As one of the most diverse regions in the world and home to hundreds of ethnicities and different religions, festivals in Southeast Asia are probably the best and most fun way to get up and close with its multitude of traditions and cultures.
Festivals are often a prime reason for travellers when choosing their destination, and several of Southeast Asia’s festivals have grown into becoming some of the world’s most popular ones. Songkran festival (or water festival Thailand) has evolved into what must be the biggest water fight on the planet, but also previously lesser known events are getting increasingly popular such as the Phuket Vegetarian Festival Thailand or the Cambodia Water Festival.
Many of the region’s festivals have religious or spiritual origins, from the beautiful Buddhist Loy Krathong in Thailand and the Hindu Thaipusam body-piercing event in Malaysia, to Muslim Eid al-Fitr in Indonesia, Malaysia and other Muslim-populated countries, and Taoist-inspired Chinese New Year all over the region. But also secular events are growing in popularity year by year, whether they are music and art events such as Wonderfruit Festival in Thailand, Ultra Music Festival in Singapore and Rainforest Fringe Festival in Borneo, or literary events such as the Penang Georgetown Festival or the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival in Bali. And of course, as this is Asia, food always occupies a prominent spot during these festivities.
Most of the region’s events are held on a yearly basis, but since many of them are following a lunar calendar, the dates are slightly different every year. This doesn’t mean you cannot plan ahead – with a little bit of proper research you can always make sure your favourite festivals are included within your travel plans. Just don’t forget to bring your camera!
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