7 Customs and Traditions Surrounding Taiwanese Ghost Month

Cheng Kwei Parade
Cheng Kwei Parade | © Charles_DC / Flickr
Ciaran McEneaney

Ghost Month is the time of the year when Taiwanese believe that the gates of Hell open and restless souls spend 30 days and 30 nights in the land of the living. And although it might not seem like a good time for celebration, locals take the festival very seriously and make sure to follow the various rules and customs associated with the event.

While there are many things to avoid doing during Ghost Month, there are also plenty of customs and traditions to follow. Here are some of the most popular.

Praying at a temple

It stands to reason that if the restless souls of Hell are intent on wreaking havoc in the living world, then a little protection from the Gods is a good idea. Either before or on the first day of Ghost Month, it’s essential to visit the local temple to ask the residing deity for help keeping evil spirits at bay over the month.

Ghost Month at Lungsang Temple, Taiwan

Burning Ghost Money

In Taiwan, it is known as Ghost Money, but it’s also called Joss Paper elsewhere. On the first day of the month, Ghost Money is burned to honor the ancestors of the living, while on the 15th day money is burned to appease those restless spirits mentioned earlier. There have been some issues recently with the burning of Ghost Money, as environmentalists believe that the pollution from such practices means that a new greener option must be found.

Wearing an amulet

There is a Taoist deity named Chung Kwei who locals believe can protect them from evil spirits. This God specializes in killing demons and evil spirits, so it makes sense that Chung Kwei amulets are hugely popular during Ghost Month. Other amulets depicting Gods such as Guan Yu are also popular, but none have demon-slaying capabilities quite like Chung Kwei.

Feeding the ghosts

On the 15th day of Ghost Month, it is customary to leave a veritable feast on a table just outside the home or even a place of business. The idea is that the wandering spirits can feast upon the food and sate their hunger, leaving them so satisfied that they may choose to leave those who offered the meal in peace. Now, this meal won’t go to waste as it is expected that the family or employees who made the offering will eat the food later.

Tables will also be set at other days during the month, but the 15th is by far the most important day for this tradition.

A family makes its offering

Jumping with Cheng Kwei

Cheng Kwei, the God known for vanquishing demons, is said to visit the gates of Hell on the first day of the month following Ghost Month. The idea is that he is there to make sure that there are no lingering spirits who failed to return to Hell. Many temples around the island hold a jumping with Cheng Kwei ceremony where participants will help the God send evil spirits back where they belong.

Giving to charity

Taiwanese believe that by giving to charity and helping others, they will build up good karma and perhaps earn the favor of their chosen God. Ghost Month is one of the best times of the year for charities, and while it’s not a tradition per se, it is considered a good thing to donate before or during Ghost Month.

Launching water lanterns

While this particular custom happens in various locations throughout the country, the most popular is in Keelung. Here, the lanterns are released into the ocean, and the further a lantern goes out to sea, the more good fortune the person who released it will have.

culture trip left arrow
 culture trip brand logo

Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

meet our Local Insider


women sitting on iceberg


2 years.


It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.


I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

culture trip logo letter c
group posing for picture on iceberg
group posing for picture on iceberg

Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

map of volcanic iceland trip destination points
culture trip brand logo
culture trip right arrow
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.