Things to Do / Attractions

Water Puppet Show

6.30pm – 7.15pm (closed Sundays)
548 Hai BaTrung
+84 (0) 235 386 1327

A short walk from the Old Town, Hoi An’s Water Puppet Show is an entertaining prelude to dinner and fun for all ages. Set under the stars in amphitheater-styled seating, this energetic and frequently humorous 45-minute show presents a series of fables and stories on Vietnamese village life through colorfully hand-carved puppets. Here is everything you need to know about the Water Puppet Show, one of the most important attractions in Hoi An.

Water Puppet Overview

Hoi An Water Puppet Show

When in Vietnam, one of the things you should not miss is a water puppet show. In Hoi An, the show takes place at the Hoi An Theatre, which is located north of the famous Old Town. It is an open-air space with stadium-style seating that definitely makes the show an even more interesting experience.

It is an evening than both adults and children enjoy equally and thanks to the fact that the show is just 45 minutes long, it’s a great start to any evening. Even though the acts are introduced in English, the puppets actually ‘speak’ Vietnamese but this is not a problem at all since one can easily follow the show by following the movement of the puppets.

After wandering on the narrow streets of Hoi An all afternoon, in search of the next best coconut coffee and the perfect tailor, enjoying a puppet show at the Hoi An Theatre is definitely a great way to end the day or start your evening.

The Culture of Water Puppet Shows

In Vietnam, water puppetry is a tradition that dates back as far as the 11th century when it originated in the villages of the Red River Delta area, in the northern part of the country. Rice cultivation techniques, together with associated traditional occupations and customs, including pastoral amusements, gave water puppetry a form of folk culture originating from the natural environment and in complete harmony with nature. When the rice fields would flood, the villagers would entertain each other using this form of puppet play.

As for the puppets themselves, they are made out of wood and then lacquered and the shows are performed in a waist-deep pool. A large bamboo rod supports the puppet under the water and is used by the puppeteers, who are normally hidden behind a screen so that they can control them. As a result, the puppets appear to be moving over the water.

Where can I buy tickets?

In order to see a water puppet show at the Hoi An Theater you can buy your ticket from the booths in and around the Old Town or at the entrance to the theater. Showing Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturdays, the show starts on time at 6.30pm and finishes at 7.15pm.

Review of Water Puppet Show in Hoi An

The Water Puppet Theatre in Hoi An is a wonderfully intimate setting and offers clear views from every angle, no matter where you are seated. Also, being out in the open under the stars creates a magical atmosphere.

As for the show itself, whilst there’s an English translation, it’s minimal. However, the language of slapstick, where lazy farmers fight off big fish, is something everyone can relate to.

With or without kids, Hoi An’s Water Puppet Show is highly recommended and for the best seating arrive around 15 – 20 minutes early, as the seats are not assigned. The theatre also has a small ramp for those who might need to use a wheelchair.

Written By
Sharon Guest

Primarily a playwright, Sharon has written for magazines and newspapers in many parts of the world. The author of two books, she is also a co-founder of Hoi An Now.

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