If you're into theater, music and cultural arts, then you will enjoy the Vietnamese water puppet shows. The program is about ancient rural life, added with a splash of the mythical (goddesses, dragons, talking fishes!). The program is about an hour long, with live music played on traditional instruments and sung by musicians on either side of the water stage. The singing is similar to Chinese opera - some people might find it painful to the ears, but having grown up around this type of music, I actually found it quite relaxing.
Inside, the Golden Dragon looks like a small movie theater. Cameras and video recorders are allowed inside the theater with no extra fees. If I remember correctly, admission price is 100,000 or 150,000VND per adult. The songs are sung in Vietnamese, and there is no English translation of the program, although what's happening is quite easy to follow.
Kudos to the puppeteers (who comes out after the show)! I would love to know how the stage and the puppets are set up someday.
After the program, the costumed ushers will open the souvenir stands. I was able to get a delightful souvenir of a "water puppet" with moving arms. The moving puppets are more expensive than the standard puppet statues (you can buy at the markets for a fraction of the price but I have yet to see the moving puppets sold elsewhere in HCMC), but since the profits they make goes to the performers, I say it's well worth it to support this tradition.
Another alternative would be the puppet show at the Museum of Vietnamese History (aka Bao Tang Lich Su; located along Nguyen Binh Khiem St.). They have 2-3 showing schedules in the afternoon (1pm onwards, if I'm not mistaken). The program is the same, except that the water stage is located in an open courtyard, and music is pumped through speakers instead of played live. Oh, and the admission is about half the price at the theater.
TIP: Tickets are first come first served. If you can get their number, do call in advance and reserve to get good seats! While the seats are elevated, the stage is rather far from the back seats, so the puppets look tiny.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.