by Richard Henderson
The fresh tropical fruit, lounging by swimming pools and an explosion of colour throughout Ha Noi streets during summer are accompanied by endless perspiration, houses unable to cope with the heat, and intense storms.
|Water wonderland: People enjoy dipping themselves in a pool at the Water Park in Ha Noi, where they can spend the day enjoying an extensive range of facilities. — VNS Photo Ngoc Mieng
While the south of Viet Nam enjoys consistent temperatures all year round, the northern part of the country experiences a wild shift in weather, a phenomenon most pointedly felt during the crippling heat of summer in the capital.
The best way to survive and enjoy the three-month heatwave is to profit from the pleasures of summer and to mitigate the effects of the overwhelming heat.
Having a dip in a swimming pool is a never-fail option for summer, to cool down and have fun with friends, or swim laps for exercise. The Thang Long Hotel on West Lake offers a single-entry price to enjoy their pool, which although fairly small, has a stunning view of the lake.
Although it costs VND80,000 to use these basic facilities, the location is unbeatable, with a grass area to spread your towel and absorb the afternoon's rays, and deck chairs and sun lounges to spread out and read when you're not splashing about in the water.
A cafe also operates next to the pool, serving ice-cold beer and cocktails with a simple Vietnamese food menu.
You can take water appreciation to a new level at Ha Noi's Water Park, which is on the western edge of West Lake, and operates from March until October.
This definitely isn't a place to relax and read, with hundreds of excited children racing between the park's waterslides and fast food stalls.
The selection of waterslides is impressive, including one that is totally covered, making you feel on the edge of death as you zigzag at high speed toward the small pool at the bottom.
The Water Park is a great way to recapture your youth and is especially fun with a large group, where you can spend most of the day enjoying the extensive range of facilities.
Summer is also the perfect time of year to quench the need for more fluids with beer. Taking advantage of Ha Noi's plentiful array of bia hoi establishments will not only give you a chance to socialise with friends, but also to drink the light, fresh ale long into the evening without breaking the bank.
The celebrated bia hoi corner on Ta Hien Street is an expat favourite, and the cluster of bia hoi venues at the beginning of Bat Dan Street are also great locations to sit back on your plastic stool and soak up Ha Noi life.
If you encounter a feeling of claustrophobia living within Ha Noi during this period of unyielding high temperatures, escaping the city is always an option to help you cool down and reset your body clock.
Viet Nam's plentiful array of mountain areas offer great respite during summer, and some, such as Sa Pa, are connected to Ha Noi by rail, allowing easy access for a weekend out of town.
For more adventurous travellers, a trip to Ha Giang or Cao Bang provinces is another good option to rest from Ha Noi and explore the green-covered limestone mountains of the north.
A good domestic tip for the inevitable warm nights Ha Noi throws at you, is to purchase a fan to strategically place on you at night. While air-conditioning is the best way to cool a room, it sucks moisture from the air, causing mild dehydration, whereas the wind-chill factor caused by the fan will have you sleeping better, and using less electricity.
Try and make the most of Ha Noi's summer, for when winter again comes you'll be wishing for that blistering sun. — VNS