Picture this. It’s a whopping 38 degrees outside, but feels like 48. You’re living in Hanoi and not going anywhere this summer. Sweat drips down your back the second your step outside. The “breeze” from driving your motorbike cooks your skin as you zoom around the city. There is no reprieve from the sun and heat and humidity that infiltrates Hanoi in the summer months. You feel like you’ve been submerged in a hot pot.
We’ve heard all of the complaints before:
“It’s too hot!”
“I’m so sweaty!”
“It’s so uncomfortable out here!”
“I can’t wait until it cools down!”
But it is a way of life here in ‘Nam. Rather than complain the summer days away, embrace the heat and sweat and try out these different ways to beat the heat in Hanoi.
EAT REFRESHING FOODS
You may hear different ideas of what food you’re supposed to eat during the hot summer months. Some may say that downing a hot bowl of soup is actually good for cooling you down. While others will argue that the best way to cool down is with a big ol’ glass of ice water. Whichever side you are when it comes to cooling down, check out this interesting article on How to Eat to Stay Cool, it gives some science and culture behind what some Vietnamese consider the “best foods to eat” to cool down. If you just want a refreshing bite that tastes delicious here are some options:
Eat a Smoothie Bowl from La Studio
We talked about La Studio in our post on the best places for a healthy meal in Tay Ho, so it’s no surprise that they are making it onto our list again. For no more than 65,000VND get yourself a refreshing, filling, and healthy smoothie bowl from this Hanoi cafe. They’ve got four different choices for smoothie bowls, all topped with fruit, coconut, and homemade granola.
Our go to choice → Choco Banana Smoothie Bowl.
Grab a Coconut Jelly From the Cafes Along West Lake
As you drive along West Lake, you may or may not have been tempted to stop at one of the many cafes. Sipping a cold coconut is refreshing enough, but coconut jelly takes it to another level. Thạch dừa is basically jello inside a coconut. We don’t know the full details on how it is made (you can find lots of recipes online), but somehow the coconut water inside a fresh coconut is combined with some other ingredients to make this tasty treat. Try it for yourself!
Indulge in Kem Xoi (Ice Cream and Sticky Rice)
A delicious combination of sticky rice and (typically) coconut ice cream - if kem xoi doesn’t cool you down on a hot day in Hanoi, it will at least make your stomach happy. The flavors, smells and textures of this summer treat perfectly compliment each other. Creamy ice cream + chewy sticky rice + crunchy coconut flakes = Perfect Combination.
Take a Summer Street Food Tour
From puddings to ice creams to salads, take a tour around the local stalls of Hanoi street food. Footprint Travel has put together two different articles on the best summer street foods of Hanoi and where to find them.
Must Try Summer Street Food Part 1
Must Try Summer Street Food Part 2
STAY HYDRATED WITH REVITALIZING BEVERAGES
An ice cold beer may taste great in the heat of summer, but it won’t do you much good (other than have you craving more beer). Better yet, choose one of these refreshing drinks to beat the heat AND keep you energized, hydrated and healthy.
Ice cold Coconut (Dừa Tươi)
Coconut water is tasty and refreshing, especially when it comes straight from a freshly cracked coconut. Even better are the health benefits you get from drinking coconut water. It is a good source of nutrients and antioxidants, and can help against a variety of ailments. What is really beneficial about drinking coconut water in the Hanoi heat is restoring hydration and replenishing electrolytes lost during exercise and excessive sweating. For those of us living in Hanoi, adding a coconut into your regular routine is a delicious AND smart choice! Check out this article on the benefits of adding coconut water into your diet.
Lime Soda (Nuoc Chanh)
A do-it-yourself kind of drink, lime soda is equal parts refreshing, fizzy, and fun. Typically you will get served a glass of ice with sugar and lime juice. It is up to you to add the soda water. Sometimes you are given the limes to squeeze yourself. For the healthiest version, ask for "không đường" (no sugar) or "ít đường" (a little sugar). If you're wondering how drinking lime juice would benefit you, there are actually quite a lot of health benefits you can read in this article: 12 Health Benefits of Drinking Lime Water
Sugarcane Juice (Nước Mía)
You’ve seen the stalks of sugar cane and squashing machines around the streets of Hanoi, and perhaps wondered what what going with them. Sugar cane stalks are run through a machine to squeeze out the delicious liquid from the pulp. A calamansi is often added for some extra flavor. Served over ice, this drink is sweet and refreshing. It's also another beverage that provides health benefits. Here is an article on how drinking sugarcane juice benefits you.
