Chiang Mai visitors looking for a cultural experience combined with good food can enjoy a Khantoke dinner trying Lanna food while watching traditional Lanna dances. Traditional Lanna cuisine differs from Central and Southern Thai food in the absence of sugar and coconut milk as ingredients.
History of Khantoke dinner
Khantoke dinner is named after the table it is served on, traditionally the table used for dinner in Lanna, a Kingdom that ruled over North Thailand from the end of the 13th century until the 18th century. A Khantoke is a small round wooden table, adorned with carvings and finished with lacquer. In the old days wealthy families had their Khantoke tables decorated with gold. Khantoke dinners were held for special occasions as festivals and weddings, or ordination of a son into monkhood.
Before entering the large dining room visitors take off their shoes and leave them at the reception.
In the old days people would sit on the floor around the Khantoke table. Today there is a choice of sitting on a cushion on the floor near the stage or at a regular table a little farther away from the stage.
The set menu consists of sticky rice kept warm in a bamboo basket and several main dishes in small bowls as curries, friend chicken, vegetables, pork, clear soup, pork skin and chilly dips.
Traditionally the food was eaten with the fingers. A piece of sticky rice was dipped into one of the main dishes that were shared by all those dining. Although anyone cat eat with his fingers, nowadays forks, knives and spoons are supplied. The bowls with the main dishes are regularly refilled. Although not part of Lanna dining, afterwards there is a choice of tea or coffee.
Towards the end of dinner staff take a photo of every diner with two girls in traditional, colorful costume. If you like the photo, you can buy it at 100 Baht.
Traditional Lanna dances
Soon after dinner has been served the show starts off with a performance of local music played on traditional instruments. After the music young girls wearing beautiful colorful costumes moving gracefully and slowly perform a number of traditional Lanna dances like the fingernail dance, candle dance and circle dance. Men perform dances at a much quicker pace like the sword dance and the martial art dance. At the end of the performances diners can join in and try a Lanna dance.
Khantoke dinner with Lanna dance performances are held at the Old Chiang Mai Cultural Center on Thipanet road South of the old center of Chiang Mai.
Opening hours & prices
Dinners are held daily from 7 pm until 9.30 pm. The rate is 650 Baht per person, excluding drinks.