Thai officials plead to tourists: please get back to temple life

Monkeys have been on the rampage in Thailand this month, prowling ancient temples and ripping down tapestries and snapping at tourists.

While the hair-raising behaviour, seen in every major city in the country, has created a buzz of activity online, many in Thailand are begging for people to forget it.

Back in the day at the Monkey Temple Read more

The annual Monkey Festival, which started on Wednesday, is now the second-largest tourist draw in Thailand behind Bangkok, bringing hundreds of thousands of foreign visitors every year. Many people of all ages dance and giggle at the entrance of a temple where monkeys leap out from bushes to party before hopping into buses that take them to other temples in the temple town of Phrae.

Five hours away from Bangkok, Phrae still has its bustling towns and quiet villages. On a hilltop that looks out over the Chiang Mai province, the temple is now one of the most popular tourist attractions in Thailand. It retains many of its original, 19th-century features.

The temple is popular among Thais, and the number of visitors is growing. “It’s just as it was. The ‘good monkeys’ [who live peacefully and clean the temple] are back. So now things are normal,” Sunee, from Warang, north of the temple, said.

“I want people to come back to Phrae. We all like it. That’s why we come back every year. When we come here, we have a great time. Even children can do it,” Sunee said.

“The monkey will ask you, ‘are you there?’ and it jumps from here [to the temple] in a circle with all of its babies. They come to dance, cut down the temples and party here. Now that they are using dancing and singing, it’s not as bad,” Chitchai, a monk, said.

Leave a Comment