With Hanoi’s blazing temperatures and the city being 100-kilometers away from the nearest beach, Hanoians are absolutely desperate for ways to cool off. Fans, air-con, cooling drinks: whatever it damn takes to escape the worst heatwave in 49 years. One popular hack is the joy of the outdoor swimming pool, the art-of splish-splashing in the sun, ideally with a cocktail in hand and a pair of pimp speedos at the ready (or whatever swimwear floats your boat).
Fortunately, Hanoi harbors several tranquil, chlorinated oases for the sunburnt and the sweaty to while away a warm afternoon. After extensive research and plenty of poolside beers, here are Chào’s top picks for you to jump into this summer– we think it is a list that offers something for everybody. In no particular order:
1. Thang Loi Swimming Pool
Overlooking the majesty of the West Lake, Thang Loi boasts stunning views to surround you and your friends on a memorable day at the pool. Located just off of Yen Phu, the pool is in the center of a sun soaked peninsula, giving the impression of swimming in the West Lake without having to jump into its grimy waters. The pool is a part of the Thang Loi Hotel, which offers other fun activities involving the beauty of the lake. Golf enthusiasts can even grab the chance to smash balls into the lake at the nearby driving range.
One downside of this pool is the lack of shade. While there are many sun loungers, very few of them fit under the sparse awnings, which can be a touch brutal during the peak of the heat, and Vietnamese swimmers, with their passionate dislike of the sun, tend to fill up the shady spots pretty damn fast.
Thang Loi Swimming Pool
200 Pho Yen Phu, Tay Ho
7 a.m. – 7 p.m.
2. Beer 68 Tay Ho
This popular Tay Ho joint is the perfect marriage between pool life and nhau culture, that elegant Vietnamese art of boozing and eating outside. The vast pool is home to a refreshing bia hoa, with staff more than happy to provide you with endless glasses of ice-cold beer. The free-flowing drinks and large-sized pool makes Beer 68 the best option for large parties or day-drinking water rats, which, unsurprisingly, makes it a bit of an expat fave.
Unlike Thang Loi, Beer 68 has a giant awning placed over the pool, protecting the palest swimmers from those harsh, tropical rays. Despite the many alcoholic beverages on offer, the pool is plenty-popular with families. So expect gaggles of giggling, screaming children circling the waters like ankle-biting sharks, which some may find fun, others bothersome. For any ESL teachers hoping to get truly blasted this summer, beware: your former students may be cannonballing next to you!
43b Dang Thai Mai, Tay Ho
10:30 a.m. -11 p.m.
80, 000 VND
3. Trill Rooftop Cafe
From the tops of the many-storied HEI Apartment Tower in Hanoi’s Thanh Xuan District, Trill Rooftop Cafe has a tiny pool to enjoy downtown Hanoi’s rising cityscape. Trill is sure to be a favorite among swimmers with a sweet tooth as its awesome cafe serves up classic desserts such as red velvet cake and tiramisu. The lucky swine fortunate to work near the rooftop pool frequent this place for a coffee break and a quick swim before meetings. Because, why not?
The picturesque location draws the attention of one notorious and, let’s be honest, occasionally annoying group: Instagrammers. There are plenty of aspiring models using the imposing scenery as a backdrop for their next viral selfie. Sometimes, ambitious photographers rent out the pool for a photoshoot, irking swimmers who just want to take a quick dip.
1 Ngụy Như Kon Tum, Thanh Xuân
8 a.m.-11 p.m.
4. The Hanoi Club
This place is a rather jaunty little members club and hotel rolled into one. It’s arguably one of the more refined on our list, and not a far cry from the Thang Loi, but sans children and families, which some may find a joy. The pool is clean and swish and there is a decent restaurant attached that will bring you beers, sandwiches and cocktails, as well as a shaded area with great Wi-Fi should you want to get a little poolside work done. Here things are relaxed, quiet and ideal for those who want to avoid the hoi polloi, certainly not a place for a ‘pool party.’
For those with a little extra cash, we would strongly recommend taking out a membership of the club itself, which will give you use of squash courts (one of only two places in the city to offer them), tennis courts, the pool and an excellent private gym. For a small extra fee, you can even drive golf balls into a section of Hanoi’s West Lake, which, it seems, is a much loved activity.
76 Yen Phu Street, Tay Ho
300,000 VND Weekdays/550,000 VND Weekends (includes use of squash courts, gym and sauna)
5. Landmark 72 Garden Pool
A gem of Mễ Trì District, the Landmark 72 Garden Pool is the perfect destination to take the family. Well-manicured vegetation surrounds the blue water, giving the appearance of a cool wellspring in some deep jungle. The titular Keangnam Landmark Tower looming over the pool spoils the illusion but does provide swimmers with a significant amount of much-desired shade. Children excitedly race down duo-waterslides, play in chilled fountains and soak their unexpecting parents with water cannons.
The pièce de résistance here has to be that there is a real-live chef manning the waters, serving up a solid-selection of savory snacks such as fries, noodles and squid balls- all reasonably priced and perfect for nailing that strange but inevitable swimming-pool hunger. Negatives are scarce at the Garden Pool. Ok, perhaps 50,000 VND for a can of beer is a little much but, well, it is hard to put a price on a refreshing day poolside.
Khu E6 Đô thị mới Cầu Giấy, Phạm Hùng, Mễ Trì, Nam Từ Liêm
8 a.m.-9 p.m.