Water Puppet Shows in Vietnam
Water puppetry (Vietnamese: Múa rối nước, lit. “Making puppets dance on water”) is a tradition that dates back as far as the 11th century when it originated in the villages of the Red River Delta area of northern Vietnam. The puppets are made out of wood and then lacquered. The shows are performed in a waist-deep pool. A large bamboo rod supports the puppet under the water and is used by the puppeteers, who are normally hidden behind a screen, to control them. Thus the puppets appear to be moving over the water. When the rice fields would flood, the villagers would entertain each other using this form of puppet play” (source: Wikipedia)
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Water puppets in Ho Chi Minh
Address: 55B Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
During my visit to HCMC we saw lots of companies offering excursions to the water puppet show. It was more expensive than booking at the theatre and I read a lot of information on line that said you don’t need to book and just turn up at the theatre. However, we did this and it was sold out, we went on a Saturday and it was sold out until the Tuesday and we were leaving on Sunday so we decided to make it a priority when we got to Hanoi as it was something we had heard a lot about and wanted to see.
You can booked via Viator
Check out the reviews on TripAdvisor
Water puppets in Hoi An
Here is the website for more information
Address 548 Hai Bà Trưng, Cẩm Phô, Tp. Hội An, Quảng Nam, Vietnam
– Adults: 80.000 VND
– Chidren: 40.000 VND
Time: 6:30pm every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday
For more details check out TripAdvisor
Water puppets in Hanoi
Here is the website for more details
Address : 57b Dinh Tien Haoang str, hoan kiem dost Hanoi
There are 5 shows per day 15:00 16:10 17:20 18:30 20:00 365 days per year. It is located near Hoàn Kiếm Lake so it is easy to find.
We arrived at 17:10 hoping to get tickets for the 17:20 show but it was sold out. We managed to get tickets for the 18:30 show. We went for a walk round the lake whilst we were waiting which is entertaining in itself with lots going on. We paid 100,000 dong for our tickets.
Seats are allocated when you book the ticket, the lady had a sheet in front of her with the available seats and you probably could be more specific about where you want to sit. I normally must have an aisle seat as I get a bit panicky but luckily the seats we were allocated were only a few from the aisle. The seats are spacious and I felt I could have gotten out if I needed to so I wasn’t getting panicky. The theatre was not full and it didn’t feel as though we were being herded in.
Photos and videos can be taken.
It’s an interesting experience definitely something you should try and do whilst in Vietnam. I couldn’t work out if it was funny or freaky. It is Vietnamese but you can sort of work out the story. At this theatre, you can get a program in the foyer which tells you the name of each set so it’s a bit easier to work out.
1. Opening with traditional folk music
2. Prelude by clown teu
3. Thang long festival drumming
4. Dragons dance
5. Buffalo boy playing the flute
5. Agricultural work rice planting, soil ploughing, water scooping
6. Catching frogs
7. Chasing the fox that tries to catch ducks
9. Xa thuong a melody in the collection of hymns dedicated to the cult of holy mothers a folk belief of the Vietnamese people
11. Phoenix dance
12. Le loi returning the sword le loi was a national hero leader of the resistance against foreign invasion in the 15th century. Legend has it that he was granted a sword by Deities after his victory over the invaders one day he was boating on a lake in Hanoi Kim Guy (golden) tortoise god appeared to claim back the sword. Hence the name of the lake returned sword now it is a famous sight in the centre of Hanoi
13. Unicorns dance
14 eight fairies dance
15 four sacred animals dance dragon, unicorn, tortoise and phoenix (Info provided by water puppet leaflet)
The show started with a lady playing a 1 stringed harp. I have never heard this instrument played before and sometimes things like this can be a bit ear piercing but this was really enjoyable. There were some strange noises coming from the two ladies in white though and some of the music during the show was a bit weird.
The show lasted 45 minutes and it didn’t even seem that long. If you leave via the back stairs you can see some of the puppets on display.
The only way to get into the theatre is up on flight of stairs. There is a café adjoined to the theatre and this has a toilet (situated by the stairs to go up to the theatre)
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- Originally posted in March 2017 updated in February 2019