Thang Long Water Puppet Theater- Photos & Travel Guide

by Ly Hoang

Immerse yourself in Vietnamese artistry at Thang Long Water Puppet Theater, where ancient legends dance on shimmering waters. Witness skilled puppeteers breathe life into intricately carved wooden figures, weaving tales of folklore and daily life amidst traditional music and vibrant sets. Though language may be a barrier, the captivating visuals and evocative atmosphere speak volumes, captivating audiences of all ages. Book your tickets ahead and arrive early to secure your spot for this enchanting glimpse into Vietnam’s cultural soul.

  • Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre is a renowned theater in Hanoi, Vietnam, showcasing traditional water puppetry performances.
  • It’s a popular tourist destination and a great way to experience Vietnamese culture.
Thang Long water puppet theater
Thang Long water puppet theater- international audiences
Thang Long water puppet theater
Thang Long water puppet theater


  • The address of Thang Long Water Puppet Theater at 57B Dinh Tien Hoang Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi, Vietnam
  • You can easily find this show right next to the famous Hanoi Old Quarter and Hoan Kiem Lake.

Walking: For those staying within the charming maze of the Old Quarter, a leisurely stroll is all it takes. Breathe in the vibrant atmosphere, admire the ancient architecture, and let your steps naturally lead you to the theater’s doors.

Taxi, Grab: Prefer a quicker pace? Hail a taxi or hop on a motorcycle taxi, easily found traversing the city streets. For added convenience, ride-hailing apps like Grab and Gojek are at your fingertips.

By bus: Looking for a budget-friendly option? The efficient Hanoi bus system has you covered. Buses number 04, 146, 18, and 42 all chug past Hoan Kiem Lake, leaving you with a short and scenic five-minute walk to the theater.

Whichever path you choose, the Thang Long Water Puppet Theater awaits, ready to whisk you away into a world of enchanting aquatic puppetry and timeless Vietnamese storytelling. So grab your curiosity, hop on your preferred chariot, and prepare to be captivated!

Thang Long water puppet theater
Thang Long water puppet theater- children are exciting to see water puppet

The water puppet ticket prices

  • Ticket prices vary depending on the show and seat type.
  • Adult tickets generally range from 150,000 VND to 250,000 VND (approximately $6.50 to $10.50 USD).
  • Children’s tickets are typically cheaper.

Water puppet show hanoi times

The Thang Long Water Puppet Theater is the most famous venue for water puppet shows in Hanoi, and they have several shows every day.

  • Weekdays (Monday to Saturday): 1:45 PM, 3:00 PM, 4:10 PM, 5:20 PM, 6:30 PM, 8:00 PM, 9:15 PM
  • Sundays: 9:30 AM, 1:45 PM, 3:00 PM, 4:10 PM, 5:20 PM, 6:30 PM, 8:00 PM, 9:15 PM

Each show typically lasts around 50 minutes and features a variety of traditional Vietnamese stories and legends. The puppets are made of wood and lacquer, and they are manipulated by puppeteers who are hidden behind a bamboo screen. The water in the pool creates a unique and mesmerizing effect, and the traditional Vietnamese music adds to the atmosphere.

Here are a few tips for planning your visit to a water puppet show in Hanoi:

  • Book your tickets in advance, especially if you are traveling during peak season. You can purchase tickets online or at the theater box office.
  • Arrive early to get a good seat. The theater can get crowded, especially for the evening shows.
  • Relax and enjoy the show! Water puppetry is a unique and entertaining art form that is sure to delight people of all ages.

The development of Thang Long Water Puppet Theater

The Thang Long Water Puppet Theater in Hanoi, Vietnam, is more than just a stage for captivating performances; it’s a living testament to centuries of artistic evolution and cultural preservation. Let’s embark on a journey through its history, tracing its remarkable development from humble beginnings to international acclaim.

As the art form gained popularity, it caught the attention of the imperial court in Thang Long (Hanoi’s ancient name). By the 15th century, water puppetry had found its way onto palace stages, captivating emperors and dignitaries with its intricate performances and nuanced storytelling. This patronage not only elevated the art form’s status but also injected elements of courtly life and historical narratives into the repertoire.

The Modern Era and Rebirth: Following centuries of cultural exchange and adaptation, water puppetry faced challenges in the 20th century. Modern entertainment forms and the turmoil of war threatened to obscure this ancient tradition. However, in 1969, the Thang Long Water Puppet Theater was established in Hanoi, dedicated to reviving and showcasing this cherished art form.

A Beacon of Cultural Preservation: From its humble beginnings, the Thang Long Water Puppet Theater has blossomed into a renowned cultural institution. Its dedicated artists meticulously carve and paint wooden puppets, meticulously rehearse intricate movements, and bring traditional Vietnamese music to life, ensuring the legacy of water puppetry is passed down to future generations.

Innovation and International Acclaim: While staying true to its roots, the Thang Long Water Puppet Theater embraces innovation. New themes and stories are woven into the repertoire, reflecting contemporary life and engaging audiences of all ages. Through international tours and collaborations, the theater has brought the magic of water puppetry to audiences across the globe, earning prestigious awards and recognition from UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

A Living Legacy: Today, the Thang Long Water Puppet Theater stands as a vibrant testament to the enduring power of art. It serves as a platform for cultural exchange, education, and entertainment, captivating audiences with its unique blend of tradition and innovation. As the ripples of laughter and wonder resonate through the theater, we are reminded that the journey of Thang Long Water Puppet Theater is far from over. It continues to evolve, carrying the stories and spirit of Vietnam forward for generations to come.

