Water puppet theatre is a traditional art form in Vietnam, and has existed for more than 1000 years. The Puppeteers use bamboo poles to move their puppets around the small pond that forms the stage. I must admit that they are very skilful, but water puppet theatre never caught my interest. I think it is one of those things that you either love or hate – and I found it pretty boring...
I visited the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre (located at the Hoan Kiem Lake) and paid 40000 dong for a one hour show.
We booked the show through our hotel in Hanoi, the Emotion Hotel. As the evening tickets were sold out, they bought us a late afternoon ticket instead. The puppets were cool and so the accompanying music and narratives. I am even more impressed when learn about the effort behind the scene. Great fun and insightful learning about Vietnamese culture. My kids loved it too. I think it was our lucky charm to watch it in the afternoon as the night show seems to be packed.
The show goes for about 50 mins and costs 100,000 dong. 3.30pm, 5pm, 6.30pm etc. I was buying tickets at 3.25pm and asked for the 5pm show. Ticket seller said it was booked out but she could give me tickets for 3.30pm. This didn't work so I asked for tickets for the following day, 5pm. Also booked out! But as I turned away, she said ok, two tickets for 5pm today! And there were also tickets available at the door.
It is a very entertaining show - the fish are realistic, I loved the water buffalo, and the man climbing the coconut tree, - oh and the dragon that flies away! The puppeteers work from behind a screen in waders, standing in the water. Some of the puppets are up to 15kgs and keep several villages outside of Hanoi in work, as they have to be replaced frequently. Live music.
You absolutely must go to a Water Puppet Show (mua roi nuoc) when you are in Hanoi...At the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre you'll see a traditional art form which is unique to Hanoi and northern Vietnam.The show takes place in a pool of water. The puppeteers are behind a bamboo screen and the controls are under water and out of sight.
So it is better to reserve a ticket in advance.. There are some shows every day from 2pm to 8pm and taking pictures allowed during the show. The price: 60.000vnd ( 3usd) and 100.000 ( 5usd).
The art of water puppetry is unique to the areas surrounding the Red River (Song Hong) and not to be missed when you are in Hanoi. It used to be pratised by rice farmers in flooded paddy fields for centuries, and is handed down from generation to generation. Basically, this involves wooden puppets manipulated by bamboo wooden sticks hidden beneath the water which depict stories of Vietnamese folk tales and daily life. This exciting performance also comes with special effects such as smoke and mini-fireworks, plus traditional music played by old folks. The most famous water puppet show in Hanoi is located at the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre located at the north-east end of Ho Hoan Kiem (Lake of Restored Sword) and the daily showtimes are 5.15 pm, 6.30 pm and 8 pm. The counter closes at 6.45 pm to 7.30 pm. First class seat cost 40,000 VND (about US$2.5) and second class seat cost 20,000 VND (because the seats are so cheap, they can be fully booked fairly quickly so you need to buy them in advance). I wanted to come here to watch the water puppet show, but in the end do not need because the Vietnamese host of my meeting brought the delegates to the Museum of Ethnology and watch the water puppet show from there instead. More photos of the water puppet show are at the travelogue section of this VT page.
The Water Puppet Theater show is one of the highlights of a trip to Hanoi. Thang Long water puppetry is a traditional art form with distinctive culture identity of Vietnam. It came to existence, developed and diversified over a thousand years ago in the Red River Delta. Thanks to unique performances in waist high water, Thang Long water puppetry art is famous and highly appreciated all over the world. The puppeteers at Thang Long Water Puppet Theater have enthralled audiences all over the world.
The performance that I attended lasted for one hour and consisted of 17 short sketches depicting village life, agriculture, harvest, dances of legendary creatures and a re-enactment of the Legend of the Restored Sword of King Le.
It is advisable to reserve your tickets in advance through the box office or through a travel agent because the queue is very long and the shows are invariably full to capacity.
The ‘Theatre Des Marionnettes Dur L’eau’ is situated at the north-eastern tip of Hoan Kiem Lake and the venue for traditional water puppetry – one of those experiences high on the agenda for Hanoi visitors. Water puppetry is a traditional Vietnamese art form widely practiced throughout the ages.
