The Jakarta Post
A typical vacation in Southeast Asia is identical to a summer break on tropical beaches, a lot of sunbathing and cold beers in the heat. The case is a little different with Vietnam, which may come as a surprise to some, but certain regions in Vietnam – specifically in the northern area – go through the four seasons in a year: winter, spring, summer and fall. Those seeking some fresh air to escape the heat and humidity in Southeast Asia, head to Hanoi or Sapa for a chilled winter break. Winter in Vietnam starts in mid-December and lasts until late March. Here is a list of activities to try during your trip:
1. Eat pho from a street vendor
Vietnamese street food is considered one of the best in Southeast Asia. Pho, Vietnamese rice noodle soup usually with chicken or beef, is being sold everywhere, from high-end restaurants to street vendors. On your first night, savor some pho on the street. The noodle soup, with a thick beef or chicken broth and its distinct taste of fresh Thai basil with lime squeezed on top is perfect for a cold winter’s night.
2. Take a stroll in Hanoi’s Old Quarter
Old Quarter, Hanoi (./.)
The Old Quarter in Hanoi is a beautiful gem in the city. French colonial buildings, colored in bright paint, with little cafes lining up on the street make this a picturesque spot for Instagram.
3. Drink Vietnamese coffee
Vietnamese coffee (./.)
Unless you’ve tried the famous Vietnamese coffee, you’re no coffee connoisseur. Drive around the city on your scooter and take a break for some reading or blogging with Vietnamese coffee in hand. This drink can be served hot or cold, the bitterness of black coffee mixed with the sweetness of the condensed milk makes a taste that can’t be beaten. Since not all cafes in Vietnam come with an English menu, grab your pen and write down this list for your next coffee stop:
Cà phê sữa đá: Iced coffee with condensed milk
Cà phê đen đá: Iced black coffee
Cà phê sữa nóng: Hot coffee with condensed milk
Cà phê đen nóng: Hot black coffee
4. Visit Hoan Kim Lake
Hoan Kim Lake in Hanoi’s Old Quarter is the center of attention. The lake, right in the middle of the Old Quarter, is a tranquil oasis among from the hustle and bustle of the city. The calm water and peaceful beauty create a wonderful contrast to Hanoi’s crowded and chaotic streets.
The tower in the middle of the lake is known as Turtle Tower, which was built in commemoration of Vietnamese warrior Le Loi, who led Vietnam’s independence movement in the 1400s.
Hoan Kim Lake is the most popular tourist spot in Hanoi, and the locals’ favorite for a slow jog and weekend picnic. On New Year’s Eve, people gather around the lake and se