Though tays, or foreigners, might think Vietnam is hot all year, they’d be wrong. It might not snow in tropical Hanoi, but it does get cold enough to send an unholy shiver up your spine when you’re racing around the city snapping street art photos, hitting the latest craft beer launch + meeting your friends for a cosy session of hand-warming nâu nóng, also known as white coffee, and gossip.
Since Hanoi’s winter is paired with far too much humidity – just ask anyone with frizzy hair during the cold season – it often feels much colder than the temperature on your phone’s lock screen.
As an insider, let us tell you how Hanoians stay warm when the temperature takes a dip.
Savoury hot pot warms the soul
Hot pot is one of the most-loved dishes in Hanoi, and why shouldn’t it be? It’s got everything you need in one order. Warm broth, tasty meats + vegetables you can customise to include only your favourites. If you’re out to eat with a friend that always wants different hot pot than you, we’d suggest finding a new friend. W;nk. Hot pot is that important in Hanoi.
The meal is perfect for a Sunday afternoon in winter, when you might be slightly hungover and vaguely broke after hitting that new speakeasy the night before. Oh yeah, did I mention that? Hot pot is totally hạt dẻ, or cheap.
If you’ve never had Hot pot, you must be brand new in Hanoi, but we’ll break it down for you: it’s soup that you make at your table over a fire. The cosiness factor is next-level. So, you have this simmering broth in front of you just waiting to be made more delicious when you dip your favourite meats + veggies in.
You can choose beef, lamb, frog or seafood, and mix it up with cabbage, mushrooms, potatoes + corn. Our personal fave is a local delicacy of sour bamboo and chicken hot pot. It’s so tangy, it makes you pucker. Bye, bye hangover!
And be patient. The longer you let the fire burn and the broth bubble, the stronger the flavor and better the taste! So take your time, warm your hands near the pot, sip some tea, update your Insta and let the soup become magical. It’s worth it. Trust.
Scooter Style: A chance to wear your jacket
You know that great shearling you bought in Vienna or that incredible leather bomber you grabbed in New York? You don’t get too much of a chance to rock them in Hanoi – but the scooter is the perfect place.
You think Hanoi in winter is chilly? It’s never colder than racing through the city on a scooter. So grab your most stylish winter gear and jump on. Scarves, gloves, even hats – as long as they’re strapped to your head properly – will let you arrive looking cool but not, y’know, freezing with a running, ugly red nose. Unchic.
EXPERT TIP: Covering up on a scooter in Hanoi isn’t just for winter! In summer, locals wear full-on protective gear to protect pretty faces and petal pale forearms from the sun when cruising around the city. See the below garment? Hardly the height of cool, but thankfully no one can recognise you anyway. Park around the corner and stash that thing in your seat compartment before your friends see you.
Sapa’s snow is great for the ‘gram
If you get used to the cold factor in Hanoi, you can take it up a notch and getaway for the weekend to the only spot in Vietnam where it snows: Sapa.
I recommend this pretty, mountainous retreat town anytime – it’s perfect for a yoga break with friends or a romantic overnight date but if you want to see the snow, you’ll need to cross your fingers and head up between December and early February.
One of your best bets for the white payoff might be on Indochina’s highest mountain, Fansipan. You can skip your workouts all week and conquer the peak by foot, or ensure that you won’t be a sweaty mess in your photos and take the cable car to the top. Shhh, I won’t tell.
Cozy up to streetside BBQ in old town
Hanoi’s old town is more than just a pretty place for a walk and a social media post, it’s also perfect for another much-loved activity: eating!
Yup, the quarter becomes lined with pop-up restaurants after the sun goes down. The simple roadside grills ringed with low stools make warm, tasty, filling food until long after last call. The perfect place to wrap up a night out, order up an array of meats + veggies and grill them to perfection.
I highly recommend snuggling up at a spot near Ta Hien street and making your meal into dinner + a show. The street is known for live performers dancing and singing. It’s how locals do winter in Hanoi.