If you take a look at the map of Vietnam, you’ll see that our country spans vertically from North to South, with the Southern end closer to the equator. What that means is that we have drastically different weather from region to region. You could go from Hanoi to Da Nang and Ho Chi Minh city just to find yourself in three entirely distinct sets of weather conditions. It might take too long to cover them all but we can help you with the nuances of the climate in Hanoi, or the North in general, to best get you prepared for any situation in your trip. Grab yourself a drink and let’s explore the 4 seasons of Hanoi.
Summer - May to September
We start with the obvious travel season - summer. As a monsoon tropical region, the North has a hot and humid summer with frequent rain in July and August. Hanoi in this season is a colorful painting in both looks and sounds.
The sun at this time of the year generates the most beautiful and saturated light that breathes even more energy and colors to the sceneries of Hanoi. If you enjoy a more bustling Hanoi, this summertime is for you. Students are out on their summer vacation and so are their families, making the weekly walking street around Hoan Kiem lake especially lively both during the day and at night. Might as well grab yourself a lemon Thuy Ta ice-cream to cool off or have a cold one with your friends and enjoy the summer festive atmosphere.
The temperature can get quite high, ranging anywhere between 30 to 36 degrees Celsius so make sure to stay hydrated and maybe avoid the midday sun.
Fortunately, summer rains are here to help ease the heat. They come and go quickly, and frequently, as a much needed cold shower to the hot days in the capital. An umbrella would be your best friend to shield off both the sun and the rain as you explore the city.
Autumn - October to early December
If you happen to not like the heat that much, this time of the year is probably the best time to enjoy Hanoi and its surrounding provinces. The sun is still there but with less heat, bringing the overall temperature down to 25-30 degrees Celsius. Coupled with that is the occasional autumn breeze that puts a tranquil coat on this ancient city.
This type of weather is pretty much ideal for any activities you have in mind. Whether it is sailing in Trang An, Ninh Binh, kayaking in the Ha Long Bay wind or take a walk along Long Bien Bridge, you are guaranteed to have an authentic Vietnam experience. A quick note to the more adventurous travelers out there: it is harvesting season so renting motorbikes to go on a countryside road trip with your friends is definitely recommended. Remember to bring your helmet and drive safely.
Winter - December to February
Needless to say, this is the roughest season in the North. No, it does not get quite as harsh as it does in Winterfell. Nevertheless, this time of the year is a quiet time for Hanoi, with fewer tourists and fewer students out and about. However, the charm is still there if you know where to find it. The temperature now ranges between 10-17 degrees Celsius with very little sun and rain. That leaves us with wind as the raging element that adds even more to the blistering cold.
Why bother going out in this weather you ask? The hot food. A hot bowl of Pho in the morning never felt more satisfying. At night, you can find a grilled corn, chestnuts and sweet potatoes spot on the street and turn yourself into a true Hanoi native, enjoying these simple treats while watching the traffic hurrying back to the warmth of their homes.
Out of the city, you can head to Sapa for some lucky snow and explore the lives of different ethnic communities there, really soaking in the charming cold of Vietnam. A bit of advice would be to carry an umbrella still, as there might be some drizzle here and there as we approach Spring.
Spring - Late February to April
And so we have gone year-round to the last but definitely the best season in Hanoi - Spring. Here, Spring means Tet, also known as the Lunar New Year. Much like December means Christmas, Tet is the definitive holiday season where everyone looks forward to that reunion time of the year again. You might think this is called the best season because of the festivity. In fact, the festive atmosphere is just part of the true Hanoi experience. The city used to be much smaller than it is now, being home to a significantly smaller population as well. The flower market is always a special experience if you have never gone out and pick yourself a branch of Dao or Mai flower.
Now, Tet is the time for everybody to go back home. Meaning from the 27th of the Lunar Calendar, you will find yourself in a much quieter, more solemn and partially empty Hanoi. Gone is the traffic and it is the traditional food like Banh Chung, Nem ran (Fried spring roll), Xoi (Sticky rice), Gio (Vietnamese sausage). These are still best enjoyed in the moderately cold weather (13-22 °C), preferably with some Vietnamese rice wine to warm you up.
You can go watch the old scholars write ancient Chinese calligraphy and ask for one that is meaningful and would bring you luck for the new year. Temples and pagodas like Chua Huong, Chua Tran Quoc or
Chua Quan Su is sure to be a pleasure to visit. Their calming atmosphere coupled with the occasional bell rings will put you in a seemingly different world. A bit further from the city (2-3 hour drive) is Chua Bai Dinh in Ninh Binh, which houses the largest gold-clad Buddha bronze statue in Asia and happens to be the largest temple complex in Vietnam as well.
Besides beautiful landscapes, each season represents a different shade of Hanoi. You can arrive in Hanoi at any time of the year and still be surprised by the distinctive features of every season. Hanoi is a worth visiting city in your lifetime to discover the culture and people in the land of historical remarks.