Kantoke | Dances and Dining

An evening full of Lanna traditions

When in the Northern Rose, the ancient capital of the Lanna kingdom, Chiang Mai, why not take the time to spend a relaxed evening at some of the cities Kantoke restaurants?

It is a good introduction to get a one-timer for the typical Thai way of dancing with the hands, even though the foot movements are equally important. Here you will get the classic dances in a graceful love of beauty that is particularly addressed in the Northern Lanna culture. Once reflecting the beauties of apsorn(apsaras in the Khmer language) the heavenly beauties that danced at the Dusit heaven where the God Indra ruled, now it is a strong local tradition that comes in different versions in the South East Asian countries.

Since Chiang Mai is a crossroads for many cultures you will probably also be presented dances from the hill tribes and maybe shan – minority dances. Kantoke means to sit down and enjoy a meal on a low positioned table, and eat local delicious food like; Gaeng Hangley – tamarind sauced, long-cooked pork curry. Originally from Myanmar/Burma. Dip sauces like Nam prick nom, the green chilli dip. Minced Pork in tomatoes and chilli paste And the regional classic, Kaep Muu – the crispy fried pork skin. The last one is brought back from markets by Thai tourists in huge packages as gifts to friends. Moreover there will be delicious sticky rice served with the main dishes.

The dishes come on a bamboo tray and will be refilled when the relatively small bowls are emptied. So in a way, it is a kind of buffet.

Kantoke Chiang Mai
A Shan Tai danser finishing the performance

The combination of dance and food that are typical for the region, and time concentrated over roughly 2 to 2.5 hours is despite the reputation of kantoke as somewhat of a tourist trap a good idea to watch. It is a fun night out with good friends and family and an easy way to approach the culture of Lanna.

Due to the lack of tourists during the pandemic the famous places like the Old Cultural Centre and Khum Kantoke has been out of business and hard to say when the Kantoke – nights will come back again and where. But if you see the opportunity, yes it is a bit touristic, but hey we are tourists and the dances are as typical as they can be, and the food is yummy.

Shan dance in full action
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