Thailand's renowned nightlife offerings were once considered the country's least attractive asset. Although there's no denying a sleazy side remains in some areas, more sophisticated entertainment choices have developed from the girlie bar scene and now draw the couples, families and friends for an evening of glittering entertainment in popular destinations like Phuket.
If you like drama, music and dazzling costumes, Phuket's Las Vegas style stage shows blend traditional Thai culture with glittering sets, cutting edge technology and a cast of thousands to offer an evening of spectacular performance.
Since it launched in 1998, Phuket
FantaSea has become one of the island's biggest tourists attractions. The theatre that stages the impressive show seats 3,000 people and is surrounded by replica temples, monuments and scenes from Thai life, with food stalls, a huge dining hall, games and rides for the children to enjoy. Although all these the add-ons are a little too touristy for most tastes, the "Fantasy of a Kingdom Cultural Illusion Stage Show" is the main draw and definitely lives up to its much publicised grandeur.
The show features a whole host of special effects, plus gravity defying performances of aerial ballet, acrobatics and stunts. It begins with a caravan of elephants marching passed the audience, followed by tumblers and dancers dressed in colourful Thai costumes. This sets the stage for the actors, dancers and acrobats to perform a series of crowd thrilling scenes that swiftly switch between history, fantasy and comedy, building up to a grand finale that sees the entire cast (people and animals) join together for a unique theatrical extravaganza.
Siam Niramit Phuket
Based more on actual Thai history than its fantasy rival, Siam Niramit has become the most famous live cultural performance in Thailand
. The show is performed in Bangkok and Phuket, and in the latter takes place on an enormous stage with over 150 actors wearing more than 500 costumes between them during the show.
Siam Niramit's main performance is known as "A Journey to the Enchanted Kingdom of Thailand" and offers an enthralling experience for audiences of all ages. The non-stop show traces Thailand's history through its 4 main regions: The North, The Northeast (Isaan), The Central Plains and The Southern Seas. The performers also manifest Thailand's spiritual traditions through music and dance, with elaborate sets to represent Fiery Hell, The Mythical Forest and Blissful heaven. The final part of the performance takes the audience on a journey through Thailand's many festivals, with re-enactments of the rituals and dances still played out every year in celebrations such as 'Loy Krathong' (the Festival of Light) and "Songkran" (the Thai New Year Water Festival). Siam Niramit has received rave reviews and several awards for its unique combination of dance, music, circus, opera.
Lady Boy Cabaret
For total entertainment that includes incredible set designs, extravagant costumes and glamorous performances it's hard to beat Phuket's professional Lady Boy cabaret shows. The biggest productions, like Simon Cabaret and Aphrodite, have become famous worldwide and now draw hundreds of appreciative fans every night on Phuket. In fact, the cabaret stars are egularly invited to perform in other locations around the world.
The cabaret performances cover the full range of musical styles, and the performers either mime of sing, often dressed in sparkling outfits, over the top make-up and backed by glittering set designs that take the audience from Brazil to China and back to Thailand in a series of themed showcase performances. The "divas" like to pay tribute to their idols from pop culture, especially icons like Madonna, Whitney and Tina Turner whose styles allow them to make the most of the performances. The "ladies" in the chorus line are strikingly true to their on-stage femininity, and the individual performances are as well rehearsed and polished as any you would see on a stage in the West End or Broadway.
by MAX VEE