Lopburi Monkey Banquet
Located about 150km north of the capital city of Bangkok, is the ancient Thailand city of Lopburi. The city is home to some incredible ruins of historical temples. Likewise, Lopburi also hosts thousands of monkeys that, more or less, coexist with the locals.
The Lopburi Monkey Banquet festival, like the name implies, involves treating the many monkeys in the city to a lavish banquet. This monkey feasting festival is annually held on the last Sunday of November.
Many locals hold the belief that the monkeys in Lopburi are direct descendants of Hanuman, the Monkey God, who, with the aid of his monkey army, helped rescue Sita, the wife of Lord Ram, from the den of demons. Since then, the monkeys have been showered with respect and seen as a sign of goodwill.
The macaques conspicuously live in the area around the ancient shrine of San Phra Kan and Khmer temple of Phra Prang Sam Yot but are given free rein to roam the city. These monkeys are a part of the town, so don’t be surprised at their camaraderie.
The origin and celebration of the Lopburi Monkey Banquet festival can be traced back to 1989 when a hotelier in the area named Yongyuth Kitwattananusont concluded that the monkeys deserve the city’s appreciation for making Lopburi a tourist attraction.
The festival kicks off in the morning at the ruins with an opening ceremony, and the celebration entails several human monkey dances and musical performances. Eventually, the monkeys, usually first overwhelmed by the large spectators, are treated to a buffet of sticky rice, fruits, vegetables, salads, and drinks. These banquets can sometimes be spread out in separate times during the day. The monkeys don’t get to feast alone, as there are several food stalls with a wide range of Thai local delicacies on sale that visitors can enjoy.
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 warned to watch out for these petulant macaques as they can cause quite a stir when they start mischievously latching on to your belongings.
There is no denying the somewhat strange nature of this festival. Still, it’s one that celebrates the diversity of the 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 Festival to your itinerary.