What do you get when you mix elephants, exquisite costumes, graceful
Thai dancers, powerful Thai boxers and the charm of traditional
Thai music? The result is an action packed, culture stacked evening
The Phuket Orchid Garden and Thai Village is located in the Samkong
district on the outsskirts of Phuket Town. Tucked away from the
hustle and bustle of this busy neighbourhood, the Phuket Orchid
Garden and Thai Village is set in a peaceful lakeside location and
really is a one stop shop for anyone who is intrigued by the mystique
of ancient Thai culture.
Upon arrival each guest is greeted with the charming, traditional
Thai greeting, the wai and is given a nice cool drink. Before getting
involved with the show, visitors may like to take a stroll around
the stunning orchid garden. As its name suggests, the Phuket Orchid
Garden has a striking plantation of exotic orchids that covers an
area of more than 8000 square meters. The gardeners at the Orchid
Garden suggest that their crop contains varieties of orchids that
are unique to this area.
It's showtime and after being escorted to your seat in the
auditorium you are suddenly taken back to the days of yesteryear
when houses were made of bamboo and thatched roofing and life was
a little slower, a little easier. The stage is decorated to resemble
a traditional Thai village and as you examine this scene, suddenly
the lights are dimmed and the drumming of the thaporn, a type of
Thai drum, carries you further into the past.
The dancers glide onto the stage dressed in the most elaborate
of costumes, adorned with head pieces made of sparkling gold and
coloured stones. They move slowly and obediently to the rhythm of
the music played by the ranat, which is similar to a xylophone,
the phee, a Thai flute, and the ching, small cymbals. The dancers
are holding candles and although they are lit and melting, the ladies
are well trained in how not to get burned. This dance is called
the Fonteeun, or candlelight dance and originated in Chiang Mai,
in northern Thailand, centuries ago.
While the show exhibits dances from all over the Kingdom, it specializes
in the choreography of the South. Perhaps the most well-known of
these southern dances is the Norah, or bird dance. The dancers are
dressed in costumes that resemble birds and use lum fonleb, long
curved attachments worn on the fingers, to weave dazzling patterns
in the air.
Interspersed between dances are exhibits of other ancient cultural
rites such as long pole and club fighting, sword fighting and, of
course, the spectacles of Thai boxing. These short demonstrations
are very entertaining and the actors display great physical strength
Once the show finishes you are brought back to the present in a
big, four-legged way. The elephants are one of the most popular
attractions of the village. During a short display you will watch
these large, majestic animals perform everything from dancing to
kicking footballs and scoring too!
This afternoon show gives a well-rounded exhibition of the essence
of Thai cultural heritage. In addition, a more in-depth examination
of one of Thailand's most respected festivals, Loy Krathong,
is available every night.
Loy Krathong is arguably Thailand's most aesthetically vibrant
festival. Traditionally celebrated during the twelfth lunar month,
Loy Krathong is performed as an act of worship to the goddess of
water. It is believed that by floating a krathong, a decorative
segment of a banana trunk, bad luck is carried away and good fortune
will return. Annually, the cities of Chaing Mai and Sukhothai are
flooded with visitors who come from all parts of Thailand and the
world, to take part in this colourful and respected religious rite.
Now the event is staged nightly at the Phuket Thai Village, so visitors
to Thailand can participate in the Loy Krathong ceremony no matter
what the season.
The evening is organized especially for groups and includes a sumptuous
buffet of Thai food or a set menu of fresh Phuket seafood. While
visitors enjoy their meals, they are entertained by performances
of Thai dancing and other cultural demonstrations, notably the Ancient
War Drum procession and the very active Bamboo dance. The entertainment
continues with the Five Stone dance, the Tin Mine dance and the
Sukhothai dance, before the most important part of the evening,
Literally, loy krathong means to "float a krathong".
Krathongs are made of a segment of a banana trunk that is wrapped
in glossy banana leaves and decorated with flowers. Essential for
all krathongs is the inclusion of one candle and three sticks of
incense. The candle represents the spirit while the three sticks
of incense are in honour of Phrapoot; Buddha, Phratum; the teachings
of Buddha and Phrasong; the Monks. The act of making a krathong
and floating it in a waterway was begun in Sukhothai by Nang Noppamus,
a devout Buddhist girl who intended to apologize to Mae Nahm, the
river goddess, for her peoples' ill treatment of the river.
She performed her act outside the royal palace and received much
attention from King Ram Khampang who cherished religious ceremony.
Today Loy Krathong celebrations are an extravaganza of colourful
dance, music and culture. The Phuket Thai Village captures the excitement
of the festival by using a large cast to stir the hearts of the
audience. Prior to floating the krathongs, a procession consisting
of the whole cast, advances toward the lake. Leading the group is
Nang Noppamus who sits in an over-sized lotus flower carried by
her followers. Musicians play a rhythmic tune during the procession
and a woman's voice can be heard singing a haunting chant.
Participants light the candle and incense before offering a prayer
and softly placing the krathong in the water. The image of hundreds
of krathongs floating upon a lake is mesmerizing and leaves you
with a feeling of spiritual prosperity for doing your own part in
honouring the water goddess.
The decision to stage Loy Krathong every night of the week is admittedly
unusual, but at least visitors to Phuket can witness the event without
the crowds of devotees pushing them from all sides. Loy Krathong
at the Thai village is best enjoyed with a larger group but can
be arranged for groups as small as ten people. Group rates start
at THB 250 ++ per person and vary according to the group size and
the desired cuisine. Beautifully decorated krathongs are available
for purchase at the site of the ceremony. The only problem is that
you will probably want to keep the one you buy.
For more information about how you can entertain your incentive
group with a cultural performance or Loy Krathong night, contact
the Phuket Orchid Garden and Thai Village, Tel: 66(0)76 214 860-61,
Fax: 66(0)76 214 859.