Water Puppet Theater, Hanoi

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  • Water Puppet Theater
    by Willettsworld
  • Water Puppet Theater
    by Willettsworld
  • Water Puppet Theater
    by Willettsworld
  • King_Golo's Profile Photo

    Water Puppet Theater: Legends and tales

    by King_Golo Updated Sep 29, 2013

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Water puppets in action
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    While it may seem a tourist thing, water puppet theater plays are a traditional Vietnamese art. During the rainy seasons, when the rice paddies were flooded and every afternoon brought a tropical rain shower, people created this kind of theater which is actually played in the water. The puppets are moved with long wooden sticks and show typical scenes from rural Vietnam as well as the most common legends - for instance the one about Hoan Kiem Lake. Nowadays, this sort of theater is dying out, were it not for Hanoi's Water Puppet Theater and a few other companies. It is very popular with tourists and nearly every visitor of Hanoi goes there. Unfortunately, in the countryside the tradition is not as vital anymore and it's hard to find puppet players.
    Hanoi's Water Puppet Theatre is generally very crowded. Therefore, each day four shows are staged. In order to see best, choose a seat in the front rows. From behind it sometimes may be hard to see anything at all as nearly everybody takes pictures and you might have to watch the show through arms with video cameras, mobile phones and the like!

    Here's a list of the contents of a show:

    1. Raising the festival flag
    2. The Narrator
    3. Dragon Dance
    4. On a Buffalo with a Flute
    5. Agriculture
    6. Catching Frogs
    7. Rearing Ducks and catching Foxes
    8. Fishing
    9. Harvest Festival
    10. Lion Dance
    11. Phoenix Dance
    12. Legend of the Restored Sword
    13. Children playing in the Water
    14. Boat Racing
    15. Unicorns playing with a Ball
    16. Fairy Dance
    17. Dance of the four holy Animals (Unicorn, Dragon, Tortoise, Phoenix)

    Dress Code: none

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    Water Puppet Theater: A VIETNAMESE EXPERIENCE - MUA ROI NUOC

    by Sininen Updated Apr 4, 2011

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

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    I found the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre without any problems and got a ticket for the 15.15 show, $3, which included a cassette of the show's music. I went back to my room and had a shower and changed clothes before I left to see the water puppets. My seat was on the front row, so I was able to take good photos. I didn't know what to expect from the show, but it was fantastic. I laughed out loud many times and truly enjoyed it very much. The show consisted of 17 short stories accompanied by Vietnamese music, which was not only suitable for the show, but also magical. The orchestra played some instruments, which I have never seen before. I felt that the show was over too soon and could have watched the puppets for another 75 minutes.

    Dress Code: Just wear casual clothes and you'll be ok.

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  • Willettsworld's Profile Photo

    Water Puppet Theater: A must do thing in the evening

    by Willettsworld Written May 15, 2010

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    Water puppetry is a tradition that dates back as far as the 11th century when it originated in the villages of the Red River Delta area of northern Vietnam. The puppets are made out of wood and then lacquered and the shows are performed in a waist-deep pool. A large rod supports the puppet under the water and is used by the puppeteers, who are normally hidden behind a screen, to control them. Thus the puppets appear to be moving over the water.

    The puppets "act" out various Vietnamese folklores and folk tales that have been passed down the generations with stories such as harvesting, fishing and of festivals. A traditional Vietnamese orchestra provides background music accompaniment. It's a fantastic show which you simply have to come and witness as there's nothing like it. I was lucky enough to get front row seats and so really enjoyed it, except that you can get wet sitting so close to the pool!

    Performances start at 15:30, 17:00, 18:30, 20:00 & 21:15 and tickets cost either 40,000 VND or 60,000 VND, depending on where you sit. You can book these at the theatre's booking office. You can even buy the puppets from some nearby shops, but make sure you haggle the price down!

