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Located in the north of Vietnam, the city of Hanoi experiences a wide range of weather conditions. Though the weather is commonly divided into a rainy season (from May to October), and dry season (from November to April), Hanoi has four seasons. April and October are transition months that essentially form two mini-seasons and allow Hanoi to experience all four seasons: spring, summer, autumn, and winter. Depending on when they visit Hanoi, travelers can expect different weather and experiences. To make things a little easier, let’s look at the seasons by how much a visitor might sweat and what they might be able to do in the different weather conditions. And remember, the food is outstanding in any season!
December to February – Winter
During winter, the sun decides that it has somewhere else to be and disappears for extended periods. As a consequence, Hanoi and the provinces in the North of Vietnam can get very cool and offer an average temperature of 15 Celsius/60 Farenheit but can drop as low as 10 degrees Celsius. Weather is weather and there can be sunny and warm days but generally a visitor will have to work in order to produce a few drops of sweat. A 1.6 kilometer jog around Hoan Kiem Lake might do the trick but the reality is the hotel gym or sauna is a better bet to generate perspiration. Almost everything in the city is open, so this is a great time to experience much of what Hanoi has to offer, particularly a good bowl of noodles at a small restaurant.
Middle of February to April – Spring
Who doesn’t like spring, the rebirth? February to April comprise a short Hanoi spring. The temperature has bumped up to 15 to 20 degrees Celsius and it is a little easier to produce a few drop of sweat but those might also be confused with rain drops as the weather is humid but also wet with frequent drizzles. Don’t let a little rain or humidity stop you, though. This is a great time to witness the flora awake from their winter slumber and show the beauty of tropical landscapes The peach blossom, a symbolic spring flower, is on display during this time.
Tet falls during this period and the exact time varies from year to year. This holiday coincides with the Chinese New Year and the celebration can last a week. Much of the country, not just Hanoi, closes down during Tet. Vietnamese people return to their home towns to celebrate with friends and families and this can leave the tourist with fewer options. There are a few Tet celebrations around Hoan Kiem Lake and in Hanoi center city. No matter what the weather, a traveler should consider Tet in any Vietnam travel plans.
May to August – Summer
Summer!! Hanoi’s summer is hot, rainy, and humid. Sweating is easy in an average temperature of 32 degrees Celsius. May is a little kinder than June, July or August. If you are unlucky, you might be part of history if the high of 42 degrees Celsius is eclipsed during your visit. The heat also has a friend: humidity. Both are high during these months and this makes the heat feel even hotter. A short walk from your hotel or hostel should start the sweat glands and no garment is safe from the wetness. One of the inexpensive local laundries is a fine attraction this time of the year.
However, if the heat and humidity don’t bother you or you are willing to tolerate them, it is an excellent time to visit Hanoi. One of the great temperature variations occurs between the warm night time air and the cool Hanoi or 333 or imported beer served in the old quarter. And, in between sightseeing sessions, ice cream or fresh fruit provide a nice respite. It is also a good time to venture to a cooler spot such as a mountain province or Halong Bay or a spot that offers something cool like a beach.
September to November – Fall
Dropping temperatures could be the reason this season is named fall. Whatever the reason, fall is considered to be the most beautiful and romantic time for travelers to visit Hanoi. Twenty-five degrees Celsius is not too hot or not too cold; it is just right! One will still sweat a little but it takes more than a short walk outdoors to start the process. The humidity also has departed for other locales so autumn in Hanoi is charming. Warm sunlight, cool breezes and a dry atmosphere are certainly one definition of charming. Tree leaves are turning color, poets are writing verse, musicians are serenading and artists are sculpting and painting and people are eating local autumn specialties such as young green rice. Most importantly, hearts are singing.
Cycling or riding a motorbike slowly through the sunlit streets of Hanoi and dodging falling leaves and surfing the soft breeze and capturing the peaceful yet stunning scenery of Hoan Kiem Lake and West Lake is a magical fall experience. Autumn in Hanoi is certainly a great time to connect with the beauty of life.
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