be fire walking at the Bang Neow, Cherng Talay and Sam Kong shrines.
Wednesday October 21
The last full day of the Vegetarian Festival. There is a street procession for Sui Boon Tong Shrine in town early in the morning, then events such as firewalking at Kathu Shrine in the afternoon.
In the evening, there will be a huge procession around Phuket Town, with people carrying statues of the gods to Saphan Hin. Expect millions of firecrackers and fireworks.
It’s advisable to wear long trousers and a long-sleeved shirt as well covered shoes.
Earlier in the evening on the last night there is the “Bridge Crossing for Purification” ceremony at the shrines.
Thursday October 22
At about 5pm the lantern poles (Go Teng poles) are lowered at the shrines to mark the end of the festival.