If you’re unsure of the best time to visit Vietnam, this little guide should put you straight!
To cut a long story short, it might be cold up north, but the beaches down south will be perfect; and if it’s monsoon season in central Vietnam, head north or south to escape the rains!
We’re guessing you’ve probably already googled for things to see and do in Vietnam or hunted down the must-try dishes; the only thing left for you to do is to finalize your dates and book those tickets! BUT… then you checked the weather in Ho Chi Minh or Hanoi and saw that it wasn’t quite what you were expecting – and now you’re just a little lost on when to go exactly…
It ain’t easy establishing the very best time to visit Vietnam, since most of you are going to have your own plans, schedules and weather fetishes, but here’s our guide to help you out (just click on the section headings below to jump to the relevant section)…
If sunshine and beaches
- Head to the lovely Phu Quoc (and especially the stunning Sao Beach) in the far south-western corner of Vietnam between November and March; temperatures will likely hit 25-28 C and there will be little rain to spoil your beach time. Similarly, the island of Con Dao is another option and similar time-frame, though Con Dao has quieter seas from around March – July.
- Head up to the coastline of Nha Trang (for some excellent diving), or further north to Lang Co or Danang, between the months of February – August (just take into consideration many Vietnamese take vacation time at the beach during July-August).
Because Vietnam is so long and spread over a number of climate zones, there’s a good chance that you’ll hit some rain and cloud at some point on your journey from north to south (or from south to north).
Just bear in mind the following main points when you’re traveling from the north to the south (or vice versa) and you should be OK:
- It’s fairly tropical all year long in the south.
- The winters in the north can get cold (see our sections below).
- August is often the start of typhoon season with low-lying areas like the Mekong Delta taking a hit.
- Early autumn can be exquisite in the north!
This period of the year boasts mild and pleasant weather conditions throughout the country, without too much rain. It’s an excellent time to do some hiking or city sightseeing.
Bear in mind that the mountains up north still experience cold weather (it can easily be 0 C in Sapa and Ha Giang) and even some snow, so make sure you dress accordingly. At the other end of Vietnam however, expect perfect beach weather during this period (including the exotic Phu Quoc island)!
The start of the year is also ideal for delving into Vietnamese culture, and what better way to do that than through local festivals! The biggest celebration of the year, Tet, also known as the Lunar New Year, is the most important festival in Vietnam. If you’re in the country during Tet (typically at the end of January or early February, but check our note on Tet celebrations in coming years below), you’ll get to experience a myriad of local customs firsthand which will definitely contribute to a memorable holiday. Just bear in mind that everyone will be on vacation too, so many places will be shut and tourist sites packed!
Other important events held in the same period are the Perfume Festival, a massive pilgrimage celebration in Hanoi and the Lim Festival, a vibrant folk singing festival held in Bac Ninh Province, in the outskirts of the capital.
All in all, this is the perfect time to visit Vietnam for those who love temperate weather, colorful festivals
February 6 (2019)
January 26 (2020)
February 13 (2021)
February 2 (2022)
This time of the year has diverse and somewhat unpredictable weather as we slowly approach the rainy summer season.
Temperatures rise throughout the country and the southern coastline can actually hit 40C during this period.
Head to the beaches of Nha Trang and Quy Nhon between mid-May and the beginning of June, before the Vietnamese kids go on holiday and the area is filled with domestic tourists. It’s also the perfect time to visit Halong Bay to enjoy without crowds.
Sudden and short downpours are frequent in this time, but this isn’t something that should put off your thirst to explore. Just make sure you dress accordingly and always carry a light raincoat with you which will definitely come in handy.
In the northern part of the country, the weather stays temperate, thus making it ideal for exploring cities. Hanoi is generally empty during Labor Day weekend, since most of the locals head out of town, so you can have the city (almost) to yourself. It’s also great to visit the central part of Vietnam this time of the year, especially Hue during the Hue Festival and Hoi An during the Buddha’s Birthday celebrations.
To summarize, traveling to Vietnam between April and June means a rise in temperature, constant preparation for sudden rains and near-empty beaches until early June.
This is the period when most locals head to either the beaches or the mountains for their annual family holiday, so avoid large tourist attractions like Halong Bay or Nha Trang beach if you don’t like crowds.
If you do decide to head to the beach during this period, be aware of higher prices than usual, fully-booked accommodation and hordes of Vietnamese families looking for some quality R&R.
It’s a great time for visiting cities, especially museums and exhibitions, since the northern part of the country (including Hanoi) experiences heavy rain in the form of thunderstorms.
Although hard to exactly pinpoint, August is generally the start of typhoon season, affecting mostly the central part of the country. The low-lying deltas (including the ravishing Mekong Delta) can get flooded at this time and the frequent rains can also cut off remote villages.
In short, at this time of the year, you need to be wary of torrential rain, overpriced and overcrowded beaches and the start of typhoon season (a combination of heavy downpours and hurricane-strength winds).
Those in search of a mild climate and tourist attractions without the crowds will love the period between mid-September and December.
While the central coastline of Vietnam is still pretty rainy and can experience strong typhoons (towns like Hoi An have in recent years experienced some hefty flooding), this is the best time to visit Vietnam if you want to explore the northern part of the country.
The beaches of the southern coastline should also be avoided at this time, because rain and thunderstorms are abundant. On the other hand, you shouldn’t miss out on the Mid-Autumn Festival, a spectacular harvest festival known for its colorful lanterns, lion dancers and huge parades.