by Kristie Rodgers
The Phuket FantaSea Show – The Ultimate Cultural Theme Park
Modern Thailand is a melting pot of cultures and while it may have adopted many foreign pursuits, ranging from Hollywood movies to karaoke bars, traditional forms of entertainment still flourish.
Classical khon dance dramas still survive and are showcased through cultural programs for visitors. A large number of Thai people still nurture a passion for the popular muay thai.
A sense of sanuk (fun) pervades most activities on the beaches and islands of Thailand, even during solemn religious festivals. Indulging in local passions is essential to understanding and enjoying life here, whether it be live music at a bar, a colorful temple fair, the acrobatic takraw game, or watching the latest Thai blockbuster film.
Details of major events and festivals taking place throughout the country are provided in booklets available at TAT offices. Thailand’s leading English-language listings and features magazine, Big Chilli, is a usefulsource for events in the capital as well as in the rest of the country.
Other Bangkok-based magazines such as BK Magazine and Bangkok Recorder are also useful guides to the city. The major resort areas, Hua Hin, Ko Samui, Krabi, Pattaya, and Phuket, also produce a number of free monthly listings magazines. Free maps, marked with entertainment venues, are available at airports and at big resorts. Even lesser developed islands such as Ko Phangan and Ko Tao produce a few useful maps.
Big hotels and travel agents can book tickets for cultural shows and sports events. Alternatively, visitors can buy tickets directly from venues or through websites offering ticketing services for concerts and other performances.
CONCERTS, EXHIBITIONS, AND MODERN THEATER
Thailand’s major concert and exhibition halls are located in Bangkok. The state-of-the-art Thailand Cultural Center has excellent facilities and attracts big international names. The German Goethe-Institut and the Alliance Française host good exhibitions and concerts, and top stars frequently perform in the ballrooms of upscale hotels.
The Patravadi Theater is usually the venue for dramatic musicals based on classical tales – these are easily understood by non-Thais.
The Phuket FantaSea has an elaborate nightly performance entitled Fantasy of a Kingdom which takes visitors through different eras of Thai history through a stunning audio-visual show.