Vegetarianism is on the increase in the UK and it’s now rare to find a restaurant that doesn’t serve a veggie option or two. A lot of reasons are given for this dietary choice – environmental, moral or personal taste are the most common – but many see it as a recent fad.

Although it’s becoming more popular in Britain, typically vegetarians are more common in Asian countries and some, such as Thailand, hold an annual vegetarian festival where everybody joins in.

The Phuket Vegetarian Festival is held in the ninth lunar month of every year for nine days. During this time the participants eat no meat, wear white clothing, and focus on the cleanliness of their mind and body.

Legend has it that the first ever festival was held in 1825, when a group of travelling Chinese entertainers became ill and in an effort to heal themselves, took up a vegetarian diet and prayed to their emperor gods. The locals watched in astonishment as the visitors got better and the diet, along with the religious ceremonies were seen as the cause. To ensure good health and fortune for themselves they then began to celebrate the festival each year.

As well as the exclusion of eating meat, those who join in the festival also take part in the ceremonies. These can sometimes include gruelling activities such as walking over hot coals or puncturing their own cheeks with items such as knives and skewers.

As well as this festival, Phuket, and Thailand in general, has a lot to offer. Famed for its picturesque views and natural beauty, Thailand boasts some of the most stunning locations to watch sunsets from and Phuket itself has forests, waterfalls and a jungle to explore.

The Thai island of Koh Samui is also a great spot for tourists looking for nature as it is the home of white beaches, coconut trees and coral reefs. Because of its lush surroundings, it is full of wildlife – the Samui Aquarium has a wide variety of tropical fish and marine creatures and the island’s zoo has Bengal tigers and leopards on display all year round.

The country’s capital, Bangkok, is the most popular destination in Thailand and it is revered as one of the world’s top tourist spots; winning many awards in this vein. It boasts many historical palaces that are open to the public and also is also the home to many more modern delights such as theatres and shopping centres.

Whether or not the vegetarian festival is of interest to you, Phuket holidays offer many different options whether you choose to stay on the island or travel around the rest of the country.