The Hanoi Opera House officially opened its doors on Wednesday to visitors willing to pay a VND400,000 (US$18) entrance fee.
The price includes a tour of the iconic building, a traditional Vietnamese music and dance performance inside the auditorium, and a free tour guide to lead visitors through the unique architecture and history of the century-old edifice.
School students and university undergraduates enjoy a 50-percent discount on admission.
Constructed between 1901 and 1911, the Hanoi Opera House is considered one of the capital’s architectural landmarks, overlooking Trang Tien Street in downtown Hoan Kiem District.
On the building’s first floor, visitors enter into a main hall adorned with a staircase and mosaic floor kept intact since the structure first opened its doors in 1911.
On the second floor lies 'The Mirror Room,' where foreign heads of state are received during visits to the opera house, and a balcony overlooks Hanoi’s bustling streets.
The third and highest floor houses an auditorium where visitors are treated to a feast of colors, sounds, and lights during a traditional Vietnamese music and dance performance.
|Visitors enjoy a performance inside the auditorium at the Hanoi Opera House, September 6, 2017. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
However, the first day of its public opening came with a few added surprises.
“They made no mention of [the entrance fee] on TV,” said Nguyen Van Thang, a resident in Hanoi’s My Dinh District who said he only learned of the admission fee upon arrival at the opera house. “I don’t mind paying for the tour, but they only sell a package that includes the performance. We only want to see the opera house.”
According to the building’s director Nguyen Thi Minh Nguyet, tour-only tickets are still pending approval from the Ministry of Finance.
“The option is not expected to be launched until 2018,” Nguyet said.
Currently, the Hanoi Opera House will open to visitors every Monday and Friday between 10:30 am and 12:00 pm.
Additional visiting hours may be added in October, according to an announcement on the opera house’s website.