When is Fruit Winter Festival 2019 taking place?
The next FWF is January 15-24, 2019 and it will be the 6th annual FWF! There will be a 6-Day Pre-Festival Retreat as well, from January 10-15.
Where does the festival take place?
FWF takes place annually in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Can the public festival sell out?
No, it is wide open! The festival of public meetups is open to all and there is no limit on the number of people who can attend (except for the rock climbing meetup). We ask that you join the Facebook event for each meetup and donate in advance. Learn more about the public meetups here!
How do I join FWF?
To view and join the events, check out the Meetups page on this website. All the meetups will be scheduled as Facebook events, so we recommend that everyone attending Fruit Winter Festival join the Facebook Group, where we will post the events. This is also our main hub of communication before, during, and after FWF.
How much does Fruit Winter Fest cost?
Fruit Winter Fest is a donation-based festival. We ask that meetup attendees make a donation in advance or at the event. We want everyone to come and enjoy the festival, so feel free to contribute whatever amount feels good for you. No amount is too little or too much.
Do I need a visa?
Citizens of the USA, EU and a variety of other countries are allotted a 30-day visa upon their arrival in Thailand without prior approval as long as you are traveling with a valid passport. Learn more about Thai visa laws in your country here. There is a good blog post about how to extend a 30 day to a 60 day visa while in Chiang Mai here.
Where do you recommend flying into?
We prefer to fly directly into the Chiang Mai international airport, however some people fly to Bankok and then take a local flight, train, or bus to Chiang Mai.
Do I need a return ticket?
It is recommended that you book a return ticket to avoid potential customs issues, however this seems to be a rare occasion. If you have further questions, please speak to your local Thai consulate.
What is the local Thai currency and exchange rate?
Currency in Thailand is the Thai Baht and 33 baht is roughly $1 USD. Use this calculator to convert your local currency to the Thai Baht.
Should I exchange currency before I go?
You can. We tend to just bring some cash in USD, and plan to take out local Thai Baht upon landing at the airport. There are also lots of ATMs to get local currency out of in the city, as well as places to exchange foreign currency.
Can I withdraw money from ATMs?
Yes, there are ATMs available throughout the old city. Check with your bank in advance to learn more about foreign transaction fees.
Should I bring a credit card with me?
Yes, I think having a credit card as a backup is a good idea, though we tend to use cash (Thai Baht) to pay for everything. Check with your bank in advance to learn more about foreign transaction fees.
Is Thailand safe?
Chiang Mai is considered to be an extremely safe city. A small story from festival creator, Conor McMillen:
“After purchasing a haul of fruit from a local vendor during a stop on the 80K to the caves and hot springs, I found myself minutes later being approached by a man getting off his motor bike. As he neared me, smiling and holding out a handful of cash, I realized that it was the amiable man that had sold me my pineapple, coming to give me my change that I had forgotten.
This is a good representation of Thai culture in Chiang Mai, of which I have heard numerous accounts. From backpacks being picked up and held by a store workers, wallets returned to their distressed foreign owners and generous interactions in general, the trend from the Thais of Chiang Mai seems to be respect and kindness.”
All this being said, it is still important to travel with care and be aware of your surroundings.
Where can I stay?
There are a ton of guest houses and hostels in Chiang Mai. We recommend staying somewhere within the old city, or just outside, ideally near the markets or the park. Check out some recommended accommodations here.
You can also check out Airbnb.com. If you’ve never used it before, you can get $40 off by signing up via this link, and we get $20 off our next booking as well.
Are children welcomed to attend the public meetups?
Yes! Children are so welcomed. We’ve had a nice group of families with young children the last couple years and are excited for it to keep expanding! The only adult-only meetup is the Authentic Relating games. See the Facebook event for more details.
Where can I get food?
There is such an abundance of delicious, healthy food in Chiang Mai. We recommend checking out some of the open markets in and around the old city such as Muang Mai, Chiang Mai Gate and Sompet, all of which we have marked with greater detail on the Fruit Winter Google map. There is also no shortage of restaurants where you can get smoothies, salads and tons of plant-based options.
How do we get around?
You can travel by foot, bicycle, tsongtao (covered red trucks that function as collective taxis), tuktuk (three-wheeled motorized vehicle, similar to a golf cart), or motorbike.
Everything within the old city is walkable. For all meetups taking place outside of the old city, tsongtao transportation can be arranged.
If you are interested in renting a bicycle, you can either bring or rent one. There are a number of rental shops inside the old city and quite a few on Ratchapakhinai Road. Experience with city bike riding is highly recommended.
Tsongtao’s are akin to a Thai bus system. They are open air trucks that can be hailed and rode throughout the old city and beyond for affordable rates.
Tuktuks are three-wheeled motorcycle taxis that comfortably accommodate up to three passengers. They are quicker and a bit more expensive than riding a tsongtao.
Motorbikes are also available to rent.
You can also get around using Grab. See further down on this page for more info on this app, which is like Uber and Lyft.
Do I need a bicycle?
Bikes may be a fun or preferred way to get around, but they are by no means a requirement. See previous question for more details.
If you have a bicycle and want to bring it, check with your airline to see how much it would cost to bring it. It is free with some airlines, such as Eva Air and others can charge $100 USD or more.
If you do want to rent a bicycle, they vary in quality and price from around $1-$2 USD per day.
How much should I expect to spend?
You will likely spend anywhere from $10-$50 USD per day.
