Vietnam is a long and skinny country with a coastline spanning over 3,200 kilometres from North to South. Due to the length of the country, Vietnam experiences several different climates, so if you’re wondering when is the best time to visit Vietnam, there is really no straight answer!
Don’t let that worry you though, the best thing about the varying climates in Vietnam is that no matter what time of year you plan to travel, you will be sure to find somewhere in the country with perfect weather during the time that you’re there!
And, as long as you pack accordingly and keep an eye on the forecast while you’re travelling, you will be prepared for any unexpected weather variations along the way! (See here for a recommended packing list for Southeast Asia.)
If you’re planning to cram as many places as possible into your Vietnam itinerary, check out the advice below. Remember that each season comes with its own charm and if you end up travelling during the rainy season – don’t panic! For many reasons, the rainy season can be a great time to travel in Southeast Asia.
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In general, you can split Vietnam’s climate into three zones… North Vietnam, Central Vietnam and South Vietnam.
Here’s a handy table that will help you plan your trip in the country depending on which month you plan to travel… The starred months are considered the best months to visit that particular region. However, if you are a month or two either side of the starred months, that is also considered a pretty decent time to travel too.
Includes: Hanoi, Halong Bay, Sapa, Ninh Binh.
Includes: Hoi An, Hue, Danang, Nha Trang.
Includes: Mui Ne, Ho Chi Minh City, Phu Quoc Island, Dalat.
|January||Coldest month.Dry (winter)||* Sunny, cool and dry.||* Dry season. (Hot and sunny.)|
|February||Cold and dry (winter)||* Sunny, cool and dry.||* Dry season. (Hot and sunny.)|
|March||* Cold and dry (approaching spring)||* Sunny, cool and dry.||* Dry season. (Hot and sunny.)|
|April||*Sunny, cool and dry (Spring)||* Sunny, cool and dry.||* Dry season. (Hot and muggy)|
|May||*Sunny, cool and dry (Spring)||Hot season. Hot and muggy.||Start of the rainy season. Mix of sunny and rainy days.|
|June||Hot and muggy. Higher chance of rain.||Hot season. Hot and muggy.||Wet season. (Rains likely)|
|July||Hottest month (summer). Higher chance of rain.||Hot season. Hot and muggy.||Wet season. (Rains likely)|
|August||Hot and muggy. Higher chance of rain.||Hot season. Hot and muggy.||Wet season. (Rains likely) Coolest month.|
|September||*Sunny, cool and dry (Autumn)||Monsoon season. Heavy rains. Not the best time to visit||Wet season. (Rains likely)|
|October||*Sunny, cool and dry (Autumn)||Monsoon season. Heavy rains. Not the best time to visit||Wet season. (Rains likely)|
|November||*Sunny, cool and dry (Autumn)||Monsoon season. Heavy rains. Not the best time to visit||* Approach of dry season. Sunnier days, clean fresh air.|
|December||*Sunny, cool and dry (Autumn). Start to approach colder.||Rains begin to ease. Start of the dry season. Sunny, cool and dry.||* Dry season. (Hot and sunny)|
Zone 1: Climate in the North of Vietnam
The North of Vietnam (home to the capital Hanoi), experiences winter and summer at the same time as Europe. November to March is considered winter, with January and February being the coldest months, and summer falls between May and October, with July and August being the hottest months.
Summer is also the time when the North of Vietnam experiences the highest rainfall. This makes it a great time to visit the incredible Ban Gioc Waterfall, one of the most impressive waterfalls in Southeast Asia. (We recommend visiting in September or October as the falls are at their most impressive and you can avoid getting too wet!)
Spring and Autumn are considered excellent times to visit Northern Vietnam with warm temperatures, bright sunny days and little rainfall. The capital city of Hanoi can be visited all year round, just be sure to pack shorts, t-shirts and a sun hat for the summer and jumpers and jeans for the winter!
Also located in the North of Vietnam, Halong Bay experiences the same seasons as Hanoi and the best time to visit is also considered to be the spring or autumn months.
If you are interested in trekking in Sapa, the spring (March – June) or the autumn (September and October) are the best times as the weather is pleasant, with sunny bright days ideal for hiking (not too hot, not too cold). However, trips to Sapa are still possible in the winter or summer months, just be sure to pack accordingly… warm clothes, gloves and hats for the winter and shorts, a t-shirt, a sun hat and sunscreen for the summer. See this article for more information on what to pack for a trekking trip to Sapa.
Zone 2: Climate in Central Vietnam
The central coast of Vietnam experiences a more tropical climate than the North of Vietnam. This covers the coastal cities of Hoi An, Danang and Hue.
In Central Vietnam, there are generally three seasons: dry season (January to April), hot season (May to August) and monsoon season (September to December). After travelling in Northern Vietnam, many travellers are surprised to learn that Central Vietnam has its own microclimate that brings with it a unique monsoon season!
The coastal city of Hoi An experiences a rather notorious monsoon season during the months of October and November. These months sometimes bring typhoons which can be quite extreme and are best avoided if possible. Each year is different and some are more extreme than others, so be sure to check the weather forecast if you are travelling in Vietnam during this time.
If you plan to visit Nha Trang, the diving capital of Vietnam, the best time to visit is considered to be between February and May. This is when the ocean visibility is at its best and there is less chance of rain. However, anytime between January and October is considered the ‘diving season’, while September to December (the monsoon season) is not safe to dive.
Zone 3: Climate in the South of Vietnam
In the South, there are only two seasons: wet and dry. The dry season falls between December and April and the monsoon falls between May to November.
During the monsoon season in Southern Vietnam, it’s pretty certain that you will get wet! (Tip: Buy a poncho!) However, during this time the countryside is lush and green and it can be a beautiful time to visit with fewer crowds and cheaper prices.
If you are looking for some beach time in Mui Ne or Phu Quoc Island, the best time to visit is December to March which offers dry, sunny days and temperatures perfect for sunbathing and swimming.
If you are travelling to the hill station of Dalat (which can be reached easily from Southern Vietnam), temperatures are always cooler due to the higher altitudes. (The city sits at an altitude of 1,500 metres making it possible to cultivate wine here!) If visiting the south of Vietnam during the summer, Dalat can be a great place to escape the sweltering heat of the lowlands.
Note on field burning and air pollution…
While Vietnam doesn’t suffer the ‘burning season’ as bad as nearby Thailand and Laos, during the dry season in Vietnam, you may come across air pollution caused by the burning of the fields. We experienced this in Hoi An in mid-May at the beginning of the hot season.
We’re not going to lie – the burning does not make for a pleasant experience! The best thing to do is do as the locals do and wear a face mask when air pollution gets really bad. (These can also come in handy for dusty motorbike or tuk tuk journeys.)
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