On our very last day of travel in Vietnam we decided to watch a Water Puppet Show (known locally as Múa rối nước) at Thang Long Theatre in Hanoi, Vietnam. As one of the top attractions in Hanoi, we knew this was something we couldn’t afford to miss out on, even though our time in this city was very limited. This was scheduled to be our last activity in Vietnam before we depart on a journey that will take us to our new headquarters for the next three months. We figured it was a fitting way to end what was a wonderful month of travels in Vietnam.
Water puppetry literally refers to puppets that dance on water which is a traditional Vietnamese art that dates back to the eleventh century in northern sections of Vietnam. Water Puppet Performances take place in various locations throughout the country; however, Hanoi has a reputation for being the ‘it’ place to take in the experience.
Puppeteers are concealed behind a screen in waist deep water wielding puppets that are controlled via large rods and strings. It’s truly a work of art how they’re able to move the puppets with such precision and coordination. I’m guessing it must take hours of training, perfected over years of hard work, to get to the level where they can perform with such confidence.
The performances are centered chiefly around Vietnamese Folklore with emphasis on traditional ways of life, spirituality, and day to day existence that was passed on from one generation to another; it literally amazes me to think that this performance art form dates back so many years.
The puppets are accompanied by a traditional Vietnamese orchestra that provides background music including the use of bells, cymbals, gongs and flutes. In my opinion, the music is as much an appealing part of the show as the performance itself. Although I’ve listened to traditional Vietnamese folk music being played while touring the Mekong Delta, I felt the skill level from these musicians put them in a league of their own.
For those interested in watching a performance, The Thang Long Theater in Hanoi, provides several daily shows in the evening. It’s recommended you book tickets in advance if you have a particular showtime in mind or if you want specific seats.
We purchased tickets for 100,000 Vietnamese Dong (roughly $5 USD) and we would recommend the show to anyone as a way to experience traditional Vietnamese culture in an authentic environment.