Being listed among the cheapest countries to visit in Asia makes Vietnam sounds like the must-go destination. Here is the holiday, here is the vacation that you’re longing for. But “ When is the best time to visit Vietnam ” and you start doing some search.
“It’s hot. Damn hot! Real hot! Hottest things is my shorts. I could cook things in it. A little crotch pot cooking. It’s so damn hot, I saw little guys, their orange robes burst into flames. It’s that hot!”
– Tony William in a joke of Good Morning Vietnam
Tony is fun. But don’t assume that Vietnam is a tropical country with hot climate and sunshine all year round. The weather in Vietnam is as diverse as its geography and it’s variable, local and complex.
Overall, the North Vietnam has four seasons with a cold winter and a hot summer. The South Vietnam tends to be warmer and more humid with a dry season and a rainy one. Trying to understand about Vietnam weather? I suggest that you imagine the country as three different areas from the North, the Central and the South. Welcome to the country which has more than 200 miles of coastline and three different weather patterns!
Those months have the best time in Vietnam with the spring in the North and dry season in the South. While Hanoi and Halong temperatures ranges 15-22 degrees (59-72 Fahrenheit), Hue and Hoian ranges 22-32 degrees (72-89 Fahrenheit), the beaches are enjoying hot weather with the clear skies and sunshine. At the same time, the climate in Sapa and the mountainous regions in the North is good with 10-15 degrees (50-59 Fahrenheit).
What to expect: Pleasant weather with less crowded tourist attractions. January to March is the dry season of Vietnam and close to winter, especially in the North like Hanoi, Halong Bay and Sapa. Expect for the best trekking adventure in the far North.
April to June is an unpredictable time when witnessing a transition from spring to summer. Since there are fewer travelers, those months is still among the best months to visit. The mountainous regions like Sapa is still a bit chilly. But the sun regains its warmth and the crops start to bloom. June is still a good month to visit Vietnam despite it being a pretty mixed bag in terms of weather. June in the capital city Hanoi is hot and wet while the Central hit peak temperatures and the South has daily afternoon rain.
What to Expect: April to June in Vietnam comes with fine weather and fewer tourists. Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh will be a bit empty than usual due to the holidays during April 30th to May 2nd. Perfect to visit the tourist spots and museums this time. Hue city in the Central Vietnam will have a festival in May. April to June period is also perfect to visit beaches and islands.
July to September comes with harsh weather in the North Vietnam and crowded beaches. This time is school vacations of the local kids, which means that there is a high record in domestic tourist volume, crowding in beaches and mountain retreat.
Halong Bay and the North will be the wettest. Traveling there during July-September is not recommended. Sapa also experiences heavy rain between May and August so any outdoor activities during this period would not be advised.
Nha Trang and Hue starts their rainy seasons in September. Hue in its rainy season is very wet; it has small rain all day long during this season. The harvesting season in Sapa is between September and October. Expect the gorgeous harvest season in this mountainous area of Vietnam. Hoi An in July is suitable for off-the-beaten-path experiences
What to Expect: Wet weather in the North Vietnam and thunderstorm in Ho Chi Minh city, crowded beaches. Remember to bring a light raincoat or you can buy one in Vietnam. Don’t just pack shoes, a pair of flip-flops is good to walk in the rain.
In case of typhoons, Halong Bay cruises are often canceled. Thus, early October is a good time to visit Nothern Vietnam as the rainy season is usually over the chance to get typhoons is minimal. This is also the harvesting season of Sapa’s terraced rice fields. You will see Sapa, Ha Giang, Mu Cang Chai are deluged in the golden color. The first week of September is the best time for photography.
In short, we can describe the North Vietnam weather from October to December as “romance and tranquility” when the capital Hanoi is charming and the mountainous areas come to their best time to trek and take photos. While the North comes to its best time, the Central Vietnam is the opposite story with the high rainfall and stormy weather.
In December, things get brighter for all three regions of Vietnam when the Central Vietnam weather starts to improve with a significant drop in rainfall and the Southern beaches and islands like Phu Quoc and Con Dao are blessed with sunshine.
What to expect: Perfect weather in the North Vietnam, wettest months for the Central when the clear sky with sunshine will attract you to the beaches and islands of Phu Quoc, Phan Thiet, Mui Ne and Con Dao.
Tet is the biggest festival of the country which takes place the same day with Chinese New Year. Generally speaking, the Vietnamese prefer foreigners to call their holiday Tet than Chinese New Year. If you visit Vietnam during Tet, you will notice that the big cities will be less noisy and people come back to their hometown for the family reunion for around a week.
