Surviving Winter in Hanoi

Nhung Kieu22/12/2023

As the capital of Vietnam, Hanoi is a bustling city with a rich history and vibrant culture, where many foreign agencies/companies live and work permanently. However, one aspect that can catch foreigners off guard is the cold season.
From December to February, temperatures can drop as low as 10°C (50°F), presenting quite a challenge for those not accustomed to colder climates. In this blog post, I will tell you interesting facts about the cold season in Hanoi and things to keep in mind to ensure a good living experience so you don’t have to see a doctor.

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Cold season in Hanoi: What will happen

During this time, temperatures can range from 10-15°C (50-59°F) during the day and drop to 5-10°C (41-50°F) at night. Although this may not seem too serious, the humidity and lack of central heating in most buildings can make the air much colder.
Furthermore, winter in Northern Vietnam is very different from other countries because of the bitter cold due to high warmth, so it is very uncomfortable and harsher. Children and even adults who are not familiar with the climate and know how to prevent it will often need to see a doctor and not even dare to go out.

So what do you need to do to survive this cold season?

  1. Pack for the cold season
    It’s essential to have the right equipment to keep you warm and comfortable. Here are some items you should consider bringing:

1.1: Warm clothes
The key to staying warm during the cold season in Hanoi is to dress in layers. Bring thermal underwear, sweaters, and jackets that you can easily put on or take off depending on the temperature. You should also bring a windproof and waterproof jacket to protect yourself from cold winds and occasional rain.

1.2: Comfortable shoes
The streets can be wet and slippery, so remember to wear comfortable shoes with good grip to avoid any accidents.

1.3: Accessories
Don’t forget to bring a warm hat, gloves and scarf to protect your head, hands and neck from the cold. These accessories are essential when you go out on a motorbike

1.4: Vaccination
Before come to Hanoi, make sure to get vaccinated against common diseases such as flu and pneumonia. These vaccines can help protect you from getting sick during the cold season.

2. Adapt to cold weather
For those coming from warmer climates, adjusting to the cold weather in Hanoi may take some time. Here are some tips to help you adapt quickly:

2.1: Drink enough water
Although it may seem that cold weather may not dehydrate you as much as hot weather. But try to drink plenty of warm water throughout the day to stay hydrated and keep your body functioning properly.

2.2: Rest indoors
Vietnam – the country of famous traditional coffee flavors. Many cafes and restaurants in Hanoi have heaters or high heat, making them the perfect place to work or play.

2.3 warm blankets – soft mattress
As mentioned earlier, most buildings in Hanoi do not have central heating systems, which can make staying indoors quite difficult during the cold season. So,You need to prepare soft, comfortable mattresses of good quality in the winter and a cotton-lined blanket to sleep on.

2.4: Use electric heaters
If your accommodation doesn’t have a heater, you can buy electric heaters from local stores or online platforms like Lazada or Shopee. These heaters are relatively affordable and can make a significant difference in keeping you warm during the cold season.

Enjoy Hanoi in the cold season

Although cold weather may limit some outdoor activities, there is still plenty to enjoy in Hanoi during the cold season. Here are a few suggestions:

1. Visit indoor attractions
Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, Hoa Lo Prison, and the Temple of Literature. These places offer a glimpse into Vietnamese culture and history, making them the ideal place to learn more about the country while staying warm.

2. Many festivals and events
The cold season in Hanoi is the season of festivals and events. The most prominent is the Lunar New Year. Lunar New Year is the most important holiday in Vietnam and is celebrated in late January or early February. During this time, the city comes alive with colorful decorations, traditional dishes, and cultural performances.

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3. Enjoy Hot Pot – and many other winter foods
Hot pot, also known as hotpot, is a popular dish in Hanoi, especially in the cold season. It consists of a pot of boiling broth where you can cook a variety of meats, vegetables, and noodles. Not only is this a delicious and warming meal, it’s also a fun and interactive dining experience.

4. Feel winter on Hanoi sidewalks
In winter, you can easily find specialty dishes sold on the sidewalks in Hanoi. From shops selling corn, baked potatoes, and steamed cassava along both sides of the streets, to shops selling attractive and delicious corn cakes, potato cakes, and grilled rice paper. You also cannot miss boiled snails, banh troi tau, Luc tau xa, rib porridge, hot cake, salty donuts… dishes that can only be enjoyed in winter to fully feel the delicious taste.

The cold season in Hanoi can be a challenge for some newcomers, but with proper preparation and planning, this is an exciting and memorable city.
Just remember to stay hydrated, rest as needed, and practice good hygiene habits to stay healthy throughout your stay. With these tips, you can survive, even enjoy and thrive during the cold season in Hanoi.