Water Puppet show in Hanoi – Schedule & 5 tips for visiting

A water puppet show is a unique experience that you can see at the Thang Long Water Puppet theatre in the center of Hanoi, near Hoan Kiem Lake. This attraction is originally from northern Vietnamese villages where the theater was played with puppets in the water. The show became increasingly popular and also came to Hanoi.

Short history

The water puppet show goes back to around 1000 years, in a period of peace and prosperity, meant that people could relax and enjoy their cultural festivals and traditions. This provided the perfect opportunity for talented artists to perform puppet shows on land and in water.

The tradition of the water puppet shows is that rice fields were underwater and that villagers made entertainment by standing in the deep water with the puppets above the water. At the time, simple stages were built around flooded rice fields aimed at puppeteers entertaining their audience. Bloodsuckers and other related problems associated with prolonged standing in turbid water were fairly normal.

Water puppet show

Water Puppet show in Hanoi

The show has not changed much today; only the environment and the locations. In the modern theatre of Hanoi the show is held in a kind of swimming pool for the puppets. The puppets are controlled by a number of puppeteers hiding behind a bamboo screen. With the help of large rods, they can control the puppets while hiding them behind the screen.

Water Puppet show in Hanoi

The typical themes around a water puppet show are still the same, about Vietnamese folk tales and legends with topics such as the celebration of the rice harvest that is portrayed in a humorous way.

Performances are accompanied by a Vietnamese orchestra that plays traditional music with drums, wooden bells, horns and bamboo flutes. There are also authentic Vietnamese opera singers who tell the story that is played by the puppets. Most shows are in Vietnamese.

Thang Long water puppet theatre

Thang Long water puppet theatre

The most famous place in Hanoi where you can attend a water puppet show is in the Thang Long water puppet theatre, next to Hoan Kiem Lake, in the center of Hanoi. The theatre is modern and shows are around 15 short performances within a one-hour show.

Price: 100,000 VND – 150,000 VND

Address: 57B, Dinh Tien Hoang Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi

Shows: daily 3:00 PM, 4:10 PM, 5:20 PM, 6:30 PM, and 8:00 PM

Show schedule

There are daily water puppet shows at 15:30 – 17:00 – 18:30 – 20:00 – 21:15 and Sunday at 9:30

Tips for visiting the Thang Long theatre

1. Buying tickets

Tickets for this show are sold out well in advance, so it is wise to get your tickets as quickly as possible. You can head to the theatre in the morning to purchase a ticket for an later afternoon show. Apart from the general admission price of VND 100,000, there are extra camera or video costs if you want to photograph or film the show.

2. Seating

It is wise to pay a little more to sit closer to the (water) stage, because the theatre is large and the puppets themselves are not that big.

3. How to get there

The theatre is right in the Old Quarter, so is is best way to walk from you hotel in the old town. If your accommodation is too far on the outside or you are coming from another sight outside the city center, you can consider taking a taxi. Keep in mind though that the streets around the Thang Long theatre, Hoan Kiem and the Old Quarter are closed to motorized vehicles in the afternoon of every weekend.

4. Things to do in the area

The Thang Long theatre is right next to Hoan Kiem lake, so this is a great opportunity to walk around here. It is also only 100 meters from the Ngoc Son temple, which is located on an island in the lake. If you want to visit this temple, don’t go after a late water puppet show, because the bridge to the island closes at 6 in the evening.

5. Other water puppet shows in Vietnam

If you don’t have the time to visit a water puppet show in Hanoi, you can consider going to another theater in Vietnam. There are water puppet shows in Hoi An, Ho Chi Minh City, Nha Trang and other cities in Vietnam.

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