Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre

Stories from local legends are told at this theater with hand-carved wooden dolls and colorful dragons that perform on a stage on the water.

The Vietnamese art of water puppetry is a true cultural experience that is not to be missed while in Hanoi. Performed entirely in Vietnamese, the music and gesturing puppets tell a story that can be interpreted by all.

The Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre was founded in 1969 and is one of the best places to watch the art of Vietnamese water puppetry. Dating back to the 11th century, this unique type of performance art started in the waters of the Red River that runs through Hanoi.

Today, the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre is one of the few traditional theatres still in operation and its wooden, lacquered puppets are world-famous. Since 1990 the theater has regularly traveled internationally and has appeared at art festivals all over the world.

Performed on a stage that resembles a pond, puppeteers stand waist deep in the water, hidden behind a screen. They spectacularly maneuvre the puppets with a long, submerged rod. Expect to get splashed if you are seated in the front row, however, this is also the prime spot to admire the exquisite details of the handcrafted puppets. Enjoy the screams of surprise from the audience when dragons or princes emerge out of the water and see local legends unfold.

There is a live orchestra and the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre is known for its comical performances, so you’ll be laughing a lot too.

Stay back after the performance to enjoy a drink at the theater’s café, which has great views over picturesque Lake Hoan Kiem.

Shows at the theater are all under an hour in length. Booking the inexpensive ticket in advance is recommended, as the theater is incredibly popular.

The Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre is located on the edge of the Old Quarter. The theater is open daily and there are up to six shows per day. Some shows display an English translation on a screen