The lure of a good buffet has always been the kryptonite to my attempted diets. The only thing better than food, is food served in huge quantities. An unlimited supply of fries, ice cream, rice and meat might be the closest thing to heaven on earth. I’m sure anyone would agree, especially the Macaques of Thailand.
Amphawa Floating Market // Thailand
That’s because every year in November, these monkeys get to feast like kings at the annual Monkey Buffet Festival in Lopburi. Lopburi, a region situated approximately 180 kilometers northeast of Bangkok, is home to hoards of crab-eating, Long Tailed Macaques. Don’t be fooled by their name, however. These monkeys will eat or steal virtually anything they can get their hands on, including your nicely packed PB&J sandwich and your money.
As a result, locals actually find the monkeys as somewhat of a nuisance, especially since these two populations have lived alongside each other for quite some time. However, it cannot be denied that the monkeys bring in a huge source of income from adventure seeking tourists who travel from all around the world to see them.
The Monkey Buffet is a relatively new tradition, conjured up by a smart businessman, Yongyuth Kitwattananusont, with the intention of bringing in more tourists to Lopburi (an ideal location for an overnight stay when passing through Bangkok or Chiang Mai). With assistance from the TAT, or the Tourism Authority of Thailand, the Monkey Buffet was launched in 1989 and would soon bring in a large sum of money. Every year, Yongyuth Kitwattananusont also attempts to make the celebration even bigger and better by bringing in more food or by dressing up in a monkey costume.
If you’re the type of person who loves adventure after adventure, travel to the ruined Khmer temple of Pra Prang Sam Yot to participate in all the festivities, including as dancing and singing. But no matter how hungry you get, remember to treat the monkeys with reverence and respect. In fact the monkeys are personally invited to attend the feast with invitations attached to cashews. The food is then laid out, banquet style, and consists of an appetizer of fruit salad, an entrée of sticky white rice and even dessert – most likely Thong yod, a traditional Thai treat!
If you get a little hungry afterward, head to a human buffet for your very own food adventure. Just make sure you hold on tight to your wallet.