Truly one of the world’s most bizarre and macabre festivals, this is one you don’t want to miss if you happen to be in Phuket when it occurs (every year in either September or October, depending on the Chinese lunar calendar). The city pays homage to the nine emperor gods, as locals try to ensure good luck and prosperity for the coming year. While the rites include wearing all white, abstaining from meat, alcohol, and sex, and other rituals of devotion, the main draw here is that of devotees going into trances and performing all sorts of feats of self mutilation, including fire walking, bathing in hot oil, climbing bladed knife ladders, and putting sharp objects through their faces, all the while dancing throughout the town and blessing everyone and their shrines, which line the street in front of all businesses. There are fireworks galore, lots of smoke, noise, and chaos. At times it resembles a war zone, but in the end, it’s a lot of good fun and astounding spectacle.