As I sit here in my friends apartment in Hanoi, feeling a bit depressed by the weather, I realise that I probably should have done a little more research before booking a last minute flight to Hanoi. Knowing the best time to visit Vietnam, and the various cities from north to south, is a wise idea for anyone planning a trip to this beautiful country.
First off, the best time to visit is often personal because as you may hate the heat and humidity of the summer as much as I hate the rain and the cold weather that presents itself each winter. WAIT, Vietnam gets cold in Winter?
I though we were in Southeast Asia?! Think again, my friend. The truth is the far north of Vietnam, anywhere north of Hanoi, pretty much borders China so you can expect rain, cold weather and even snow in the mountains and rice terraces around Sapa during the winter months from December to February.
I’m going to lay this out a bit different to other posts on the topic, listing the type of weather first, and then the destinations and time of year to go. I’m weird, I know. There are SO MANY amazing places to visit in Vietnam, and not all are mentioned here, but here are some of the best spots.
Best Time To Visit Vietnam
GIVE ME SUNSHINE
Visiting the southern part of Vietnam at any time of year is best of you are looking for sunshine. Saigon (or Ho Chi Minh City) and the beaches of Phu Quoc has warm weather most of the year with some heavy downpours in the summer months from May to November. These showers are often in the late afternoon and don’t last too long so should not affect your plans too much.
If you want warm weather, sunshine and you don’t mind some intense humidity, then Hanoi is a great place to visit in the spring, summer and Autumn months – so anytime between March and October really. This is in general the best time to visit Vietnam, as the weather is good in many parts of the country, not just Hanoi.
Just south of Hanoi, Halong Bay (one of the seven wonders of the world) is best visited in summer or spring to take full advantage of the water activities on offer. March to June and September and October are the driest months, while the summer is hot and humid and there can be heavy downpours. Be sure to check out my review of the Castaway Tour – best party boat
Similarly, the picturesque and popular town of Hoi An near to Danang is also graced with months of sunshine from March until about July when the summer rains begin. The seaside town of Nha Trang has very similar weather and is also sunny the same time of year.
Hue experiences long, hot days in the summer months from June until August and is warm most of the year.
GIVE ME RAIN
If you’re a total weirdo like my friend Ian and absolute love rainy weather then the best time to visit Vietnam is listed below just for you. Just be sure to pic the right season!
Hanoi tends to get quite cold from November onwards and there are almost daily rain showers. Saigon down south gets its rain in the summer, from May to November, so if you want a washed out summer experience head there.
Hoi An gets its rain in the Autumn and Winter months, lasting from September until December while Hue, just further north, gets its heaviest rain showers in October and November.
COLD AND DRY
If you can’t bare the heat or the rain, then there are still places in Vietnam perfect for you.
Dalat, for example, is an Alpine region with a year-round temperate climate. It can get a little too cold at times, but in general it’s beautifully dry and temperate – perfect weather for scrambling down waterfalls! Temperatures fluctuate between 16 degrees and 24 degrees, and you can expect some rain from May to November.
During spring, from March to April, the weather up north in Sapa is at its best with long, dry, sunny days and cooler nights. Because it’s so high up, it never gets too hot (unlike Hanoi) but cools down enough at night to let you wrap up and warm up next to an open fire!
From November onwards, and once the rain stops, Hanoi can experience very pleasant weather with cool, dry days and cooler nights – ideal for sightseeing as it’s not humid and sticky like the unbearably hot summer months.