It’s rainy season in Vietnam, and though this usually just means a downpour late afternoon or overnight and shouldn’t be enough to disrupt schedules, sometimes it does set in and you’ll want something to do in miserable weather. So what to do in Hanoi?
Personally, I find curling up on the sofa watching back-to-back episodes of How I Met Your Mother is a good approach, but then, I have a sofa and I’m not here on holiday.
Museums are an obvious choice. So buy yourself an umbrella or a raincoat and head off to the newly re-opened Women’s museum, the HCM Museum or the Fine Arts Museum. The Ethnology Museum is a particularly good museum, but it’s a bit of way out of town and its highlights are re-constructed houses outdoors, so scratch that for a rainy day adventure. Check out Hanoi Grapevine for details of any special exhibitions that are happening around town.
If you’re not a museum person then how about going bowling?? Star Bowl in Dong Da district is a fun place to while away a few hours, but book in advance if it’s the weekend.
Rainy days are of course good for watching a film. The Megastar complex is always showing English-language films and with restaurants and shops in the same building, you can stay out of the rain for hours.
If you’re in the mood for pampering, find a spa. Massages start at around US$3 for half an hour, or go the whole hog and book in at a higher end place for an afternoon of indulgence — after Zen Spa’s 3.5 hour package you won’t even care that it’s raining.
Hanoi is a great people-watching place, but unfortunately most of the people-watching spots are outside or exposed to the elements. Still, for a good view of the storm try the inside area at Avalon, which has a glass frontage overlooking Hoan Kiem Lake. Or hunker down at Le Pub on Hang Be, which has a covered outside area facilitating a view of the street. Alternatively forget other people and just find a cosy bar or cafe and catch up on your reading (or drinking). Try Puku, Hanoi House, JOMA or, with a bit more cash to spare, the cafe at Tan My Design at 61 Hang Gai.
How about food? With street eating not great in the rain, make a dash to your nearest indoor or covered restaurant, or order a takeaway meal. The number of restaurants providing a delivery service is increasing: pizza, Indian, sandwiches, Mexican … are all just a phone call away. Check out new website www.eat.vn to order online or look at the menus on The New Hanoian.
If all else fails, make sure you check into a hotel with satellite TV. You might even catch an episode of How I Met Your Mother.
Vietnamese Women’s Museum
36 Ly Thuong Kiet Street, Hanoi
T: (04) 38259937
Ho Chi Minh Museum
19 Ngoc Ha, Ba Dinh (Official address, but entrance to building is easier to get to from the Ho Chi Minh complex area)
Fine Arts Museum
66 Nguyen Thai Hoc St, Ba Dinh district, Hanoi
Hanoi Star Bowl
2B Pham Ngoc Trach Street, ??ng ?a district, Hanoi
T: (04) 3574 1614
5th Floor, Vincom Towers, 191 Ba Trieu Street, Hai Ba Trung district, Hanoi
T: (04) 3974 3333
Avalon Cafe Lounge
73 Cau Go Street, Hoan Kiem district, Hanoi
T: (04) 3926 0801
25 Hang Be Street, Hoan Kiem district, Hanoi
T: (04) 3926 2104
16-18 Tong Duy Tan Street, Hanoi (aka “Food Street”)
T: (04) 3938 1745
Joma Bakery Cafe
22 Ly Quoc Su Street (near St Joseph’s Cathedral), Hanoi
T: (04) 3747 3388
47A Ly Quoc Su, Hanoi (opposite St Joseph’s Cathedral)
By Sarah Turner
Last updated on 29th January, 2015.