Traditional Saigon Dancers

Don’t Miss The Best Traditional Culture Show in Saigon

The Golden Lotus Theater hosts the most enjoyable traditional dance and music show in Saigon. This is a fun show with all the elaborate costumes, vibrant dances, and soulful music you’d expect and few things you wouldn’t. Like a 1000 year old water puppet show that ends with fireworks.

This culture show has good variety and great pacing. There are actually 6 distinct performances during the show. Each represents a different region and/or ethnicity of Vietnam and it’s long history. We’ve seen performances of ancient culture that drag on and get boring. Not this show. 5 of the 6 performances last only 5 minutes each. And the water puppet finale lasts less than 30 minutes. Before you know it, it’s over and you’re left wanting more. That’s a great show in our book.

We love this show. Here’s a preview to tempt you:

Hat Boi

Hat Boi

The first performance is a 700 year-old Vietnamese opera called Hat Boi. The four kings represent the natural forces of thunder, lightning, rain, and wind. The music is fast paced and the kings spend most of the time engaged in epic duels. In the end, they all reconcile, representing harmony in nature.

Birth of the Baby Dragon

This is the most dynamic and entertaining dance. The story behind the dance is the mythological birth of a baby dragon, who brought victory to a Vietnamese emperor. The dance has elements of well-known dragon dances with one exception. The dragons get frisky and the lady dragon gives birth to a cute baby dragon, on stage.

The accompanying music is Vietnam’s most famous traditional music, Nha Nhac. This music is 500 years old and is recognized by Unesco as a cultural heritage.

Hat Chau Van

Saigon Traditional Dancers - Hat Chau Van

This beautiful 400 year-old fan dance has some spooky moments. It’s represents the folk art tradition of northern Vietnam and some of its old mysticism. The main character in green is like a medium or shaman. The purpose of the dance and accompanying music is to put the “shaman” in a trance so he can communicate with the gods. His movements and sadistic smiles get a bit creepy. The music has some heavy rhythmic percussion and some twangy spine-tingling highs. There’s even some well synchronized screaming. Yikes.

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Dan Da – 2000 year-old Stone Instrument

Dan Da – 2000 year-old Stone Instrument This is a purely musical performance of an amazing instrument. A Dan Da is basically a xylophone made of stone. This type of instrument is called a lithophone and is a traditional instrument in many parts of the world. One of the oldest was discovered in central Vietnam. It was more than 2000 years old. The natural and melodic sounds produced by striking these stones are astounding. This is clearly the world’s oldest “rock” music.

Lotus Lantern Dance

Kaleidoscope of Lotus Lanterns

Kaleidoscope of Lotus Lanterns

Called Luc Cung Hoa Dang in Vietnamese, this dance is 500 years old. The lotus is now the national flower of Vietnam and has been an important symbol for untold centuries. The Lotus Lantern Dance emphasizes the coolest aspect of lotus symbolism, how something beautiful can come from a muddy swamp.

There are about 2 dozen dancers, and each holds 2 lotus-shaped lanterns. They make simple movements with the lanterns, but the movements are well coordinated and form beautiful patterns. It reminds you of big living kaleidoscope.

Water Puppet Show

Water puppetry is the best-known and most distinctive Vietnamese art tradition. Created in northern Vietnam in the 11th century, this cultural legacy is nearly 1000 years old. Long before theaters, the ancient water puppet shows were performed right on the banks of the Red river.

The water puppet show is charming in it ancient playfulness. Pratt falls and physical humor are the dominant elements of the puppet show. The scenes alternate between ones with mythological creatures and ones with idyllic depictions of traditional Vietnamese farm life. Inevitably, both scenes devolve into wrestling, swimming, chasing, and generally splashing around as much possible.

There’s some dialog, and it’s all in Vietnamese. It’s impossible to follow, but that’s not a problem. The puppet show is an overtly physical performance. A nice little fireworks display on the water is the big finish.

The water puppet show is charming in it ancient playfulnessClick To Tweet
Water Puppet Show Fireworks

Water Puppet Show Fireworks

Bottom Line

The Golden Lotus Theater is the best cultural variety show in Saigon. For most visitors, this show will be all the traditional dance and music they need. For others, this show will be an invitation to see full performances of their favorite styles. This show displays a great variety of traditional arts in a very entertaining way. At 5 minutes per performance, the show offers only samples of Vietnamese culture, but those samples are authentic, beautiful, and fun. This combination makes it the best in town for some traditional Vietnamese song and dance.

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Travel & Planning Info

Location:

The Golden Lotus Theater is located in the famous Rex Hotel Saigon. The Rex Hotel is located in the heart of the tourist district. It is right on Saigon’s famous pedestrian street, Nguyen Hue Blvd. If you do any typical sightseeing in Saigon, you’ll be steps from Rex Hotel many times. Why not stop in for a show?

