Ignoring the usual ways of conveying historical culture, such as books, speeches, or videos, Cambodia uses a traditional dance known as the Apsara Dance. This article will cover this “mysterious” dance and why the Cambodia holiday packages always recommend it to their visitors. Keep on reading before exploring this enchanting country of temples!

What Is Apsara Performance In Siem Reap?

cambodia holiday packages
Apsara dancers in traditional costumes with gold-plated jewelry (Source: Triple K Angkor)

Apsara dance, or Robam Tep Apsara, is a classical Khmer dance often performed in the Royal Ballet of Cambodia. It was created between the 6th and 7th centuries and is inspired by the movement of water and clouds in Hindu and Buddhist mythology. The performers, usually women, often wear tight, traditional costumes that accentuate their curves and graceful movements, elaborately decorated hats, and striking gold-plated jewelry. The dance moves frequently tell a story of classical mythology or religion.

Based on style and technique, Apsara Dance is divided into 4 different types:

Types of DanceMovementsCostumesAim for
ClassicalSlow with complex hand gesturesTraditional KhmerTell about the ancient Angkor period
FolkAgile, dynamic, and full of energyNot too fussy, often close to rural colorsDepict the everyday scenes of rural Cambodia in celebrations, such as the Harvest and the Romantic Fishing Dance
Shadow puppet theaterControl puppets and project their shadows on a large white screen There are two types:
● Sbek Thom: tells stories from Reamker, a popular epic poem
● Sbeik Touch: tells heroic stories that include both combat and emotion
Lakhon KholLike ballroom dancing with complex movements and techniquesPerform with a mask made from a variety of materials with high detailDepicting the story from Reamker, there are battle scenes that usually last several hours

Why Should You See the Apsara Dance?

Robam Tep Apsara is considered one of Cambodia’s icons and is offered as part of Cambodia holiday packages. Its movements are also depicted on the walls of Angkor Wat temple. Dance is a way that Cambodians convey their history, culture, and desires to viewers and the gods. Through their dance steps, their messages will be passed down from generation to generation, not only in a traditional written way but also in spirit, engraved deeply into the minds of every person in this land.

By recreating or telling stories with the Apsara dance, visitors can witness heroic historical stories, legends associated with this land, their protective gods, etc., most vividly, making them easiest to understand and remember. Furthermore, dance songs related to the gods all carry the message of praying for a prosperous life, happiness, a good harvest, or, in short, good things in life. These are all good things that tourists can pray for and wish for together to experience spiritual or healing tourism.

How Is The Show Performed?

Despite their different purposes, the stages of each genre also have a main character and a group of supporting dancers. The movements are sometimes fast and sometimes slow but delicate and precise to exude the dancer’s beauty and convey the content to the audience.

cambodia holiday packages
Gesture depicting Naga snake – mount of god Vishnu (Source: The Press Democrat)

The curves of the arms and body are always emphasized because they each have their meaning. Through more than 1,500 hand gestures, every moment can be about worshiping gods and spirits, expressing natural objects or legends in Buddhism and Hinduism. Such as:

  • Fingers curved upwards: Today
  • Arms placed across chest: Happiness
  • Left hand facing back, right hand clasped in front of chest with 3 fingers pointing up, index finger touching thumb: Naga snake – mount of god Vishnu.
  • Hand pointing up: Death.
  • Hand facing down: Life
  • The hand moves up and down rapidly: 4 stages of human life: Birth – Adulthood – Illness, and Death.

In addition, facial expressions also contribute to the success of the dance. Usually, dancers do not reveal too many expressions. If they do, they must quickly quench their thirst and not say a word so the audience can better remember the story.

Things You Can Experience

Apsara Terrace

cambodia holiday packages
A segment of Aspara’s performance at Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor (Source: Internet)
  • Address: Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor, 1 Vithei Charles de Gaulle, Khum Svay Dangkum
  • Opening Hours: Dinner from 7:00 p.m.; Apsara Show from 7:40 p.m
  • Booking: (+855) 63 963 888 or bookus.siemreap@ffles.com
  • Price Range: Adult $25; Children under 12 $12.50

Apsara Terrace is a special experience that Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor and any Cambodia holiday packages offer to its guests. They can witness traditional Cambodian dance performances and Khmer martial arts while enjoying Asian-style BBQ dishes. This perfect meal is in the hotel’s outdoor garden. To get your desired spot and not have to wait too long when you arrive, book a table in advance.

Apsara Theatre & Restaurant

  • Address: Wat Bo Road, Street 26, Opposite Angkor Village Hotel
  • Opening Hours: Dinner from 7:30 p.m; Apsara Show on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday
  • Booking: (+855) 99 577 077 or welcome@angkorvillage.com
  • Price Range: from $31

Apsara Theater & Restaurant is located in the Angkor Village Hotel in Wat Bo Village. Through evening programs, the restaurant often introduces the country’s cultural heritage to visitors. The restaurant’s performances usually include three classical dances and two folk dances with traditional music. You can enjoy traditional Khmer dishes and artistic performances.

Koulen Restaurant

cambodia holiday packages
Image of the goddess Mera in the Robam Tep Apsara (Source: Imagely)
  • Address: # 5, Street Sivutha, Mondul 2
  • Opening Hours: 1:00 p.m – 11:00 p.m; Apsara Show from 7:30 p.m
  • Booking: (+855) 92 63 00 90 or (+855) 78 63 00 90
  • Price Range: from $12

Koulen is a local cuisine buffet restaurant where tourists can fully enjoy Cambodian specialties with unique flavors. Some must-haves include Amok curry, Khmer barbecue, salad with pork, and Mok fish. They also have Aspara performances about Cambodian legends for you to enjoy with dinner. The guests can hear about the story of the Queen of Goddesses, Mera, and the hermit Kampu, from whom the Khmers are now considered descendants.

Final Thought

Robam Tep Apsara is a simple dance and a thread that vividly connects pieces of history, tradition, and people’s wishes. Each performance carries a message and lesson that visitors can watch to understand Cambodia’s lives and people better. No matter which type of experience you choose, the Cambodia holiday package will not disappoint you after the curtain falls!

Vietnam Fast Tours

“Spare your time, Florish your travel”, Vietnam Fast Tours provide fully private personalized holiday packages at highgest quality services. As a local tour operator based in Vietnam, the company offers wide range of travel styles from family hoildays, adventure tours, beach vacation, honeymoon tours to luxury spa & wellness holiday to Southeast Asia. With Vietnam Fast Tours, the clients will experience Southeast Asia in their own way.

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