Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theatre, Ho Chi Minh City

In Saigon, the Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theater is the leading performer of this traditional art form, where brightly painted wooden puppets ‘act out’ tales of rural folklore on a stage made of water. Not to ruin the magic, but the puppets are controlled by hidden bamboo sticks and string from behind a bamboo screen, designed to look like a temple. All performances are in Vietnamese but an abundance of bright colors, simple effects and a live orchestra of traditional folk music combines to create an atmospheric and watery little opera.


Puppetry is a traditional art form closely connected with the long-standing spiritual life of the Vietnamese people. There are many kinds of puppet-shows in all the corners of the country, with different kinds of puppets. However, puppetry art has been developed and diversified, as well as popularized, mostly in the northern midland areas, and the plains of Vietnam.


The word “roi” (puppetry) has become part of the proper name applied to villages, to pagodas and even to ponds. Examples include puppetry villages at Y Yen and Nam Dinh Province; as well as puppetry pagodas at Phu Xuyen and Ha Tay province.