Fruit Smoothie (Sinh Tố)
You should have no trouble finding a fruit smoothie along the streets of Hanoi. Just about every cafe and restaurant will serve you one. Dragon fruit, mango, avocado are popular smoothie choices. For the healthiest version, ask for one without condensed milk.
GO FOR A SWIM
Jumping into a pool is probably one of the quickest ways to cool off. There are various pools in Hanoi that are good for different reasons - lap swimming, day drinking, taking Instagram photos. Do a search on any of the Hanoi Facebook Groups and you will be sure to get a lot of opinions on the best pools around the city. Here are some of the pools that come up most frequently.
Dang Thai Mai Pool
Located just a bit past CrossFit Tay Ho, this is a decent and cheap option for a pool in Hanoi. Not much of an ambiance, but it is a large pool good for swimming laps and chilling with friends. There is a cover over a good portion of the pool so you are able to get out of the sun a bit. Typically crowded with locals and expats.
Thong Loi Pool
This is an old favorite in Tay Ho. Thong Loi pool looks over West Lake. There is a large grassy area and a good amount of lounge chairs. The pool is medium sized and typically crowded with foreigners.
Trill Rooftop Cafe
This is a fancy rooftop pool in Cầu Giấy It is excellent for views over the city and a fun ambiance. The pool is on the 26th floor and costs 120,000 for guests.
Most hotel pools in Hanoi will let you in to use their facilities. The prices are higher than the local pools, but they also (usually) offer nicer facilities and quieter atmospheres. Some of our favorites are The Sheraton Pool, Peridot, and Daewoo.
Ho Tay Water Park
Maybe you have no desire to just lay in a pool to stay cool - go check out the Ho Tay Water Park. The water park has slides, pools, and a lazy river that will definitely keep you cool and entertained on a hot Hanoi day.
ASK FRIENDS FOR ADVICE
Eating and drinking refreshing things and hitting up pools are classic ways to stay cool, whether you live in Hanoi or not. We wanted to get more specific when it came to beating the heat, so we asked people in the community who have been living in Hanoi for some time to tell us their tips and tricks to staying cool.
Go to the Veggie Cooler Rooms in the Grocery Stores
Plan your shopping trip just after a workout or during the hottest part of the day, then linger a bit longer in the refrigerator sections. Veggies and Naturally Vietnam have large walk in coolers where you can “shop” and enjoy the cool air on a hot Hanoi Day.
Find a Place with a Nice Breeze
Even on the hottest of days it is possible to find somewhere with a nice breeze to cool you off. O Kia Ha Noi is a cute cafe with good food and drinks in a peaceful atmosphere. There are trees and bamboo all around the garden and the shade and breeze allow it to be quite refreshing even on the hottest days.
Don’t Be Shy - Rely on Your Friends
Lots of people living in Hanoi have private pools in their houses. Now is not a time to be shy! Call them up and invite yourself over. Bring along some cold coconut waters or smoothies to thank them.
Use Your Own Refrigerator
One thing you might have overlooked is right in your own house. Use your fridge and freezer for more than food storage. Putting various everyday items in the refrigerator is a game changer on a hot day. Put face masks, wipes, deodorant, face cleanser, moisturizer and aloe all in the fridge to add that refreshing jolt when it hits your skin.
Keep Your Gym Bag Stocked with an ‘Anti Heat Pack’
You all never forget your shoes or jump rope or weight belt when you come to the gym. In the summer, stock your bag with a few more essentials for staying cool:
ESCAPE THE HOT CITY
When you just can’t take it anymore, escape the city for cooler pastures. There are a lot of villas in and next to Hanoi. They are in the middle of the forest or at the top of the mountain. You need only 1-2 hours of driving. You can go there with your family or friends for 1-2 days; relax, host a pool party, BBQ ...it's a good way to escape the crowded city. Some places we like to go for weekend getaways outside of Hanoi:
EMBRACE THE HEAT AT CROSSFIT TAY HO
No need to stop your fitness routine just because it is hot out! As long as you are staying safe, hydrating, listening to your body, and are out of the sun - a workout at CrossFit Tay Ho may just help you push through those hot days! One of our members has this to say about staying cool at CrossFit Tay Ho:
"My secret is to have a training session, then sit in front of the big blue fan. It's freezing cold. You may need a blanket!"
CrossFit Tay Ho now has an ice bath! An added perk for recovery, and beating the heat!