Hanoi Water Puppets – Must See In Hanoi, Vietnam

Vietnamese Hanoi water puppets probably begun as a ceremony to pray for water to nourish the rice crop. For that reason, the mythical dragon (a positive image in Vietnamese culture) is a particularly strong character. The Red River Delta is hot and humid and filled with rivers. Every village has a pond or a lake that can be served as water puppet theatre.

Hanoi Water Puppets (3)The water must be warm since the performers stand in waist-deep water for hours. A theatrical set – often a village temple – separates the audience from the performers, who work from behind a bamboo curtain. They manipulate their puppets at the far end of a bamboo pole about two meters long and must keep the pole under the water. The heavy wooden puppets held so far from the puppeteers require that performers be very strong.

During French colonialism, urban Vietnamese did not know about Hanoi water puppets because only farmers performed such puppetry and only for their own neighbors.  As a result, water puppet scenes take place in rural settings with rice paddies, fishponds, bamboo thickets, banyan trees, wells, and of course, the village temple. The scenes include cultivating with water buffalo; buffalo fights; irrigating, harvesting, and winnowing rice; boat races; kids swimming and racing and performing water acrobatics; cavorting fish and frogs; dancing turtle and phoenixes; and dragons spewing smoke.

Hanoi Water Puppets (3)Farmers in the Red River Delta traditionally make their living from wet-rice cultivation. They must work hard in the rice paddies and continually fight against floods. Since farmers prize their intimacy with earth and water, their Hanoi water puppets prize the labor, perseverance, and optimism of farming life in both the family and the village. Double meaning and satire illuminate the struggle between good and evil, with evil resulting in its own lessons.

Hanoi water puppets co-operate Vietnamese animism and Buddhism and Taoism, and Chinese Confucianism. Spectators sitting amidst rice paddies as they watch Hanoi water puppets soon sense how Vietnamese farmers live together with spirits in an atmosphere of pantheism.

Hanoi Water Puppets Theatre

Address: 57b Dinh Tien Hoang Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi – Vietnam.

There are 5 available shows/day weekly at: 15h00, 16h10, 17h20, 18h30, 20h00.

Do not hesitate to contact us if you want us to arrange Hanoi water puppets for your trip to Hanoi. We will arrange comfortable and convenient seat helps you to enjoy the show.


Here are two theaters you can attend Hanoi Water Puppets: