The Best Time to Visit Hanoi, Vietnam

One Pillar Pagoda, Hanoi, Vietnam
One Pillar Pagoda, Hanoi, Vietnam.

MeogiaPhoto / Getty Images

Unlike the typical tropical conditions of South Vietnam, the capital of Hanoi shares the north’s mild tropical climate, with cold winters from November to February and a monsoon season that reaches a rainy crescendo from June to August. For tourists and residents alike, the cool season between October and December makes walking around Hanoi a joy, not a sweaty chore.

Despite the mostly cloudless skies, the weather at this time feels crisp, not oppressive: you won’t sweat even as you walk for hours past Hoan Kiem Lake to the Old Quarter, taking in the sights. Here are the best times to visit Hanoi and what each season brings to the table.

The Weather in Hanoi

Hanoi’s weather is governed by tropical monsoons that alternate directions over the year. A wet and warm southwest monsoon causes temperatures to rise and torrential rains to fall; then, a cool, northeast monsoon causes Hanoi’s weather to turn drier and colder.

The alternating monsoon winds result in three distinct seasons (including the sunny transitional period between monsoons):

  • Rainy season: The southwest monsoon from over the Indian Ocean brings in warm, water-saturated ocean air, triggering pouring rains over Hanoi between June and October.
  • Cool, dry season: The northeast monsoon blowing from Siberia creates a cool, dry climate between November and February.
  • Hot, humid season: As the monsoon winds change direction between March and May, Hanoi experiences warmer but relatively rain-free weather during this transitional period.

These three seasons will determine what sights you should see when you visit and the prices you pay for access. Peak tourist season in the cool, dry months will also bring the highest prices, as will the domestic peak season in the hot, dry months between March and May.

If you’re booking a visit to Vietnam during these times (especially during Chinese New Year, or Tet as it’s known locally), expect transport and accommodation prices to be sky-high and booked months in advance.

Beyond the peak season mentioned here, Hanoi can trend towards uncomfortably hot and humid on the one hand and chilly on the other. The temperature in Hanoi ranges from 61 degrees F (16.2 C) lows in January to 84 degrees F (28.9 C) highs in June. Humidity peaks during the rainy season, reaching up to 85 percent in August, with rainfall measuring 12.2 inches.

Key Events and Festivals in Hanoi

Vietnam’s biggest festival is naturally the capital’s most important: Tet Nguyen Dan. Coinciding with Chinese New Year, the holiday takes place on a moveable schedule between January to February and marks the beginning of the New Year in the Chinese lunar calendar.

Hanoi citizens celebrate Tet over several days, with family reunions taking place between festive events in public places throughout the city.

The streets of the Old Quarter, for starters, are lined with stalls selling traditional Tet treats, decorations, and gifts. Locals crowd the Quang Ba Flower Market to buy auspicious blooms to decorate their homes. And a calligraphy festival at the Temple of Literature brings traditional arts to life.

The second-largest festival takes place between September and October, coinciding with the fifth day of the eighth month of the Chinese lunar calendar. The Mid-Autumn Festival (Tet Trung Thu) is also known as the Children’s Festival, and as a result, the best place to visit during this holiday season is the Old Quarter, where Hang Ma and Luong Van Can streets will come alive with toys for sale and lanterns lighting up the streets.

Rainy Season in Hanoi

During Hanoi’s rainy season (June to October), the capital receives the highest amount of precipitation, with an average of 12 inches of rain per month. High humidity works with high average temperatures to turn anyone into a sticky, wet mess after a few hours outdoors.

During this time, flooded streets can cause numerous travel complications; the city’s drainage systems can become overwhelmed with the sudden rain showers, flooding roads for an hour or so until the water has a chance to drain away.

When visiting the city during the rainy season, make sure to bring mosquito repellent. This is also when Hanoi experiences a spike in cases of dengue fever, a tropical disease transmitted by mosquito bites. A 2017 dengue outbreak stretched Hanoi’s healthcare system to the breaking point, resulting in 90,000 infections, leading to 77,000 hospitalizations and 24 deaths.

