The unrelenting heat in May and the beginning of June in the north has signaled a torrid start to the summer.
Here are five ideal destinations not far from Hanoi center and its concrete jungle to enjoy cooler conditions.
1. Ba Vi National Park
Hanoi’s famous national park is an ideal weekend getaway to begin this list. It is around 50 km west of the capital and offers a huge diversity of flora to provide shade from the heat.
Many prefer to hike in the park to enjoy the views and serenity. If you still find the heat too much, you can drive through the clouds and climb the steps to the highest point of the Ba Vi mountain range. At 1,269 m, you will be pleasantly surprised by the coolness on top of King Mountain.
Melia Ba Vi Mountain Retreat and Ba Vi Resort are two of the most popular hotel options for visitors. However, you can also find more affordable options on the outskirts of the park.
2. Tam Dao National Park
Tam Dao is another national park less than 100 km from the capital. The tranquil hill town was originally established by French colonialists in the early 20th century. It often has a cool breeze blowing through it due to its elevation of nearly 1,000 m.
The name of the area translates to three islands due to the three peaks – Ban Thach, Thien Nhi and Phu Nghia. All of them are 1,000 m above sea level and offer stunning views as well as a more moderate climate than Hanoi back down the winding road.
Accommodation ranges from large hotels and villas in town to, if you’re feeling more adventurous, camps within the park with waterfalls to keep you company.
3. Ninh Binh
Travel two hours south of Hanoi and you can enter a world full of remarkable karst scenery. The serene setting is in stark contrast to the chaotic capital and traffic jams in the scorching heat.
Relaxing river tours of Tam Coc and Trang An surrounded by lush greenery can cool visitors down before they retire to their accommodation of choice, which could range from traditional homestays to resorts with swimming pools and spas.
If you want to escape the crowds, you can also visit the Van Long Nature Reserve. If you are lucky, you may spot a critically-endangered Delacour langur climbing the towering limestone terrane in the wetland nature reserve.
4. Cuc Phuong National Park
Vietnam’s largest nature reserve offers a stunning range of biodiversity including flora. The multi-layered canopy of the national park, with some trees soaring 70 m into the sky, provides perfect shade from the sun.
The cool temperature means you are able to enjoy the wonders of the park without feeling too uncomfortable. A highlight here is getting a glimpse of its incredible animals such as langurs, civets and flying squirrels.
Away from the jungle trail you can descend into even cooler regions inside Paradise Cave and Cave of Prehistoric Man. Just remember to keep your mouth closed when looking up at the colonies of bats hanging from the roofs of the caves.
You may experience storms and showers between July and August, but they are welcome compared to the inconvenience of being caught out in the rain in the middle of Hanoi during rush hour.
5. Soc Son
The final entry in the list of excellent escapes from the Hanoi heat is the one closest to the city. A short drive over Nhat Tan bridge and past Noi Bai Airport sees you arrive in Soc Son, a popular district within Hanoi.
The area may not boast the variety of flora and fauna of the national parks, but Ham Lon Lake and Dong Do Reservoir make for a tranquil landscape. Many visitors choose to camp near these water bodies to enjoy nature away from crowded Hanoi.
Soc Son also has a huge number of beautiful villas to share with friends and family, many with a pool to plunge into and cool off when the heat becomes unbearable. Once you feel refreshed, you can also visit Thanh Chuong’s Viet Palace to see a wonderfully quirky collection of art among lotus ponds and leafy gardens.