Vietnam: Weather and best time of year to travel

VIETNAM GUIDE

Introduction to Vietnam's Weather

Although it’s not much bigger than the state of California in the United States, Vietnam holds three distinct regions, each with their own unique weather. The especially mountainous geography of Vietnam influences the weather felt within even a single area, depending on something as seemingly small as to what side of the mountain a city is built on.

Regardless, Vietnam possesses a wealth of destinations to experience all year round, whether its deep in the mountains near the Chinese border or basking on the beaches of Phu Quoc in the Gulf of Thailand. With just a little bit of planning and knowledge of these intricate weather patterns, your holiday to the land of the ascending dragon can go from ordinary to extraordinary in a flash.

Best Time to Visit Northern Vietnam

Northern Vietnam is truly a magical place. Here, the mountains are taller, the weather harsher. The people too reflect these truths, standing firm and proud of their history and heritage, whether they are Vietnamese or part of a small ethnic minority. Surprising to many travelers who view Vietnam as a tropical Southeast Asian country, the north has 4 distinct seasons similar to that of European countries; a chilly winter, pleasant spring, hot summer, and crisp autumn.

Each season brings with it something special, however, our favorite time of year to explore this cultural heartland is from the end of March until mid-May or September through November.

These times not only offer the most agreeable weather but also coincide with the quintessential imagery of Vietnam—the spring rice-planting season and the golden harvests of autumn.

Spring: Northern Vietnam in February, March, and April

Spring officially begins during the all-consuming national holiday of Tet, which runs from late-January to mid-February depending on the lunar calendar. This time of year is characterized by dry sunny days punctuated with cloudy, misty mornings. Additionally, humidity is at its highest during the spring, making the temperature feel cooler than it really is.

Make sure to pack a sweater or light jacket when visiting at this time, as the weather can change in an instant, especially in Bai Tu Long Bay and Sapa.

The temperature rises slowly but surely from March and April, where you can expect the first whispers of the summer heat and thunderstorms towards the end of the month.

These months are ideal for trekking in the mountainous regions of Ha Giang, Mu Cang Chai, and Sapa, as well as places nearer to Hanoi such as Mai Chau, Pu Luong, and Ninh Binh.

Summer: Northern Vietnam in May, June, July, and August

The heat rises around mid-May and the first major thunderstorms of the year hit, usually in the late afternoon for an hour or two or during the night. By June, summer is in full-swing, with hot sunny weather and sudden thunderstorms. July and August, the hottest months of the year, are coincidentally also the wettest.

Care should be taken when travelling during these months to the mountains as flooding, mudslides, and avalanches may occur without warning. Some flexibility with booking Lan Ha Bay cruises as well is advised because in the off-chance of a storm, cruises can be cancelled.

Autumn: Northern Vietnam in September, October, and November

The last of the summer showers subside by mid-September, bringing beautiful weather to the north in the form of pleasant breezes, sunny days, and cooler temperatures. Harvest season also showcases some of the most picturesque imagery of rice fields and terraces turning from green to gold.

These months are perfect for cruising Lan Ha and Bai Tu Long Bay and trekking anywhere from Ninh Binh to Sapa.

Winter: Northern Vietnam in December and January

Winter arrives at the end of November and although there are some warm days, expect temperatures to get to as low as 8 degrees C in Hanoi, especially from mid-December to mid-January. Although rare, Sapa and Ha Giang have reported snow during these months, so make sure to pack a warm coat, boots, and a variety of sweaters.
Check out our Northern Vietnam packages featuring Hanoi, Lan Ha Bay, and the mountains and villages of Sapa! Or, contact our trip designer to tailor-make an adventure just for you.

Best Time to Visit Central Vietnam

Central Vietnam is comprised of popular coastal destinations such as Hue, Da Nang, Hoi An, Quy Nhon, Nha Trang, and the central highlands darling, Da Lat. Tourists usually find this region easy to travel independently as the locals are easy-going, infrastructure is well-built, and the cities are less crowded and quiet. The weather is much less complicated here with only two distinct seasons, dry vs wet.

The only exception to this general rule is Da Lat in the central highlands. Expect rainy, hot weather during the months of April to October and cooler, dry weather between November and May. During December and January, the temperature can drop to around 20 degrees C.

This makes Da Lat an excellent addition to a northern Vietnam itinerary, as the weather of these two areas mirror one another.

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Central Vietnam Weather from January to September

The first few months of the dry season are characterized by slightly cooler temperatures (think mid-20 degrees C) until mid-April. By May, the temperature frequently reaches the mid-30 degrees C and stays that way until the typhoon season hits mid-September. 

Due to its location on the other side of the Truong Son mountain range, Hue is often cooler with more rainy days than its southern neighbors Da Nang and Hoi AnPersonally, this is our favorite time of year to visit these UNESCO world heritage gems.

Browse our most popular central Vietnam itineraries showcasing legendary Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park and the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Hue and Hoi An.  

Central Vietnam Weather from September to January

Typhoons from the east pelt the central coast heavily between early September to early November. In fact, November is considered the wettest month in central Vietnam, as opposed to the north where the wettest months are July and August.

Flooding is especially common in Hue and Hoi An so monitor potential travel plans closely at this time of year.

The sun returns in December although there are still chances for rainy days. By January, all remnants of the rainy season will have passed.

Best Time to Visit Southern Vietnam

Although the biggest city in Vietnam is located here (Ho Chi Minh City), the majority of this region is taken up by the enormous Mekong Delta. Compared to the rustic and simple lifestyle of the Mekong, Ho Chi Minh City is a glitzy, open playground for foreigners and locals alike to make their fortunes.

Southern Vietnam has a relatively stable temperature year-round ranging between 25-35*C with only two distinct seasons, wet and dry. For all intents and purposes, the dry season begins in November and runs until late April/early May, when the wet season takes over.

Despite its name, the wet season still offers ample opportunities to explore the region, as downpours although heavy are generally short-lasted and occur in the afternoon or evening.

Southern Vietnam from November to May

The dry season brings the South clear blue skies and sunny days, whether it’s on the islands of Phu Quoc and Con Dao, the beaches of Mui Ne, or the lush river countryside of the Mekong Delta.

Temperatures steadily rise until March when the region is at its driest, making some of the tributaries of the Mekong difficult to navigate until the rainy season arrives in May.

Southern Vietnam Weather from May to November

Relief arrives to southern Vietnam in the form of short, heavy afternoon thunderstorms, lowering the temperature from the mid-30’s to the mid-20’s. 

Although there can be occasional flooding, travelers can mostly expect sunny days with the occasional downpour, perfect for taking a nap or watching life pass by from a local café without the crowds of the dry high season.

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