Vegetarian Festival in Bangkok
Every year the Vegetarian Festival (Tesagan Gin Je) is being observed nationwide in Thailand. It’s especially popular in cities with a large population of people with Chinese ancestors such as Chiang Mai, Phuket and of course Bangkok. The festival is all about vegetarian (‘Je’) food and interesting religious rituals being performed throughout this period.
This Taoist celebration starts on the evening of the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar. The exact date varies but is typically in September / October. The Vegetarian festival is also called the Nine Emperor God Festival. Nine meat-free days are being celebrated by both Thai with- and without Chinese ancestry. Those actively participating will be wearing white clothes and refrain from eating meat to cleanse their body and to obtain good health and peace of mind.
Food at Bangkok’s Vegetarian festival
Being it a more or less Chinese celebration the majority of events and celebrations can be found in Bangkok’s Chinatown. Gone are the pork skewers, stir-fried chicken and deep-fried shrimps that can be found here on every other day of the year.
The majority of shops selling food in line with the festival regulations can be found from Talat Noi and Charoen Krung Soi 20 up until Chinatown’s mainroad Yaowarat and her surrounding streets. Red and yellow flags on their shops indicate that they are selling strictly vegetarian (and typically also vegan, more on that later) food. Food stalls and restaurants will be selling bowls of steaming noodles, vegetarian dumplings, deep-fried spring rolls and other meat replacements such as mushrooms, tofu and other perfectly-done imitations of meat.
Vegetarian, vegan and ‘Je’
Even though this event is being translated as ‘’Vegetarian festival’’, Gin Je literally means ‘eating Je’. Where most people confuse ‘Je’ with vegan, it’s in theory slightly different. Eating ‘Je’ means you are restricting yourself from eating meat, seafood, poultry and other animals products. In addition it also excludes you from eating garlic, onion and several other similar ingredients. Bottom line is that if you are vegetarian you can indulge in delicious vegetarian snacks and meals during the Vegetarian festival in Bangkok.
Ceremonies and festivities
The festivities and parades in Bangkok will be centered around Chinatown’s main road Yaowarat which will be closed for traffic to make place for street stalls and ceremonies in the evening. Expect big parades with large dragons on Yaowarat road accompanied by dancers in traditional Chinese dresses, firecrackers and more performers and musicians. A unique way not only to try vegetarian snacks you might not try otherwise, but also to experience some unique, compelling and fascinating celebrations and parades.
How to get there
Getting to the festivities in- and around Chinatown is easy. If you are already enjoying Tuk Tuk hop to visit Bangkok’s prime attractions, Yaowarat is simply one of our stops As the main road will be closed for traffic the driver will drop you on the edge of Chinatown which is just a few minutes walk from the main festivities. Alternatively you can take the MRT Metro to Hua Lamphong station which is a 10-15 minute walk from Yaowarat Road.