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Water puppetry is unique to Vietnam, there is no excuse to watch this show when you visit Vietnam. And Hanoi is probably the best place for this activity.
In this post, I will share all information and my experience with the water puppet show and Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre in Hanoi. If you want to see a video of the show, scroll till the end to watch it.
- Address: 57B, Dinh Tien Hoang Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
- Tel: (+84) 24 3824 9494
- Official website: Click here
Read more: A thorough guide to Ta Hien beer street in Hanoi’s Old Quarter
Table of Contents
1. About Thang Long water puppet theatre Hanoi
History of Thang Long water puppet theatre Hanoi
Thang Long Water Puppet Theater in Hanoi was founded on October 10, 1969, under the original name of Hanoi Kim Dong Art Troupe with 9 members. The name of the theater was changed twice, first in 1975 to The Hanoi Puppetry Troupe, and then again in 2001 to Thang Long Water Puppet Theater.
In 1990, the artists presented the first modern water puppet shows at Thang Long Water Puppet Theater – Hanoi. Today, it is the most famous theater for water puppet shows which holds about 500 shows each year. And it was honored to be “The first and only theater in Asia that performs water puppetry continuously for 365 days a year” by Asia Record Center.
The theater has also introduced water puppetry to over 40 countries worldwide through performance tours, international cultural exchange programs, and puppetry festivals.
Water puppet show schedule & ticket price
As you can see from the picture, there are at least 3 shows/day and the earliest ones start at 16:10. The show runs 365 days a year, so you won’t need to worry when planning your itinerary.
Each Water Puppet Show lasts 50 minutes consisting of 17 short sketches telling different stories and legends (See video and pictures at the end of this post).
About the ticket price, there are 3 types:
- Type 1: 200.000 VND/person
- Type 2: 150.000 VND/person
- Type 3: 100.000 VND/person
From my experience, I bought a type 2 ticket. My seat was on the 7th row and it was good enough. But if you want to film videos or take pictures, type 1 is definitely worth it
Note: You can also buy the ticket online via this link (Viator) or this link (Klook). But I don’t see any benefit in buying tickets online. It’s more expensive and there’s no need to reserve your seat because there are a lot of shows available.
What’s inside Thang Long water puppet theatre Hanoi
The theater is on the 2nd floor, and the stairs to it are next to the ticket counter. Outside the theater, there is an exhibition about its history, certification, and display of water puppets.
Inside the theater is a special stage – water’s surface. The backdrop of the stage resembles an altar in Vietnamese temples or pagodas. The surroundings are decorated with flags, fans, elephants, cages, and archways. On the stage, the water puppets are controlled by puppeteers who stand behind the backdrop.
2. What is a water puppet show?
History of the water puppet show
The water puppet show is a traditional Vietnamese performance that dates back to the Ly Dynasty (1010-1225). It was a form of entertainment for rural people that was performed in rice paddies when they got flooded around the Red River Delta in northern Vietnam. It is also believed that the purpose of the show was to keep the spirits amused, so they wouldn’t cause any mischief.
Read more: A thorough guide to Ta Hien beer street in Hanoi’s Old Quarter
The most common water puppet character
Among all the characters, Chú Tễu (“Chú” means uncle or boy, and “Tễu” means humor) is the most common one. He only has 2 strands of hair and is crafted at a bigger size compared to all the other characters.
He is the character who initiates the show, guides the audience through different stories, and often makes humorous jokes.
And to me, whenever talking about the Water Puppet show, the only character that comes to my mind is Chú Tễu.
The orchestra during the show
Throughout the performance, a Vietnamese orchestra plays traditional melodies that depict agricultural harvests and mythical legends, while the puppets act out the scenes on the stage.
In a single water puppetry performance, there are usually between 7 and 11 puppeteers performing. Each of them is highly skilled and undergoes at least three years of training before they can perform on a real stage.
Stories in water puppet shows
It tells stories that originate from the daily lives of farmers and fishermen, as well as some Vietnamese tales and historical legends such as:
- Daily life stories such as farming, fishing, rice planting, etc.
- Festival activities include dragon and lion dances, wrestling, martial arts, and buffalo fighting.
- Some traditional folk tales and historical tales include the Legend of the Returned Sword of King Le, Thach Sanh, Tam Cam (Vietnamese Cinderella story), etc.
3. Tips tips tips
- Needless to say, the type 1 ticket is much better than the other two, especially if you want to take pictures of the puppets.
- There is an option to rent an audio guide for foreigners for only 50,000 VND per person. As the show is in Vietnamese (except for the opening), it is advisable to rent it so that you can fully understand the stories.
- One sketch lasts for only a few minutes (which is quick). You can tell when a sketch ends because the music will stop and the puppets will go back inside backstage.
4. Other water puppet theaters in Hanoi
Lotus Water Puppet Theater
Address: 16 Le Thai To Street, Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
Tel: 097 203 04 20
Official Website: https://bongsenwaterpuppet.vn/
Vietnam National Puppetry Theatre
Address: 361 Truong Chinh Street, Thanh Xuan District, Hanoi
Tel: 024 3568 2386
Official website: http://nhahatmuaroivietnam.vn/en
Canh Dieu Water Puppet Theater
Address: 19B Ngoc Ha Street, Doi Can, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi
Tel: 0886 469 955
5. Photos and videos of the water puppet show
Above is everything you need to know about the water puppet show and Thang long water puppet theater in Hanoi. If you have any questions, feel free to comment below.
Thanks for reading!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How long for the water puppet show in Hanoi?
The show is 50 minutes long and consists of 14 sketches.
What is the process of making water puppets?
To have a complete set of handcrafted wooden water puppets, it takes around 4-5 months (not to mention if the weather is humid, the time will be longer due to waiting for the puppet to completely dry with 7-8 layers of paint). Here are some of the main steps of making water puppets:
- Script research
- Drawing the maket (characters)
- Carving the puppets using fig tree or jackfruit tree wood – those lightweight types of wood, with durability when soaked in water
- Drying and smoothing the surface of the puppet
- Painting with resinous paint (waterproof paint to keep the durability of the wood)
- Installing the machine, ropes, and puppet rods depending on the character’s personality
I would not expect it was so complicated to make a water puppet though… (not to mention, these are just the main steps).
What time is the water puppet show in Hanoi?
There are 3 shows daily at 16:10, 17:20, and 18:30.
On Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, there is one more show at 20:00.
Where can I watch the water puppet show in Hanoi?
There are several water puppet theaters in Hanoi, namely Thang Long Water Puppet Theater, Lotus Water Puppet Theater, Vietnam National Puppetry Theater, and Canh Dieu Water Puppet Theater.
How much is a water puppet show in Hanoi?
There are 3 types of tickets in Thang Long Water Puppet Theater Hanoi:
- Type 1: 200.000 VND
- Type 2: 150.000 VND
- Type 3: 100.000 VND
What age is good for water puppet theater?
Any age is suitable for the water puppet show. It’s a cultural show that tells stories originating from the daily life of farmers and fishermen in Vietnam, as well as some Vietnamese historical legends.
What is the famous water puppet theater?
The most famous water puppet theaters to tourists are Thang Long Water Puppet Theater and Lotus Water Puppet Theater. The reason why they are more famous is because both are located next to Hoan Kiem Lake, which is a very good location.