Water Puppet Theater, Hanoi
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!
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.
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