Phuket Local Customs

  • i love chang beer
    i love chang beer
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    yes
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Most Recent Local Customs in Phuket

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    Phuket Vegetarian Festival

    by Cathy&Gary Updated Feb 7, 2014

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    Phuket Vegetarian Festival
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    The Phuket Vegetarian Festival started way back in 1825 when the governor decided to move the main town of Phuket to the Kathu district which was still mainly jungle with some tin mines and a lot of Chinese workers.

    An opera group had come from China to perform for the miners and they all came down sick with fever. So they went on a vegetarian diet to honor 2 Emperor Gods called Kiew Ong Tai Te and Yik Ong Sone Te.

    Amazingly they all recovered so the local people of Kathu wanted to know how they did this as fever and sickness was rampant among the local Thai's. The Chinese said that it was vegetarianism and all the ceremonies.

    So from this the local population embraced the event and it has been held every year since starting on the first evening of the ninth lunar month and continuing to the ninth evening. People believed it would also bring good luck to the community and themselves.

    A local man went back to China where he invited the sacred Hiao Ho-le (incense smoke) and Lian Tui (name plaques), which have the status of gods, along with some holy writings to come back with him to Kathu. The people of Phuket gathered together to meet him at the pier along with his precious cargo and this was the start of the famous processions which are held in the Festival.

    The afternoon before the Festival a huge pole is raised at each Temple, it is called the Go Teng Pole and the gods are invited to descend. At midnight the pole is then hung with nine lanterns which symbolizes the opening of the Phuket Vegetarian Festival. Then at midnight the two Emperor Gods Yok Ong Hong Tae and Kiew Ong Tai Ta are invited down to preside over the ceremonies.

    Other ceremonies are the calling in of the gods Lam Tao, who looks after the living and Pak Tao who looks after the dead. Then there are the Ma Song. These are devotees whom the Gods enter during the Festival. These people show supernatural powers and let themselves be mutilated in the way of body piercings, pouring hot oil over their bodies, fire walking and climbing razor sharp bladed ladders.

    They do this to bring good luck to their communities and to shift evil from others to themselves. Ma Song people are chosen by the Gods for their high moral qualities or can be people who want to extend their lives or have had a vision of impending doom.

    The more noise during the Phuket Vegetarian Festival the better as it wards away evil spirits, so there is a lot of drum banging and loads of fireworks. The Festival ends with making merit ceremonies at every Temple and then the Gods are sent back.

    The participants in the Festival also have rules to follow during the time of the Festival such as:
     Cleanliness of bodies during the Festival, wearing white during the Festival, no meat eating, no sex, no alcohol, must use clean kitchen utensils and to use them separately from people who do not join the festival, behave physically and mentally, pregnant ladies should not watch any rituals, people in mourning should not attend the festival, women with periods should also not attend.

    So there is a brief history of the Phuket Vegetarian festival, now where do we fit in all of this!

    Our very good friends from Patong Tattoo, brothers Mit and Wat have been doing piercings at the Phuket Vegetarian Festival for many years. One day they asked me if we wanted to go with them and take photos. I didn’t really know anything about this Festival so I googled it. Yikes what did I get myself into, I was terrified and honestly didn’t think I would be able to do it. I don’t like blood and gory things!! Gary said he is not getting out of bed at 4am for anything so I went on my own.

    The boys picked me up at 4.30am and we went to the Pa Sak Chinese Temple at Cherng Talay. First thing was breakfast, it was too early for me to start eating noodles & porridge type things so I stuck to one of my favorite drinks cold Thai tea with milk – Cha Yen. It is still dark but there are lots of strange noises here, which I would soon discover were the Ma Song working themselves up into a sort of frenzy, preparing themselves to be pierced!!

    I was still scared as I did not know what to expect, so when the boys started the piercings I stood back taking photos. It only took me a few minutes & the boys telling me to get in closer and that was it. It was amazing and did not make me sick at all, I just could not believe what I was seeing. I will never look at a set of steak knives the same again after seeing them through the side of someone’s face, or a massive TV antenna poking thru cheeks.