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  • gypsysoul73's Profile Photo

    Water Puppet Theater: What water puppet theater?

    by gypsysoul73 Updated Jun 29, 2006
    Water puppets

    We skipped this, none of my friends wanted to go and even made fun of me for wanting to check it out. I figured it wouldn't take up too much of our time and would be a nice way to immerse ourselves in typical Vietnamese culture, but it was a no go.

    There were some other tourists who we travelled to Halong Bay with who poked fun at it, having gone themselves. This did little to help my cause. hehe So sorry, I have nothing to contribute about the water puppet theatre. Maybe next time!

    I did, however, take a picture of the water puppets being sold in the Temple of Literature.

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    Thang Long Water Puppet Theater: Water Puppets

    by Blatherwick Written Feb 21, 2006

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Water Puppet Stage
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    If you want to gain only one piece of cultural background in Vietnam, go see the water puppets. Water puppetry developed over a thousand years ago in the Red River Delta. Puppeteers use bamboo poles to extend their puppets from behind the proscenium and up through the surface of a small pond that forms the stage. The stories are about daily life in the countryside and ancient tales such as the legend of Hoan Kiem Lake.

    Shows are at 5:15, 6:30, and 8pm daily. First class seats cost 40,000d which allows you to sit within the first five rows and gets you a free CD of the music. The other seats are 20,000d.Get there early though as tours often make this a stop and they already have tickets.

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  • Sininen's Profile Photo

    Water Puppet Theater: MUA ROI NUOC part 2

    by Sininen Written Feb 17, 2006

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    Try to get seats as close to the stage as possible. I sat in the front row and had an excellent view and great possibilities to take photos as well. I got a few splashes of water on my clothes during the show, but who cares.

    Of the 17 short shows I'd like to mention here:
    The Dragon Dance which was great fun
    Boat racing, another truly funny one
    Legend of the Restored Sword, an interesting legend
    Harvest festival which was about a native boy returning home
    Unicorns playing with ball

    They all were really great so it is difficult to choose just one. You will have to go and see it!

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  • myspices's Profile Photo

    Thang Long Water Puppet Theater: Dancing dolls in a pool of water

    by myspices Updated Feb 7, 2006

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    fairy waterpuppets dancing gracefully in the water
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    Vietnamese water puppets show is one of its kind. It is a "must do" in Hanoi. It's musical and fun to watch eventhough you do not understand what the song is all about as it is done in Vietnamese which brings out the authenticity of it.
    There will be a stage with a pool of water where the handmade wooden puppets, coated with waterproof paint, dance with the music and song serenaded by a group of musicians at the left hand side of the stage. The stories and dances depict the cultures and history of Vietnam. The movements and gestures protrayed by the puppets in the water look lively and funny. There are several preludes in the programme. Each prelude has its distinctiveness. Believe me, even you don't get what the song is all about, somehow, the figurines will give you a sense of the storyline. Enjoy!

    Note : Book tickets early as weekends are usually packed.

    Dress Code: Go as you are. Be comfortable.

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  • akikonomu's Profile Photo

    Water Puppet Theater: Marionettes

    by akikonomu Written Aug 8, 2005

    Water puppetry is a famous form of entertainment of North Vietnam and originated from farmers starting their own form of entertainment during the monsoon seasons where flooding is common.

    The puppets are manipulated with strings and rods submerged under a pool of water. Accompanying singers and musicians add to the colour of the live play.

    Dress Code: None at point of visit

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  • imstress's Profile Photo

    Water Puppet Show: Water Puppet Show

    by imstress Updated Jun 15, 2005

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Water Puppet Show

    The last puppet show starts at 8pm and ticket has to be purchased by 7.30pm.

    If you wish to take pics, buy the 1st class ticket for 40,000 VND. The gift includes a CD of the tunes played during the show.

    Take the fan as a souvenier and a broucher after you climb the steps to the theater. It will tell you every scence of the show.

    The show is in Vietnamese so you will have to just see the action of the puppet and listen to the singing and musicians that are performing live on the extreme left of the stage.

    I thought it would be quite boring to listen to people singing in a foreign language and see just some puppets moves.

    But when I was there, it was so entertaining and well worth the 40,000 VND that I have paid (2nd row seats).

