Phuket is never dull unless the visitor wants it to be; they celebrate often and to a guest’s eyes, some of the pageants may seem a little bizarre if not outright incomprehensible, but that’s part of the fun. If you choose to visit Phuket and Karon Beach during a celebration, make sure to book in advance and be prepared for things to a bit busier than usual.
Karon has a football stadium on the beach road leading to Kata, and it hosts both local and international sporting events. Off one of the side sois (streets) in Old Phuket Town there sits a small artists’ community built by a group of Thai artists and consists of huts, art galleries and even pubs, all where they work and live. On occasion there are arthouse events or impromptu gallery showings, and art festivals in this area.
In October, Phuket celebrates vegetarianism in a pageant that has religious meaning. Some rather gruesome acts have their place next to other forms of faith, such as body piercing, fire walking and other displays of self-mortification all used to demonstrate strength of faith and help invoke the gods. Both men and women puncture their cheeks with spears, household items, skewers or knives in the belief that the gods will protect them from the harm of such acts. It is celebrated over a nine day period.
In November, Loy Krathong or the Festival of Lights, is observed where lanterns are lit and set afloat in every body of water for a magical sight. In April is Songkran, or traditional Thai New Year. It’s celebrated with copious amounts of water and no one, not even a visitor, is exempt from a good dousing. Leave the camera in the hotel room, or it will get wet.