An interesting evening watching the water puppets. These are worked by people actually in the water themselves, from behind a backdrop. The plays are based on different themes such as village life, birth of the nation, etc. and include some surprising fireworks. Cost is 40.000 dong (about 3$). Enjoyable for kids and adults.
It was a pretty entertaining show. You can take photos (no one cares).
Daily performances: 1600, 1715, 1830, 2000 and 2115
Duration: 1 hour
Price: 1st class (VND 40,000), 2nd class (VND 20,000). There's hardly any difference between the 2 classes because the theatre is actually very small.
Location: Directly opposite Hoen Kiem Lake. (It is much easier to locate it if you go to the Lake and ask for directions from there).
Water puppet shows are a traditional Vietnamese attraction. Even though I'd probably never attend a puppet show at home I enjoyed watching the water puppets. The show is actually entertaining and a unique Vietnamese experience. You can buy water puppets in any souvenir shop or the airport.
This type of puppetry can only be found in Vietnam. It's said that the skill (creation of water puppets and puppetry) is being passed on from one generation to another and only a few are adept at this. It amazed me to see such a unique version of puppetry and the intricacies of the show. Price for the show is VDN40,000 for front row seats and VDN20,000 for backrow seats. If you want to take photos during the show, you'll have to pay VDN15,000. I suggest you buy theatre tickets early during the day for the evening show as some people had to come back the following day coz the tickets were sold out.
We didn't really know what to expect from the Water Puppet Show! Basically it's like a standard puppet show but the puppets hover over a big tank/trough of water, and the puppeteers get wet feet! It was entertaining, the dragons breathe fire and rice sprouts from the water! However, it became a bit monotenous after a while. Far too many tourists as well.
Shows at 8pm. Book early!
Certainly, it’s something different to do, but a lot of fun. Basically, its puppets and they are in the water. There is a live band accompanying the show with traditional music, so that's an added plus. The show is about an hour long, so its not huge time commitment. Spring for the good seats, it’s worth the extra dollar, but save your money on the extra ticket that allows you take pictures. It's really hard to get a good shot from most of the seats. You'll just we wasting your film, time and money. My pictures are pretty good, but I ran up to the front of the stage and snapped a bunch.
FYI, the show starter is the most exciting part.
At first, I wasn't really enthusiastic about seeing the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre. Just went here out of curiosity because all the travel guide books and websites recommend this as a must see. And to my surprise, I enjoyed the show a lot!
As soon as the music started playing, excitement filled the packed theater. The colorful puppets showed different scenarios of traditions, livelihood and customs of Vietnam. The whole program was presented in Vietnamese. I didn't understand a single word and, most probably, so did majority of the audience which were made up by Americans and Europeans. But what's amazing is that everyone was laughing and left the theater satisfied and smiling.
I do recommend anyone travelling to Hanoi to see this show. It would also be good to get your tickets early as they sell out easily. They had two ticket prices - one for the upper levels of seats and the other for the lower levels. Even if the venue is just small, I still suggest that you get the seats nearest the stage. We got our tickets for 40VND and that's for the lower levels already. It is really affordable.
It would be best to call the theater to check on the updated ticket rates and presentation time.
A fabulous show staged with exciting, live music and astonishing virtuosity of the puppeteers makes the Water Puppet Show very entertaining.
Take the first-class ticket at 40,000d (second-class goes for 20,000d) for seats closer to the water stage. Good opportunity for photography!
1. Raising the Festival Flag
2. Chu Teu (the narrator)
3. Dragon Dance: 4 Dragons dancing on the surface of water audiences
4. On a buffalo with a flute
6. Catching frogs
7. Rearing ducks and catching foxes
9. Harvest festival. Returning to the native land after college graduation. Triumphant return of a new graduate to his native village aim at expressing his gratitude to the ancestors
10. Lion dance
11. Phoenix dance
12. King Le Loi on boat/Legend of the Restored Sword lake (King Le Loi after truimphing over invaders Ming, gave the magic sword back to a giant turtle
13. Children playing in water
14. Boat racing
15. Unicorns playing with ball
16. Fairy dance
17. Dance of 4 Holy Animals
I, like many people had read of the Water Puppet Theatre before arriving in Hanoi. It was one of those things which you just had to go and experience for yourself.
There are three shows daily; one in the morning, one in the afternoon and of coarse a show in the evening. I decided on the one in the afternoon. Time of the show was at 2-45pm and the cost varied on where you wanted to sit. 40,000 VND for seats at the front of the theatre; 20,000VND for seats towards the rear. You also had to pay 15,000 VND if you wanted to take photographs during the performance.
The whole performance lasts around an hour or so and consists of a set number of scenes, (17 total). Out of these my personal favourites where; 3. Dragon dance; which as you may have guessed are dragon head puppets (with long tails and all) dancing on the water, each one shooting water at the other. 5. Agriculture; with animals farming and so on. 9. Harvest festival; this recalls the story of a boy returning home to his native village after college graduation. 12; this one features King Le Loi in a boat on Hoan Kiem Lake recalling the legend about the "Restored Sword". This is really great fun to watch as the sword is returned to the turtle.
I must also mention the musicians' to the left of the main area, they do a fantastic job of not only playing musical instruments but also of singing and creating an ambience that fits snugly with the puppets and their actions on the water. Not to mention the people who control the puppets by standing waist-deep in water the entire time of the performance!
The water puppet show is one of the must see in Hanoi, and tickets esp on night shows are sold out fast... For night show if you prefer on the front rows, it cost 40,000 dong and mid / back rows it cost 20,000 dong. They also have a show in the morning, @ 9:30am which is the one I buy, it cost 20,000 dong only on all rows, thus it depends if you are the one that book first , you can snag the front row.
The show last for one hour, theather is air conditioned, w/ fans as well. Previously when you purchase a ticket to the show, there is a free cassette tape, but now, they give away paper fans.
I like it, as the show depicts rural Vietnam scenes and a lot of folk tales. I was amazed by the skills of the people on the back scene manuevering the puppets, to dance, jump and make all those various scenes. The whole hour they are also standing in waist deep green water.
The following scenes done by the puppet are my favorites, out of the 17 scenes done:
1. Harvest festival. Returning to the native land after college graduation
2. Lion Dance
3. King Le Loi on boat four or the legend about "Restored Sword" lake
4. Boat racing
5. Fairy Dance
Basically, although it was necessary to pay more, we decided to just bring the camera in without paying - by just putting it in our bags.
So when everyone starts to take pictures of the performance, we tried doing so as well.
Turns out that, there's no one checking if the you've paid extra to bring in the equipment - so we could take photos without paying extra!
Perhaps most people paid extra already... so they didn't notice that we didn't. So we took quite a few photos in the theatre itself!
A unique Vietnam performance and definitely worth taking time out for. The troupe has performed all over the world. There's not much difference between the 1st and 2nd class tickets except for the distance from the stage, so might as well buy the cheaper ticket.
Official showtimes: 4pm, 5.30pm, 6.30pm, 8pm, 9.15pm
When I was there in Oct 2006, it was written at the ticket counter that the only show would be at 2.30pm but later, back at the hostel, I spoke to another tourist who told me he caught the evening show. Also, he was 'forced' to buy a 1st class ticket (he was told the 2nd class tickets were sold out) but when he entered, the theatre was only half-full. So it's something to look out for.
1st Class: VND 40,000
2nd Class: VND 20,000