Lazy white sand beaches, ridiculously cheap alcohol, terrible hangovers, butt-burning spicy food; a typical Asian holiday! It turns out though that Asia has plenty of hidden gems to offer the music enthusiast. Picture camping out in the open, listening to some super chill music and rocking out under the stars. If this sounds like your scene, it’s time to look Eastward for your next music fix! Here are some super awesome music festivals in Asia.
THE BEST MUSIC FESTIVALS IN ASIA
Nariyal Paani is set in Alibaug, a little hideaway beach close to the very busy Mumbai. Sun, sand, stars, a ton of fresh coconut water and a refreshing line up of musicians (far flung from their Bollywood counterparts) is what you can expect from this music festival. Since the tickets to this are limited, it ends up being a cozy, intimate little affair. You can camp right on the beach, stare at the stars while swaying to the groovy tunes of the young Indie musicians. One of the freshest music festivals in Asia, it has a hippy, happy, kitschy vibe!
Where: Alibaug (close to Mumbai, India)
Getting There: Several regular ferry boats and speedboat services to Alibaug are available from the Gateway of India, alternatively you could also buy a ticket to the exclusive Nariyal Paani boat and start your festival experience from the get go!
Budget: $66 for the entire weekend if you book the early bird ticket.
THE JISAN VALLEY ROCK FESTIVAL
One of the most popular music festivals in Asia, Tisan Valley Rock Festival has an insane line up. Last year, Jisan Valley saw Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Disclosure and Kula Shaker! Think rolling hills, cosy campsites and little booths where you can grab a bite and a beer (or three!). Who would have pegged South Korea for a festival rocker!
Where: Jisan Resort, Jisan Resort, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea
Getting There: Catch a shuttle bus from Seoul.
Budget: Early bird tickets start around $163 for the 3-day event
You’ve probably heard of Fuji Rock even if you haven’t been anywhere near Japan, because it’s an easy favourite for anyone who’s ever made a bucket list of music festivals in Asia. Yes, myself included. The kicker for me is that it’s usually home to experimental bands and A-listers alike, so you can get your fill of a little local flavour and then move on to everything from post-rock Game of Thrones soundtracks (Sigur Ros, for the uninitiated) and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Fuji Rock has been featured on Nat Geo’s 10 awesome music festivals to check out and the festival is gamed for the chilled open air forest theme. This is rural Japan at it’s best, what better way to explore it than with a groundbreaking music festival…
Where: Naeba Ski Resort, in Niigata Prefecture, Japan
Getting There: Take a train to Echigo-Yuzawa Station and then a shuttle bus to the resort.
Budget: $500, unless you book with early bird prices.
This is an off beat festival set against an incredible backdrop of snow capped Himalayan peaks. Escape festival doesn’t offer camping facilities, so simply pack your bags and wing it. This is one of the best music festivals in Asia for featuring not just bands but also photographers, painters, graffiti and tattoo artists. It’s an eclectic, heady mix of activity… Escape festival don’t really announce dates or the line up so you have to scour Escape’s social media pages for updates to get more information.
Where: Lake Resort, Naukuchiatal, Uttarakhand.
When: To be confirmed.
Getting There: Catch a bus from Delhi or Nainital.
Budget: To be confirmed.
ZIRO MUSIC FESTIVAL
Through the years, the Ziro Music Festival in Arunachal Pradesh has thrown out some of the best gigs in Asia; exploding with folk music, indie hits and a very Woodstock vibe. There are stories of people camping in Ziro for three days, enduring pouring rains, muddy tents and partying on regardless! A music festival in Asia for die-hard music enthusiasts and acid-heads.
Where: Ziro Valley, Arunachal Pradesh. Indians need an Inner Line Permit and foreigners need a Protected Area Permit to enter the state.
Getting There: Catch the Ziro Express from Guwahati. Make sure you have booked tickets well in advance.
