The best times of the year to visit Vietnam

Vietnam is a wonderful country to visit with no shortage of sights to see, things to do, and delicious food to eat. Planning a trip to Vietnam may get a little complicated with the diverse weather in the different regions of the country – but worry not, we’re here to make your trip planning a lot easier.

January – March: A mixed bag of weather

January is a mixed bag when it comes to the weather in Vietnam. Up in the north, things are quite chilly. If you head up beyond Hanoi to cities on the Chinese border such as Sapa, Ha Giang and Cao Bang, it gets even cooler and you can expect ground frosts, or even the rare snowfall.

The north’s relationship with winter lasts until March, which is when it gets a bit more pleasant. At the same time,  the central coast region is just saying goodbye to its wet season, and during February and March you will be able to enjoy your time in cities like Da Nang and Hoi An without being inconvenienced. Temperatures are cozy overall, not too hot, and you’ll be able to clock in some fun beach time.

It gets even better in the south. The first three months of the year are part of the dry season here so it’s sunny weather all around! You can even try your luck with underwater exploration if that’s your thing as conditions are exceptionally favorable. Head over to Phu Quoc or Con Dao for your diving needs. 

Snow in Da Lat, Vietnam
Snow in Da Lat, Vietnam

February is also an extremely special time to visit as the whole country is about to get festive. It is time for Vietnamese Lunar New Year, locally known as Tet. This is the biggest holiday in the country and festivities last a week! Bright yellow and orange flowers decorate the streets, parades take place on blocked off roads, delicious food fests, and just an overall happy atmosphere will color your experience.

Do note that during this holiday, locals leave the main cities (Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City) and head over to the countryside to visit their families for celebration. The main cities give off an almost post-apocalyptic vibe, which is definitely interesting to see.

If you’re looking to embark on a journey and traverse the whole of Vietnam in one go, then March may perhaps be the most perfect time to do so. 

Cities to visit during this time:

Sapa – cool, dry weather. Great for hiking.
Da Nang – beach time!
Hoi An – an interesting cultural experience.
Da Lat – lion and dragon dancing!
Phu Quoc – explore underwater.

April – June: Days are getting warmer

April is when things start getting hot and sticky up in the north, following a similar trajectory to how it’s been further down in the central region and in the south. Come May, however, rainfall becomes more frequent and will reach peak amounts up in the north by June.

During this time, central Vietnam is all about sea, sand and sun – perfect for those beach bums who crave a nice tropical holiday. This will last way past June so you’re good to extend your holiday when you realize how much you love Vietnam.

The south is on a similar trajectory to the north. Despite the rain, it’s still really not so bad, at least until June, which is when the rain gets heavy.

Mekong Delta, Vietnam
Mekong Delta, Vietnam

Towards the end of April, you’ll also catch the celebrations of the Reunification Day, when Saigon fell to communist hands during the Vietnam War. Fireworks, parades, and food fests all around with happy locals spilling out into the streets, cheering on for their nation.

Cities to visit during this time:

Hanoi – a great base from which you can explore the north.
Quy Nhon – beach time for yourself!
Nha Trang – a luxury holiday destination.
Mui Ne – explore the quaint fishing villages.
Mekong Delta – agricultural capital of Vietnam.

July – Sep: Rain, rain, and more rain!

July is painted with the same paintbrush June is – the north and the south enjoys hot and sticky weather, with a lot of rain. Up in the north, hiking tours begin to close shop as conditions can get unfavorable. Roads can get extremely slippery, so if you’re planning to drive a motorbike from city to city, be extremely careful.

Cruises in Ha Long Bay are also a big no-no. July and August are the two months with the highest amount of precipitation in the south of Vietnam. During this time, many unfortunate regions are prone to floods, especially in the Mekong Delta, affecting many of the locals who reside there. 

Nha Trang beach view
Nha Trang beach view

The central coast, however, is still as sunny as ever. If you plan to get some diving done along the south coast, this would be the last ideal few months before unfavorable conditions kick in, so make sure to tick that off your bucket list on time. Typhoon season is just around the corner. 

Pro tip: When the central coast weather takes a downward turn, the sun begins to shine on the north and south.

Cities to visit during this time:

Hanoi – sit in quiet coffee shops and watch the rain.
Da Nang – sea, sand, surf, and sun.
Nha Trang – spoil yourself with some mud baths.
Da Lat – waterfalls are at their best.
Ho Chi Minh City – rain doesn’t stop the party.

Oct – Dec: The sun will shine again

Trekking tours are back on in the north as optimal conditions are reached, so take advantage of this magnificent weather and head up to regions like Sapa and Ha Giang, which are decorated with rice fields. Thanks to the rain during the previous months, the fields are at their best, a beautiful golden color, ready for harvest. It’s extremely picturesque. Remember to also head up Fansipan mountain, the highest peak in Indochina, and you will be blessed with spectacular aerial views of the surrounding mountains.

You can also tackle the O Quy Ho pass up there. In Ha Giang you will be welcomed with colors of purple and pink as it is time for the buckwheat flower season! Get ready to see colorful, almost lavender-like fields decorate the serpentine roads leading up, down and around mountains. Another big plus is that junk cruises are back in Ha Long Bay during this time of year.

The central coast, on the other hand, is now the complete opposite, with October and November seeing the highest rainfall of all months. No more beach time and hello typhoons! Hoi An, for example, is not experiencing kind weather. It is a must-visit city in Central Vietnam, so try not to plan a journey where you have to miss out on it.

Don’t worry though, it’s only for another month, as come December, things are going to improve again drastically. If you still want some beach time, you can head further down south and explore islands like Phu Quoc and Con Dao. The south sees an end to its rainfall, and moves toward its dry, hot summer, meaning people are returning back to their normal lives. 

Hoi An monsoon
Hoi An during monsoon season

You’ll catch Christmas and New Year celebrations, and what could be better than spending these wonderful days experiencing a whole new world and culture? Take your family with you and it will be a trip to remember!

Cities to visit during this time:

Sapa – time for some trekking. The rice fields are at their best.
Ha Giang – buckwheat flower season!
Ha Long Bay – junk cruise parties!
Mekong Delta – floating markets.
Phu Quoc – time for some diving.

Vietnam’s weather is definitely a mixed bag, but don’t let the monsoon season turn you away from traveling this beautiful country. It’s only a minor set back – you’ll still get to experience the beautiful culture, meet amazing people and try delicious dishes, which is what Vietnam is really about. Plus, the great thing about spanning multiple climate zones is that when the weather goes south in one region, it gets much much better somewhere else. Just plan your trip well and have a great time.

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