I’ll be writing a few posts about the realities of Hanoi during the year, aimed at people looking to move here or those coming on holiday who want to know more than you get just looking at the climate graphs on weather websites and figuring it out! I hope they’re helpful. Let me know in the comments below if they’ve helped you, and feel free to ask any questions too!
So, what’s February in Hanoi like? Here’s my perspective of this month…
I was self-isolating for ten days this month, and it feels like during those ten days we left winter and entered spring. The month began with cloudy, grey days which – though sometimes fairly warm – looked pretty bleak. We’re talking mid-teen temperatures and fog.
This February in Hanoi, we did see some absolutely glorious days. Blue skies, temperatures in the low twenties, and generally not much rain at all has meant long walks have been lovely. We even had two or three days with temperatures up to around 28 degrees. Shorts weather, out on the balcony in my sunglasses – a stark contrast to January’s thick coat and scarf!
The last few days of the month have generally settled in the mid twenties. It’s been perfect for heading for walks, sitting outside in restaurants and bars and enjoying evenings on the balcony. In fact, I’d say recent temperatures have been just right for me! I’m not sure I want it to continue getting even hotter for the rest of my time here!
Pollution this month hasn’t been as bad as in January. It hasn’t been good either, but there have been more frequent days where having windows open has actually felt like an option.
For the most part, in my area of the city (Tay Ho), it’s been orange and red levels (meaning ‘unhealthy for sensitive groups’ and ‘unhealthy’ respectively). So that’s obviously not ideal, but is far better than January’s occasional ‘hazardous’ ratings. I use the Air Visual app to check this and do sometimes alter my plans based on pollution.
Some days, especially during Tet, the pollution was much, much better, as many people leave the city to celebrate the lunar new year with family.
Pollution therefore hasn’t been as much of an issue in February as it was last month. From what I remember from the last couple of years, it should slowly and steadily continue to improve for the next few months. That being said, this is Hanoi – if you’re coming to visit, be prepared for bad pollution some days. It’s not always predictable.
Travel, Traffic and Tet
Tet – Lunar New Year – takes place in January or February each year. This year, it was celebrated from the 10th – 16th of February. I wrote all about Tet here, and what the city was like at that time, but to sum up:
- Traffic and the city in general is busier in the run up to Tet as people make their preparations, gather food and buy decorations
- During the days of Tet, it’s far, far quieter than usual. Many Vietnamese people travel to their hometowns to visit family and friends, which leaves Hanoi’s streets far less crowded
- It also means shops, bars, restaurants and coffee shops close too. Some close for the whole time, some shut just for a couple of days and some stay open the whole time (usually with a limited menu/limited staff)
- Don’t let that put you off visiting Hanoi during this time! Yes, you’ll have to look more carefully for places to go, but exploring the city at Tet is calm and peaceful. You can also enjoy seeing the locals preparing and celebrating their new year, and watch fireworks on New Year’s Eve!
In terms of travelling elsewhere in Vietnam during Tet, prices of hotels and flights are generally hiked up and the closure of retail outlets will be common throughout the country. That being said, I have enjoyed holidays in Vietnam during this time and places closing hasn’t been a huge issue!
So, is it worth visiting Hanoi in February? I think so. The weather is warming up, blue skies are more frequent thanks to lower pollution and there’s often a lovely breeze. It’s generally dry, fairly peaceful and there’s an air of excitement in the air thanks to the new year celebrations.
Have you been to Hanoi before? If not, would you want to come at this time, or wait until the hotter summer?