Emerald paddy fields, ancient relics, timeless towns, white sandy beaches and well-preserved colonial architecture are some of the amazing things Vietnam offers visitors. The S-shaped country is rich in history, culture, tradition and so is its weather. It will not be easy to decide when to visit Vietnam as the weather can vary dramatically depending on when and where you’re traveling. So what is the best time to visit Vietnam. This blog post will be my recommendations and advices for Best time to visit Vietnam.
1. Vietnam weather overview
Geographically located in the tropical area, Vietnam experiences stable temperature and high humidity throughout the year. However, the weather is not always the same, but changes from north to south and region to region due to the long and narrow shape of the country (The S shaped country spans vertically around 1,750km with a coastline of more than 3,000 km from North to South).
Moreover, Vietnam’s climate varies at different times of the year since the significant impact of monsoon. The monsoon season in Vietnam is divided into two distinct seasons namely the summer monsoon (May – Oct) and the winter monsoon (Nov- Apr).
The summer monsoon blows moist air inland from the southwestern Indian Ocean, bringing a lot of rainfall, whereas the winter monsoon comes from the northeast along the coast of China and across the Gulf of Tonkin, driving away much of the moisture. That is the reason why Vietnam experiences high precipitation in summer, and vice versa in winter.
Vietnam experiences stable temperature and high humidity throughout the year
2. Best season to visit Vietnam by season
2.1. Spring (February – April)
Northern Vietnam is the only place in the country which is able to experience spring (Feb – Apr). The weather along with humidity starts to rise up, after a cold and dry winter.
Although spring only lasts for a short period of time in northern Vietnam, its festive vibes spread around the country. Vietnamese people celebrate the “Tet holiday” (or Lunar New Year) annually, which often falls from the end of January to mid February (time may vary each year). During the first month of Lunar new year, a wide range of colorful festivals and events are held all over the country, from mountainous and rural areas to modern cities.
When the cold of winter comes to an end, plants and flowers burst back into their colorful life. Some flowers are used for home decoration during Tet holidays namely peach blossom, apricot blossom and marumi kumquat. Peach blossoms and marumi kumquat are traditional plants for people in the north, while people in the southern part prefer apricot blossoms.
2.2. Summer (May – August)
Though roasting heat and heavy showers are common things throughout the whole summertime of Vietnam, they are unable to prevent the Vietnamese going on holidays. Moreover, summer also marks the end of the school year and the beginning of a two-month summer holiday.
As a result, most Vietnamese people go on vacation during these summer months. Coastal towns or resort islands are favourite getaways for summer.
And of course summer is the peak travel season in Vietnam when flight tickets, hotel price and temperature are skyrocketing. If you wish to plan a summer trip, make sure to book everything in advance and try to avoid weekends as much as possible.
Coastal towns or resort islands are favourite getaways for summer
2.3. Autumn (September – November)
Located within the tropical area, autumn in Vietnam may come without any significant signs in a very short time. And there is no other place in Vietnam than the north region to feel some “sort of autumn”.
The weather remains hot in the beginning of autumn. Changes take place in October which marks the gradual transition between summer and winter. The precipitation reaches its peak in these autumn months, especially in the central region.
2.4. Winter (December – January)
Despite being prominently located in the tropical area which boasts stable temperature all year round, Northern Vietnam is one of a few places in South East Asia which experience “true winter” and the temperature can reach below 0°C in mountainous areas.
As a result, winter sees a significant contrast between the north and the south of Vietnam. It will be “hot like hell” in Ho Chi Minh city, while the weather can drop below 0°C in Sapa at the same time.
Although the majority of Vietnam do not follow Christanity or any religions, festive vibes are still on the way. A month before Christmas, streets, famous landmarks, and shopping centers are beautifully lit up.
Northern Vietnam is one of a few places in South East Asia which experience “true winter” and the temperature can reach below 0°C in mountainous areas
2.5. Public Holiday in Vietnam
Mark the calendar for some public holidays in Vietnam. As public holidays are when workers get their day off, they can leave the city for home or holiday. It would be a better time to visit big cities like Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City. Remember to stay away from resort towns if you don’t want to be in a competition during holiday.
a. New Year (1/1): Like any other places in the world, the Vietnamese celebrate the first day of the year. There will be some special programs or even fireworks in big cities or tourist destinations, while it seems like a normal day in small towns.
b. Tet Holiday (end of January – mid February): Tet holiday is the longest and most important festival in Vietnam. The holiday can last for 7 to 10 days which minimal services
c. Hung Kings Festival (the mid of April): Being celebrated on the 10th day of the third Lunar month, Hung Kings Festival is for worshipping and paying tribute to the Hung Kings who make great contributions in building the country in the very first stage of history. There will be one or two days off for this occasion.
d. Reunification Day (30/4) & Labour Day (1/5): The duo holidays are the most awaited ones after Tet holiday. A week before and after the holiday, the streets are decorated with colorful banners, red flags and neon lights.
e. Independence Day (2/9): While Reunification Day and Labour Day marks the beginning of the travel season in Vietnam, Independence Day put an end to that. As a result, the holiday can extend up to 4 days.