    Dress Code: causal

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  • bpacker's Profile Photo

    Water Puppet Theater: Animated Water Play

    by bpacker Updated Jan 19, 2005

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    Water Puppets

    Now, if you're thinking that a Sesame Street Veteran like yourself can afford to give this a miss, you're likely to kick yourself in the butt. Yes pal, this ain't no Jim-Henson esque puppetry stuff on telly. Nope, it's pure animated viagra on water. And best of all, it's accompanied by a live soundtrack.

    Listen to how a "Dan Bau" ( string instrument ) is plucked for the mew of a cat or how a "Sao" ( wind instrument ) is blown to imitate the cries of a bird. Quite fascinating really.
    As for puppeteers, they don't breathe underwater in snorkels but stand cleverly behind a faux temple.For your entertainment sake, those chaps stand waist deep in cold, air-conditioned water , giving life to the puppets.
    So are you game? Click here for more pictures.

    Tip
    1)Go for the first class tickets. You'll get a better view. The cost is 40,000D for seats at the front+CD recording of music played.
    2)Phan Thai hotel does the booking free for you!
    3)Three shows a day at 5.15 pm, 6.30 pm and 8 pm Counter closes at 6.45 pm to 7.30 pm

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  • muddybok's Profile Photo

    Water Puppet Theater: Thang Long Water Puppet Theater

    by muddybok Updated Dec 1, 2004

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Water Puppet Theater

    The Thang Long Water Puppet Theater group has been presented in various international festivals and it really strikes the international puppetry arena.

    The following are some of the short folklore and mythical presentation during my visit.
    1) Dragon Dance: 4 dragon dancing on the water surface & spit fires
    2) Boy on Buffalo with flute
    3) Agriculture
    4) Rearing Ducks
    5) Fishing scene
    6) Harvest Festival
    7) Lion Dance
    8) Phoenix Dance
    9) King Le Loi – Legend of the Restored Sword
    10) Boat Racing
    11) Unicorns
    12) Fairy Dance (Highlight – As shown on banner)
    13) Dance of 4 Holy Animals (Dragon, Phoenix, Lion & Unicorn)

    Some of these short plays (esp. the Rearing Duck, Fishing & Phoenix Dance) are very funny and I enjoyed the show very much.

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  • muddybok's Profile Photo

    Water Puppet Theater: Water Puppet Theater

    by muddybok Written Nov 1, 2004

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    Water Puppet Theater

    Tired of drinking and shopping? For a change, Water Puppet Theater is a great place to visit at night.

    The art of water puppetry is unique to Vietnam. The puppets are made of wood and really do dance on water. The shows feature traditional Vietnamese music and depict folklore, myth and it normally last about an hour.

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  • Audrey118's Profile Photo

    Water Puppet Theater: The puppeteers

    by Audrey118 Written Sep 3, 2004

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    the puppeteers bidding goodnight

    The puppeteers hid behind the screen where they wooden puppets with long bamboo. Imagine standing in water for an hour each performance (and there are several shows daily!!). The pupeteers actually stand chest-deep in water!!! and they must have very very strong hands to manouver those sticks!!!

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    Water Puppet Theater: music to accompany the water puppets

    by Audrey118 Written Sep 3, 2004

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    The highlight of the accompanying musician was the lady who played skillfully the Single Stringed Monochord instrument. It is just amazing how single string played varying sounds and its sustain and vibration!!!
    The drums also lent wonderful sound, creating the tempo. There was also ancient-style guitars which we had earlier seen being sold in shops around the Old Quarters.

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  • Audrey118's Profile Photo

    Water Puppet Theater: music to accompany the water puppets

    by Audrey118 Written Sep 3, 2004

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The highlight of the accompanying musician was the lady who played skillfully the Single Stringed Monochord instrument. It is just amazing how single string played varying sounds and its sustain and vibration!!!
    The drums also lent wonderful sound, creating the tempo. There was also ancient-style guitars which we had earlier seen being sold in shops around the Old Quarters.

    Was this review helpful?

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