Escaping the Saigon Heat

Submitted by tomo on March 7, 2012 - 11:11pm

This post is not about basketball.

This post is about staying cool.

During my first few months in Vietnam I sweat a lot. Now I sweat less.

1. Change your genes. If you are Vietnamese, you sweat less. If you are derived from Europeans, you will sweat more at the same temperature. You can "get used to it" and not using the A/C more than necessary helps to acclimate (it will feel a lot more humid if you've been in a cold A/C room all day) but you will never stay as dry as a Vietnamese person. Hmm, we're off to a pretty bad start...

2. GTFO. Saigon and southern Vietnam and the rest of Southeast Asia can be pleasant during the dry season. In Saigon, that means November to February. December and January are the best times of the year to be here, and also the time most expats are likely to go back to their own countries for Christmas/New Year/Tet. Which is really a shame.

The rainy season from June to October are mixed, weather-wise. But when it does rain, and usually after it rains, the cool winds that created the rainstorms succeed in bringing down temperatures. But it can be quite hot and humid before it rains, or if the skies are promising rain yet failing to deliver.

April and May are pretty awful. Go to Dalat or something.

3. Stop moving. Stop exercising. When the sun is out and it's hot, don't exacerbate the situation by walking around. I used to think walking was normal, or even bicycling. Vietnamese people think it's insane. If you must exercise, do it before the sun comes up or after it goes down.

Riding a motorbike helps immensely. When it's not super sunny, it can be in the 30s and the wind still feels cool. You might think Vietnamese people are crazy for wearing jackets in this heat but a light, airy jacket does serve to keep the sun off. There are also these "nets" for motorbike seats that keep your seat from getting too hot to sit on in the sun as well as slightly increasing airflow to your sweaty arse.

4. Baby powder. If you're male and not Vietnamese you probably have a lot of useless body hair. Fur is great for keeping your body warm during ice ages but it's a gross evolutionary vestige in Saigon's climate. Combined with sweat and trapped under clothes it becomes even more uncomfortable. Use something like baby powder (which Johnson&Johnson have made available to us!).

5. Siesta. Just sleep all afternoon if you can. It's a worthless time to be outside unless you're poolside.

BONUS: Stick ice cubes down your pants.

ncis (not verified)

"Necessity is the mother of invention."
So maybe one day, we'll have air-conditioners in the form of a jacket, running on batteries (or perhaps solar power).
Now that's cool.


Actually, I remember hearing about an Indian student studying in Boston who invented a similar jacket.. but not powered by the sun. It did work for both hot and cold.

© 2010-2014 Saigonist.