Location: Lopburi, Thailand
Date: One day in November
Level of participation: 1 – watch the monkeys dine in style
In Lopburi, 90km north of Bangkok, take extra care of your valuables, because the town is overrun with simian kleptomaniacs. Despite their light-fingered ways, residents are so fond of the long-tailed macaques that a local hotelier treats them to an annual feast.
Held in the overgrown Khmer ruins that the monkeys call home, the grand meal takes place on long red tablecloths. Invitations are attached to cashew nuts and distributed among the desired guests, while chefs prepare a vegetarian spread, including sticky rice, tropical fruit salad and an egg-yolk dessert called thong yod. It doesn’t take long for the diners to get used to the spectators, and in a flash they are dancing on the tables, throwing Coca-Cola at each other, sitting in the pudding and impersonating the Mad Hatter’s tea party. The lavish feast soon disappears into hairy bellies and on to the ground, leaving the luncheon guests to conclude their outrageous behaviour by drifting off for a treetop nap without so much as a ‘thank you’.
The human hosts may seem like gluttons for punishment, but Thais believe that treating monkeys with kindness brings good luck, and it’s worth tolerating those bad manners for the tourists they attract.
Local attractions: Wat Phra Phutthabat (‘Buddha’s footprint’), which supposedly houses this holy imprint, is one of Thailand’s more significant Buddhist sites.
More info: www.tourismthailand.org
See a list of other festivals in November here.