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Lopburi Monkey Festival 2024

One of the most prominent festivals that pays homage to the mischievous macaques

Dates: November 23, 2024

Lopburi Monkey Festival
Lopburi Monkey Festival
Lopburi Monkey Festival

The Lopburi Monkey Festival, also known as the Lopburi Monkey Banquet, is renowned as one of Thailand's most peculiar festivals. Typically held on the last Sunday of November in Lopburi, often referred to as the "City of Monkeys," the festivities unfold amidst the ruins of the Phra Prang Sam Yot temple. Here, thousands of macaques are treated to a bountiful banquet, creating a spectacle unlike any other.

The Feast

The morning activities commence at the ruins with an opening ceremony that includes performances by dancers in monkey costumes, accompanied by musical performances. Initially, the monkeys may feel overwhelmed by the large audience presence, but they quickly acclimate and eagerly indulge in a lavish buffet comprising sticky rice, fruits, vegetables, salads, and beverages. These banquets are often staggered throughout the day, with this year featuring four rounds scheduled at 10 am, 12 pm, 2 pm, and 4 pm.

Food

As is customary in Thailand, food plays a central role in the festivities, extending beyond the monkeys' feast. Food stalls offering a diverse array of local Thai delicacies are available for visitors to explore while the monkeys enjoy their meals. However, visitors should remain vigilant as the monkeys, once satiated, may become lively and mischievous, occasionally causing a commotion by playfully grabbing onto belongings.

Lopburi Monkeys

One of the most intriguing aspects drawing visitors to Lopburi is the presence of thousands of monkeys roaming freely throughout the city. Here, these monkeys enjoy the liberty to wander about, are provided with food and water, and delight in playfully teasing visitors. Protected by the state, these monkeys are not to be harmed or repelled by people. They are regularly fed in three designated areas, yet they often take matters into their own hands, quite literally, by snatching food from unsuspecting visitors. Familiar with human interaction, these monkeys exhibit little shyness in boldly grabbing snacks and beverages from people's hands and bags. Travelers are advised to exercise caution when visiting this unique locale, often referred to by locals as 'monkey-town.'

Locations

The monkeys of Lopburi, located just 93 miles (150 km) away from Bangkok, live mainly in the area around the ancient Khmer temple of Phra Prang Sam Yot and the shrine of Sarn Phra Karn but can often be seen at various locations around Lopburi where local residents feed them.

Origins of the Festival

According to the national epic Ramakien, monkeys in Lopburi are believed to be direct descendants of Hanuman, the god-king of apes, from India's Ramayana. Hanuman played a vital role in Phra Ram's plan to rescue his wife, Nang Sida, and as a token of gratitude, Phra Ram bestowed upon Hanuman the town of Lavo, known today as Lopburi. Over time, Hanuman's descendants populated the town, resulting in the abundance of monkeys seen today. Despite their mischief, these monkeys are revered and viewed as symbols of goodwill and respect.

In 1989, a local Thai businessman organized the first Monkey Buffet Festival with the intention of boosting tourism in the town and perhaps coaxing some good fortune. The festival's success in showcasing the monkeys' playful antics has transformed it into a significant attraction for locals, as well as for visitors from Thailand and around the world.

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Authors: Sophia Andrus