    I ended up as close as I could possibly get without being in the way. It’s so hard to describe how this all felt & what it looked like but you will be able to tell from the photos. Just a word of caution if you have a weak stomach don’t look!!

    Once the piercings had finished we drove into Phuket Town to the Jui Tui Tao Bo Keang Temple where Wat took me through the various stages of making merit, not as easy as it sounds as there is so much smoke from incense etc I could hardly breathe or see! Then it was outside for tea & coffee. All of this is provided free outside the temple. I had little Chinese ladies coming up to me with plates of food, then laughing at me as some of it was wrapped so strangely I couldn’t open it.

     After that Wat took me through the temple out into a side street, he pushed me to the front of a group of people, I had no idea what was happening. Then the noise started, well I was about to see my first procession of the Vegetarian Festival. I loved it, I couldn’t take the smile off my face, there were firecrackers going off everywhere, it was so exciting. It started raining but who cares. I couldn’t believe again what I was seeing. After that it was back to the hotel, tired, soaking wet but happy and it was only 11am!!

    So 2 days later we are going with the boys again, Gary has decided to come this time. We had to buy white clothes to wear but that was easy as nearly everyone wears the white fisherman’s pants with a red dragon on one side, white tops and some wear a sash, the boys called it a Buddha belt. They bought us one each!!

    Pickup was just after 4.30am, it was hard getting up as we stayed out with friends until about 2am!! Oh well, quick shower and a few panadols!!

    Back to the Jui Tui Tao Bo Keang Temple in Phuket Town. We soon realized when we arrived in town that we both had our dragons on the wrong leg, damn we had our pants on back to front!

     This was a huge morning with many more piercings, even women and a 12 year old boy. As there were other piercers in the same room the boys pointed out a couple who they said were no good! They were talking about hygiene, no gloves, no sterilizing equipment etc, plus we saw a bad piercing from someone who did it to close to the Ma Song's mouth, needless to say he disappeared and probably ended up in hospital.

    After the last piercing we started to help clean up and Wat said to leave it for his brother and family as we had to hurry and follow him. Gary was loaded up with Vaseline and oil and off we went. Straight out into the middle of the parade, Wat was running and we had no choice but to run after him.

    We thought maybe he is running to get to the first piercings to grease them up etc. It’s like we are in a marathon, Wat is grabbing bottles of water along the way (and little cakes) and throwing them back to us.

    Gary & I are ready to have a heart attack after about 20 minutes. We have no idea where we are or where we are going. All we know is Wat is in front of us, looking around and waving us on to hurry. I’m getting scared as there are hundreds of firecrackers going off around me, sometimes I just stopped, put my hands over my head and screamed. At one stage I was in front of Gary and looked around, he called me back to hold the oil etc, his fisherman’s pants had come undone and were falling down!!


    After what seemed like a lifetime we finally stopped and Wat said we rest now. Gary & I are drenched in sweat, puffing and half dead. Now we found out why we had run all the way through the parade, across Phuket Town to Saphan Hin Temple, Wat wanted us to see the whole parade from beginning to end. If we had the energy left we would have laughed!!! It’s a long way to run in the heat.

    After that Wat said he has organized the car to pick us up as he thinks we would be dead if we walk back. So from there it’s back to meet everyone at a local vegetarian restaurant for some amazing food and many liters’ of water.

    I loved the Vegetarian Festival and I have now been going for many many years. It is an amazing time in Phuket, not for everyone but I can’t wait for next year’s event.

    Click here for more of my photos from the Phuket Vegetarian Festival

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    Silk production

    by solopes Updated Jan 25, 2013
    Phuket - Thailand
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    In all organized tours it is mandatory to see several production unities of local crafts, ending in a large store that is the REAL reason that took you there.

    Here it was a little different, and we visited several small producers, where selling was not so forced.

    The silk production was particularly curious, and the kids enjoyed very much all the techniques.