Visiting Thang Long Water Puppet Theater: If you find yourself in Hanoi, experiencing a performance at the Thang Long Water Puppet Theater is an unforgettable cultural immersion. Witness the magic firsthand as puppeteers breathe life into wooden figures, accompanied by enchanting music and captivating storytelling. Book your tickets in advance, especially during peak season, and arrive early to secure the best seats. This timeless art form awaits, ready to transport you to the heart of Vietnamese culture.

Thang Long water puppet theater
Thang Long water puppet theater

water puppet performance

The theater features various programs, including:

    • Traditional Vietnamese legends and folktales
    • Scenes from Vietnamese history and daily life
    • Performances with live music and singing

Thang Long Water Puppet Theater isn’t just a show; it’s a portal to the heart of Vietnam. Prepare to be swept away by a kaleidoscope of programs, each painting a vibrant picture of this captivating culture.

  • Legends Come Alive: Witness ancient tales unfold on the water’s stage. Dragon’s soar, mischievous spirits flit, and brave heroes battle mythical beasts, all brought to life by the puppeteers’ dexterous hands. Immerse yourself in the timeless wisdom and whimsical charm of Vietnamese folklore, where every ripple echoes with ancestral stories.
  • History Splashes into the Present: Journey through Vietnam’s rich tapestry, from the triumphs of its emperors to the rhythms of everyday life. Watch as water buffaloes plod through rice paddies, fishermen cast their nets, and bustling markets come alive on the shimmering stage. These vignettes offer a poignant glimpse into the soul of the nation, reminding us of where we’ve been and who we are.
  • Melodies and Songs Dance on the Water: Live music and singing weave their magic into the air, amplifying the emotional resonance of each performance. Traditional instruments like the “dan bau” (one-stringed lute) and “trong quan” (wooden drum) create an evocative soundscape, while lyrical voices tell stories and express the joys and sorrows of the human experience. Let the music wash over you, carrying you deeper into the heart of Vietnam.
Thang Long water puppet theater
Thang Long water puppet theater- Artists and people behind the stage
  • Beyond the Surface: Remember, the magic of Thang Long Water Puppet Theater goes beyond the puppets and the water. It’s the hidden stories whispered in the rhythm of the music, the subtle humor in a puppet’s gesture, and the shared laughter that fills the theater. So, come prepared to open your heart and let the artistry of Thang Long weave its spell on you.
  • Experience the Enchantment: With each program, Thang Long Water Puppet Theater offers a unique window into the soul of Vietnam. Whether you’re captivated by ancient legends, enthralled by historical vignettes, or moved by the melody of live music, one thing is certain: you’ll leave with a deeper appreciation for this captivating culture and a memory that will shimmer long after the curtain falls.
Thang Long water puppet theater
Thang Long water puppet theater
Thang Long water puppet theater
Thang Long water puppet theater
Thang Long water puppet theater
Thang Long water puppet theater
Thang Long water puppet theater
Thang Long water puppet theater


  • Book your tickets in advance, especially during peak season.
  • Photography and videography are not allowed inside the theater.
  • Allow enough time to find the theater and purchase tickets before the show.

After experiencing Thang Long Water Puppet Theater

After experiencing the magic of Thang Long Water Puppet Theater, your options for exploring Hanoi are plentiful! Here are some ideas based on your interests:

Immerse yourself in Vietnamese history and culture

  • Hoan Kiem Lake: Right next door, enjoy a serene boat ride, visit the Ngoc Son Temple on Jade Island, or stroll along the picturesque banks.
  • Hanoi Old Quarter: Lose yourself in the maze of narrow streets, browse streetside vendors, and savor delicious local fare at countless eateries.
  • Hanoi Citadel: Explore the remains of the ancient royal palace and Imperial City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Temple of Literature: Step back in time at Vietnam’s first university, featuring Confucian architecture and peaceful courtyards.
Temple of literature Hanoi
Temple of literature Hanoi

Savor Vietnamese cuisine:

  • Bun Cha: Dive into this flavorful dish of grilled pork and vermicelli noodles, a Hanoi specialty.
  • Pho: Enjoy a steaming bowl of this national treasure, fragrant with herbs and tender beef or chicken.
  • Street food: Indulge in the vibrant world of Hanoi’s street food scene, from spring rolls and dumplings to bánh mì (Vietnamese baguettes).
  • Cooking class: Learn the secrets of Vietnamese cuisine in a hands-on cooking class, creating delicious dishes you can recreate at home.
Dong Xuan market- food
Vietnamese cuisine

Seek unique experiences:

  • Water Puppet Museum: Dive deeper into the history and art of water puppetry at this dedicated museum.
  • Long Bien Bridge: Walk or cycle across this iconic bridge, offering stunning views of the Red River and the city skyline.
  • Hoa Lo Prison: Experience the stark reality of Vietnam’s past at this former prison turned museum.
  • Hanoi Night Train Market: Witness the unique spectacle of vendors setting up shop on railway tracks before the evening train passes.
Hoa Lo prison Hanoi Vietnam
Hoa Lo prison Hanoi Vietnam
Long Bien Bridge- source/Phan-Hữu-Lập-flickr
Long Bien Bridge- source/Phan-Hữu-Lập-flickr
Ly Hoang

Written by Ly Hoang