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Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre Show In Hanoi

Hanoi is an alluring city with more than 1000 years of history, rich culture, delectable cuisine, and countless attractions. Tourists who are fond of Vietnamese classical art should not miss out on the Thang Long Water Puppets Theater Show on their Hanoi trips. The theatre has captivated thousands of visitors every year coming to admire world-famous water puppet shows.

1. Introduction to the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre

Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre, located in Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam is a renowned cultural institution. With its inception dating back to 1969, this esteemed venue has assumed a paramount role in both preserving and propagating the cherished art of water puppetry. The theatre's name, 'Thang Long,' harks back to Hanoi's historical nomenclature, meaning 'ascending dragon,' and profoundly encapsulates the city's cultural significance. It is widely regarded as one of the most iconic and popular tourist attractions in the country. The theatre is known for its unique and traditional form of entertainment that combines water puppetry, music, and storytelling to create a mesmerizing and colorful performance.
 Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre
The Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre serves as a living testament to Vietnam's cultural heritage and has gained international recognition for its artistry and entertainment value. It remains a must-visit attraction for tourists seeking a unique and authentic experience in Hanoi, celebrating the country's rich cultural history through the art of water puppetry. There are several ways to get to the theatre depending on your starting point:
  • By walking: If you are staying in the Old Quarter, you can easily walk to the theatre.

  • By taxi or motorcycle taxi: You can catch a taxi or motorcycle taxi on the street, or book them on ride-hailing platforms such as Grab or Gojek.

  • By bus: You can take buses number 04, 146, 18, or 43 and get off at the Hoan Kiem Lake bus stop, which is about a 5-minute walk away from the theatre.

2. The brief history of the Water Puppet Theatre Show

The rich history of theatre in Vietnam can be traced back to the 11th century, specifically during the Ly Dynasty when the captivating art of water puppetry made its debut in the picturesque Red River Delta region. This traditional form of entertainment was profoundly influenced by the agrarian culture of rice cultivation, finding its initial stage in the idyllic rice paddies and tranquil ponds of rural villages during various festive and special occasions. The art was eventually brought to the imperial court in Hanoi and became a popular form of entertainment because the theatre brings performances that are both entertaining and educational.

Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre Show

The dawn of modern water puppetry marked a significant turning point in 1990 when the inaugural water puppet shows took place at the Thang Long Theatre. It’s reported that about 500 shows are performed in front of approximately 150,000 people each year. This theatre has also brought Hanoi water puppetry to more than 40 foreign countries through performance tours, international cultural exchange programs, and puppetry festivals. This is a great chance to bring a signature Vietnamese culture to the world. This traditional art has become a significant cultural symbol of Vietnam. In recognition of its cultural significance, the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre Show was bestowed with the prestigious title of UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2009.

Water Puppet Art

3. What's unique about the Water Puppets Show?

Water puppetry, a one-of-a-kind art form, is an exclusive cultural treasure that can be found nowhere else but in Vietnam, originating from the green rice fields of the Red River Delta in Vietnam. Performances will take place in the lake instead of the usual stages, where puppeteers control intricately carved wooden puppets that appear to dance on the water. The main material used to make these puppets is wood or lacquer and the magic happens when the skilled puppeteers take their positions discreetly behind bamboo blinds, obscuring the audience's view. The stage is waist-deep in water, the puppets are moved by sticks attached to their heads and limbs, and the show is accompanied by traditional Vietnamese music and singing, while the puppets narrate stories and famous folk legends. Each puppet is delicately controlled by sticks meticulously attached to its head and limbs, allowing it to move gracefully and convey the story with astonishing precision.

The stage of water puppetry

Every water puppet show opens with an introduction by Tễu, the beloved comedy host, and iconic character, a strange storyteller who will lead you through different scenes and stories as they unfold on stage. A typical water puppet show usually lasts about 50 minutes and offers an exciting journey through a variety of scenes drawn from the rich tapestry of Vietnamese folklore and mythology. Performances often depict scenes from Vietnamese folklore, the history of daily life,… Some of the most loved scenes include the legend of King Le Loi and Hoan Kiem Lake, the story of rice cultivation, buffalos, and dragons,…The Hanoi Water Puppet Show is indispensable for any visitor to Vietnam. It is a unique and unforgettable experience that showcases the country's rich culture and heritage.

Rice Cultivation Scene

4. How to book Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre show tickets?

The shows are typically held in the evening. You can book e-tickets on the official website of Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre or any reputable ticketing website that offers bookings for the theatre. Alternatively, you can also purchase tickets in person at the theatre's ticket booth. The prices of Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre show tickets vary, depending on the type of the ticket and the time of the show. It is best to check the official website for the latest information.
  • Standard tickets: from 100,000 VND to 200,000 VND ( from 5 to 9 USD)

  • VIP tickets: from 200,000 VND to 400,000 VND (from 9 to 18 USD)

5. Some useful tips when visiting the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre show

  • Book your tickets in advance, especially if you are visiting during peak season. Due to the rules of the Thang Long Theatre, one must have their ticket at least 30 minutes before the show starts.

  • Arrive early to get a good seat. The theatre is quite popular, and it can fill up quickly. The front seats which are near the stage will give you a better chance to watch the puppets, however, due to the stage being covered in water, audiences that sit nearby may get splashed on from time to time. If you don’t think this will be an inconvenience, don’t hesitate to choose the front seats.

  • Be respectful of the performers and the other audience members.

  • After the show, you can purchase souvenirs from the theatre's gift shop. There are a variety of items available, including water puppets, puppets on sticks, and DVDs of the show.

Hanoi Water Puppet Show
Water puppet is one of the most remarkable cultures of Vietnam, and Thang Long Theatre is the most famous place in the field of preserving this wonderful art. When you visit Hanoi, Vietnam, seize the opportunity to immerse yourself in this unparalleled form of artistic expression. Not only experience something unique but you will also learn so much more about the customs and traditions of the beautiful S-shaped country. It is a unique and unforgettable experience that you will cherish for years to come.
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