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    Southern Thailand Coffee

    by machomikemd Written Nov 1, 2012
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    Thailand has a coffee culture but most of the coffee growing regions are found in the Mountainous Chiang Mai Region of Northen Thailand but there is a coffee growing region in Southern Thailand in Chumpon province, located north of Phuket province but part of the Phuket Mountain Range hence it also has a coffee growing region and it grows robusta and arabica beans and they have different coffee blends being sold at the assorted souvenir shops here in Phuket.

    the coffee is available in whole beans or fine grind and instant coffee varieties and with different flavors like cappucino, double shot, regular shot, latte and more. prices of a whole bean bag is 500 baht while the instant coffee variety is at 250 baht for 20 single serve packs.

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    Phuket Shot Glasses

    by machomikemd Written Oct 31, 2012

    1.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

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    Again, as everyone would know by now, not only do I collect fridge Magnets but also shot glasses and here in tourist friendly thailand, there are literally tons and tons of assorted souvenir items to choose from and among these are my favorite shot glasses and they are available anywhere in Phuket, more so at the main tourist areas of Taweewong Road and Bangla Road and the side sois. the shot glasses have lots of different designs and logos imprinted on them and are available in regular glass, stained glass, frosted glass, aluminum, pewter, painted glass, etc. a shot glass will cost 150 baht if you don't know how to haggle but it will go down to 60 baht if you know how to haggle.

    buy one now.

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    Phuket Fridge Magnets

    by machomikemd Written Oct 31, 2012
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    I'm an avid collector of fridge or refrigerator magnets of my travels and here on a revisit in Thailand and Phuket is no different and being a tourism oriented country, it has a wide selection of assorted souvenir items and tons and tons of assorted fridge magnets of all designs and shapes and are made from magnetized strips, aluminum with magnet pins inside, wooden carvings with magnets, pewter fridge magnets, porcelain fridge magnets and a whole lot more. they are available everywhere here in Phuket and the average price of a fridge magnet withour haggling is 100 baht but you can bring it down up to 60 baht if you are good in haggling skills!

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    San Miguel Beer

    by machomikemd Written Oct 31, 2012
    my all time favorite brewskie!
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    San Miguel Beer is now making major inroads into South East Asia and is now being brewed locally here in Thailand. It is available at convenience stores, supermarkets and even at the bars. lounges, hang out places here in Phuket and at Bangla Road! They have 2 products here, the pale pilsen and the San Mig Lite. The more popular beer of the two is the San Mig Lite and they always give a lime wedge with it when serving. San Mig Lite Beer is The lighter on Calories Version of San Miguel Pale Pilsen, brewed locally by the San Miguel Brewing Group Thailand and is being gulped by 90% of Beer Drinkers in the Philippines. also popular in Hong Kong and China and is sold in Vietnam, and is present here in Thailand, Indonesia. A Regional Competitor of Tiger beer and heineken.

    A Bottle costs 33 baht (330 ml), an aluminum can is 36 baht (330 ml), at the bars and supermarkets and 80 baht to 150 baht at the bars. the alcohol content is 5.5% (Pale pilsen is just 3.5%) and has 1/3 less the calories of Pale Pilsen.

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    Tiger Beer!

    by machomikemd Written Oct 31, 2012
    the icon
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    Tiger Beer is Singapore's own beer icon and is Popular for tourists specially from singapore and malaysia and indonesia going to Phuket! this beer brand is easily south east asia's most famous beer and is a regional competitor of Thailand's Singha Beer and the Philippines' San Miguel Beer for beer supremacy in the South East Asian Region. This is the Beer Icon of Singapore and since the 1930's is brewed by the Asia Pacific Breweries Incorporated (they also brew heineken since the company is a joint venture with heineken). Tiger beer is brewed locally in Thailand like it's sister Heineken but it costs more in Bars and in convenience stores than Heineken!