Events to Check Out:

  • Mid-Autumn Festival: historic areas like the Old Quarter turn into lantern-lit wonderlands selling toys and mooncakes.

Dry Season in Hanoi

Hanoi’s peak season for travel is a no-brainer: between November and February, temperatures drop to average lows of 61 degrees F (16.2 C) in January, the coolest month. Rainfall hits its lowest at 1.9 inches, compared to 12 inches in August.

The city feels packed with local and foreign tourists taking advantage of the cooler weather to see the sights. The Tet festival finds the city at its most festive. Hoan Kiem Lake is a popular choice for tourists, as the leaves change to a golden-yellow during this season.

On the other hand, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum sends the embalmed body of the deceased leader to Russia for touching-up for two months in October and November, closing the attraction while the body is away.

Events to Check Out:

  • Tet Nguyen Dan (Chinese New Year): Vietnam’s most important festival, bar none. If you can brave the high ticket prices to visit during Tet, go to the Old Quarter for shopping, and watch the fireworks at Hoan Kiem Lake after dark.
  • Co Loa Festival: From the sixth to the 16th days of the Lunar New Year, this temple celebration takes place at An Duong Vuong Temple, in Dong Anh District, just outside Hanoi. The festival celebrates a legendary king’s memory in the form of street food stalls and wrestling matches.

Smog in Hanoi

Dry and cold air in the winter months often causes pollution levels to increase during the cooler months. As a result, Hanoi's air quality index (AQI) exceeds the World Health Organization Air Quality Guidelines' maximum exposure threshold ten times over.

Fog-covered mornings and late afternoons in Hanoi restrict air circulation, creating a pollution problem exacerbated by the flat local topography and industrial zones in neighboring provinces. In these conditions, particulates are trapped at ground level, creating a thick smog that blankets the city and causes health issues, particularly among the elderly and children.

Heat Season in Hanoi

Temperatures start to crest between March and May in Hanoi, with temperatures hitting 81 degrees F (27.2 C) at the end of the season. You begin to wish the rain would start falling to break the heat!

These months also represent the domestic peak season, when Vietnam Reunification Day and International Labor Day (on April 30 and May 1, respectively) present the Vietnamese with a couple of days off for travel, including to the capital.

Events to Check Out:

Some of Hanoi’s most prominent temples celebrate their key festivals this season. The top ones to consider visiting include:

  • Dong Nhan Temple Festival: On the sixth day of the second lunar month (around March), the Dong Nhan Temple in Hanoi’s Hai Ba Trung District offers sacrifices to the Trung Sisters who helped save Vietnam from Chinese invasion.
  • Chem Temple Festival: In Hanoi’s Tu Liem District, Chem Village hosts a temple dedicated to a Vietnamese folk hero who helped the Chinese Emperor drive out invaders. On the 15th day of the fifth lunar month (around May or June), the statue of Ly Ong Trong is bathed at the Red River, as the town breaks into a frenzy of entertainments, including traditional wrestling, human chess, and folk plays.
  • Giong Festival at Phu Dong Temple: On the eighth and ninth days of the fourth lunar month (around May or June), Phu Dong celebrates its most famous son, Saint Giong, a legendary hero who drove off foreign invaders. A folk play takes place to reenact Giong’s climactic battle against the invading forces.
Frequently Asked Questions
  • When is the weather the nicest in Hanoi?

    The cool season between November and February offers the nicest weather in Hanoi.

  • When is rainy season in Hanoi?

    Rainy season in Hanoi spans June through October.

  • When should I visit Hanoi?

    When to visit depends on what you're looking for. For cooler weather, but during peak tourist season, travel between November and February. To see peak domestic season, visit between March and May.

  • How hot does it get in Hanoi?

    Temperatures vary on the season, but during the summer months, temperatures can range anywhere around 80 degrees F and 90 degrees F.

Article Sources
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  1., Climate Hanoi (Vietnam), 2021

  2. MedicalXpress, Vietnam battles dengue outbreaks with 42 percent more cases, August 18, 2017

  3. VN Express, Garbage overload, road construction blamed as Hanoi air quality takes a dive, January 6, 2021