Deciding the best time to visit Vietnam greatly depends upon how far north or south that you begin, as well as other factors such as festivals and holidays. Vietnam's long, narrow shape means that the country experiences several seasons throughout the year.
When to Go to Vietnam
Vietnam can be enjoyed at anytime throughout the year, however, weather plays a big factor -- particularly if you plan to enjoy trekking and outdoor activities.
Sometimes monsoon rains can become so heavy in urban areas that streets flood and transportation shuts down completely!
- Read more about how monsoons affect Southeast Asia weather.
While showers often do pop up during the so-called 'dry' seasons, the driest months for visiting the south of Vietnam (Saigon) are typically between December and April. Temperatures in April can be scorching before monsoon rains begin to cool things off in the summer months. The best months to visit Vietnam are during January and February when temperatures are milder.
The spring and autumn months are most pleasant for visiting the north of Vietnam (Hanoi). Winter nights can get relatively chilly, with temperatures dipping into the 50s Fahrenheit. You'll certainly need a jacket when visiting Halong Bay in the winter, particularly if you're already accustomed to warmer temperatures in the south or in other countries around Southeast Asia.
Traveling Vietnam During Monsoon Season
As with most destinations, Vietnam can still be enjoyed during the monsoon season -- but there are some caveats. You'll meet far less travelers during the rainy season and negotiating better prices for accommodation becomes easier.
Buses may not run during long periods of heavy rain -- perhaps a good thing as roads become flooded and more dangerous to drive. Even low-lying tracks along the north-south railway become flooded, causing delays in train service.
You'll be better off flying into the part of Vietnam you wish to visit rather than trying to travel long distances overland.
- Read about getting from Saigon to Hanoi.
Typhoons and Tropical Storms
Regardless of the season, large weather events such as tropical depressions and typhoons blowing in from the east can create week-long downpours. Although Mother Nature doesn't always play by the rules, typhoon season typically ends around December each year.
- See how to stay safe during dangerous weather in Asia.
Festivals and Big Events
The largest national holiday in Vietnam is the New Year celebration known as Tet. During Tet, transportation and accommodation will be booked for days as people go to celebrate or visit family. Although Tet is an extremely interesting and exciting time to be in Vietnam, your travel plans will certainly be affected -- book ahead and arrive early!
Tet follows a lunisolar calendar so dates vary from year to year. The celebration, one of the largest winter festivals in Asia, usually occurs between January and February.
Other big national holidays include May 1 and National Day on September 2. Beach destinations such as Nha Trang tend to fill up with families on vacation.
Popular destinations in Vietnam can also become busier during big Chinese holidays as people on vacation travel south for a little sunshine.
- See a list of big festivals in Asia.