The best time to Travel in Vietnam

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Next to “Where to go?”, perhaps the hardest question a traveler has to ask himself is “When to go?”. Because the truth is, deciding the date of travel can make or break a vacation. You gotta go during the good season, during the most exciting festivals or during times when accommodations, food and products are cheaper. Just a few days earlier or later and you’ll end up wasting vacation money.

But fear not when in Vietnam. Because here, the best time to travel is all-year long.

You want hot or cold weather? Vietnam has different weather patterns that may suit you, brought by its opposing monsoonal season. All you have to do is know which part of Vietnam is hot during your time of visit and avoid that if you can’t tolerate scoring heat.

Are you the type who hate crowds or do you love mingling with other people to experience their culture? Whatever your type is, Vietnam has specific periods of being a crowd-free and then periods of festivals.

So when exactly are these periods? Here’s a guidebook to help you decide when to Travel Vietnam.

January to March

If temperature is what matters to you, then you have to remember this simple rule during these months when Vietnam is perhaps at its coolest: It’s cool up in the north but it gets hotter as you go south. Which is why you can expect cool and occasional rain in the north like Hanoi and Halong where the temperature dips between 15°C and 22°C. Temperature even drops to near 0°C in some places like Sapa. So don’t forget to bring an extra coat when in the said areas to keep you warm. Wear something light however if visiting central and southern Vietnam. Temperature in Hue and Hoi An ranges between 22°C and 32°C. It is even hotter in Ho Chi Minh City and Nha Trang with its temperature hitting between 28°C and 35°C.

Regardless of where you’ll go, surely you’ll experience the best of our colorful festivals during this period, including Tet Festival or the Vietnamese New Year which falls either in January or February. These months are also the best time to experience these celebrations. Because as the calendar moves towards March, the weather gets warmer and the intensity of festivals lessens. In fact, both international and domestic tourism volume from mid-February to mid-March is among the lowest in the year. Take that in mind if you want tourist-free months.

April to June

Here’s another period to enjoy Vietnam if you hate the crowds: April to June. Most Vietnamese aren’t on vacation because kids are in school until mid-June. That means you’ll have all the popular beaches to yourself like Nha Trang, Quy Nhon or Halong Bay.

Be wary of April 30th to May 2nd though, when Vietnam celebrates its Reunification Day -- a long holiday that families celebrate by getting out of the city to take a vacation. Avoid off-city spots if you don’t want to be caught in the middle of a travel rush similar to Thanksgiving in the U.S. Or during Christmas in most countries.

On these days it’s best to stay in the cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh which you will find to be mostly empty. That means less traffic congestion, fresher air and cleaner surroundings and less crowds in museums and tourist spots.

June to early September

Here’s another period to avoid tourist spots. It’s because students are off from school thus giving families and friends the chance to go on vacation again. Expect places like beaches and mountain retreats to be full of Vietnamese vacationers including popular places like Halong Bay, Sapa, Danang, Nha Trang, Phu Quoc. Queues are long, hotels are fully-booked and food price rockets.

Even the weather isn’t ideal to travel as it is mostly wet and hot from June to early September. Instead one should enjoy these days frolicking on the beach. All throughout the country, whether you’re in north or south Vietnam, you can expect the golden sun shining as early as 7 o’clock in the morning and as late as 7 o’clock in the evening. Expect some occasional thunderstorm though late in the afternoon or in the evening. Unless you’re from a tropical country and are already accustomed to hot weather, we advise you to bring some sunscreen and avoid sunburn.

To recap: expect harsh weather in Hanoi, Hue and Hoi An; thunderstorms in Ho Chi Minh City and crowded beaches. If must pamper yourself in the sand, do so from Monday to Wednesday to avoid beach crowds. On weekends stay in the city.

Mid-September to December

These days may be the best time to enjoy places north of Vietnam such as Hanoi Tours, Sapa Tours, Halong Bay Cruise and nearby provinces nearby. It’s because the sky is clear and the wind is gentler towards the end of the year. It is also relatively colder with temperatures reaching moderate 20°C, comparable to some western countries.

The air is also dry. Which is why it’s best to take a walk around downtown areas during these months. If you do, maybe you’ll realize how charming Hanoi’s colonial buildings are. One may even compare it to Paris.

You may also travel up north to Sapa, to see the beauty of terraced rice paddy field ready for harvest.

To sum it up, this is the best time to see the romantic and tranquil side of Vietnam at least up in the north.

It is a totally different story from the south though, where it is rainy from October to November specifically in Nha Trang. Not much difference in central Vietnam, especially in  Hue and Hoi.

Overall, the weather is mostly beautiful in north Vietnam and rainy in the rest of the country in these months. Domestic tourist season if over by this time,  which is why public spaces are uncrowded.

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