Hanoi doesn’t run out of things to offer all year round. Since Northern Vietnam experiences four seasons, visiting here becomes even more thrilling. The Hanoi climate is ever changing which adds to the surprise of the city. If you’re undecided as to when to book that flight, you need to look for things you can do each season that matches your traveling mood.
Winter, spring, summer, or fall? I know James Taylor is running on your mind right now, but before you burst into a song rendition, here are things you can do in the capital for every season.
Yes, even Hanoi experiences winter! But as an American, it might not be the chilly type you experience during Christmas time here in the U.S. Anyway, the weather is great and temperatures can go lower than 10C at some days.
This is the season where Pho becomes even more in demand as if locals haven’t tasted it almost every single day of their lives. The best Phos are in the Old Quarter and you can pair it with a cup of egg coffee. Not all restaurants offer this, but if you really want to taste this goodness, you better be patient.
After filling yourself with local delights, it’s the best time to wander in West Lake. You can rent a little swan paddle boat for just $3.5 and enjoy the misty weather in the beautiful lake for an hour. If you’re in the mood for a short alone time, this one’s fitting.
However, I’m sad to break the news that this Hanoi climate doesn’t experience snow. If you want, you can ride a train from Hanoi going to Sapa where some folks head during winter months.
Nevertheless, you can reserve that snowy dream when you go back home. While you’re in Hanoi, try riding a scooter while you enjoy the breeze touching your face. It can get really freezy while riding a motorbike, but at least you save yourself from the sweltering heat and irascible riders tend to have a cooler temper.
Don’t miss the annual Hanoi Flower Festival!
During this time, streets are adorned with lots of flower arrangements and traditional decors. Roaming Hanoi streets alone is already a wonderful experience.
Also, you might enjoy spending the Christmas Eve at the Tay Ho District with a shopping spree. Or you might find a spot in the busy Ta Hien Street where lots of locals, expats, and foreigners flock for a holiday booze.
If you’re lucky, you can be in time for the Tet holiday!
One of best things when visiting Hanoi at springtime is its transition from winter to spring Hanoi climate. During this time, the weather is cool but sunny enough for blooming flowers. Somehow, the weather is poetic and romantic with colors blooming everywhere.
A must-visit is the Nhat Tan Peach Garden where you’re surrounded by a sea of peach blossoms. The Ao Dai lanterns are so charming and blend well with the different floras in the village. If Japan has cherry blossoms, Hanoi has peach blossoms.
Streets like Hoang Hoa Tham and Buoi are adorned with colors from Ban and blackboard flowers. The atmosphere is relaxing, and if you rest under a purplish Ban tree, you’ll be tempted to do an on-the-spot photo session.
Vietnamese people have this hobby and penchant of flowers which then results in elegant arrangements. Even the sight of flower vendors on their bikes is already postcard-like.
Tet might also coincide with this season and you may see red packets as holiday decorations. If the Vietnamese holiday does happen during spring, be reminded that almost all establishments will be closed for the first four to six days. However, you shouldn’t worry about your itinerary and Hanoi climate because the celebration will send you flurrying from one temple to another.
During these months, Hanoi also commemorates its heroes and religious icons. Don’t forget to pay a visit at Hai Ba Trung Temple, Giong Temple, and Co Loa. The Huong Pagoda Festival also takes place during this time where you splurge your eyes on the colorful décor of the place. In this Buddhism fest, incenses are offered as well as the conduct of different Zen rituals. Monks also perform dances and there are entertaining activities you can try at the Yen Stream.
It seems that every spot of Hanoi has a surprise for your spring break getaway.
Of all the seasons, summer is the hardest time to visit in Hanoi. Temperatures go as hot as 40C that breaking a sweat is literally not a hard task. The weather during this time is like a girl on PMS. Extremely humid on days then there will be torrential rains that streets get flooded.
If you’re not the type to enjoy such hot Hanoi climate idea, then summer might not be the season for you. However, Hanoi at this time of the year is as wonderful as ever. If you failed to catch the flowers blooming at springtime, summer extends this beauty and roads like Nien are decorated with the summer bloom of reds and purples.
Appreciate the White Madonna lilies!
This blooms in April and Bang Lang during May up to August. Though some days could be scorching, summer is also the season of yummy seasonal fruits in Vietnam. Mango, watermelon, lychee, and grapefruits are staples in the capital and you’ll get to taste them if you want.
After a scorching morning, head to the Old Quarter near the St. Joseph’s Cathedral where foreigners and locals took a respite from the heat while sipping a cold beer and iced tea. The Bia Hoi District is also not one to miss with its hefty supply of the local beer. Just be mindful of your things and don’t get too drunk to avoid any hiccups during your stay.
Since you’re not supposed to spend your entire summer getaway in the comforts of your hotel room, take refuge in the parks. Bach Thao Park is located at the back of the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and has hundreds of plants growing at its realm. During this time of the year, the place has many visitors mainly because of the cool breeze the trees give.
Locals aren’t fans of summer as well and some consider it as the toughest time to visit for Westerners.
Fall (September -November)
If you want to go to Hanoi on the most beautiful season, autumn is the time to board the plane. The biggest event here is the Mid-Autumn Festival or Moon Festival celebrated in the Old Quarter. Locals setup puppet shows, theatre, dance, and workshops. Some consider this as a festival for kids but experiencing such unique opportunity won’t be a shame to unleash your inner child.
During autumn, Hanoi seems more relaxed than any time of the year. Leaves are falling on the pathways and there are remnants of bloomed flowers from the past Hanoi climate. This is a romantic scene and even a humble walk at West Lake would be enough to say that it’s a bit one for the movies.
Since the weather is the right blend of sunny and cool, it’s the best time to visit tourist sites. Go to the Old Quarter, Hoan Kiem Lake, Thang Long, Imperial Citadel, and Ho Chi Minh Museum. There are lots of places to visit here and I suggest that you make a realistic list. Some places like that of Uncle Ho’s can be really squeezy not to mention the long queues.
Try autumn snacks!
Autumn snacks are also a must-try here with pomelos and other tropical fruits on sale. Golden apples are also a hit here not because locals eat it, but because they love its smell. The most famous here is the fruit of the “Sau” tree that locals use as a souring ingredient in their food. Some make candies out of it which you should also taste.
Another autumn treat is “Com” or sticky rice usually covered by large lotus leaves. It looks good and the smell of lotus leaves add flavor aside from the ripe banana it is served with.
Everything is just so beautiful. Every scene is worth a postcard snapshot and it’s a sin not to bring a decent camera during your visit.
Whatever time of the year you plan to go in Hanoi, there will always be tons of things to try and discover. But if you know what you’re looking forward to, you can choose the best season, Hanoi climate, and itinerary that comes with it. Have you chosen your season? Let us know your choice in the comment section.
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