Hanoi Water Puppet Theater – Vietnam Water Puppet Show – Water Puppets Made

Hanoi Water Puppet Theater – Vietnam Water Puppet Show – Water Puppets Made

Located at 57B, Dinh Tien Hoang street, nearby Hoan Kiem Lake, Thang Long Water Puppet Theater is a familiar address for both domestic tourists and foreign ones, who want to enjoy water puppet shows and discovery the beauty of this unique Vietnam traditional art.
Location & History
Located at 57B, Dinh Tien Hoang street, nearby Hoan Kiem Lake, Thang Long Water Puppet Theater is a familiar address for both domestic tourists and foreign ones, who want to enjoy water puppet shows and discovery the beauty of this unique Vietnam traditional art.
In 1969, the theater was established and since 1990; many water puppet shows have been performed by Thang Long theater artists.Every year, about 500 shows are offered to approximately 150,000 audiences. Moreover, the theater has brought water puppetry art to more then 40 foreign countries like Japan, France, America, Australia, Spain… through performance tours, or international cultural exchange program or puppetry festivals.
Water Puppet Show
Traditional content of water puppet performance like daily life of Vietnamese farmers (cultivating, tending buffalo, catching fishes…), communal entertainment (swimming contest, dragon dancing…), or historical legends (Le Loi returns precious sword…), with modest performance way have appealed audiences for centuries. However, the artists of Thang Long Water Puppet Theater want to renew the old puppet shows with effect of light, music and combination between people and puppets.
It sounds risky, but the theater has been successful since the beginning the beginning and received favors and praises from audiences. To enjoy some typical water puppet performances, you can take a look at the video below.  
Certainly, it will be much great if tourists can directly watch these shows in Thang Long Water Puppets Theater after enjoying a cup of coffee in the coffee lounge which is right in front of the theater, and giving a nice view to Hoan Kiem Lake.
Show schedule

  • There are puppet show every day at 15:30 – 17:00 – 18:30 – 20:00 – 21:15 and Sunday at 9:30
  • Ticket costs between 60.000 – 100.000 VND ($3-5)  by contacting the theatre:
  • Tel: (84-04) 3 824 9494, 3 825 5450 
  • Fax: (84-04) 3 824 5117
  • Email: thanglongwpt@fpt.vn
  • Website: www.thanglongwaterpuppet.org


How are Water Puppets Made?

A water puppet stands on a round wooden plate which can rotate around its horizontal axis with a rudder at the bottom. The plate is linked with a long pole which the puppeteer uses to move the puppet on the water. Ropes or string run from the puppet’s articulation through pulleys and along the pole to the performers.
To move puppets to a far distance from the manipulation room, poles with pulleys are placed under the water to connect the strings between puppets and performers.
With the skilful manipulation by the performers, the puppets can swim, catch fish, cross sword, row a boat, raise a flock of ducks, dance, jump high in the sky, spurt fire and kick a ball.
Puppets maker must be good at designing, wood sculpture and have a good knowledge of the complicated movements of water puppets.
When working out a water puppet item, first of all artisans think of movements and operation mechanism of puppets in order to make puppets with proper structures.
For istance, Uncle Teu has two arms moving around a vertical axis. Fairies‘ arms can wave around the axis perpendicular to their body. Teu’s arms has a single articulation while fairies’s arms have joints at their hands, wrists, elbows and shoulders. More complicated puppets have very special structures: dragons that can sprut fires and water, fishes or frogs that snatch bait.
Pham Hoang Hai, “Traditional Water Puppetry”
The puppets usually range from 30 to 100cm (12 to 39ins) in height and weigh from 1 to 5kg (2 to 11lbs). Larger puppets can weigh up to 20kg (44lbs) and need four people to manipulate them.

Some comments:

by jorgejuansanchez: I enjoyed very much ths show in this theater. The shows refered to Vietnamese traditions by means of water puppets, like daily life of Vietnamese farmers (cultivating, tending buffalo, catching fishes…), communal entertainment (swimming contest, dragon dancing…), or historical legends
by ValbyDK: 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.
by katherin810: 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.
by TheAndos: 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.
Highly recommended.
by quepeng: 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.
by Greggor58: 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. 
Let’s discover Vietnam with us!

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