If you are planning to travel to Vietnam, answering the question “When is the best time to go?” is a bit problematic, given that the country is 600 miles long and spans three different weather systems. A better way to answer that question is to evaluate the weather patterns of the various regions on the itinerary and match them with the traveler’s open travel windows to find an optimal time.
As an overview, if you intend to tour all of Vietnam, the best times to go across all regions will be Spring (February to April) or Fall (August to October). Temperatures during these two windows are generally moderate throughout the country and rainfall is light, though you will still likely experience a dry and wet season in at least one of the regions you visit. The nation is generally warm and humid throughout, with the North getting cold in wintertime, and the South getting up to 100F (38C) with heavy downpours possible.
Other things to note before booking your Vietnam trip will be to avoid peak travel. July and August typically attract more tourists, when the whole country is generally hot and humid with the potential for heavy downpours. Another time of year to avoid is the Tet Festival, when the Vietnamese generally enjoy vacations causing crowded streets and peak rates at fully booked hotels.
Here is a breakdown of the weather in Vietnam by region, which can help the Vietnam traveler decide the best time to go to each separate region.
Far north (Sapa, Ha Giang)
The Far North is generally divided into a winter and summer season. October to late March is typically dry with temperatures dipping coldest in December and January when snow is possible in the higher mountains and extra layers are advised. April through September is hotter, but also wetter with the bulk of the rainfall occurring during these months.
The best time to trek in Sapa are during the two shoulder seasons from September to November and again from March to May. Daytime temperatures during these periods typically range from 59-82F with nighttime temperatures dipping to between 50-65F.
North Vietnam (Halong Bay, Hanoi, Ninh Binh)
North Vietnam weather patterns create distinct Winter and Summer seasons, as well as shoulder Spring and Fall seasons. Winter is usually dry and lasts from November to April, with the coldest months occurring from January to March when temperatures dip to the low 60s F. Summer lasts from May to October, when it is hot and humid. July through September are the wettest months when severe weather can occasionally cause Halong Bay cruises to cancel departures. The best chances for warm and dry days tend to be the spring months (March to June) and fall months (September to October).
Central Vietnam (Hoi An, Hue, Danang, Nha Trang)
Central Vietnam enjoys hot and dry weather from mid-January to late August with temperatures reaching the 90s F. Rainfall then increases during the winter months with typhoons beings possible from October through November. Hoi An and Hue sit on opposite sides of a mountain range and sometimes may experience completely different weather on the same day. Hue has a rainy season from October to December with its hottest days occurring between May and August. Hoi An enjoys a dry and hot season from February through July, making it a great beach destination during the first half of the year. Nha Trang is still further south and enjoys a longer dry season from January through September with little rain.
South Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City, Mekong Delta, Phu Quoc)
Temperatures in South Vietnam are fairly constant year-round, creating only two season in this region: Wet and Dry. The dry season lasts from November through late April/early May. Late February to May tends to be slightly hotter and more humid Temps are constant year round. Wet season lasts from May to early November, with June through August experiencing the highest rainfall. Rainfall in South Vietnam typically occurs as a heavy yet predictable afternoon downpour that rarely is cause for canceling travel plans each day. Average temperatures in the South are between the mid 70s to mid 90s F year-round. Phu Quoc beaches are in a monsoon climate with the wet season lasting from late July to October and dry season lasting from November through July. Outside of October, the chances of enjoying sunny and warm days in this region are very high, though navigation of waterways is sometimes problematic from July to October due to high rains.
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