While planning your holiday to Vietnam, you might wonder about the best time to visit the country. The answer is quite simple: anytime is the best time!
It all depends on how you would like to spend your vacation. If you want to stay at a glamorous beach resort, sipping cocktails and getting a tan, you’ll want to choose a different time than if you’re looking for an active adventure.
Choose Your Climate
Vietnam is a long country, stretching over a thousand miles from Sapa in the North to the Mekong Delta in the South. There are roughly two different climates in the country. The North has four seasons. The cool and dry winters last from November to April with temperatures averaging 22 degrees celsius. January through March see the temperatures dropping to 17 degrees celsius or below. The summer months, between May and October, are hot and extremely humid. This is also when the North has the highest rainfall.
The South has a two season tropical climate. The dry season lasts from December to the end of April. During this time it doesn’t rain much, and the sky is clear and blue. From January to March, there is almost no rainfall at all. This is unsurprisingly the high season of tourism in Vietnam as well.
Between March and May, the temperatures skyrocket and the sweltering heat can be a special kind of torture if you’re not used to it. The rainy season typically starts in May and lasts through October. High humidity, thunderstorms and torrential rain are standard during this time of year.
The meteorological divide between the two main climates is the Hai Van Pass between Hue and Da Nang.
Image source: ibb.co
Let's start in the South of Vietnam. If your goal is to relax at the beach, the dry season is the best time to visit Vietnam. Whether you choose Phu Quoc, Mui Ne, Con Dao or Da Nang as your destination, you’ll be sure to have all the sunshine you could want during the months of November to March.
In Ho Chi Minh City, however, the streets during the dry season can get very dusty and dirty without the daily rain to rinse the grime away. For tourists coming to HCMC from cooler climates, the daily downpours can offer a respite from the heat during the rainy season but it can also make it difficult to walk around and see the sights if the streets are flooded.
At 1500 metres above sea level, Da Lat can be quite cool all year round. In the springtime between December to March flowers bloom all over the highlands making it a colourful and romantic destination.
If you plan to escape the cold, dark winter and the stress of the holidays during Christmas time, Southern Vietnam is the perfect destination.
The Northern Climate
The North of Vietnam has four seasons, rather than two. You can decide between the humid summer, the temperate fall, the cool and dry winters or the breezy and damp spring. If you visit the Northern Highlands, prepare for quite cold winters with a low of around 0°C. It even snows in Sapa sometimes. Here is another quick weather guide, if you are interested in the weather in Hanoi.
During the springtime, the air is filled with the scent of a thousand flowers. Springtime in Hanoi is usually wet and damp before the monsoons arrive in May. While you carry your umbrella and search hopefully for blue spots in the sky, check out the countless flowers that bloom in the damp weather.
Image source: c1.staticflickr.com
Summertime in the North is typically hot and humid. Global warming has caused increased weather fluctuations so bring an umbrella or a raincoat just in case. You never know when the weather might change.
Autumn in the North of Vietnam is considered the most romantic time of the year. The rainfall and temperatures are balanced, the leaves change colours and there is often a nice, cool breeze. Unfortunately, the season is quite short. Fall only lasts a couple of weeks between Mid-September and the end of November.
Winter in the North is surprisingly cold for a tropical country. The temperatures in Hanoi can get as low as 10°C, which combined with the humidity can make for a chilly holiday. Prepare for the cold season with proper clothing, but don't be intimidated by the cooler temperatures. The winter in the North has its own charm. People gather around the fires of small streetside kitchens, sipping tea and eating hot street food.
Public holidays in Vietnam
Holidays are another thing to consider when travelling to Vietnam. There are not many public holidays in the country, so when people have a few days off of work almost everyone packs up and travels to visit their families or take a few days to relax. During Tet holiday, the Mid-Autumn festival or Independence Day book your tickets early.
Bus and train tickets sell out early during Tet. If you’re extremely lucky, you might manage to get a space on the floor between two seats if you book late. Flight tickets to Bangkok and other Southeast Asian cities sell out months in advance.
Hotel rooms cost at least double the price during this time and while many shops in the major cities are closed, the villages and famous travel destinations of Vietnam are bustling with visitors. So if you would like to experience Vietnam during a public holiday, either plan ahead carefully or stay static during the storm.
It’s also important to double check the date and length of the holiday before booking. The date of most festivals in Vietnam depend on the moon phases, so they change each year. Make sure you check your visa expiration date in advance. The embassies are closed during public holidays and if your visa expires, it will be difficult and potentially expensive to renew.
August to November is the typical season for typhoons—tropical storms with a huge potential for destruction. Even if the typhoons occasionally reach as far as Hanoi, it is usually the coastal areas of Central Vietnam that suffer the most.
Image source: globetrottr.org
In general, typhoons have already lost much of their power by the time they reach the coasts of Vietnam, but they are extremely hard to predict. If you stay in Hue, Da Nang, Hoi An or another coastal city while a typhoon is on the way, make sure to check for updates online or with the receptionist at your hotel.
Video source: The Star Online
A Year-Round Holiday
So when is the best time to visit Vietnam ? Anytime you like. But to get the most out of your holiday choose carefully. September to January is ideal to visit the South, while spring and fall are perfect for visiting the North. If you are not afraid of a little rain, the South is yours all year round.