Thang Long Water Puppet Show in Hanoi, Vietnam

Puppet shows are popular in India and various parts of the world- stories told via dolls whose movements are controlled by an operator behind the scene. In Vietnam, a variation of this puppet show, known as water puppet show are popular. On one of the evenings, as our day tour ended at around 7 PM, I figured out that I will be able to make it to the evening Puppet show. Checked on Google, it suggested last show at 9.30 PM on Sunday. But as I walked to the counter, there was only 1 show at 8 PM. I bought a ticket (Each ticket cost 100000 VND or about USD 5, cheaper on weekdays I guess). I was asked to report 10 minutes before the show time. With about 45 minutes to spare I went off to explore other things.

I came back at 7.50 and was guided to my seat. We could pickup a leaflet that had names of the acts (during 50 odd minute duration, around 15 different acts or scenes were performed). First few acts were pure music, sung/played by artists seated to the side of the stage. All were in Vietamese so couldn't understand a word of it, though they appeared melodious.

Then the stage performance started. First was dragon's dance- a fire spitting dragon flew around the stage. From the front seat, the white stick that controls this dragon puppet from behind was visible. Live fireworks (mild) were also performed to show that dragon is spitting fire. 

There were no instructions NOT To photograph or videograph. It is their IP so they are within their rights to enforce that recording is not allowed. But as there was no such rules everyone were happily shooting/clicking from their phones. However unless you're in first few rows or have good zoom capabilities, capturing decent photo/video will be difficult. I took a few sample snaps and a short video bike just to give my readers an idea how it is done. Didn't record the full show in respect of their IP.
Next act was buffalo boy playing flute, followed by paddy plantation demo, frog catching, chasing fox, fishing, Pheonix's dance, Returning the sword (a folk story), Unicorn's dance, 8 fairies's dance (snap above) and four sacred animal's dance.
Show lasted about 50 minutes. The staff who operate the puppets from behind the scene. In addition to this there're another set of people playing instruments/singing.
Key Details:
Show timings:
(As per official websites, daily 3.30 PM, 5 PM, 8 PM, 9.15 PM and Sunday 9.30 PM, on the day of my visit, a Sunday, 8 PM was last show)

Show duration: 50 minutes approx

Cost: 
VND 60000-100000 (not sure in what cases 60000 VND applies- may be week days/senior citizens etc)

Venue address: 
Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre
57B, Dinh Tien Hoang street, nearby Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi, Vietnam

Official Website: www.thanglongwaterpuppet.org

Points to note: 
1. While the entry fee for Puppet show is only USD 3-5, some operators offer the puppet show as a package deal for about 40-45 USD per person- such packages usually include hotel pickup & drop, lunch/dinner, show tickets and drinking water. If you're staying in Hanoi old town city centre, Thang Long Water Puppet show will be very close, most probably walking distance away. (It is close to Hoan Kiem lake, heart of Hanoi old town). You may not really need a package.

2. Information online about show timing wasn't accurate. Google said last show at 9.30 but at the counter they said last show at 8 PM. So do expect some deviations- may be depending on demand and other factors they may add/discontinue some shows.

3. There was no option to select a seat. A seat will be assigned to you by the booking office staff. This show is best enjoyed from front rows, so request for front row seatings if possible. If you're booking last minute and in large group you will not get in front portion. You might want to split in smaller groups and buy separately. 

Little India restaurant is within walking distance from the Puppet Show venue in Hanoi- you can go there for lunch/dinner/snacks before/after the show.

When in Vietnam, do enjoy the water puppet show. Watch a sample clip of Water Puppet show below (38 seconds only) [Watch on Youtube here]

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