Shared rooms start around $4 per person per night and eating fresh from the markets can be as low as $6 per day. Going up from there, single rooms start around $8 or you can spend much more, depending on how fancy the accommodations you are looking for. Eating out may cost anywhere from $5-$15. You may also wish to engage in other activities that require money for transportation, service fees, entrance fees, etc..
What other activities do you recommend in Chiang Mai?
Thai massages are amazing and cost around $5 USD, there are a number of vegan restaurants and markets to check out, and just walking around the old city (either by day or night) is a fun activity. Some people enjoy taking classes (massage, cooking, etc.) or getting in on scheduled tours. There is certainly no shortage of things to do in Chiang Mai.
When and where should I buy a plane ticket?
The word on this tends to vary, but one recent study showed 53 days before your departure date to be the prime time to get the most affordable ticket and my experience has supported that. Sometimes people find great last minute deals, but I wouldn’t count on it.
Should I pack anything in particular?
I recommend packing light. I travel with a daypack and a bicycle only and always have everything I need, plus enjoy the comfort of moving around unencumbered by excess baggage.
I recommend packing clothing for both hot and cool weather as it tends to be sunny and warm during the days and can get chilly at night. In Chiang Mai in January the average high temperature is 86 F (30 C) and the average low is 57 F (14 C).
I also recommend packing a waterproof jacket just in case, even though it will be the dry season.
Here are some other items you may find helpful to pack: a bathing suit, a headlamp or flashlight, a bike repair kit, utensils, a water bottle, an eye mask, ear plugs, and a journal and writing implement. Here is a video of what Brittany generally packs when spending a few months in Thailand.
Is there anything I may need that Chiang Mai cannot provide me with?
Nothing comes to mind. We have found that we can buy basically anything we need here. We encourage you to be aware of any specialty items you may need for your unique life, such as a specific medication.
What’s the weather going to be like?
It’s the best time to visit Chiang Mai. It’s the dry season, humidity is low, and there is a very low mosquito population. In Chiang Mai in January the average high temperature is 86 F (30 C) and the average low is 57 F (14 C). You can expect sunny, warm weather. For packing details see previous questions.
What is food like in Thailand?
Food in Thailand is delicious, fresh, abundant and affordable. Chiang Mai is bursting with markets, restaurants and street vendors offering just about every variety of cuisine you could imagine.
The best place to stock up on fruit is at the markets, although street vendors often have bags of prepared items or smoothies to whip up.
The concentration of vegan restaurants in Chiang Mai is unbelievable. It is also possible to get a simple salad or fruit smoothie just about anywhere.
Can you drink the water in Chiang Mai?
We do NOT recommend drinking the tap water in Chiang Mai. There are plenty of places to buy bottled water, such as 711. There are water fill stations with filtered and reverse osmosis water available throughout the city where you can fill up a gallon jug for about 5-cents!
Do I need to know any Thai?
No. Most Thai’s in Chaing Mai know some English and tend to have a friendly, fun attitude towards foreigners. Also, market vendors have calculators to communicate how much something costs as well. That being said, you may enjoy learning a few basics, which you can find in Youtube videos.
Do I need to eat a plant-based diet to attend FWF?
No. FWF is an overall health festival and many of the attendees have found a fruit based vegan diet to be what works best for them. While FWF is a great opportunity to gain inspiration and in taking your health to the next level, you are not required to eat any certain way. You are encouraged to bring whole, plant-based foods to meetups.
Do I need to be physically fit?
No. Some of the meetups may require you to be somewhat active. Biking as a group is often offered as an option to meetup locations but other transportation can always be arranged. Again, this is a festival for everyone, and encourages people from all walks of life to come together in community and learn from one another.
What are the electric plugs like?
In many parts of the world including Thailand electricity runs on 220 v. In the US and a handful of other countries electricity runs on 110 v. Most electrical sockets accommodate the parallel blade input, however a parallel blade input does not ensure that the voltage is compatible.
An iphone, for example can charge on both 220 v and 110 v, but there are some power cords that only accommodate for 110. Do your research and if you are still unsure don’t plug in because you could damage your electronics.
What is the internet like in Chiang Mai?
Different places have varying qualities of internet, but wifi is available nearly everywhere.
Can I use my phone in Chiang Mai?
If you have an unlocked phone you can buy a SIM card, which will give you internet and a local Thai phone number. Check with your carrier before traveling to avoid roaming charges.
You can also use your device at the various hostels, hotels, restaurants, cafes, etc. that you frequent by picking up their wireless signal.
What’s the deal with SIM Cards?
If you have an unlocked cell phone, we recommend buying a Thai SIM card for it at the airport so that you can use it while you are here. There are a variety of kiosks to purchase SIM cards at, and we have found most to be comparable in speed or price. They tend to be about $25-$35 USD for a month of unlimited data and less for less time. Otherwise, using your phone with WiFi is still very helpful.
How accurate is Google Maps in Chiang Mai?
We have found Google Maps to be very convenient and rather accurate for finding our way around the city, and recommend downloading it for your phone if you don’t already have it. For a link to the FWF Google map, which has a lot of helpful locations marked on it, click here.
Does Uber work in Thailand?
Not any more, but Grab does. Grab is similar to Uber and Lyft, both of which no longer operate in Thailand. Grab is a super helpful way to get around the city and to arrive at your precisely desired location. We suggest downloading it and getting it set up in advance, while in your home country, as it’s it is easier than doing it once you are in Thailand, because the app needs to text you a code to confirm your account, which becomes challenging unless you have a new local number with a Thai SIM card.