The Monkey Buffet Festival, a quirky event unlike any other in the world, is held annually in Lopburi, a province in Central Thailand. As the name suggests, this festival is a feast – not for people, but for the city’s population of Macaque monkeys. Lopburi’s inhabitants, along with tourists from all over the globe, congregate in the city to pay homage to its primate inhabitants, offering them a grand feast laid out on long tables.
History and Significance
This unusual festival was initiated in 1989 by a local businessman, Yongyuth Kitwattananusont, with support from the local tourism authority. The purpose was to boost tourism and thank the monkeys, considered sacred in Thai culture, for attracting visitors to the city. Today, the festival is known worldwide, luring an increasing number of tourists to Lopburi.
The Monkey Buffet Festival typically takes place on the last Sunday of November at the Phra Prang Sam Yot temple, a Khmer shrine in the city center famously overrun by Macaques. The celebration begins with a procession through the streets, featuring participants in monkey costumes and masks.
The highlight, of course, is the banquet itself. Around two tons of fruits, vegetables, cakes, candies, and other treats are laid out on long tables and even sculpted into decorative pieces. Observing the monkeys descend and feast on this smorgasbord is a unique spectacle. The Macaques, usually well-behaved, can turn cheeky, snatching food, trinkets, or even belongings from distracted visitors, adding to the festival’s eccentric charm.
How to Get There Internationally
Lopburi is conveniently accessible from Bangkok, the primary international gateway to Thailand.
By Air: Thailand’s main international airport is Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK), located in Bangkok. Major airlines operate flights to Bangkok from all around the world.
By Train: From Bangkok, the easiest and most popular way to reach Lopburi is by train. Trains depart regularly from Bangkok’s Hua Lamphong Train Station, and the journey takes around 3 hours.
By Bus: Buses also operate between Bangkok and Lopburi, departing from Bangkok’s Northern Bus Terminal (Mo Chit). The bus journey may take slightly longer than the train.
By Car: If you prefer to drive, Lopburi is about 150km north of Bangkok, roughly a 2-hour drive on Thailand’s well-maintained highways.
The Monkey Buffet Festival is a testament to the harmonious coexistence between humans and animals in Lopburi. It’s an intriguing blend of respect for animal life, belief in local legends, and clever tourism strategy. If you’re looking for a cultural experience that’s off the beaten path, this whimsical feast offers a glimpse into a truly unique tradition.