We found that stopping by in person or calling is the best way to contact the hotel about the show.

Rex Hotel Saigon

141 Nguyen Hue Blvd, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

(+84 8)38292185

Price: 300,000VND ($15USD)

Considering that the show is in a prestigious 5 star hotel and targeted at tourists, tickets are really cheap. Tickets are available through different tour companies, but the best place to buy them is at the Rex Hotel. Many advertisements state that there are daily shows, but this schedule can vary. In low tourist season, there are often only 3 or 4 shows per week. Check with the Rex Hotel for the schedule during your visit.

At the time of our visit showtimes were as follows: Tuesdays – Thursdays – Saturdays – Sundays at 19:00

Feeling Indulgent in Saigon?

View from Hotel Rex Rooftop Pool

View from Hotel Rex Rooftop Pool

Hotel Rex Saigon is one of the top luxury hotels in the city. They have all the 5 star amenities, but the coolest features are 2 rooftop swimming pools with great views of downtown. There’s even a poolside bar. Retail prices are outrageous, but many online deals make this 5 star palace surprisingly affordable. We’ve found deals for less than $100 USD/night during low and shoulder seasons.

Check the latest rates on:  Agoda | Booking.com

Read Reviews on:  TripAdvisor

Ho Chi Minh City is Very Affordable!

Check Out the Current Roundtrip Airfare and Hotel Rates Below:


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78 Comments
  • Abigail
    Posted at 23:27h, 11 December

    These cultural shows are so much fun and entertaining! It is also an entertaining to learn about the way of life, culture and history of a country!

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 23:30h, 11 December

    Hi Abigail. You’re absolutely right! We learned so much about the Vietnamese culture and history just from watching this show. 🙂

  • jessica
    Posted at 05:14h, 12 December

    What a great looking show. I love that you get to sample so many different art forms. We didn’t get to check out any when we were in Vietnam. That seems like a very reasonable price! What time did the show start?

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 05:20h, 12 December

    Hi Jessica. Yes, it was awesome! The price was unbelievable especially for such a great show. It started at 7:00 PM.

  • Divya Mathur
    Posted at 06:43h, 12 December

    One of the things I love to do while traveling abroad is to attend a show of some sort. (When my sister and I went to Turkey, we went and watched a “Whirling Dervishes” show. It tells you so much about the culture and the history of the country. I feel like it brought me in touch with the whole traveling abroad experience more than anything else! (Well, besides the food of course).

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 06:47h, 12 December

    Hello Divya, We agree. Cultural performances can really put you in touch with a place. The Whirling Dervishes are amazing. We had plans to visit Turkey this year but had to cancel. We hope to see them next year.

  • Imaobong
    Posted at 07:14h, 12 December

    The Golden Lotus Theatre — never heard of it before today but it looks very dynamic and creative and fun.
    Cultural shows like this are always worth it!

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 07:16h, 12 December

    Hello Imaobong. It was a dynamic show and definitely worth the visit.

  • Tara L
    Posted at 07:53h, 12 December

    Is this like a Indian show? If so I heard they are really nice and I would love to see one but probably have to travel far to go see one since I live in NJ. Not really sure, but the traditional looks great. Enjoy!

  • Amber Myers
    Posted at 08:37h, 12 December

    Wow, this would be so neat to see! I love all the colors. I hope to be able to check something out like this one day.

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 08:46h, 12 December

    Hello Amber. We hope you can see the show. Its lots of fun.

  • Maja | Mexatia
    Posted at 13:49h, 12 December

    The show seems to be a must when in Saigon! The lotus lantern dance looks so beautiful. It’s a great way to explore local customs and art, my second favorite activity after discovering local food 🙂

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 13:53h, 12 December

    Hello Maja. The lantern dance was gorgeous to see. We agree about food. It’s first in our book too. Luckily Vietnam has so much delicious food to explore.

  • Angela
    Posted at 13:56h, 12 December

    This is so cool! I would love to see an authentic cultural show like this. Looks like you had a great time!

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 14:00h, 12 December

    Hello Angela. Thanks we had a great time. Check out this show next time you’re in Saigon.

  • Noemi of Pinay Flying High
    Posted at 15:49h, 12 December

    I laughed out loud on the birth of baby dragon. How frisky was it? LOL. The lotus dance looks beautiful and it did remind me of a kaleidoscope based on the photo. I didn’t know it’s their national flower. 🙂

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 15:51h, 12 December

    Hello Noemi. Haha, it was G rated, but still clearly frisky. We laughed out loud when we saw that baby dragon pop up too.

  • Briana Marie
    Posted at 17:39h, 12 December

    I love culture shows! Such a great opportunity to learn about different parts of the world. Lots of fun too!

