We dropped our cutlery in unison, and stared at our friend, who had just asked us if we had already been to the Asian version of the Burning Man festival.
“There’s a Burning Man festival in Asia, and it’s in Thailand?! We have to go!”
A few months later, equipped with our cashless bracelets and our trendiest looks, we were ready to explore the Wonderfruit festival.
We’ve heard a lot about Burning Man, its avant-garde concept and the values it stands for. Wonderfruit festival, a kind of spin-off from the former, shares most of the values regarding sustainability and forward-thinking.
For us, the most striking experience was to realize Wonderfruit is, in fact, two festivals in one, as two completely (or possibly not) different crowds happily co-existed. We saw this most clearly as we made our way towards the morning wellness-related activities, passing the crowds of party night-owls going back to the camp to sleep until the next evening.
Actually, if we look at it, it’s a two-in-one festival because both worlds mix and interact with each other in curious ways. Although we focused more on the relaxation activities, we also enjoyed a few great live music performances; and we saw many curious, albeit startled, electronic music lovers wandering around the festival’s wellness area.
If the idea was to bring excitement and an electric vibe to the more contemplative healthy community or to inject some green juice into the partying crowd, then the model is a success. Wonderfruit is probably our favourite type of festival, offering world-class electronic music performances, state-of-the-art natural structures and extensive offer in wellbeing.
One of the most important features of this festival is that it follows the global trend of massive events that are concerned about sustainability. It strives to be a plastic-free event and there are many efforts to make it as eco-friendly as possible:
- Water refill stations spread around the festival grounds, including camping areas.
- No single-use plastic is allowed inside. Food and drink vendors offer biodegradable cutlery and plates.
- The festival’s organization sells its own fashionable reusable drinking cup. This was quite expensive though; we believe it would be better to offer it for a lower price to encourage its use.
- Most of the festival structures are made of natural local materials like bamboo, straw and clay.
- Compostable cardboard tents are available.
Wonderfruit is the biggest sustainable festival in Southeast Asia and, last year alone, it attracted 17,000 people. If you have a chance to participate in this eco-rave event, then don’t hesitate and prepare yourself for a beautiful ride.
When is Wonderfruit Festival, where is it, and how much does it cost?
The free-spirited eco-friendly festival happens in the outskirts of Pattaya City, Thailand, and the dates fall at the end of the second week of December (in 2017 it was December 14-17; in 2018, it was December 13-16; and in 2019, it will be December 12-16). This is the beginning of Thailand’s winter season, known for its mild temperatures and dry weather.
Prices vary depending on how much time in advance you buy the tickets. Prices start at US$150 six months before the festival and go all the way up to US$300 at the door. If you attended the festival, they offer discounted tickets for the next year’s event.
How to get to Wonderfruit Festival
Flying into Pattaya airport is probably the easiest option, and the airport has flights from many short-haul destinations. If you can’t find a cheap flight, consider flying into Bangkok (or another Southeast Asian hub), and then either get a bus, train, minivan or even a taxi to Pattaya. From Bangkok, it’s an affordable three-hour drive even if you take a taxi. Prices range from US$4-5 for a shared minivan to US$50 for a private transfer.
From Pattaya to the festival, you can take the provided shuttle that transports you to and from Pattaya centre every day of the festival. Schedules and availability vary from year to year so make sure you check this information on their website or app.
If you prefer to sleep in Pattaya instead of at the festival itself, consider renting a car so you can have more flexibility. That said, we believe that camping at the festival is the ultimate experience. And no worries, they have premium tents with AC included.
Accommodation at Wonderfruit festival
The festival’s accommodation options are inside the park, near the main stages, and you can choose between the standard camping park, where you bring your own tent, or premium camping.
For the standard camping, you have two options: the cheapest one is to bring your own tent for US$20, and the plus option is a preset cardboard tent US$375 that will be recycled afterwards.
Regarding the premium options, they are amazing, ranging from bell tents with AC (US$1200) to boutique RVs (US$2200). Prices are per lodging but there is a limit on the number of people you can pack inside!
We camped in the standard park and had no problem with it. The bathrooms were kept clean and so were the showers.
The only issue was the noise that goes on 24 hours a day, as there are concerts at any time of the day and night. Even with our earplugs in, it was not enough to block the volume. Next time, we would probably get better earplugs or consider spending extra to stay in the premium camp that is further away from the music.
Note: Power sockets are at a premium so, if you are camping, bring a solar charger to keep your appliances charged throughout the festival.
What to do at Wonderfruit Festival
There are six main types of events:
- Music: electronic, alternative and local.
- Wellness: massages, healthy food, therapies, etc.
- Art and Architecture: the festival itself is an art exhibition.
- Talks and Workshops: on dozens of different topics, happening in parallel, ranging from DIY to show cooking and meditation. There are topics for kids, too.
- Farm to Table: famous chefs preparing meals that you get to observe and try.
The hardest part is deciding what to do! A lot of activities happen at the same time, on a dozen different stages and locations, so planning is crucial.
First of all, it is critical, I mean it will completely change your experience, to download the festival app. Unless they completely change their website, which was quite useless last year, then the app is the only real tool to find your way around the endless events and performances.
Rest assured that they repeat a lot of the smaller events to give people more chances to attend, hence the even bigger importance of the app. You can tick the events you want to go to and the app will show your own personalized schedule.
In the end, this is a three-day festival with a 24-hour schedule, so the only way to do everything is to skip sleeping for a few days, right? 🙂
If you’d like to catch a glimpse of everything (like we do), we recommend you separate the festival into “entertainment hours”, for concerts and performances, and “learning hours”, for workshops, talks and networking events. Also, leave some time to relax and enjoy a nap in the shade during the hottest hours of the day.
Overall, be prepared for an overwhelmingly positive experience, from innovative learning experiences to making deep connections and having fun, while listening to some of the best names in electronic music in the world.
Photos were provided by Joao.