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The Thang Long Water Puppet Theater in Hanoi is a charming theater known for putting on performances of ancient Vietnamese mythology, local folklore and stories from the country’s history. The shows generally take about an hour and its recommended that you try to get a seat in the first three rows, as some visitors say it can be a bit difficult to see the stage from the back, especially for children. It’s also a good idea to get some tickets well in advance, as the theater is quite popular for locals and visitors alike, and the shows tend to sell out pretty quickly.

The puppetry is quite skillful, with realistic, agile movement, achieving what so many puppeteers strive for in giving the audience a sense that they’re actually watching real people onstage. The shows are in the Vietnamese language, but a medium as visually expressive as a puppet show can reach out beyond the language barrier and tell a story clearly with or without the aid of understandable dialogue. Cameras are allowed, and you even get a free CD of the accompanying music just for buying your ticket.

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