Traditional water puppets are a unique and fascinating way to learn something of the history, myths and legends of the Quang Nam
district and the ancient trading port city of Hoi An in Central Vietnam.
The approximately 1 hour shows us dragon boat racing, the mating dance of the Phoenix, how local fish are caught with traditional bamboo fish traps and we see something of the reliance traditional life in Central Vietnam had on its waterways.
The hand-crafted wooden puppets are amazing, and include phoenixes, dragons, ducks, snakes, boats, frogs, water spirits and the cutest little Vietnamese boys playing in the water. Unfortunately you don’t get to see or touch the puppets up close after the show, nor do the puppeteers engage with the audience beyond waving at the curtain call. There are no souvenirs or puppets for sale either.
The show throughout is set to traditional Vietnamese folk music, and gives an authentic taste of a very old culture, long before tourism became popular or performance art could be shared digitally
The show is narrated throughout in English. The Puppet Theater is an easy 15 minute walk from the Ancient Town of Hoi An, and the show is performed every day except Wednesdays and Sundays, starting at 6.30pm promptly. If you want a good seat, plan to be there 6ish. You can pre-purchase tickets (80,000 VND each – about USD $3.10 – no priority seating available) from the ticket booths in the Ancient Town. Seating is basic and yes, there are clean toilets on site.
The beauty of the water puppets is that it’s light, amusing, speaks to people of all ages and nationalities and imparts the flavor of Hoi An and Vietnam.
Speaking of flavor, there are loads of eateries across the road down the small street half a block down towards the city for after the show. Easy to get a taxi back to An Bang Beach and the area around the Theater is well lit and quite safe for solo women travelers.
Recommended and a delightful early evening – money well spent.