All you need to know about Water Puppet Theater Hanoi

Water puppetry in Vietnam is a captivating art form that transcends age, one of the most worth watching cultural cultural shows in Vietnam, offering a cultural spectacle that enchants both the young and the young at heart. Contrary to the notion that it’s exclusively for children, Vietnam’s water puppetry stands as a fully realized art form, providing a vivid insight into local culture. The enchanting performances unfold on an ever-changing aquatic stage, depicting scenes of village life, narrating tales of festivals, and introducing quirky characters inspired by Vietnamese personalities.

A notable destination to experience this enchanting tradition is the water puppet theater Hanoi. Beyond mere entertainment, the water puppetry at this renowned theater becomes a portal into the heart of Vietnam’s heritage. As the puppets gracefully dance on water, spectators are immersed in the rich tapestry of village traditions and local festivities. Regardless of age, every spectator is treated to a delightful journey through Vietnam’s history and culture, creating an enduring appreciation for this unique and fully realized art form that has become an integral part of the country’s cultural heritage.

Explore Vietnam’s vibrant culture through art – the ultimate guide to water puppet theater Hanoi

Ha Noi Water Puppet Theater
Ha Noi Water Puppet Theater

The centuries-old water puppet show in Vietnam stands as a mesmerizing expression of traditional art. Originating in the rice fields of the Red River Delta, this unique performance seamlessly weaves together intricate puppetry, melodious music, and captivating storytelling. Hanoi boasts numerous renowned water puppet theaters, serving as cultural hubs where spectators can witness the enchanting spectacle of puppets gracefully gliding across the water’s surface. 

Accompanied by live musical accompaniment and vibrant narratives, these performances bring to life the rich cultural heritage and artistic finesse embedded in the tradition of water puppetry. Immerse yourself in the magic of these theatrical presentations, where age-old tales and vivid performances converge to create an unforgettable experience for audiences, fostering an appreciation for the historical and cultural significance of this captivating Vietnamese art form. Let us walk you through this unique art experience and give you our top list of water puppet theater Hanoi to enjoy the show.

What is a water puppet show?

A water puppet show stands as a quintessential form of traditional Vietnamese theater, seamlessly blending puppetry, music, and storytelling into a captivating performance. The unique aspect of this art form lies in its presentation on a water stage, where puppeteers skillfully manipulate the puppets using long poles and strings concealed beneath the water’s surface. Crafted from wood and lacquer, the puppets are marvels of intricate design and vibrant painting, representing an array of characters, animals, and mythical creatures.

As the puppets gracefully dance and glide across the water, the puppeteers, concealed behind a bamboo screen, bring the narrative to life with their skillful maneuvers. The water puppet show serves as a cultural reflection, showcasing the rich heritage of Vietnam through entertaining tales, folklore, and historical narratives. Beyond the visual spectacle, the accompanying live music adds another layer of charm to the performance, creating a multisensory experience that captivates audiences and preserves the cultural essence of this ancient art form.

The history of water puppet theater

The captivating history of water puppetry in Vietnam traces its roots back to the 11th century, flourishing during the Ly dynasty. Initially conceived as entertainment for farmers in the Red River Delta during the rice harvest season, water puppetry emerged as a distinctive form of storytelling. Farmers, standing in flooded rice fields, would deftly manipulate puppets on the water’s surface, narrating stories and legends to infuse joy and amusement into their communities.

As centuries unfolded, water puppetry evolved from a rural pastime into a refined art form integral to Vietnamese culture. The performances transcended rural landscapes, gaining popularity in towns and cities. Dedicated water puppet theaters emerged, introducing more intricate puppets, musical accompaniments, and elaborate storytelling techniques.

Today, water puppet shows remain a cultural treasure in Vietnam, captivating both locals and international tourists. Dedicated theaters, particularly in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, showcase performances that blend traditional music, singing, and puppetry into a mesmerizing spectacle. The scenes depict everyday rural life, historical events, and mythical tales, with puppets seemingly brought to life as they gracefully glide across the water. Behind a bamboo screen, skilled puppeteers expertly control these enchanting movements.

Attending a water puppet show becomes a cultural journey, offering a glimpse into Vietnamese traditions and folklore. The vibrant colors, rhythmic music, and compelling storytelling combine to transport audiences into a world rich in tradition and legend, providing a unique and immersive experience that unveils the profound artistic heritage of Vietnam.

Best water puppet theaters in Hanoi to checkout on your trip

Explore Hanoi’s plethora of water puppet theaters, each delivering authentic and captivating puppet shows. For the ultimate water puppet experience in Hanoi, consider visiting one of the esteemed theaters listed below:

Thang Long Water Puppet Theater

Address: 57B Dinh Tien Hoang Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi


Monday to Saturday: 1:45 PM, 3:00 PM, 4:10 PM, 5:20 PM, 6:30 PM, 8:00 PM, 9:15 PM

Sunday: 9:30 AM, 1:45 PM, 3:00 PM, 4:10 PM, 5:20 PM, 6:30 PM, 8:00 PM, 9:15 PM

Ticket price: 

  • 100,000 VND/adult 
  • 60,000 VND/kid below 1.2 meters tall
  • Surcharge of 20,000 VND/camera and 60,000 VND/camcorder 

Located in close proximity to Hoan Kiem Lake, the Thang Long Theater stands as the premier venue for experiencing Hanoi’s water puppet shows. Hosting multiple shows each day, ranging from seven to eight, the theater showcases the artistry of well-trained, highly qualified, and exceptionally creative puppeteers who deliver outstanding performances in every show.

