Are you after a Hoi An activity that’s …
(1) as much fun for the kids as it is for you
(2) not only creative but educational
(3) results in a rather splendid Hoi An souvenir …
Well, guess what, you’re in luck. Welcome to the Timing Masks Hoi An Workshop!
Mr Phong Bui
A family business headed by bald-headed patriarch Mr Phong Bui, the Timing Masks Workshop aims to preserve one of Vietnam’s oldest cultural activities: the art of mask making. A skilled artisan and mask maker, Bui emanates a Dalai Lama-like all-knowing calm. But there is a quiet strength too as he commands the attention of tourists and visitors through his passionate desire to share this tradition.
Why is the company called The Timing Masks? The family chose this name in honor of the 30-year period their father, Phong Bui, worked to become the incredible he artisan he is. It also honors his efforts to keep his increasingly dying tradition alive.
Apart from souvenir masks on sale, The Timing Masks Workshop offers two types of workshop:
- a 2 hour intensive course in all 4 stages of mask making
- the less structured, Folk Mask Painting workshop where you can let your creative juices flow and paint a mask to your liking or pick a mask to copy.
How Well Did Our 6-Year-Old Cope?
With a hyper-active 6 year-old in tow we chose the latter and my kids and I were smartly shoved in front of over 200 masks on show and told to choose. Selection and size of mask complete, the designs were pencil drawn by staff under the ever-watchful eyes of Bui.
Amazingly, this activity under the constant guidance of staff kept both my children (the other is 12) absorbed for 1½ hours. The little one’s mask was touched up by the man himself in clever pretence of showing her what to do. So, amidst banter of ‘who’s is the best?’, we all ended up with a superb mask souvenir.
Timing Mask 1½ hour workshops:
Cost: 350,000 VND (15 USD)
Hours | 9am – 6pm (workshops must be booked two days in advance) / 7 days
Folk Mask Painting Workshop
Cost: 200,000 VND (8.60 USD)
Hours | 9am – 6pm / 7 days (1 – 1 ½ hours but duration is adaptable to fit in with your needs)
Masks on Sale
Medium sized from 184,000 VND (8 USD)
Ask the staff to mount the mask on a basket as we did; it really touches it off and looks amazing. The extra 3 USD is worth it.
Don’t miss one of the cultural performances that are held daily at 5pm to really understand the tradition of masks and theatre. Held in an intimate setting with only 55 seats you will see traditional dance, folk and opera performances – and masks!
Entry: 100,000 VND (4 USD approx); Times: 10.15 am, 3.15pm & 3.45pm / 7 days