It is highly likely that you must have read the title of this article twice. And as incredulous and unbelievable as it might sound, there indeed exists a Monkey Buffet Festival in Lopburi, Thailand. And the name of the festival has no implicit suggestions, it is as literal as it can get. As the name suggests, Monkey Buffet Festival is a buffet festival for monkeys which to its credit, has been described as one of the strangest festivals by London’s The Guardian’ newspaper.
In Thailand, as per local customs, there is the belief that King Rama gave a piece of land known as Lopburi to Hanuman who was the Monkey King. Thanks to this history, locals believe that monkeys bring good fortune. They also attract a lot of visitors, thereby contributing to Thailand’s tourism. Thus, every year on the 25th of November, a buffet to feed the famous long-tailed macaque monkeys at the Pra Prang Sam Yot Temple is held in Lopburi, which has come to be known as the Monkey Buffet Festival. Approximately 4000 kilograms of food and drinks is served for the monkeys every year.
The idea behind the ingenious event was thought up by business man Yongyuth Kitwattananusont in 1989. The Monkey Buffet Festival has now been granted the sponsorship of Thailand’s Tourism Authority and continues to attract thousands of visitors every year, thereby further promoting tourism in Thailand. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that the buffet is the city’s way of thanking the monkeys for drawing tourists to the town. Apart from the buffet, representative music and dances with young people dressing like monkeys are some of the other activities which are engaged in on this day.
Visitors should note that Lopburi, the location of Monkey Buffet Festival from Bangkok is approximately 153 km. So in order to access Lopburi, visitors should first reach Bangkok, which is well connected by air to other countries. From Bangkok, air conditioned buses leave every 20 min for Lopburi. There is also the option of taking a train or a private cab available. Thus, there is no dearth of options as far as reaching Lopburi is concerned.
As far as the weather in Lopburi in November is concerned, it is moderate. The mornings are sunny while the evenings are pleasant. So visitors are advised to carry a warm shawl or a light jacket, just in case the temperature dips any further.
A buffet of human beings is nothing unusual. However, a buffet of monkeys is bound to be a delightful treat to watch. For the ones who want to have a glimpse of this bizzare food festival, Lopburi on 25th of November, that is the place you ought to visit!