When you think of Vietnam, you probably associate it with hot climate, going to the beach, walking around in your favorite dress, etc. But actually, the north of Vietnam has four seasons, with winter starting in around mid December and runs until late March. Now, winter might in Vietnam might not involve heavy snow like in Europe, but there has been instances where there’s been snowing. Winter in northern Vietnam gets chilly so you pack the right clothes with you and bundle up! It’s a great season to be in Vietnam, if you just know what to do. Let’s have a look!
1. Eat lots and lots of pho
What better season to eat pho than during winter? When you feel a bit cold in your body and all you want is a hot bowl of pho that will warm you up. Pho is the Vietnamese national dish and you can find it in almost every Vietnamese restaurant.
… Also eat hot pot
Hot pot is really popular amongst the locals during winter because like pho, it’s a warm dish that’ll heat you up. Also, it’s really delicious and it’s a fun activity to do with your friends and family.
Walk around Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi
One of the most famous attractions in Hanoi is the magnificent Hoan Kiem Lake. The peaceful beauty attracts both locals and foreigners who needs a pause from the chaotic traffic and the crowded streets. In the early winter mornings, you can see locals exercising and breathing in the cool air. Hoan Kiem Lake is also a popular place for wedding photos so you’ll most likely see many people taking their photos there. It’s the heart of Hanoi and is beautiful to walk around in.
See the snow in Sapa
Although it doesn’t snow each year, there has been many times when it snows during winter. The temperatures drop to minus celsius degrees then, so don’t forget your winter jacket!
Hike the Fansipan Mountain
If you find yourself in Sapa, you must hike the highest mountain in Vietnam- Fansipan Mountain. It’s 3,143 metres above sea level so you’ll feel like you’re floating above the clouds when you reach the top. Do note that it takes about three days to get to the peak and back, it’s not just a one day hike. If you don’t have three days to spare, you can always take the cable car up. But if you do hike, make sure that you’re prepared and plan your trek well. Trekking during the cold winter months can be a bit more challenging since the terrain is rugged, wet and often cold, but the air is crisp and fresh, making winter one of the best months to hike in. It’s also dry season, so you won’t have to worry about heavy rainfall.
Sit in one of many cafés in Hanoi
One of the coziest things you can do during winter is to just sit in one of many cafés in Hanoi with your friends, family, or solo, and sip on a warm cup of coffee. Vietnam is the second main exporter of coffee in the world, behind Brazil, so you can be sure to find some amazing coffee here. Don’t miss out on the egg coffee in Hanoi! It’s a specialty here and tastes a bit like a vanilla dessert.
Explore the caves in Ninh Binh
Ninh Binh is located just below Hanoi and can be easily accessed with public transportation. It’s famous for its rich green padi fields, limestone cliffs and their magnificent caves. Ninh Binh is often called “Halong Bay on Land” and you can tell why once you get there. But besides seeing the limestone cliffs, you must explore the wondrous caves that can be found in Ninh Binh.
Rent a bike and go to Ha Giang
Ha Giang is one of the best places to visit in Vietnam and offers stunningly beautiful views. If you go to Ha Giang in December, you’ll be able to see the Tam Giac Mach flowers blossom. You might also see snow in Meo Vac. Ha Giang is truly a wonderful place to visit and there’s actually no bad season to come here. You just need the right clothes!
Enjoy craft beer in Hanoi
The craft beer scene has just started in Hanoi, but it’s definitely on the rise. The Vietnamese loves their beer, so you can be sure to find plenty of good ones. There’s several places you can go for craft beer including “Pasteur Street Brewing”, “Chops” and “The Fat Pig”.
Before you fly to Vietnam, make sure you have your visa sorted out. Depending on your nationality, there are three types of visas you can apply for: Visa on Arrival, E-Visa (only eligible for 80 countries so far) or go to the Vietnamese Embassy or Consulate. If you’re planning on crossing Vietnam by land, you cannot enter with an online visa. You must obtain your visa through the Embassy then. But if you’re flying to Vietnam, getting an online visa is your best option and is highly recommended for the smoothest and fastest way.