Bangkok has numerous
traditional dances and theatre groups,
which perform throughout the city, even though today they are more popular
among foreign visitors than local people, who have commonly
imports. Bangkok has its own orchestra called "the Bangkok Symphony
Orchestra". Western plays, with known actors from Britain
and America, are put on for short seasons at some international
Thai and international cultural performances, as well as dances,
classical music, ballet and pop concerts, are performed in Thailand
Cultural Centre, Ratchadaphisek Road (telephone: (02) 247
0028); the National Theatre, Rachini Road (telephone:
(02) 224 1342); and Queen
Sirikit National Convention Centre, New Ratchadaphisek Road
(telephone: (02) 229 3000). Tickets are available to be purchased in advance
from the venues or from Thai
Ticketmaster (telephone: (02) 204 9999).
Dance and Music
Sala Rim Naam (telephone: (02) 437 3080 or 6211)
is operated by The Oriental Hotel, located adjacent to the riverside of
the Chao Phraya River, close to the Peninsula Hotel. The traditional music and dance performance
begins at 8.30 pm every night, preceded by dinner at 7.00 pm. A number of
traditional performances are played every day around the city, but this one is said
to be the best in Thailand and attractively set
in a traditional teak pavilion-style restaurant. Baan
Thai (telephone: (02) 258 5403), situated on Soi 32 Sukhumvit
Road, features a music and dance performance set in an old Thai house.
Symphony Orchestra shows in Thailand Cultural Centre
The colourful classical dramas are performed on the
last Friday and Saturday nights of each month at the National
Theatre (see above). The Bangkok Playhouse (telephone: (02) 319 7641), located on Phetchaburi Road, has modern
plays each Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. The Chalerm
Krung Royal Theatre (telephone:
(02) 222 0434), located on Charoen Krung (New Road), has performances of plays and musical dance dramas.
For those intrigued by the little-known ‘ladyboys’
or katoeys of Bangkok, there are 2 shows each night at
the Calypso Cabaret
in the Asia Hotel on Phayathai Road (telephone:
(02) 653 3960/216 8937), which are frequently full.
There are many cinemas in Bangkok but not all have English-language
films. Some show movies with English soundtracks but many have
been changed into Thai. Cinemas that have films in English or with
English subtitles include: EGV Multiplexes and
both with venues around Bangkok; Lido Multiplex,
Rama I Road (telephone: (02) 252 6498), and United Artists,
situated on Soi 24 Sukhumvit Road (telephone: (02) 664 8711) and
Ratchadaphisek Road (telephone: (02) 673 6060).
19th-century Bangkok is featured in the film Anna
and the King (1999). The filming didn't happen in
Bangkok because the government banned the book on which it was based
(see Literary Notes below), including the earlier film, starring
Yul Brynner, claiming that they were historically imprecise.
The James Bond movie, The Man with the
Golden Gun (1974) uses Bangkok and the dazzling Phang
Nha Bay, as a backdrop. A 2001 epic Suriyothai is directed by Prince Chatrichalerm Yukol, representing life
in the Ayutthaya period and the story of the heroic Queen
Suriyothai, with some fabulous battle scenes.
The birthdays of H. M. the King and Queen of Thailand
are extensively celebrated around Bangkok.
Preceding the King’s birthday in December
is the Trooping of the Colour, where the Royal
Guards renew their allegiance to the monarch in a ceremony at
the Royal Plaza. The Royal Barge Procession happens only occasionally recently on the strength of the age of the barges, even though there is a smaller display on the King’s birthday.
The last major procession was in November 1999 to mark the King's 72nd
birthday and in 1996 to celebrate the King’s
50th year on the throne. The processions are
extremely marvellous and the 1999 saw 52 of the tastefully carved
barges rowed by thousands of costumed oarsmen.
prolific writer of the darker side of ex-pat life is Christopher
G Moore who always uses Bangkok as a backdrop. Renowned
are Spirit House (1992) and Asia Hand
(1993) which are the first two books in a series of seven titles
featuring the private eye, Vincent Calvino.
Needham’s, The Big Mango (1999),
shows the story of an ex-GI returning to Bangkok to search for
money that was stolen from a Vietnamese bank.
King and I (1956) is maybe the most well-known movie about
Bangkok and the royal court. The film is based upon the book Anna
and the King of Siam (1944) by Margaret Landon,
which itself is a novel adapted from The English Governess
at the Siamese Court, the memoirs of Anna Leonowens,
telling her time as a governess in the court of King Mongkut.
more historically precise account can be found in The
Kingdom and the People of Siam (1857) by Sir
John Bowring who was in charge of negotiating a treaty
with King Mongkut.
around the royal family, The Bangkok Secret (1990)
by Anthony Grey investigates the mystery surrounding
the murder of King Ananda in 1946 – an event that is often
glossed over and the identity of the assailant is still unknown.
of the most renowned residents of Bangkok was Jim Thompson,
who was in charge of developing a main industry – silk
– and whose home is a Bangkok landmark (see Key Attractions).
He mysteriously disappeared in Malaysia in 1967. William
Warren wrote about his life and disappearance called
Jim Thompson: The Legendary American of Thailand (1976).