If your visit is short, avoid Tet holiday because a big number of businesses like restaurants, shops and markets are closed within some days before and after Tet. But from 7 to 3 days before Tet, the cities changed themselves into an energetic and beautiful Tet-themed decorated which bring the happiness and joy around.
Tet Holiday Calendar
More insight: If a public holiday falls on a weekend, workers have the following day off as compensation. Businesses are normally off 2 days before Tet and back after 5 days. If any day falls on a weekend, the days off will last for 2 or 3 days a bit longer. Sound easy to plan for your trip?
Christmas is one of the best time to visit Vietnam due to the pleasant weather throughout the country. During holidays and festivals, the price for tourists will rise up a bit.
Although the dominant religion of Vietnam is Buddhism, Christmas music and decoration are as crazy as everywhere else and it’s fun to see that almost everyone from all religions celebrate Christmas by going out on the streets. Local ladies wear red and white clothes to take photos in District 1. Christmas is surely not a national holiday of Vietnam but it seems that the locals love it.
What to expect: Christmas atmosphere is everywhere with a bit chilly in the North and pleasant weather in the South.
Easter doesn’t even exist in Vietnam and you won’t have the chance to find an Easter egg here. In a country that the dominated religion is Buddhism, the chances to find the eggs or bunny chocolates for your kids is minimal. Some luxury hotels and high-end shops in District 1 may pay attention to this details for their guests. But if you are not willing to hunt around for the Easter eggs and chocolate, pack solid eggs and chocolate with you to surprise your kids.
April is the beginning of the dry season with hot weather but you can expect that it’s pleasant. The weather in the North Vietnam may not as good as it is in the South but don’t take it seriously.
Northern Vietnam weather is distinct than the South. If Hanoi is hot, it’s hotter and drier than Saigon. If it’s cold, it’s always colder. In general, the winter lasts from November to April with the average temperatures from 17-23 degrees (62-73 Fahrenheit) and the coldest months fall in January, February and March where it freezes with the overnight temperatures is down to 4 degrees (39 Fahrenheit). Summer in the North Vietnam between May and August is a pretty harssh with the average temperatures 30 degrees (86 Fahrenheit) and the maximum temperature of 40 degrees (104 Fahrenheit). One thing to note is that the summer also comes with the high rainfall. Generally, summer in the North Vietnam is hot and sticky.
The summer comes from May to October with hot temperature, high humidity and rain. July to September may cause hash weather that may lead to the cancellation of Halong Bay cruises.
For that reason, the best time to visit Vietnam in the North including Hanoi, Halong Bay, Ninh Binh, Cuc Phuong and Mai Chau when expecting the lovely weather with warmth and sunshine is during its spring (March to April) and autumn (September to November).
There is no best time to visit Vietnam in the mountainous provinces like Sapa or Ha Giang. It’s possible to trek or cycle all year round. Although the winter time can be cold and frosty in December and January. If you wish for the pleasant weather, visit from October to April which is the dry season.
Those mountainous areas of Vietnam are well-known for its charm with the ethnic minority communities and its seasonal flowers.
If you are a flower lover or chase for the photography moments in those rich cultured and romantic mountainous regions of Vietnam. Read The best time to visit Ha Giang and the Far North of Vietnam
During September to December, the Central Vietnam including Hoi An, Danang and Hue have a considerable rainfall. There are some years Hoi An ancient town has flood from October to November. Affected by the typhoons, the areas can have storms. For that reason, it’s not advisable to visit there during those months.
However, the Southern coastal cities like Nha Trang, Quy Nhon, Mui Ne is less affected by the rain. Those cities have a longer dry season and more sunshine.
For those reasons, the best time to visit the Central Vietnam is between February and August.
While North Vietnam charm travelers with its four seasons, the South Vietnam experiences warm and pleasant all year round. Basically, there are two seasons in Ho Chi Minh and the Mekong Delta. The dry season lasts from December to May.
Temperatures during daytime is rarely below 20°C and sometimes hit 40°C during the hottest months from March to May. The rain season lasts from May to November when the transport will be a bit affected by the floods. However, the rain is often short bursts and pretty sudden. The rainfall is short enough to clean the air putting the hustle and bustle of the city at ease. From my experience, the good and stable weather in Ho Chi Minh and Mekong delta mostly support your trips. In June and July, floods can happen in Ho Chi Minh and poor weather for Phu Quoc island.
The weather in the Central Highlands of Vietnam is the same as South Vietnam but with cooler temperatures.
To get the truly local experience and bond with the young generation of Vietnam, learn more about the motorbike food tour in Saigon.
Let me know if you are planning for your upcoming Vietnam trip so I can give you some suggestions.