Lopburi Monkey Banquet

Lopburi
28 November 2021

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Lopburi Monkey Banquet

The Lopburi Monkey Banquet, like its name suggests, involves treating the macaques in the city to a lavish feast as an expression of gratitude toward the primates. The event is annually held on the last Sunday of November, which falls on November 28th this year.

Mueang Ling

Crab-eating macaque (Macaca fascicularis) eating fruit at the Lopburi Monkey Banquet in Lopburi, Thailand in November 2019. Source: Wild Alaska Ken/Shutterstock.com

Located about 150km north of Bangkok lies the ancient city of Lopburi, originally known as Lavo and home to incredible ruins of historical temples. To modern tourists, however, Lopburi is known for hosting thousands of monkeys that coexist with the locals—more or less.

Nicknamed Mueang Ling or “Monkey City,” Lopburi natives have grown accustomed to coexisting with the monkeys living in Khmer temple, Phra Prang Sam Yot, and a Khmer shrine, Sarn Phra Kan. In fact, the macaques have become one of the main attractions that drive revenue into the city.

A monkey watching through glasses during the 32nd Lopburi Monkey Banquet at the Phra Prang Sam Yot temple ruins in November 2020. Source: Somnuek saelim/Shutterstock.com

Anyone who has set foot in Lopburi knows of the monkeys’ mischief, be it chewing cable lines, snatching food, or even engaging in fights. Nevertheless, locals tend to tolerate their actions, believing that these primates are sacred.

According to the Thai version of the Indian’s Ramayana, the national epic of Ramakien, monkeys in Lopburi are the direct descendants of Hanuman, god-king of the apes. The divine deity is known for playing a crucial role in Phra Ram’s plan to rescue his wife, Nang Sida.

As a token of appreciation, Phra Ram awarded Hanuman’s feat with the town of Lavo, now Lopburi. As time passed, his troops of monkey descendants filled the town, becoming the abundance of monkeys seen today. Mischief aside, the monkeys have been showered with respect and seen as a sign of goodwill.

The Feast

Three monkeys scaling a fruit buffet. Source: topten22photo/Shutterstock.com

The festival kicks off in the morning at the ruins with an opening ceremony, dances, and musical performances. Eventually, the monkeys, usually first overwhelmed by the large number of spectators, are treated to a buffet of sticky rice, fruits, vegetables, salads, and drinks. These banquets are sometimes spread out into separate times during the day. While the monkeys enjoy their feast, visitors can check out several food stalls with a wide range of local Thai delicacies.

Once the monkeys have satiated their appetites and gotten used to the cheering crowd, they can get very boisterous and create quite a ruckus. Visitors are advised to watch out for these petulant macaques, as they can cause quite a stir when they start mischievously latching on to your belongings.

Three juvenile monkeys amid the temple ruins in Lopburi, Thailand. Source: Purplexsu/Shutterstock.com

There is no denying the somewhat strange nature of this festival. Still, it’s one that celebrates the diversity of Thai culture and the significance and history of monkeys in Lopburi. If incredible ancient temple ruins, a lavish display of feasting monkeys, and authentic Thai food, music, and culture interests you, then you should add the Lopburi Monkey Banquet to your itinerary.