Thang Long Puppet Theatre, located on Dinh Tien Hoang street, next to the Hoan Kiem Lake, in the heart of Hanoi Capital.
The famous Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre in Hanoi has its roots in an art form that dates back to the 11th century. The tradition of water puppet theater stems from a time when rice paddy fields were flooded and villagers would make entertainment by standing in the waist-deep water with the puppets performing over the water.
Using large rods to support the puppets it appeared as if they were moving across the water with the puppeteers hidden behind a screen.
This tradition is unique to North Vietnam but has recently found fame on stages all over the world; so it’s a rare treat to see the puppets perform in their original location at the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre. Performances are accompanied by a Vietnamese orchestra playing traditional music using drums, wooden bells, horns, bamboo flutes and cymbals. There are also authentic Vietnamese operatic songs telling the story that is being acted out by the puppets. Most of the shows recount Vietnamese folk tales and legends with topics including the celebration of the rice harvest depicted in a humorous fashion.
Shows at this modern theater are performed in a pool of water as the stage for the puppets. The puppets are controlled by no more than eight puppeteers hiding behind a bamboo screen. The renowned Thang Long Water Puppet show is considered to be one of the cultural highlights of Northern Vietnam dating back to a tradition that first started in the Red River Delta.
The theatre has become the leading brand of Vietnamese puppet art and the only Vietnamese theatre, holding the Asian record “The only theatre in Asia performing water puppet show 365 days a year”. The theatre has successfully toured over 40 countries, impressing audiences in the world, from Asia to Europe, America, Australia …
Thang Long Puppet Theatre is one of the most attractive destinations in Hanoi. Every tourist will have chance to understand and explore the rustic beauty and the rich symbolic meaning of Vietnamese water puppet art.
Tickets are selling out well in advance so it’s worth booking yours as soon as you arrive in the city. It is also advisable to pay more to get closer to the stage as the theater seats a few hundred people and the puppets are not that big. The theater is modern and usually shows 17 short sketches within a one-hour performance. Aside from the general admission fee of VND100,000, there’s an additional camera or video fee if you wish to photograph or film the show.
The show is open on all days of the week with 5 shows: 15:00, 16:10, 17:20, 18:30, 20:00.