Beyond presenting Vietnamese culture and traditions through puppetry, the Thang Long Water Puppet Theater expands its repertoire to include classic Western performances. Audiences can delight in productions such as Russia’s “Swan Lake” and Spain’s “Bullfighting,” seamlessly blended with the unique art form of water puppetry. This infusion of diverse cultural influences demonstrates the theater’s commitment to offering a multifaceted and enriching experience, appealing to both local and international spectators. With its prime location and a diverse range of performances, Thang Long Theater continues to be a cultural hub, captivating audiences with the timeless charm of water puppetry combined with a global artistic flair.

Lotus Water Puppet Theater

Address: 16 Le Thai To Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi

Schedule: 2:45 PM, 4:00 PM, 5:15 PM, 6:30 PM

Ticket price: 

  • 80,000 VND/standard ticket 
  • 100,000 VND/VIP ticket

Renowned for its exceptional puppet shows in Hanoi, the Lotus Water Puppet Theater, also recognized as the Vietnam Contemporary Art Theater or Viet Culture Space, stands as a remarkable venue. Executed by skilled artists and musicians hailing from traditional craft villages, the Lotus water puppet show in Hanoi seamlessly blends both traditional and contemporary styles. 

This performance breathes new life into the ancient art form, presenting a captivating spectacle that resonates with both the rich heritage of Vietnam’s puppetry traditions and the dynamic influences of the contemporary world. Witnessed by audiences, the Lotus Water Puppet Theater showcases the mastery and creativity of its performers, offering a unique and refreshing experience that captures the essence of Vietnam’s cultural evolution.

Canh Dieu Water Puppet Theater

Address: 19B Ngoc Ha Street, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi

Schedule: 9:00 AM, 10:10 AM, 11:15 AM, 3:30 PM , 4:45 PM, 6:00 PM, 7:30 PM

Ticket price: 

  • 100,000 VND/adult
  • 70,000 VND/kid

Nestled on Ngoc Ha Street in proximity to renowned attractions such as Ba Dinh Square, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Thang Long Citadel, and the Temple of Literature, Canh Dieu Water Puppet Theater stands as a familiar haven for indulging in Hanoi’s puppet show tradition. Visitors are invited to immerse themselves in the authentic ambiance reminiscent of the northern countryside while witnessing the expertise of skillful puppeteers. 

This theater provides a unique opportunity to enjoy the artistry of puppetry, adding a touch of cultural charm to the experience as guests explore the vibrant surroundings and attractions nearby. Canh Dieu Water Puppet Theater promises not just a puppet show but a cultural journey enriched by the historical and architectural wonders that adorn Ngoc Ha Street and its neighboring landmarks in the heart of Hanoi.

Vietnam National Puppetry Theatre (Central Puppet Theater)

Address: 361 Truong Chinh Street, Thanh Xuan District, Hanoi


8:00 PM every Saturday

Performance on request available 

Ticket price: 120,000 VND – 250,000 VND/person, varying on each show

Central Puppet Theater stands as Vietnam’s foremost puppetry center, dedicated to the preservation and advancement of this traditional art. This expansive venue hosts Hanoi water puppet shows on two distinct stages – one within the theater and another at the “thủy đình,” a pavilion stage set amidst a serene pond. Beyond its primary location, the artists from the Vietnam National Puppetry Theater actively extend the reach of water puppetry by presenting shows in various regions across Vietnam and even venturing into international performances. The commitment to showcasing this unique art form on different platforms contributes to the ongoing vitality and global appreciation of Vietnamese water puppetry.

Final thoughts

Delve into a captivating journey into the heart of Vietnamese culture by experiencing the art of water puppetry in Hanoi. This ancient tradition comes alive in dedicated water puppet theater Hanoi like the Central Puppet Theater. With two enchanting stages—one within the theater and the other at the scenic “thủy đình” pavilion amidst a pond—the water puppet shows offer a mesmerizing blend of puppetry, traditional music, and storytelling.

To ensure a seamless and enriching exploration of this unique art form, consider incorporating water puppetry into your itinerary with Viland Travel’s customized tours. Viland Travel’s expertise allows you to tailor your journey, ensuring that you not only witness the captivating performances but also delve into the cultural nuances and historical significance of water puppetry in Vietnam. By choosing Viland Travel, you can weave this incredible form of art seamlessly into your travel experience, gaining a deeper understanding of the country’s rich heritage and artistic traditions. 

Let the magic of water puppetry unfold as part of your personalized adventure with Viland Travel, creating memories that transcend the ordinary and resonate with the cultural tapestry of Vietnam!