I. Overview of Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theater
Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theater is a sound-after destination for local and international tourists in Ho Chi Minh City. Having been established on August 3rd 2007, the theater is now the first choice for enjoying water puppetry in HCM. It has around 200 seats.
When visiting the theater, tourists have a chance to enjoy water puppetry – the unique art performance of Vietnamese. Let’s explore the Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theater as well as Water Puppetry with Mekong Smile Tour!
The theater is located at 55B Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1, HCM City. The Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theater is also near the Independence Palace and Tao Dan Park.
Opening hours and entrance tickets
- There are two shows daily starting at 5 PM and 6:30 PM and lasting approximately 45 minutes with no intermission.
- Ticket price: VND 250,000 (~ $11 USD)
- You can buy tickets at the ticket booth from 8:30 to 11:20 AM or from 1:30 to 7:30 PM. Also, you contact the theater in advance via hotline booking to reserve your ticket.
- Hotline booking: +84 2839302196 or +84989370873
II. Origin of water puppetry
Water puppetry dated from the 11th century as it originated in the villages of the Red River Delta area. The performance reflects the real daily life of people in the countryside with stories from the kitchen to the paddy fields. At first, water puppetry shows were performed on special occasions such as festivals or Tet holidays. The original water puppetry performances were organized in paddy fields after the harvest time. After that communal ponds became stages for these performances, increasing the popularity of the art form.
In the past, people realized that water was an excellent stage for puppetry. It not only helped to hide the rob and string mechanisms, but brought exciting effects like waves and splashes. The puppets have been mainly made of wood and then covered with lacquer. Nowadays, the puppet is fixed to a floating base at the end of a long bamboo. The base consists of a rudder and works as a fulcrum for the strings that control the puppet.
How to perform the water puppetry
Performing the water puppetry, puppeteers stand behind a curtain backdrop and in a chest-deep pool of water. They control puppets through poles and strings concealed under the water. At that time, audiences can see wooden puppets dancing over the water’s surface. Puppeteers will tell stories, historic tales, traditional folklore, and legends of Vietnamese via movements and gestures of puppets. Besides, the shows will not make an impression on audiences, if the background music is absent. Various instruments such as drums, vocals, bamboo flutes and others make the performances more interesting.
III. Water Puppet Show at Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theater
The program includes:
- Raising the Festival Flag (Bật cờ hội)
- The narrator: Teu (Tễu giáo trò)
- Dragon Dance (Múa rồng)
- On a buffalo with the flute (Em bé chăn trâu thổi sáo)
- Agriculture (Nông nghiệp)
- Catching frogs (Câu ếch)
- Rearing ducks and catching foxes (Đánh cáo bắt vịt)
- Fishes (Câu, đánh bắt cá)
- Lion dance (Múa sư tử)
- Phoenix dance (Múa phượng)
- King Le Loi on boat tour or the legend about “Restored sword” (Truyền thuyết Lê Lợi trả gươm)
- Children playing in water (Nhi đồng Hý thủy)
- Boat racing (Đua thuyền)
- Unicorns play with ball (Múa lân tranh cầu)
- Fairy dance (Múa tiên)
- Dance of four Holy Animals (Múa tứ linh long lân quy phụng)
Here are several images in water puppetry shows in Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theater
IV. Artists and instruments
The water puppetry shows are supported by a huge number of Vietnamese musical instruments. They are great drum, rice drum, child drum, Vietnamese traditional zither, flute, Vietnamese two-chord fiddle, gong and clash cymbals. Artists, performing musical instruments, usually wear Ao Dai and Vietnamese headbands. They sit on two sides of the stage and play their own instruments while puppeteers stand behind the screen. Puppeteers have often experienced rheumatism and leeches while practicing the craft.
V. Tips for the experience at Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theater
- Get further information about ticket prices and schedules, you need to visit the website http://www.goldendragonwaterpuppet.vn/
- Although all performances are in Vietnamese, foreign visitors can understand the plot of the show via actions and gestures.
- You need to book tickets as soon as possible, because seats will be quickly filled up at the peak of the holiday season.