One of the first questions that comes to mind of a traveler is deciding on a time to go. There comes the time for holiday and vacation and then all of a sudden the question “Will that be the best time to visit the country” creates new nerves. In fact, even when you do the search or ask for advice on a “best time” to visit the country, chances are that not all of you can afford to plan it exactly as advised.
Let us say this to calm you: for Vietnam, any time can be a good time for travel. The opposing monsoonal season, which means different weather patterns from North to South, will give each time in the year an advantage. Plus everyone has a preference: some cannot tolerate the scorching heat, some want to be in a non-crowded area while others prefer to meet the people and feel the culture. Therefore, each month or season in Vietnam will meet one of these expectations, if not all.
Simply we cannot tell you when is the best time to visit Vietnam – read this guide through and decide one for yourself.
JANUARY – MARCH
The weather between January and March is characterized by cool and occasional light rain in the North, warm and dry in the centre and the south. The north is always cooler than the rest of the country. Temperature in Hanoi and Halong ranges between 15 and 22, in Hue and Hoi An between 22 and 32 and in Ho Chi Minh City and Nha Trang between 28 and 35. If you plan to trek early in the year to rural Northern mountain, make sure you bring extra coat to keep warm. Temperature in places like Sapa can drop to near 0 point.
The period between January and March also sees the most colourful festivals taking place all over the country, including Tet festival. Certain precautions need to be taken if you travel in late January and early February to best enjoy the time. Towards March, the weather gets warmer and the intensity of festivals lessens. From mid February to mid March, tourism volume is among the lowest in the year for both international and domestic tourists.
Summary: Great weather, Abundant festivals, Uncrowded attractions.
Where to go: Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (during Tet holiday), Sapa (January, March), Dalat (January), Nha Trang (February, March).
APRIL – JUNE
April to June is the season transforms from spring to summer. The Center of Vietnam remains wet with temperate weather until May, while the South and Southern coast are already in hot dry weather from March to May, so let head to the popular beaches area like Nha Trang, Quy Nhon or Halong Bay. Vietnamese families often do not take off until the mid June since their kids remain in school until late May. That means you still have space to breath, if visiting popular beaches area like Nha Trang, Quy Nhon or Halong Bay.
One suggestion that we can make is that – visit Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City during April 30th – May 2nd, which coincide with the long holiday in Vietnam. You will find these cities empty thanks to families taking off: fewer traffic congestion, nice fresh air and perfect time to visit museums and tourist spots. Avoid off-city spots, since you will be caught in the cram and not be able to enjoy to the fullest of the trip.
Summary: Fine weather, Low domestic season, not many events and festivals.
Where to go: Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (late April early May), beaches (mid May to June), Hue (during Hue festival often in May or June), Centre of Vietnam.
JUNE – EARLY SEPTEMBER
You must find it interesting, learning that Vietnamese hardly travel solo – mostly family form and increasingly in friends or like-minded forms. What this means is that parents often wait for their children to finish school for family vacation. From June to early September, Vietnam sees a record high in domestic tourists volume, crowding in beach and mountain retreats. Popular places like Halong Bay, Sapa, Danang, Nha Trang, Phu Quoc, will see lines after lines of travellers – hotels will be full, food price rockets, and the worst of it all – tourist spots of all sorts will be crammed with people.
In terms of weather, June to early September is a wet and hot period. It does not sounds like an ideal condition to travel, but for beach and sun lovers, they cannot find a better time to visit Vietnam than this. All throughout the country from top north to bottom south, you will see the golden sun shining from 7AM to 7PM, and the evening usually gives way to thunderstorm. If you are from a tropical country – great – since you are already accustomed to this type of weather. If you are not – bring some sun-screen with you to avoid sun burnt. If you are not into crowd, avoid travelling off the city during weekends.
Overall: rather harsh weather in Hanoi, Hue and Hoi An; thunderstorm in Ho Chi Minh City; crowded beach.
Recommended: So and so
Where to go: beaches from Monday to Wednesday, city on weekend.
MID- SEPTEMBER TO DECEMBER
A golden time to visit the North of Vietnam such as Hanoi, Sapa, Halong Bay and other provinces nearby, the sky is clear and the wind is gentle. As time gets closer to December, temperature drops and one cannot realize that they are in a tropical country any more. Coupled with the many colonial buildings here and there in the downtown area, Hanoi will charm you like what Paris and other romantic capital usually does. Late September and early October is also a great occasion to travel up north to Sapa, to see the beautiful color of terraced rice paddy field ready for harvest. In other words, the period between September and December in Northern part of Vietnam can be characterized by the words “romance and tranquility”. Temperature is moderate and often hovers in the 20s.
Dry air will make the trip even more enjoyable – walking or strolling, you will love it all.
On the contrary, this all-too-perfect time period may not be the best fit for Southern beach. For example, October and November are rainy months in Nha Trang and the damp weather could spoil your long-waiting holiday with the sun and beach. Similarly in Centre Vietnam, especially Hue and Hoi An, it often rains dogs and cats in November and December, though the water may subdue as it gets closer to Tet. Still, the rain may make your plan on outdoor activities fall through. In exchange, travelling in this period and you can avoid all the notorious heat of Vietnam summer.
Overall: the weather is the most beautiful in the year for North Vietnam and rainy in the rest of the country. Uncrowded public space since domestic tourist season is over.
Where to go: Hanoi, Halong Bay, Sapa and the northern part of Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh City and non-beach areas are also great to visit during this time of the year.
One more time, because of the different weather patterns from North to South, so based on the duration of your stay, you should plan to catch the good weather and stay by dropping in Saigon in February or March then following the coast to north or hitting Hanoi in October – November