It’s easy to get your art and culture on in Hanoi at any time of the day. Aside from all the local galleries, street art and fashion boutiques, there are shows to be had. Here’s a quick review of our top 7:
Thang Long Water Puppet Theater
57b Dinh Tien Hoang Street, Hoan Kiem
Multiple performances daily. VND 100,000
You can’t have a list of Hanoi shows without this one. Water puppetry has long held its place in the fabric of Vietnamese culture. There are a few different places to enjoy this unique artform, but Thang Long is one of the best, with many of its artists touring worldwide and a three year training period before any of them can ‘get on’ stage.A typical show will usually involve up to 10 or 12 puppeteers, and include the use of traditional Vietnamese instruments like the bamboo flute and the two-stringed guitar known as the Dan Sen. It’s an hour of fun and drama you won’t forget.Your hotel will know all about this show too, and in many cases may offer you a dinner or tour package that includes a ‘queue-jumper’ ticket that comes with favorable (front row) seats. Remember though, this is a water puppet show, so be prepared to get a little bit wet!
Làng Tôi – My Village Show
Alternating between the Hanoi Theatre & Hanoi Opera House
Performances: Check the production company’s timetable here .This is a highly regarded and beautifully choreographed show that celebrates and presents traditional village life in a very modern but charming way.Featuring highly skilled cirque performers, whose artistry and athleticism will leave you breathless, the show also includes live performances of up to twenty different exotic folk instruments.Lang Toi is highly regarded online and is also family-friendly, so we do recommend you make a booking.
Four Palaces – Tứ Phủ Show
Cong Nhan Theater, 42 Trang Tien St., Hoan Kiem
Performances: Every Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday 6pm and 7.30pm. The Four Palaces Show takes its audience through the ritualistic performance of Len Dong, a tradition inside Vietnamese folklore whereby followers, including those of the mother goddess religion called Dao Mau, are said to become mediums for various deities.Featuring outstanding visual and musical performances, as well as incredible costumes, this show will have you spellbound as singers evoke incantations of 36 different Gods and Goddesses.
Ca Trù Singers
Den Quan De, 28 Hang Buom, Hoan Kiem
This is another performance of traditional Vietnamese music and offers an oasis of calm and serenity in the heart of the busy city. Performed inside a beautiful old (but small) temple, Ca Tru literally translates to the art of singing poetry, and has parallels with Japan’s Geisha culture. In 2009 the artform was even recognised by UNESCO as an ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding’, so we recommend seeing it before it may disappear.Aside from Ca Tru’s historical significance, these shows are usually inexpensive and are as much about the performers love of the art as anything else. This means they retain that lovely amateur theatre vibe, so don’t be surprised if you called upon to be part of the performance. Another great one for families.
Chau Van Singing
Chua Luu Phai, Thanh Tri, Hanoi
In much the same vein as Len Dong, this is an ancient form of ceremonial singing previously used to evoke the gods to deliver their blessings onto ill people, and dates back to the 16th century. Said to originate from the Red River Delta in northern Vietnam, it’s up to the Master of Ceremonies and the assembled orchestra to encourage the deities to enter the ill person’s body. The Chau Van singing club at Luu Phai Temple has preservation of this art form as one of its core goals, and is the best place to see it in Hanoi.
Binh Minh Jazz Club
1 Trang Tien, Hanoi
This is a must for jazz and live music fans. Hosted and owned by legendary local saxophonist Quyen Van Minh, he and his invited guests, which invariably come from all over the world, put on a show just a couple of blocks from Hoan Kiem Lake that you won’t forget. This really is club jazz at its finest, and deserves its online rep.
Shows start nightly from 9pm and are heavily influenced by the likes of John Coltrane and Charlie Parker, but that doesn’t mean Quyen is afraid to spice things up Vietnamese style. Think you’ve got talent? This stage could be yours…
Hanoi Rock City
27/52 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho
Not a ‘show’ as such, but after you’ve sampled your share of traditional Vietnamese folklore and culture, you may want to ‘rock out’. Hanoi Rock City, based in the creative commons that is Tay Ho, is the place to do this, hosting local and international music acts as diverse as the people who form this eight-year-old venues multicultural audience.
‘HRC’, as its known by the city’s youth, really is a location that has been at the forefront of cultural development and international exchange in the capital, and deserves its billing as the city’s premier multi-platform music and arts hub. Check out their page for who’s on tonight!