As far as music festivals in Asia go, Magnetic Fields is definitely one of the best known ones. Magnetic Fields takes place in a grand Rajasthani Palace- the Alsisar Mahal. You get to see India’s culture, food and music at its finest whilst partying to swaying tunes. Magnetic Fields is a very well curated festival and hosts some of the world’s best recognised artists. The lineup this year includes UK-based Pinch, Mumbai favourites Burudu, Luxemburg’s Napoleon Gold and many more. They have secret parties, Bedouin dens — and yoga sessions (a little wellness in the mix could do no harm!).
Where: Alsisar Village, Jhunjhunu District, Rajasthan
Getting There: Take a train from Sarai Rohilla, New Delhi to Sadulpur Junction – just under 4 hours followed by a 45 minute taxi ride to Alsisar.
Budget: $134 if you want to pitch your own tent. Up to $500 if you go for one of the luxury Bedouin tent packages… Broke backpackers beware, this one ain’t cheap!
If you find yourself in Thailand around December, resist the urge to rush into one of the over hyped half-moon parties, and instead go check out WonderFruit. This is one of Asia’s most popular music festivals and consists of three heady days of camping, music and art exhibitions in an open air country club… or something like that. Wonderfruit is definitely an Asian music festival worth checking out… It’s fairly new, but already extremely popular. Last year they had Rudimental, Wolf + Lamb, Matador and talks, workshops and wellness seminars too! The festival helps budget travellers by providing free camping spots, RV spots and renting out tents.
Where: Pong, Bang Lamung District, Chon Buri, Thailand
Getting There: Catch a bus to Pattaya from Bangkok city or Suvarnabhumi International airport.
Budget: Early bird tickets are sold out but they still have the second phase for $150.
QUEST MUSIC FESTIVAL
Appropriately named for its somewhat difficult to find location, Quest Music Festival is another one of Asia’s top music festivals and offers a great chance to check out some of Vietnam’s natural beauty whilst you are at it. Quest features a heady mix of music, cinema, art installations and team activities. What’s on the list for this year? Matt Montez, Say Yes Dog, Christ Lister, Time Thug — a never ending list of rock, ska, punk, electronic, jazz, indie…
Where: Son Tinh Camp – Ba Vi
Getting There: Catch a bus from Hanoi to Son Tinh camp
Budget: Just $50 for 3 days, with another $20 or so for accommodation.
Set in Koh Tao, a stunning little island in Thailand, the Experience Festival is the best way to bring in the New Year! Being a psytance festival, it has crazy décor all over, right from jellyfish and other magical creatures to a stunning little UV garden. If you get tired of dancing in the sun, there are blissful water sprinklers that come on in the mornings to revitalise many a flagging raver. Start you year with a beautiful sunrise surrounded by poi, hula hoop and fire dancers, chill vibes and accessible party enhancers.
Where: Koh Tao, Thailand
When: New Years
Getting There: Take a boat to Koh Tao
Budget: Roughly $100. It is a very busy time of the year so it is advisable to book tickets in advance.
Remember amigos, before you hit the road in search of the ultimate Asian music festival, get your ass covered with some insurance. I use World Nomads Travel Insurance as they’re easy to use, professional and relatively affordable. They may also let you buy or extend a policy once you’ve started your trip and are already abroad which is super handy.
If you don’t want to stay at camps or on festival property you can always rent out a great Airbnb place all to yourself and your amigos.
So pack up and get ready to kill it in some of the finest music festivals in Asia this year!
Keen to check out even more kick ass Asian music festivals? Check out my amigos guide to the Rainforest Festival in Malaysia.
About the Author: Rhea Dhanbhoora
Rhea Dhanbhoora is an avid traveler and Music Festivals enthusiast from Mumbai, India. She currently edits, conceptualises, manages and writes for the features department for The Afternoon DC and heads the team from HillRoad Media. She also manages the team that works on social media content for Taj Hotels and Resorts.