Lopburi Monkey Festival. Everyone loves a great party and the monkeys of Lopburi are no different. Think great conversation, abundant food, and some catchy music are you too can be celebrating at the Lopburi Monkey Festival.
Lopburi, a town of 30,000, can be found a couple of hours north of Bangkok. It is an easy drive, or you can take a train from Bangkok, a bit longer at four hours. Lopburi is an ancient city of Thailand and it dates to the 14th century.
Prang Sam Yod can be found in the Old Town of Lopburi and is built in the Khmer style that you might be familiar with from Angkor Wat. This well-known Hindu landmark dates to the 13th century. But what might be more memorable are the 2-3,000 crab-eating macaques that make their home there.
These monkeys are very used to seeing humans and can be quite aggressive. If you have a monkey phobia avoid visiting Lopburi. Within several minutes of arrival at Prang Sam Yod a trio of monkeys utilized me as a jungle gym. I let out a little laugh as one of the monkeys stole my eyeglasses. With the help of the local caretaker with a stick we chased down the monkey. The monkey released his prize and I thankfully retrieved my eyeglasses. I promptly realized my new monkey friend had scratched my lens and bitten off the ends of the frames. An expensive lesson.
And you might also see some signs around the town that state: “To prevent monkeys attacking people, the officer will feed monkeys in 3 designated areas outside San Phrakan twice a day, at 10am and 4pm. Those who want to feed monkeys other than these times, please contact the officer or caretaker.” So, you can see these monkeys mean business.
You can visit these monkeys any day of the week and be entertained for hours, but your goal should be to visit the Monkey Festival. The Monkey Festival is held annually on the last Sunday of November. The monkeys are believed to have descended from the Hanuman, a monkey king from Hindu scripture. These monkeys are believed to bring good luck to those who reside in Lopburi. And of course, bring good luck to those in the Lopburi tourism industry.
Lopburi Monkey Festival has been on my list to visit for many years as a part-time resident of Bangkok. But, due to my extensive travels I have never been in Thailand during the festival. This year of course has been an anomaly since I have been “quarantining” in Thailand since mid-March. While my international travels have ceased, I have had the great opportunity to explore within Thailand.
Life in Thailand since June has mostly reverted to life as “normal” except for tourism. Thailand has shut its doors to inbound tourism. With a dearth of tourists, the Lopburi Monkey Festival was not announced and confirmed until the week before the event.
I departed early Sunday morning in a taxi with my driver, Tony. We departed at 630 am and had a traffic-less two-hour drive to Lopburi. The town had scheduled three monkey banquet parties with the first one at 900 am. (I learned later that the latter two parties were canceled, so I was fortunate to be there for the first feeding.)
Near Prang Sam Yod, a tented area had been set up with a handful of locals preparing the extensive and colorful buffet. The monkeys were in eyeshot and I was befuddled how they demonstrated restraint by not rushing the sumptuous buffet.
A handful of VIPs gathered, and the celebration began albeit an hour late. The VIPs were handed platter of food and the crowd made the short walk to Prang Sam Yod. The monkeys gathered around the VIPs and began to gorge themselves.
As the monkeys helped themselves to seconds, distant music could be heard in the distance. A banner festooned with a monkey protected by a face mask led the way for a marching band.
The band belted out some tune, followed closely by a cavalcade of golf carts.
But these were no ordinary carts. The carts were lovingly adorned with a cornucopia of fruit and vegetables. The carts pulled up in front of the temple and awaited for the rush of gluttonous of monkeys.
In the meantime, several tables had also been placed at the temple, providing additional feeding opportunities for the celebrated monkeys.
I waited many years to see the Lopburi Monkey Festival, and it is well worth the time to make this festival part of your itinerary when you visit Thailand.
All you can eat at the Lopburi Monkey Festival!