Vietnam is an amazing country to visit any time of year because it has so many things to offer. Due to its shape – long and narrow, covering 1,650km – there are a vast range of climates and landscapes available, from sandy beaches to misty mountains to steamy, crowded cities. So when is the best time to go?
Well, that really depends on what you want. The good news is that since the country is so long and narrow, there’s something for everyone, which is even further enhanced by its extreme elevations – from 0ft above sea level in the South China Sea to 10,312 feet above sea level at Ngoc Linh, a mountain sitting in the northern end of the southern half of the country, if that makes any sense.
Roughly speaking there are five regions in Vietnam – the mountainous northern region, with the trekking hub of Sapa; the Red River Delta, which includes Hanoi and Halong Bay; the central region, which follows the long curving coastline south past Hue, Hoi An and Nha Trang; the highland region, which stretches back towards Cambodia and is known for its hill tribes, forests and national parks; and the southern region, which encompasses Ho Chi Minh City and the mighty Mekong Delta.
If you’re a fan of long walks, steep hills and amazing scenery, then the northern region is where you want to go. There are superb trekking, waterfalls and nature trails around every corner, but you have to be prepared. The dry season lasts from October to April and is the best time to head for trekking and such, although December and January can be bitterly cold and damp. April to September is the rainy season, and while the trees and grass and rice will be at their most verdant, the daily downpours and abundance of mud limit the amount of fun you can have.
If you’re okay with a bit of chill in the air, November to April is a good time to visit the Red River Delta, although December to March-ish can get very nippy. May to October is the rainy season, but if you’re in Hanoi or any of the bigger towns it’s easy to duck into one of the many cafes and wait it out. July to September is often the wettest, and this is when the weather can get stormy and downright mean.
If you’re more attracted to the coast, then a trip down the central region will reward you with beaches, UNESCO World Heritage sites and many charming little villages. January to August bring the hottest weather in this region, which is obviously the best time to hit the beach, although the temperature in the middle of the hot season might be a bit much to have fun in. Much like the Red River Delta, the rainy season brings daily downpours but can get hit hard during October and November when the odd typhoon rolls through to say hi.
The highland region is unique in that it hasn’t been blitzed (yet) by tourists, although this is changing. The most popular destination here, Dalat, is known as a place to escape the hotter weather on the plains, especially during the cool season from November to January. February to April is the hot season, while May to October brings some of rainiest weather in the country. Again, avoid the mud and rain during the wet season and try to show up at the beginning of the cool season for the best scenery.
Finally, a visit to the southern region is high on everyone’s list, and rightly so – Ho Chi Minh city is a fantastic place to visit and soak up the culture, people and food. The climate here is very easy to plan around – it’s either hot and wet or hot and dry. From November to April is the dry season, which slowly heats up as it approaches May, and then from May to November it’s generally the rainy season.
No matter when you want to travel to Vietnam there is good weather somewhere! Ask Smiling Albino to help you make the most of the weather on your vacation, no matter what time of year!