So you’ve decided to get your Vietnam Visa On Arrival and to explore everything that Vietnam has to offer. Vietnam has something for everything from the historical temples, pagodas and preserved ancient buildings to the beautiful landscapes which include mountains, forest, coastal highways and beaches. If you’re a food lover then Vietnam is a culinary delight and the people are extremely kind and generous.
Now you’ve decided that Vietnam is the destination for you, you need to decide when to come.
Firstly, an important thing to realise is that the climate and weather in Vietnam changes as you move down the coast. For example, in November to March Hanoi is very cold and the humidity makes it feel colder still, while HCM is hot and humid. It may only be down to 15 degrees in Hanoi but with the added humidity this can feel more like 5-6 degrees.
I started my backpacking trip of Vietnam in September and went from North to South which meant the weather just got hotter and hotter. Had I been going the other way, it would have been a completely different story, and I would have to have exchanged my shorts and t-shirt for jeans and a hat. It also meant that I missed the rainy season in both the North and the South. As I was riding a motorbike, this was a key factor for me!
Many tourists each year get caught out when up in Hanoi and Northern Vietnam during winter (mid-November to March/ April) as they aren’t expecting cold weather, especially if coming from the South. The North of Vietnam, especially Ha Giang and Sapa can be extremely cold in winter. Sapa even gets snow on occasions!
If you want to go to the mountains of Vietnam then October and November are the best months to come. You could also come in March/ April when the weather begins to heat up again. If you come at this time then this will be a lovely break from the heat of Hanoi.
In Hanoi you get really hot and humid weather in summer, plus it’s also the rainy season. Therefore, the best time to come is just after the hot, rainy weather but before the cold sets in. I recommend coming in October/ November to see the best of the North, and then head down South for similar pleasant weather.
If you’re looking for hot weather, endless sunshine and blue skies then I recommend visiting the South. It is pretty much 25-35 degrees Celsius in HCM all year round but the humidity will vary. For those who don’t like hot and humid conditions you would be best to come in December to March. The south also has a rainy reason which many tourists like to avoid.
However, having said this, the rainy season is off-peak and so prices are cheaper and it usually only rains for a few hours each day. The rest of the day could be beautiful and sunny. But be aware, when it rains during the rainy season, it pours. So you probably don’t want to be outside during the downpour. Sometimes, sitting in a café eating street food snacks and sipping on ice cold coffees, watching the rain pour outside while you are comfy inside, can be a great way to spend an afternoon. In general, November to late April is the prime time to visit HCM. This avoids the rainy season and promises plenty of sunshine.
Moving further up the coast, to Central Vietnam, this is where most of the country’s stunning beaches are. To avoid the rainy season here, January to July is the best time to come. The earlier in the year you come the less hot and humid it will be. July is very hot anywhere in Vietnam but the South is slightly cooler than the North during summer.
One thing to note, the TET holiday which celebrates Chinese New Year is celebrated in late January or early February and pretty much everywhere shuts down for a few days as the local people travel home to see friends and family. However, this again makes it an off-peak time and things tend to be cheaper, with the exception of on the actual day when prices can be three times the price. This is the same as it would be back in the West, if you went out on Christmas day or New Year’s Day. Expect to pay higher prices, especially in the touristy areas!
So you can pretty much visit Vietnam year round and none of the weather is too extreme but if you really don’t like it being too hot and humid then avoid the North in Summer and if you hate the cold then avoid the North and the mountains in Winter. If you don’t like getting wet then avoid the rainy season in the North (which is from March- September) and the rainy season in the South (which starts around April or May).
Enjoy your trip and don’t forget to order your Visa On Arrival!