We begin 2020 with some exciting new features, focused around music and travel.

First up, we turn our attention to festival promoters introducing us to the reasons that they've chosen the home they have for their event as well as suggestions for places to visit whilst in town.

We spoke to the organiser of Jai Thep Festival in Thailand, Lindsay Hartley-Backhouse about the creation of the festival, the reasons for choosing the location and top tips for anyone visiting the 2020 edition.

Can you tell us a bit about how Jai Thep festival was created?

Jai Thep originally started as a small single day event, created by a small group of Thai and foreign friends, for their friends to enjoy and it's really just grown from there.

When we started out in 2016, the festival was a small one day event which was extended in 2018 to a 3 day event for the first time. Jai Thep has grown very quickly, but we’re very conscious of the ‘feel’ of the festival and work hard to keep the vibes intimate and friendly.

What was the reason behind choosing this region of Thailand?

Basically, we live here! Some crew are full time residents of Chiang Mai, some are here for half the year, but to us it's home.

Chiang Mai is a really vibrant, beautiful city, with the feel of a small town, and is also a digital nomad and traveller hub. It has so much to offer visitors, locals and ex-pats alike, and we like to bring everyone together to create something special that has a lot of love poured into it.

📷: Ryan McCabe

Aside from the festival, do you run any other events/what is your background?

Aside from Jai Thep, we don't run any other events; despite there being enough work for it to be a full time job, we juggle day jobs with this ever-growing festival.

A bunch of the management team work for NGOs, particularly in animal welfare and social enterprise, and we try to bring that same intention to make a positive impact to how we run the festival.

Previous Jai Thep Festivals have donated profits to forest restoration projects and anti-pollution initiatives (which is a major issue in Chiang Mai from March to May) and that’s something that will always continue.

📷: DoiLife Photography

What are your suggestions on places to eat around the festival?

We have a wide range of vendors at the festival itself, for breakfast, lunch and dinner, selling everything from Thai food, Asian fusion to Western favourites.

📷: Ryan McCabe

Many of the organisers are vegan, so all vendors have to have a minimum of one vegan dish.

In Chiang Mai itself, there's a vast array of delicious restaurants, ranging from amazing Thai streetfood carts and roadside cafes to upmarket restaurants serving international cuisine. Some crew favourites are GoodSouls Kitchen, Food4Thought, Ohkajhu and By Hand Pizza.

In the areas around Chiang Mai, we suggest the following:

Free Bird Cafe - fresh, organic, vegan social enterprise restaurant.

Overstand Coffee Shop - Tasty breakfast & lunch with vegetarian/vegan options.

GoodSouls Kitchen - Plant-based cafe and restaurant inside Chiang Mai's Old City.

Food4Thought - A western-style health food restaurant.

Reform Kafe - Plant-based restaurant offering mostly Thai specialties in a cozy garden setting near the ancient North Gate.

Why Not? Italian Restaurant & Wine Bar - If you are looking for a place to indulge in some good authentic Italian and Mediterranean cuisine, “Why Not?”.

Why Not? Italian Restaurant & Wine Bar 

Hummus Chiang Mai - The first modern Hummus restaurant in Chiang Mai.

By Hand Pizza - Enjoy artisan pizza, wine, beer, tea and coffee while lounging on beanbags or comfortable car seats.

The Riverside Bar & Restaurant - Home Style Cooking, Western and Thai Food & Live Music Every Night

What are your suggestions on places to go for drinks in the area around the festival?

The festival site itself is about 30 minutes from central Chiang Mai in a quiet village where the biggest thing that happens is the annual Jai Thep, so for general drinks and nights out, it has to be the city itself.

Inside the old city, there's a collection of bars and music venues that cater to popular dance music tastes but we prefer places where the music is more underground and less commercial.

Hotel Yayee

The Up:Beat drum and bass crew, who are doing a takeover at Jai Thep this year, regularly hold rooftop events at hostels, while the Synergy parties - organised by the original founders of Jai Thep - are always a good night out.

The best gourmet cocktails in town can be found on the rooftop of Hotel Yayee, where between 5.30pm and 6.30pm, there are 2-for-1 sunset drinks.

During the festival itself, we have a wide range of affordable drinks, ranging from craft beer and cider, to cocktails and even hot mulled cider on an evening when it gets chilly.

Other bars you should check out are:

Warm Up Cafe Chiang Mai

We Didn't Land on the Moon Since 1987 - Art gallery, cafe, studio and mini cocktails bar.

North Gate Jazz Co-Op - Intimate jazz bar.

Bus Bar 

Are there any nearby cultural sites that are worth visiting?

Aside from the general tourist attractions to visit, just outside of Chiang Mai there are amazing waterfalls and nature trails to visit also. You can have a look at the top attractions here.

📷: Nirut Phengjaiwong

What other places in Thailand would you recommend visiting to enjoy music?

Other than Chiang Mai, Bangkok is the place to be for nightlife and Jai Thep often partners with Bangkok clubs in the run up to the festival. We have Jai Thep DJs performing at the famous Whiteline & Safe Room clubs on January 25th, for example, where people can learn more about the Jai Thep vibe and warm up to the festival itself later that week.

Check out the event on the 25th January here.

What can people expect from this years festival?

Jai Thep is a vibrant and electric celebration of nature, culture, arts, and music where festival-goers can express themselves and engage their minds through creativity and self-exploration in workshops. We purposefully keep the music diverse across all stages, so that there's something for all musical tastes, from laidback acoustic sets in the daytime to techno music at night.

Thanks Lindsay!

Keep your eyes peeled on the Beatstravellers Instagram for an exclusive competition to win tickets for you and a friend to this years festival.

Tickets and more info for Jai Thep Festival here.