    A Bottle or an aluminun can of a 330 ml of tiger beer will cost 42 Bah 4 at convenience stores like family mart and 7-11 and goes up to 120 to 150 baht at bars

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    Heineken Beer

    by machomikemd Written Oct 31, 2012
    yes
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    Singha Beer is the number one domestic beer in thailand while Heineken Beer is the number one international brand beer than is brewed in thailand! It is brewed locally by the Asia Pacific Brewery, the makers of Tiger Beer of Singapore, the brewery also brews Tiger Beer locally. What makes heineken the number one international beer brand in thailand? Since many of the tourists here are euproeans and most know the taste of Netherland's Pride, Heineken Beer, then they tend to buy this beer.

    The beer has a 5% alcohol volume here in thailand and is available in 330 ml bottles (cost 33 baht at convenience stores) and 330 ml aluminum cans (cost 36 baht at convenience stores) and it costs 100 to 150 baht at the bars and lounges.

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    Leo Beer

    by machomikemd Written Oct 31, 2012
    leo beer
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    The Number one beer Company of Thailand, the Boon Rawd Brewery, the makers of thailand's number one domestic beer, Singha, has a lower priced version to counter the major inroads of the Thai beverage Company's Chang beer! The Beer is Called LEO Beer (it taste better than SINGHA!) it maybe a cheaper and non premium version but still it taste better than Singha hehehe. it has a 5% alcohol content and is not readily available at major bars (except hard rocK bangkok) but it can be seen everywhere like in supermarkets, convenience stores, restaurants and more.

    a 330 ml bottle of leo beer costs 33 Baht at convenience stores and a 330 aluminum can cost 36 Baht, way cheaper than singha beer by 6 baht. It costs 80 to 120 baht at bars and lounges.

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    Singha Beer!

    by machomikemd Written Oct 31, 2012
    singha beer
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    Singha beer is the leading beer product in Thailand and the Boon Rawd Brewery Co. Ltd. (located in Bangkok, Thailand) Brews this popular beer. Singha has for many years been Thailand’s most popular beer (but again I prefer the taste of Chang Beer and the lower priced Leo Beer, which the Brewery also produces).

    Singha is a premium lager beer, specially brewed using barley malt and hops (not rice as some believe) to complement Thai food and the alcohol content is 6%. It has a dry and crisp taste that you can taste the hops. It is available everywhere and costs 56 Baht at Tesco Supermarkets and 7-11 and family mart and costs 100 baht and above at the bars.

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    Chang Beer!

    by machomikemd Updated Oct 31, 2012
    yeah baby
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    Singha Beer Maybe the number one beer in Thailand but Chang Beer is a Close second (and I actually like the taste of Chang Beer More!) Chang Beer has 6.4 percent alcohol it's nice and strong. The can shows 2 elephants but the colors look a little bit cheap. The color of the beer itself is a bit darker than usual what probably explains the bitterness and strong taste. The get drunk quick factor combined with their low prices has made Chang one of the most popular beers in Thailand. In high class bars people frown upon it though (But not at Beer and Regular Bars!) they claimed that it is now more popular than Singha Beer here in thailand!

    Thai Beverage Public Company Limited makes Chang Beer and they sell at 53 Baht at Tesco Supermarkets, family mart convenience stores and 7-11 and local stores and about 48 baht in corner stalls around Patong and Phuket. Beer Chang comes in two sizes, 660ml and 330ml, the latter of which is availabe in both bottle and can.

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    have a thai massage

    by hanspeter_W. Written Mar 27, 2011
    thai massage at kamala beach
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    enjoy a professional thai massage. pls note that the local ladies can do it at least same well as in the expensive spa places of big hotels.. e.g. at kamal beach you find a lot of choice
    thai massage is very relaxing and healthy for all of your body when done well

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    Hungry Ghost Festvial

    by Cathy&Gary Written Nov 17, 2009

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    Captain Mark and his family were going to the Por Tor Festival in Phuket Town and asked if I wanted to come along. What a fun day it was, this festival is more commonly known as the Hungry Ghosts Festival.

    This Chinese ancestor worshipping festival happens in the seventh Chinese lunar month as this is when the Chinese believe that the ancestors and spirits of the dead are released from the underworld to revisit their homes.

    Food, sweets, fruits and drinks are all decorated beautifully and left for Par Tor Kong who is said to be the God of Devil, the purpose of this is to feed the hungry spirits.