Public holidays would be a better time to visit big cities like Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City.
3. Best time to visit Vietnam by region
The country can be divided into 3 regions: the highlands and the Red River Delta in the north, the central mountains and coastal lowlands in the central region, and the Mekong River Delta in the south. Each region boasts its own climate and seasonal features.
3.1. Best time to visit Northern Vietnam
There are four distinct seasons in northern Vietnam: Spring (Feb – Apr), Summer (May – Aug), Autumn (Sep – Nov) and Winter (Dec – Jan).
Winter in the northern part of Vietnam lasts from December to January with the average temperature ranging from 14 – 20°C. It will be colder in some mountainous areas like Sapa, Ha Giang, Cao Bang… This temperature seems not to be a problem with people from high or mid latitude countries. However, keep in mind that Vietnam has high humidity, so it will feel more freezing.
The temperature sometimes drops below 0°C in some mountainous areas and here comes some snow. In a tropical country like Vietnam, snow is such an expected occasion. However, there is nothing more except for snow in winter.
Don’t travel to this region in Spring (Feb – Apr) as all you can see is overcast days. And of course the sun is rarely seen. I don’t know why most of the blogs recommend this period to be the best time to visit northern Vietnam. But it will be the worst time instead.
Summer (May – Aug) is the hottest time of the year with temperatures reaching up to 40°C until the mid of July. From then on, it will move to the rainy season. I hate this season as it rains every single day.
Therefore, there is no better time to visit northern Vietnam than Autumn (Sep – Nov) when the heat is gone and the crowds are scarce. Autumn also marks the harvesting season when the rice paddy fields are covered with the golden color. This color blends harmonized with blue sky, green mountains and rustic stilt houses which offer some of the postcard-perfect scenes of Vietnam.
There is no better time to visit northern Vietnam than Autumn (Sep – Nov) when the heat is gone and the crowds are scarce
3.2. Best time to visit Central Vietnam
Central Vietnam experiences two distinct seasons namely dry and rainy seasons in general. The dry season starts from February to August, while the rainy season is from September to January. However, there are some variations within the region owing to Hai Van Pass.
Hai Van Pass is the natural boundary which splits the climate of Central Vietnam into 2 different types. The weather of North-Central is much like the northern part, while that of the south shares the same features as the southern part of Vietnam.
The region suffers from several storms annually from the mid of July to October. And it’s difficult to predict when these heavy rains and strong winds can hit coastal cities in central Vietnam. So try to avoid the aforementioned period as much as possible.
3.3. Best time to visit South Vietnam
South Vietnam experiences warm, pleasant temperatures all year round. The weather is divided into 2 seasons namely hot season and hotter season (just kidding).
It is literally divided in terms of precipitation: dry season (November – May) and rainy season (June – October). Time may vary as it follows the Lunar Calendar.
Moreover, this region experiences less storms (or maybe no storms) than any other regions which makes it a year round destination.
4. Best time to visit Vietnam by cities
4.1. Hanoi – The capital city of Vietnam
Officially originated 1000 years ago, the capital city of Vietnam – Hanoi experienced a history full of ups and downs. That is the reason why you can see an abundance of architecture from different periods of time including Vietnamese feudal era, French colonialism and Soviet-inspired Doi Moi period.
Autumn (September – November) is definitely the best time to visit Hanoi. Comfortable weather, clear blue sky and the smell of milkwood pine flowers lingering around bustling streets are what describe the city in this season. That’s the reason why there are many songs depicting the beauty of Hanoi in autumn
4.2. Halong Bay – New 7 Natural wonders of the world
Listed as one of the new 7 natural wonders of the world, Halong Bay fascinates visitors with thousands of limestone karsts and isles in various shapes and sizes.
