Insider’s Guide to Thailand’s Top Festivals: Jai Thep

Photo Credit: Sagnik Hira

As Jai Thep festival enters its fifth year, BKK OX delves a little deeper to find out why we should make the voyage to Chiang Mai and buy a ticket for this three-day extravaganza on January 31st – February 2nd, 2020.

Jai Thep festival began as a one-day party created by a group of friends in Chiang Mai, the gorgeous city located in Thailand’s northern mountains. Chiang Mai is renowned for its friendly, environmentally conscious, nature loving people and this energy is the foundation of Jai Thep festival. A river runs through Lanna Rock Garden, last year’s (and probably this year’s) location, and its main stage, the Buffalo Stage, is located in the middle of a huge valley. Jai Thep truly has a bond with nature like no other Thai festival.

Photo Credit: Doi Life

What will we get for our money?

Jai Thep is three days of art, music and magic. As well as local and international music, we have a great range of conscious workshops, dance and art activities, comedy and spoken-word; whether you want to chill by the river or learn something new, Jai Thep has you covered. It’s also the feeling of Jai Thep that makes it special, the vibes are so friendly, everyone is welcome.

Jai Thep Cooperative

Jai Thep is passionate about the environment and creating a conscious community. Their strong eco-friendly ethos is evident upon arrival, with the banishing of plastic, and prominence of waste disposals broken down by type. A range of workshops empower festival goers to connect with themselves, and each other. This is also a family friendly festival, with an enormous kids play area and under 12’s are granted free entry to the festival. This certainly contributes to the “magic”, which comes alongside the art and music.

Photo Credit: Ryan McCabe

Who performs at Jai Thep?

Jai Thep supports live performance in many different forms, and they provide a platform for emerging talents to showcase their art to a wider audience. You will witness live art installations, spoken word, stand-up comedy and of course, the meat of the live performance is bands and DJs. You are unlikely to recognise many of the performers unless your’e closely connected to the arts scene in Asia, yet this could be seen as one of its strengths. Undiscovered gems are in abundance here.

Photo Credit: Lexi Rose

What genres of music are there?

Jai Thep is big on alternative music genres. Folk music, Rock, Rap, Techno, Blues and Reggae are all featured, with some Psychedelic Trance to put the cherry on top. They predominantly support Asia-based artists and throw in a few international DJs to the mix. You can expect a very underground, eclectic music vibe, with emerging artists and performers taking centre stage. It’s a wonderful opportunity for little known acts to get themselves in the limelight, make some great connections and play at one of Asia’s big, up-and-coming festivals.

Photo Credit: Doi Life

The main stage is a resounding acoustic phenomenon, which sling shots the sound out into the valley. Roger [our drummer] really liked the drum kit set up, especially the mic arrangement. We’re not used to getting such a solid bass drum sound but the feeling in the valley was thundering and he really let loose when we played.

Roman Anton – Bangkok-based band who played on the Buffalo Stage

What’s new in 2020?

Jai Thep are looking to bolster their wellness and healing section, along with their inclusive activities, which are all included in the ticket price.

Photo Credit: Doi Life

In 2020, we want to offer even more activities for people to join in during the day, including a healing area where people can go for rejuvenating reiki sessions or other holistic treatments. Having that area and the workshops in a quiet, peaceful area is one of 2020’s goals. 

Jai Thep Cooperative
Photo Credit: Doi Life

Festival Nitty Gritties…

Location: Jai Thep are 99% certain that they will retain Lanna Rock Garden, but this is not confirmed yet.

Accommodation: Jai Thep offers a camp site for anyone who has bought a three-day ticket, or two consecutive single-day tickets. This includes a designated family campsite away from the noise. For luxury living, there are a plethora of hotels and resorts nearby, and they sell out quickly! Chiang Mai city centre is a 30-minute drive from Lanna Rock Garden, with more sleeping options available there.

Tickets: A three day ticket is currently available and priced at 1,800 baht, and 1600 baht with a student discount. You can buy the tickets at this price until 31 August, here: One and two-day tickets are available from September 1st 2019.

Paying for food and drinks: This will be done via wristband, in a cashless system. You can top up the wristbands at various booths in the festival grounds and if you have money remaining when you leave, you can get a refund.

Photo Credit: Doi Life

Jai Thep is now a well-run co-operative, with one of the founding members, “Namwhan” still part of the project, so the northern Thai inspired, Jai Thep ethos has never changed. They’ve just upped the production values, the variety of entertainment and the general quality of experience over the years. You can expect the best Jai Thep to date in January 2020, and it’s an absolute must for anyone who is in this part of the world, at that moment in time.

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