We bought our tickets for an evening performance earlier in the day while strolling around Hoan Kiem Lake and the Old Quarter. It is possible to take photographs and videos of the performance at an additional fee.
Worth it? Will not be everyone's cup of tea, but I enjoyed the experience. If you have claustrophobic tendencies, it may feel a bit jam-packed. Glad I went.
If you are spending time in Ha Noi..DO NOT miss this AMAZING performance at the Water Puppet Theater. You will witness a series of “ancient” short stories and legends presented through the use of traditional music, song, and characters. The stage is actually a large container of water where the characters (carved wooden puppets} “act” out the story. Most of the stories are whimsical and fun and the music is live, performed by a group of musicians that share a side stage adjacent to the water stage.
The first photo shows the "cast" reenacting the "Legend of the Restored Sword" the story of Hoan Kiem Lake and the tortoise.
The second photo shows you the band that plays music and accompanying vocals for most of the "sets"..
The third photo shows you some examples of water puppets that in fact you can purchase in many different shops around Ha Noi...this picture is actually take at the Temple of Literature.
Water puppetry has been practiced here in Vietnam for many hundreds of years; some scholars think upwards of a thousand. Initially this traditional entertainment was started as a celebration of the end of the rice harvest and has been adapted over time to provide “entertainment” for people during special events, gatherings and special ceremonies.
The puppeteers are situated behind a screen and stand in waist deep water controlling the puppets with rods that mostly are under the water. The Puppets are made from wood and lacquered and painted to protect them from water damage.
This theater in Ha Noi takes it name from one of the original names of Ha Noi itself, in about the 11th Century Ly Tai To renamed what is today known as Ha Noi , Thang Long, which means “ascending dragon”. The theater is modern and holds a few hundred people.
The acoustics are pretty good in the theater, the sight lines though could be better, unless you have seats close to the front…which you can reserve if you can purchase your tickets early enough.
The theater is located just slightly to the east and north of Hoan Kiem Lake at 57b Dinh Tien Hoang Street…The theater offers performances throughout the day and into the evening and each performance lasts about an hour.
We paid 60 000 Dong, about the equivalent of $ 3.00 USA. Although I don’t think it’s enforced, there’s a requirement to pay a premium to video or photograph the performance. The premium is another 12 000 Dong…about a dollar.
Purchasing tickets was one of the first things that we set out to do upon arrival in Ha Noi.
We scooped up tickets during our initial walkabout in Ha Noi. It’s such a popular “thing to do” tickets sell out quickly days in advance of performances. If you want to catch this show and you’re visiting during “high season” I would ask my hotel to book tickets for you at the same time you are making your hotel reservation.
A very authentic north Vietnam cultural experience is the water puppet show. This unique form of puppetry dates back at least a thousand years ago from rural villages in northern Vietnam - specifically from rice farmers. The art and skill of water puppetry have been handed down through generations, and the technique is a tightly-guarded secret, akin to a "special sauce recipe."
The puppet show at the Municipal Water Puppet Theater is an organized version of this ancient tradition done by professionals. But the tales - of rustic life and folklore - remain unchanged, albeit it was in Vietnamese. The music is as important as the puppets. And these, too, use traditional musical instruments such as the wooden flutes (sao), gongs (cong), cylindrical drums (trong com), and bamboo xylophones (dan bau).
Definitely a must-see.
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!
Sofitel Metropole Hotel Hanoi
13 Reviews and 1651 Opinions We booked 2 rooms and all of us simply loved it. We are given complementary drinks at the restaurant...
Hanoi Elegance 4 Hanoi
1 Review and 1259 Opinions This hotel is now called Hanoi Elegance Ruby. When I went to Hanoi in 1998, the only hotel I felt I...
Hanoi Elegance 3 Hanoi
3 Reviews and 763 Opinions NOTE: I think this hotel is now called "Hanoi Elegance Sapphire" The staff here is outstanding! We...