    One of the highlights and most popular offerings are the hundreds of beautiful red turtle cakes known as Ang Ku, the turtle symbolizes longevity so worshippers believe these cakes will also prolong their own life and also bring them luck and success. The turtle cakes are made from wheat flour and sugar dough.

    The festival is a very important merit making festival but it is a very happy one with lots of fun and laughter, there are also many games for the children to play and win prizes, plus they are non stop stage performances.

    One of the most popular events were the huge poles that had a flag at the top with an amount of money, we watched this for ages oh by the way the wooden poles were coated in a thick grease, the aim is too get to the top and grab the flag. So many boys tried this but only 2 made it. Very entertaining and it looked like so much hard work!!

    Marks daughter Elise made us try a popular local dish, not sure what it was but it looked like dirty brown water with something floating in it, I found out later it was mango and papaya. The stench from this dish was so overwhelming; I tried it though but would never buy it!! I though Mark was going to vomit ha-ha. The next dish was another murky looking broth with hunks of pork liver floating around; needless to say I gave that one a miss!
    Then I tried a quail egg, just like a normal egg but so tiny!

    Now we were a bit of an attraction ourselves at this festival as there was no westerners there at all, except for us, so I copped it again with mothers following me with their babies and having to hold them etc!!

    A lovely Thai man also gave Elise and me a red turtle each to offer, each turtle had a different saying and mine was for all my wishes to come true. I wrote our names on it and then we were given a perfect position on the table to put them.

    After that the Thai man gave us all a bunch of incense and some candles and we had to go to various positions inside the shrine, wei three times and leave three sticks of incense.
    Boy it was smoky in there and so crowded and hot.

    My eyes were pouring, my arms and hands burning from ash falling on them lol but it was very special. Once outside (when I found my shoes amongst hundreds of others) the last stage is to place your arm on a mans shoulder who then pours oil into containers while chanting good things, its all for good luck etc.
    Oh and then we had to burn the paper that the incense was wrapped in, more luck I think!

    Elise and I also saw some real turtles, wont tell you what a couple of them were doing but boy did we laugh and of course I took a photo, not every day you see turtles getting up to mischief!!

    The amount of food left here for the spirits is amazing, hundreds of cooked chickens and absolutely beautiful fruit carvings. There is a photo of a pineapple as well and it is made of shredded lottery tickets!!

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    Songtran Festival

    by Cathy&Gary Updated Mar 18, 2009

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    Songtran
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    Songtran (Thai New Year) is celebrated every year on April 13 to April 15.

    Nowadays Songkran caters to tourists with the throwing of water. This is done with hoses, water guns, hoses, buckets and at times can be quite dangerous!

    But this is not how it use to be, or still is in non tourist areas.

    Back in the early days the Thai people started this festival to teach their families the following:

    They must respect their families and the elderly, so during this festival the children would come home to visit their families bringing gifts. They would also visit neighbours, so this is why the real meaning of Songtran is about paying respect.

    It is also a time for cleansing and this is traditionally done by puring a small amount of water into someones hand, not the drenching that happens today. Many elderly Thais still practice this the old way.

    Thankyou to KAN WIN for allowing me to use his beautiful Photo's.

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    Local Custom's

    by Cathy&Gary Written Mar 18, 2009

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    If you are planning to visit a Buddhist temple, dress conservatively and take your shoes off when you enter the temple.

    Women are not allowed to touch monks and the monks cannot accept anything from a woman's hand.

    Rear seats on buses are for the monks and other passengers have to vacate these seats if necessary. You will also see a couple of seats reserved for monks in the departure areas of some airports.

    Never lose your temper or raise your voice no matter how frustrating the situation is.
    Only patience and humour will get you any results.
    Thais believe that the head is the most sacred part of the body, so never touch or pat anyone in Thailand on the head.

    The feet are considered the lowest part of the body, so don't ever point at things with your feet. When sitting down, make sure the soles of your feet are not facing towards anyone.

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Phuket Local Customs

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