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 17:45h, 12 December

    Hello Briana Marie. We love culture shows too. This one is fun and we learned a lot.

  • Allison
    Posted at 17:55h, 12 December

    I am heading to Vietnam in May and planning to spend about two days in Saigon. This will definitely be going on my list of things to do. I can’t get over how cheap the tickets are!

  • Valerie
    Posted at 18:19h, 12 December

    You have the most interesting travels. I would love to see Saigon. It looks incredibly cool.

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 18:23h, 12 December

    Hello Valerie. Thank you. We live to travel. Hope you make it to Saigon one day. We think your kids would love it. And the interesting art and food of Vietnam would probably inspire you to invent even more great crafts and recipes.

  • Cliodhna Ryan
    Posted at 18:24h, 12 December

    Firstly, that baby dragon is so cute!!
    Secondly, this looks like a great way to get an insight into 6 different local traditions. I would love to go to this show when I do get to Vietnam.

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 18:27h, 12 December

    Hello Cliodhna. The baby dragon cracked us up. Have fun in Vietnam and we hope you can see the show.

  • Lynne Sarao
    Posted at 19:23h, 12 December

    Oh so much fun! I went to this same show when I was in Saigon a few years back and you’re right – the costumes, the music and the show was just a fantastic way to get excited and learn about the local culture! I’ve never seen a “puppet” show on water like that before. So unique!

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 19:29h, 12 December

    Hello Lynne. This show certainly taught a few things and inspired us to research more.

  • Beth
    Posted at 20:59h, 12 December

    These are beautiful photographs. I love the culture and traditions!

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 21:11h, 12 December

    Hello Beth. Thank you. Vietnam has such cool traditions to be sure.

  • kathy (from walkaboutwanderer.com)
    Posted at 23:06h, 12 December

    I remember seeing the water puppet show when I was in Vietnam. Such a lovely experience. I really recommend it.

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 23:11h, 12 December

    Hello Kathy. Good to hear that you enjoyed the water puppets too.

  • blair villanueva
    Posted at 04:59h, 13 December

    They are all very interesting performances. I would like to watch the petformance of The Birth of the Baby Dragon… looks cute 🙂

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 05:05h, 13 December

    Hello Blair. The Baby Dragon was so cute and funny.

  • Amrita
    Posted at 08:15h, 13 December

    Loved your description of these cultural shows.It’s one of the mist entertaining way of learning about new cultures.

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 08:20h, 13 December

    Hello Amrita. Thank you. We agree that these shows are an entertaining way to learn of a new culture.

  • Sara - I do what I want to
    Posted at 08:30h, 13 December

    It is really nice to concentrate that much cultural art in just one spot! I can’t think it could be done in my country (Spain) for so many reasons nonrelated to art!

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 08:37h, 13 December

    Hello Sara. This did put a lot of performance into a short time. It really moved along well.

  • FS
    Posted at 09:07h, 13 December

    Looks like an amazing cultural show. The performances seem to be really superb. Thanks for sharing.

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 09:19h, 13 December

    Hello FS. It was a superb show and very fun.

  • Natalie
    Posted at 10:08h, 13 December

    I would love to see such a show. Learning about a culture makes the experience so much more meaningful – especially for children. I know the kids would love it!

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 10:10h, 13 December

    Hello Natalie. We’ve seen many kids at this show and they really seemed to enjoy it. There are always new performers in different colourful costumes coming out to keep everyones attention.

  • Debra @ Traveling Well For Less
    Posted at 12:06h, 13 December

    I haven’t been to Vietnam yet adding this to my list of must do’s for when I get there.

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 12:08h, 13 December

    Hello Debra. That’s great. We love Vietnam and Hope you enjoy it too.

  • Mike
    Posted at 21:28h, 13 December

    The lotus lantern dance looks really cool. I’d love to see it. I can’t believe that Dan da is a 2000 year old stone xylophone! So amazing!

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 21:30h, 13 December

    Hello Mike. The Lantern was quite a spectacle and The Dan Da blew us away.

  • Chante Burkett
    Posted at 21:51h, 13 December

    cultural shows are so entertaining and fun to watch

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 21:55h, 13 December

    Hello Chante. We love culture shows too.

  • Jasmine Watts
    Posted at 03:54h, 14 December

    Wow.. sounds like so much fun! I hope to check out something like this one day.

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 03:55h, 14 December

    Hello Jasmine. It was fun. Hope you do see the show one day.

  • Mar Pages
    Posted at 03:56h, 14 December

    I’ve seen dragon dancing before on Chinese New Year, but that Birth of the Baby Dragon looks so amazing! I love learning about culture through performances like these, so embedded in the history of the country. Thanks for the review.

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 03:58h, 14 December

    Hello Mar. We love fun ways to learn about other cultures too. And the baby dragon was so cute.

