Discover the fascinating history of the Dao Thuc Water Puppet Show, a tradition that dates back over three centuries. Immerse yourself in tales of ancient artisans, noble roots, and the visionary founder, Mr. Dao Dang Khiem, who brought this captivating art form to life in the picturesque village of Dao Thuc.

The Water Puppetry of Dao Thuc is recognized as a National Intangible Cultural Heritage. The Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism has issued Decision 473/QD-BVTTTDL to include the art of water puppetry in Dao Thuc village (Dong Anh district, Hanoi) in the list of national intangible cultural heritage.

Dao Thuc is an ancient village located about 25 kilometers from the center of Hanoi. The village’s communal house stele records that water puppetry has been present in the village since the time of Le Trung Hung, over 300 years ago.

The founder of the Dao Thuc water puppetry craft is Mr. Dao Dang Khiem, a former high-ranking official in the imperial court. After leaving the court, he returned to Dao Thuc to teach the local people the art of water puppetry. Despite facing many challenges and setbacks, thanks to the love and dedication of generations of local people, the tradition of Dao Thuc water puppetry has been effectively preserved and developed into a renowned brand.

Dao Thuc village, with its water puppetry tradition, holds a significant cultural heritage in Vietnam. The art of water puppetry originated in the Red River Delta region of northern Vietnam and has been practiced for centuries. However, Dao Thuc stands out as a prominent village associated with this traditional art form.

The water puppetry performances in Dao Thuc village are characterized by their unique combination of storytelling, music, and puppet manipulation. The shows take place on a water stage, with the puppets controlled by puppeteers hidden behind a screen. These puppeteers skillfully maneuver the puppets using long bamboo rods and ropes submerged in the water, creating the illusion that the puppets are moving on the water’s surface.

The acts in Dao Thuc water puppetry often depict scenes from rural life and folklore, reflecting the daily activities, customs, and legends of the local community. The traditional acts are passed down through generations and have been preserved and adapted to suit contemporary tastes. In recent years, modern performances have also been introduced, incorporating historical events and themes to attract a wider audience.


Dao Thuc village has not only focused on preserving the art of water puppetry but has also embraced innovation and economic development. Recognizing the potential of tourism, the village has transformed itself into a popular tourist destination. In addition to the puppetry performances, visitors can explore various tourism services and experiences offered by the local community, such as workshops on puppet making, traditional music performances, and cultural tours.

Here’s some more information about Dao Thuc water puppetry:

  1. Historical Significance: Water puppetry has been an integral part of Dao Thuc village for over 300 years. The art form has its roots in the rural communities of the Red River Delta, where farmers used it as a form of entertainment during the agricultural off-season. Dao Thuc village has played a crucial role in preserving and developing this traditional art form.
  2. Artistic Techniques: Dao Thuc water puppetry is known for its skilled puppeteers, who operate the puppets with precision and grace. The puppeteers stand in waist-deep water behind a bamboo screen, manipulating the puppets using bamboo rods and strings. The coordination between the puppeteers and the live musicians, who provide a musical accompaniment using traditional instruments, creates a harmonious and captivating performance.
  3. Puppet Designs: The water puppets of Dao Thuc village are meticulously crafted by local artisans. These puppets are made from lightweight wood and lacquered to make them waterproof. The designs range from human characters to animals, mythical creatures, and objects representing elements of daily life. The puppets are beautifully painted and adorned with colorful costumes, enhancing their visual appeal during performances.
  4. Traditional Acts: Dao Thuc water puppetry incorporates a repertoire of traditional acts that have been passed down through generations. These acts often depict scenes from rural life, including farming activities, fishing, communal celebrations, and mythical stories. The performances are accompanied by live traditional music, including vocals, drums, cymbals, and flutes, adding depth and rhythm to the storytelling.
  5. Cultural Preservation and Tourism: Dao Thuc village has actively embraced tourism to preserve and promote its water puppetry tradition. The village has established performance venues, workshops, and cultural centers where visitors can learn about the art form and engage in hands-on experiences. The tourism development has not only provided economic opportunities for the local community but also created awareness and appreciation for Dao Thuc water puppetry on a national and international scale.
  6. Recognition and Awards: The inclusion of Dao Thuc water puppetry in the list of national intangible cultural heritage by the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism is a significant recognition of its cultural value. This recognition has helped elevate the profile of Dao Thuc village and its water puppetry tradition, attracting increased attention from tourists, researchers, and cultural enthusiasts.
  7. Cultural Exchange and Performances Abroad: Dao Thuc water puppetry has gained international recognition and has been showcased in various cultural events and festivals around the world. The performances abroad provide opportunities for cultural exchange and allow audiences from different countries to experience the unique charm and artistic beauty of this traditional Vietnamese art form.

Overall, Dao Thuc water puppetry stands as a living testament to the rich cultural heritage of Vietnam. It continues to evolve and adapt while preserving its traditional essence, captivating audiences with its artistry, storytelling, and visual spectacle.

To reach Dao Thuc village and experience the water puppetry tradition, you can follow these general directions from Hanoi:

  1. Hanoi to Dong Anh District: Dao Thuc village is located in Dong Anh district, which is about 25 kilometers northeast of Hanoi’s city center. You can take a taxi, Grab (ride-hailing service), or a local bus to Dong Anh district. The journey typically takes around 30-45 minutes, depending on traffic conditions.
  2. Dong Anh District to Dao Thuc Village: Once you reach Dong Anh district, you can hire a taxi or a motorbike taxi (xe om) to take you directly to Dao Thuc Village. Alternatively, you can consider renting a motorcycle or bicycle if you are comfortable riding one.
  3. Local Assistance: It might be helpful to have the name and address of Dao Thuc village written down in Vietnamese to show to the driver or locals for assistance. Here is the information in Vietnamese: “Làng Đạo Thúc, xã Đạo Thúc, huyện Đông Anh, Hà Nội.”
  4. Guided Private Tours: Another convenient option is to book a guided tour that specifically includes a visit to Dao Thuc village for the water puppetry experience and other hidden gems that are included in the whole specially designed tour. Check with Vietnam Travel Deals for further information and how to arrange this tour.

The Dao Thuc Water Puppet Show promises an extraordinary adventure into the heart of Vietnamese culture. Let the tales of rural life, mythical legends, and historical events captivate your spirit and leave an indelible mark on your journey. Join us on this magical quest and become part of the legacy that continues to thrive and enchant visitors from around the world. Dao Thuc Water Puppet Show awaits, ready to immerse you in a cultural experience like no other.

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