Ha Long experiences tropical coastal climate weather which can be mainly divided into 2 seasons namely cold dry winter (December – April) and hot humid summer (May – November). Summer is undeniably the best time to experience the tropical side of Halong Bay which offers chances to sunbathing, kayaking or
Halong Bay – New 7 Natural wonders of the world
4.3. Sapa – The Roof of Indochine
Combining the beauty of mountains, terrace fields and rustic ethic houses, Sapa has been such a year round off-the-beaten track getaway.
The views of Sapa are not the same, but changeable through the time of the year. Liveable green in summer, endless yellow in autumn or snow white in winter are some of the different themes which this mountainous town offers.
And you may be surprised that snow appears in Sapa. Whenever the snow starts to fall, all the roads leading to Sapa are packed with cars. Vietnam is a mainly tropical country and snowfall is such a rare opportunity which most Vietnamese are eager to see.
4.3. Ninh Binh – Hidden gem of Vietnam
Home to spectacular scenery with striking limestone karsts, vast rice paddies and ancient relics, Ninh Bình is a not-to-miss place to experience authentic rural sides of Vietnam.
This hidden gem of Vietnam can be visited any time of the year. However, Ninh Binh are more photogenic during the harvest season when the golden color spreads across paddle fields. Make sure to mark your calendar for May – July and Sep – Oct if you wish to see the rice fields.
Hoi An – the timeless town in Central Vietnam
4.4. Hue – Danang – Hoi An – The golden route of Central Vietnam
The central part of Vietnam fascinates visitors with its rich history, sandy beaches and award winning luxury resorts. Hue, Danang and Hoi An forms the golden route to explore the essence of Central Vietnam.
The three cities share the same climates features due to close proximity. There are two distinct seasons namely rainy and dry seasons. Wet season of the trio lasts from September to December with October and November achieving peak levels. There is a fun story telling that Hue experiences only 2 rains in a month but one lasts for half a month.
Nevertheless, lying under the transition zone means the weather has something similar to the north of Vietnam. It received some sort of cold from the northeast monsoon during winter months (Sep – Dec). The best time to visit the trio is in March and April when the travel hasn’t started and weather is not so hot.
4.5. Ho Chi Minh City – The southern economic hub
Typically known as the financial and commercial hub of northern Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) enjoys unique bustle and hustle vibes which are unable to be found in any other cities in Vietnam.
The best time to visit Ho Chi Minh city is from December to May when the rainy season comes to an end. The average temperature ranges from 24 to 33°C and low chances of precipitation allow visitors to enjoy the city.
Phu Quoc is renowned for turquoise waters, white sandy beach, pristine natural landscapes and relaxed atmosphere.
4.6. Phu Quoc – The Emerald Island
Being one of a few islands located on the Gulf of Thailand, Phu Quoc is renowned for turquoise waters, white sandy beach, pristine natural landscapes and relaxed atmosphere.
Phu Quoc shares the same climate features with other cities within the south of Vietnam whose best time to visit is the dry season (November – May). Wet season (June – October) sees drastic drops in hotel prices and flight tickets which means you can grab some bargains.
However, it is not a good idea to visit Phu Quoc during the wet season as no one makes it all the way to a getaway just to stay in hotel rooms.
5. Summary: What is best time to visit Vietnam
5.1. My recommendation for best time to visit Vietnam
In my opinion, the best time to visit Vietnam will be autumn for comfortable weather, amazing landscapes and affordable travel costs… But not the whole season.
As mentioned before, autumn in Vietnam comes with insignificant signs and changes gradually, the temperature remains high until mid October. From then on, things will be more enjoyable.
As the weather in Vietnam is varied and unpredictable, don’t plan your destinations first, take a look at travel time instead. Till the travel dates are fixed, make your decision on destinations. For example, if I travel to Vietnam in November, my pick will be Hanoi, Sapa, Halong and Phu Quoc.
5.2. Vietnam travel tips
– English is a compulsory subject in Vietnamese education system so most Vietnamese youngsters are able to speak English well.
– Credit cards are not a popular payment method in Vietnam. Make sure to take some cash along.
– Street vendors (mainly childrens, older ladies or try-to-be disabled people) are common in Vietnam and they will beg you to buy some souvenirs. Do not reply or have any eye contact with them if you don’t want to be followed.
– Being listed as one of the most affordable travel destinations in the world, it will not be a matter of finding affordable accommodation in any part of Vietnam. And you don’t need to book your accommodation too early in advance.
5.3. Summary: Best time to visit Vietnam
Here are my recommendations for Best time to visit Vietnam and some travel tips. I hope you have the answer for what is the best time to visit Vietnam.
If you need any further information, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Keyword: Local guide to best time to visit Vietnam