  • chris
    Posted at 08:05h, 14 December

    As much as I wanted to, I could never get into the Vietnamese water puppetry.

    There’s no denying their skill, but the shows were just too long for my tastes 🙂

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 08:09h, 14 December

    Hello Chris. Yes. This water puppet show is great because it so much shorter than the typical one. You get to see the skill but it doesn’t drag on with repetitive stuff.

  • Neha
    Posted at 09:46h, 14 December

    Wow..the puppet show and the lotus dance are both mesmerizing. This reminded me of a puppet show I just saw on my recent visit to Rajasthan, India. Beautiful!!

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 09:48h, 14 December

    Hello Neha. Yes it was a great show. We’d love to see the performances in Rajasthan too.

  • Nadine Smith (Scenes From Nadine)
    Posted at 12:20h, 14 December

    My husband and I just visited Hanoi last month, and we were supposed to go watch the Water Puppet Show but ran out of time so we decided to skip it. I would like to visit Saigon one day. The baby dragon looks so cute! I think I might enjoy that one 🙂 The Lotus Dance also looks so interesting and beautiful in your photo!

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 12:25h, 14 December

    Hi Nadine. Oh, so sorry to hear that. The show was quite enjoyable. Hope you will make it to Saigon sometime in the near future. 🙂

  • Ana Ojha
    Posted at 15:23h, 14 December

    I love going to the cultural events and shows and all these shows look amazing! Thanks for sharing all the information. I’d love to explore all of them!

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 15:25h, 14 December

    Hello Ana. Thank you. We love exploring these cultural events too.

  • Nathan
    Posted at 20:25h, 14 December

    The show looks really cool! I didn’t get to see one when I was in Vietnam. Also, the hotel is gorgeous.

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 20:26h, 14 December

    Hello Nathan. It was a cool show and the Rex is very lux.

  • Doreen Pendgracs
    Posted at 09:35h, 15 December

    I would love to visit the The Golden Lotus Theater in Saigon. It looks like a great way to learn about traditional Vietnamese culture.

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 09:40h, 15 December

    Hi Doreen. We agree and had a great time at the show.

  • Punita Malhotra
    Posted at 12:18h, 16 December

    Cultural shows like these give so much insight into a country. Dance, music and the arts are thriving more because of tourism.

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 12:21h, 16 December

    Hello Punita. That’s true. Tourism does help the arts and artists thrive.

  • Sandy N Vyjay
    Posted at 01:27h, 17 December

    One should definitely try cultural shows like these. we can learn so much about different traditions. Would love to attend this cultural show someday. It is a great mirror to the Vietnamese culture.

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 12:33h, 17 December

    Hello Sandy and Vyjay. This show highlights lots of great cultural moments for Vietnam. We loved it.

  • Chi Le
    Posted at 19:49h, 17 December

    What a great post! I used to visit Saigon but haven’t been to this culture show! I’ll definitely get there if I ever drop by the city again in the future!:)

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 19:50h, 17 December

    Hello Chi Le. Thank you. We enjoyed the show. If you see it, let us know your opinion.

  • Izzy
    Posted at 00:24h, 19 December

    Oh interesting! I live in Saigon but I’ve never heard of this place. Seems like something I should check out. I went to the puppet theater and later learned there’s a better one in Hanoi so I’ve kind of being saving cultural experiences for when I visit the north and do the tourist circuit.

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 00:30h, 19 December

    Hello Izzy. Hanoi has some great shows. The advantage of this one is the pacing and variety. Hope you enjoy if you see it. Let us know.

  • Kevin Wagar
    Posted at 14:10h, 19 December

    That looks like a great show! I bet my kids would love it too!

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 14:20h, 19 December

    Hello Kevin. We’ve seen lots of kids there. They seem to enjoy the pacing and changes of colourful costumes.

  • Christina Guan
    Posted at 04:19h, 20 December

    lol @ your frisky dragons caption hahah. These all look really neat, but the lotus lantern show especially looks amazing! That would be my pick 🙂

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 04:20h, 20 December

    Hello Christina Guan. Yes the frisky dragons were hilarious. And the lanterns were amazing. The moves were simple but the choreography of the lights moving was awesome.

  • Ami
    Posted at 08:44h, 20 December

    Sounds like a lovely cultural experience. I like the way you have described all the dances – with their central theme, They definitely help understand and appreciate the culture better.

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 08:59h, 20 December

    Hello Ami. Thank you. We love Vietnam’s long, rich history and wanton share it.

  • Gypsycouple
    Posted at 11:51h, 20 December

    Sounds like a wonderful show. We haven’t been to Saigon yet but this definitely seems like something we would like to see. Birthing of a new dragon seems hilarious!

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 11:55h, 20 December

    Hello Gypsycouple. The baby dragon popping out was so funny. It was actually a surprise.