Por Tor (Hungry Ghost) Festival is an important merit-making event for the ethnic Chinese in Phuket. Special food, flowers and candles are offered to ancestors on altars. Offerings are also made to 'feed the ghosts without relatives', which locals believe to have been released from hell for the month.

Experience this unique event for yourself at any Chinese shrine on the island. You can also head to Seng Tek Bel Shrine on Phuket Road and Ranong Road's fresh market to enjoy 2 of the biggest Hungry Ghost celebrations in Phuket.

Por Tor Festival in Phuket Town - one of the highlights of Phuket Festivals & Events (Read all about Phuket Province here)

What not to miss at the Hungry Ghost Festival

Seng Tek Bel Shrine (also known as Por Tor Kong Shrine) is considered the centre of the festival. It hosts this annual event for 7 days and 7 nights, while most shrines only do so for a couple of days.

The Ranong Road fresh market gets busy during this time of the year. The whole market (and nearby areas) are colourfully decorated. hosting interesting activities from about noon until midnight. Must-sees include a traditional merit-making ceremony, lion dances, magic shows, live concerts, and cabaret shows. 

The Hungry Ghost Festival in Phuket is an excellent time to enjoy Chinese-influenced local food at very friendly prices. There are usually a few big parades going on during the festival. School kids and local folks dress up in their best traditional costumes, with many girls wearing a red cheongsam (a Chinese-style dress) and carrying flowers, turtle cakes and fruits to the shrines.

Red turtle sweets for hungry ghosts

The traditional customs of the Thai-Chinese still show signs of a strong belief in the sense of family obligation and respect for their ancestors. For the main part, the offerings on the altars are red turtle cakes (ang ku) of various sizes made from flour and sugar.

For many Chinese, the turtle represents strength and is a symbol of longevity. Plus, red usually means good luck. Offering a red turtle is not only a good thing for their ancestors, but it also means that they're extending their own life.

Por Tor Festival in Phuket Town

Open: First day of the waxing moon in the 7th Chinese calendar month, usually late-August or early-September

Stephan Audiger | Compulsive Traveller