From rooster sing-offs and hungry ghosts, to spiritual nights of tattooing and mysterious fireballs rising from the Mekong, here are seven quirky things you MUST try in South East Asia.
Vietnam’s biggest annual festival, Tet sees a party atmosphere come to the streets over a period of more or less two weeks. Celebrating family and new beginnings, expect street parties, parades, fireworks and festivities aplenty. Some of Vietnam’s ethnic tribes have some particularly unusual Tet traditions, from the Pu Peo people who enjoy singing competitions with roosters, to the Cao Ram buffalo calling rituals. To become part of something totally different that every single person across the country takes part in, this tops the list of things you must try in South East Asia.
2. Boun Bang Fai Rocket Festival
This annual gathering takes place every May in Laos, just as the rainy season begins. This event involves villagers collaborating to make large, wildly decorated bamboo rockets. After filling them with gunpowder, they’re launched into the sky for a great spectacle!
3. Trang Underwater Wedding Ceremony
Visit Thailand over Valentine’s Day and witness a tradition like none other in the world. Having made it into the Guinness Book of Records as the largest underwater wedding in the world, this is a date when a whole crowd of people get married under the water! Dressed in traditional wedding attire and wearing snorkels, you may even feel tempted to get wed or renew your vows yourself…
4. Hungry Ghost Festival
Every August, Chinese communities living across South East Asia observe this special festival, where it is believed ancestors return to Earth in search of food. As a result, expect food offerings outside temples and a riot of performances and festivals in China Towns and other Chinese communities across the region.
5. Naga Fireball
Watch bright red fireballs emerge from the Mekong on the Laos-Thai border for one night a year every October. Coinciding with the end of Buddhist Lent, locals believe these fireballs are sent from the serpent of the underworld, Naga, to remind villagers to respect the river.
6. Tattoo Festival
For those who have ever thought about getting a tattoo, this might be the time to do it. A tattoo festival is held every March in Thailand’s Wat Ban Phra – also known as the Temple of the Flying Dragon. Monks work through the night to give thousands of people a totally unique and spiritually-charged tattoo.
7. P’chum Ben
This Cambodian festival occurs every October, at a time when Khmer people believe the spirits of their ancestors visit Earth. Again, expect to see plenty of food offerings on the streets around this time, including an abundance of sticky rice, which the spirits are said to find easiest to digest.
Mr Linh’s Adventures
will help you uncover yet more things you must try in South East Asia – join us for off-the-beaten-track and quirky experiences.