At first glance, an unexpected rain shower may put a dampener on your holiday, but there are plenty of indoor activities in Hanoi. The city enjoys a mild, tropical climate typical of northern Vietnam, with the monsoon season falling between May and October. However, occasional downpours are common at any time of the year, so it’s best to be prepared by packing a raincoat.
Cultural performances, art galleries and museums are great for learning about Vietnam’s rich history while luxurious spas (both standalone and hotel-owned), quaint cafés and vibrant bars offer visitors a chance to unwind until the sun comes out. Check out our guide on the best things to do in Hanoi when it rains.
1. Visit a Museum
There are plenty of museums in Hanoi where you get to learn more about the Vietnam’s rich culture and turbulent history while escaping daytime downpours during your holiday. Home to unique artefacts and photographs, detailed (and often harrowing) stories and local artworks, must-visits include the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and the Vietnam Women’s Museum. Tickets are priced between VND 10,000 and VND 25,000 per person, depending on which museum you choose to visit
2. Explore the Local Art Scene
Hanoi has no shortage of art galleries and handicrafts centres, most of which are conveniently located along Trang Tien Street in Old Quarter. A popular art gallery in this city is Thanh Binh Gallery, which houses artwork by some of Vietnam’s most respected modern artists as well as an extensive range of lacquerware painting. Alternatively, grab an umbrella or raincoat and explore Hang Bac Street, where you can find decades-old shops selling silver jewellery, such as rings, necklaces and bracelets.
3. Watch a Puppet Theatre
Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre is considered to be one of the cultural highlights of Northern Vietnam, dating back to a tradition that first started in the Red River Delta. Shows at this modern theatre are performed in a pool of water as the stage for the puppets, which are controlled by puppeteers hiding behind a bamboo screen. Held daily at 15:00, 16:10, 17:20, 18:30 and 20:00, tickets are priced at VND 100,000 for an hour-long performance.
4. Enjoy the local coffee or beer
Hanoi’s ever-thriving café culture means that you’re never too far away from a strong jolt of caffeine. Introduced by the French, the city is teeming with modern and traditional coffee shops serving a wide range of Vietnamese coffee such as ca phe bac xiu (iced coffee with condensed milk), ca phe trung (egg coffee), sua chua ca phe (yoghurt coffee) and weasel coffee. Alternatively, there are plenty of bars and pubs that open as early as 08:00, where you can enjoy alcoholic beverages at a fraction of what you’d pay back home.
5. Catch a Performance at Hanoi Opera House
The Hanoi Opera House is the largest theatre in Vietnam, and is regarded as an important historical and cultural landmark of Vietnam under French rule. Built in 1911 and modelled after the Paris Opera House, this historical building exudes Parisian charm from its ivory-toned columns, ornate balustrades and Gothic domes. Visitors can enjoy a wide range of events, including local Vietnamese opera, traditional folk music, ballets and international concerts, with tickets starting at VND 100,000.
6. Spend the day at a Shopping Mall
Open daily, shopping malls in Hanoi are great options for when you need to escape the downpours (or afternoon heat), catch the latest Hollywood films and shop for internationally-renowned brands. While narrow shophouses, outdoor markets and handicrafts outlets are plentiful in downtown Hanoi, contemporary shopping malls are gaining massive popularity among affluent locals and tourists for offering a wide array of dining, shopping and entertainment options under one roof.
7. Go for a Spa Session
With plenty of five-star hotels with onsite spa centres, as well as standalone outlets found within the city, a spa treatment is just the right remedy after a long day of exploring Hanoi. Catering to almost any budget and preference, Hanoi spas offer Vietnamese, Thai and Swedish-style body massages and reflexology, in addition to the usual offerings of facials, body wraps and scrubs. Some of the most popular hotel spas in Hanoi include Evian Spa, Sante Spa, and Le Spa du Metropole.