Phuket plays host to one of the most unusual events in Thailand every year.

Travellers booking flights to Thailand may want to plan their trip to coincide with the annual Taoist vegetarian festival that takes place every year in Phuket.

It is made up of ancient rituals that take place in Taoist temples across the island, as well as the more bizarre practice of mediums piercing their faces with a range of objects.

Photos published in the Guardian show some participants with spikes sticking out of their cheeks and one man even used knives and shears.

The event has been taking place on the island since 1825, when the festival was started by Chinese immigrants.

According to a travel writer at the newspaper, it began after a visiting Chinese opera troupe were struck down by illness and subsequently recovered after following a vegetarian diet to honour the Taoist gods.

The festival lasts for nine days and always opens on the first evening of the ninth lunar month.

It is mentioned as one of the top ten things to see in a trip to the island by Asia Web. Other attractions not to be missed include its waterfalls and old Phuket town.

Written by Nicholas Scott

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