With a rich and diverse cultural heritage, there is no shortage of unique traditional performances to be enjoyed in Southeast Asia, no matter which specific country you plan to focus on.
Starting in Vietnam, the capital of Hanoi has always served as the beating heart of the country’s culture and arts scene. At the Puppet Theatre near Hoan Kiem Lake you can revel in a masterful display of puppeteering in the form of traditional Vietnamese water puppets. The shows are a truly bizarre and unique experience, often telling cultural legends about the country and city.
Traditional Vietnamese water-puppetry in Hanoi.
Another great cultural experience can be found further south, in the former Imperial city of Hue. Here at the Ao Dai Show, the city’s royal heritage can be seen on full display during one of their “Royal Shows” but other traditional performances are also held here, like authentic Vietnamese weddings or Lotus Dances, all featuring performers clad in Ao Dai, the traditional Vietnamese costumes from where the theatre derives its name.
In both of the largest cities in the country, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, there is a lively art scene. Galleries and art shops can be found on almost every block of the city centres, and some wonderful fine arts can be enjoyed here.
For those seeking to leave their guests with a lasting memory of an authentic cultural performance, there is no better place than Garavek Storytelling in Luang Prabang. Set in a small room clad in black drapes, guests are regaled with stories of the city’s past, told in English but in a traditional Laotian style, and set to classic Laotian live music performed by local musicians.
Shadow-puppetry at Cinema Tuk-Tuk.
Meanwhile, at The Centre Culturel et de Cooperation in Vientiane, a wide range of cultural performances are held. From traditional dance and music numbers to cult film screenings, there is something here for any guest interested in local culture. If the uniqueness of Garavek appeals to your client base, then the Shadow Puppet Theatre & Cinema Tuktuk in Champasak will also probably be right up their alley. Breathing new life into the ancient art of shadow puppetry, the performers here retell the Hindu epic of Ramayana in their own special way. There are also screenings of notorious silent and black and white films from the region on some evenings.
Should your guests desire a break from the endless ruins of Angkor Wat and enjoy some culture while sitting down, we recommend introducing them to an Apsara Dance Show while in Siem Reap. The shows are also organized elsewhere in the country, like in the capital, but it’s here in Siem Reap where they are famous worldwide for the art.
An Apsara dance-crew performing their art.
The art scene of Thailand is unsurprisingly centred on Bangkok, given the size of the immense city. Here the theatre of Siam Niramit is an excellent source of performances for your guests. With daily shows combining modern technology like light and smoke effects with traditional Thai stories and themes, the performances here are always greatly enjoyable to all culturally-minded guests. The stories are drawn from Thai history, legends and literature, and are performed by more than 150 performers combining their skills and talents to create incredibly memorable experiences for their spectators.
The productions at Siam Niramit are large and ambitious.
For something more action-packed, but no less culturally significant, book seats for your guests at a Muay Thai tournament, the most popular sport in the country. Tournaments and matches are held in every city in the country, but Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Ko Samui are notable stand-outs.
Brimming with diverse and rich cultures, South East Asia is the perfect destination for any tour group focused on memorable and unique art performances. Whether it’s dance, music, storytelling or fine arts, there is much potential here for crafting a one-of-a-kind art journey.