This 1.5-hour, lavishly produced show should be on the itinerary for anyone coming to Bangkok that wants to combine a bit of Thai history, understanding and knockout entertainment. The production at Siam Niramit, which features hundreds of well-trained and elaborately costumed dancers and performers, takes place on a Guinness Book of World Records gigantic stage and serves up some intricately designed stage sets and enhanced special effects.
Dancers at Siam Niramit — Photo courtesy of Siam Niramit
The show is divided into three acts, one which takes the audience back in history, bringing to life different Thai regions and periods such as the North's Lanna Kingdom, the Northeast's Khmer civilization and the ancient capital of old Siam - Ayutthaya - in the central area.
The second part is called "Journey Beyond Imagination" and describes the laws of karma, which unites Thais in a common religious belief and in their need to make merit and do good deeds for future incarnations. This act moves from Fiery Hell, where the stage set is flaming red and dancers act out a torturous existence, onto the Mystical Forest of Himapaan, reputed to exist between earth and heaven and then finally an angel-filled blissful Heaven. It's presided over by Lord Indra, who views it all from Mount Phrasumera, considered to be the center of the universe.
"All the world's a stage" at Siam Niramit — Photo courtesy of Siam Niramit
In the final act, Siam Niramit takes you on a journey through festivals, which are seen as opportunities to make merit. Featured here are some of Thailand's most important festivals, such as Loy Krathong, in which people float traditional krathong offerings, made of banana leaves, flowers and candles.
You'll also learn about Khao Pansaa, the Buddhist Rains retreat, celebrated especially royally in the Northeast, where giant wax candles are paraded in elaborate processions. This festival celebrates the time when the Buddhist monks sequester themselves away for the rainy season.
The costumes, stage sets, choreography and entire production are suitable for the whole family and really quite a feat of theatrics. And all of the performers seem to embrace their roles wholeheartedly.
In addition to the lavish show, there are four replicas of traditional northern, northeastern, central and southern Thai villages to wander through and learn from, where visitors can try making traditional Thai handicrafts or sweets. There are also opportunities for elephant rides, traditional Thai massage and plenty of souvenir shops with items from all four regions of Thailand.
There is a buffet dinner that takes place an hour and a half before the show, and seemingly no stone is left unturned at this excellent recreation of just about everything Thai.