When's the best time to travel to Vietnam in terms of weather? The travel industry often says "there's no good or bad time to go, when one place is wet another is sunny...blah, blah, blah" Not much help — as a traveler you're likely to be interested in visiting several parts of the country. Overall, the best time to go is December through April when rainfall is minimal and there are warmer but not extreme temperatures. Don't be dissuaded by the possibility of rain outside the monsoon season, unless your set on having beach time — the light drizzle will not interfere much with sightseeing and places such as Hue and Hanoi spend much of the year in overcast weather with light rain anyway.
Like much of Southeast Asia, Vietnam has tropical weather marked by a monsoon season which means while there are slight variations in temperature, and depending on the season and the altitude, the primary seasonal changes in Vietnamese weather are marked by variations in rainfall. It is typically humid and warm, although the weather can vary significantly from one area to another due to the long length of the country which encompasses several weather zones.
Weather in Vietnam can be affected by variance in altitudes. For example, in late 1999 there was snow in northern Sapa located at over 4,000 feet while it was nearly ninety degrees in sweltering Saigon. Flooding is common in the central coast region around Hue and Hoi An and Vietnam had back-to-back years of devastating flooding in this region during 2000 & 2001 — travel companies may list tours for the rainy period, but plan your trip dates carefully or your trip may be a washout. The weather may also fluctuate during the tourist season (December through March), when cold spells and/or unexpected rain may pass through. In 2008, the north and central experienced it's coldest weather in over 40 years, and the usual sunny skies on the central coast gave way to consistent rain and chilly weather.
Temperature remains almost constant in Saigon, rain or shine, while in Hanoi there is a marked cooler, although pleasant season from November through March and warmer period during the summer ("cooler" is relative, you will not likely need a jacket aside from Hanoi and Halong Bay). See our charts below, showing the levels of rain and temperature for north, south, and central Vietnam by month of the year.
Since flooding is common and even a bi-annual typhoon a possibility, a most important decision for traveling in Vietnam is to avoiding the monsoon season in late July and August. The typhoon season lasts longer from July through November, with the most severe storms occurring along the central coast. Typhoons in this region frequently lead to serious crop damage and loss of life (Image: Typhoon Xangsae). Below are some charts to help you further guage when to travel. Our scheduled tours are limited to the drier weather period of the year: December through April (although we do arrange custom tours year-round in areas that may be dry). During December, the weather north of Danang (and the Hai Van Pass) can be cool and rainy. January and February are an optimal month to travel the length of Vietnam (combined with humidity, it is not as cool as the chart below reflects). However, Sapa does not thaw until around the first week of March.
Specifically for Sapa, September through November and March through May are the best weather periods for trekking and cycling in Sapa. Daytime temperatures range from 15-28 C, and night-time temperatures from 18 down to 10 Celsius. Trekking and cycling are possible at other times too, but the wintertime the weather can be very chilly, and the summer rather wet. Please ask about our Mai Chau trips southwest of Hanoi if your trip is during the cooler months.
(North to South)
Annual Rainfall (inches)
|Hanoi (current weather) ||May-Oct ||Nov-Apr ||66 ||June: 91 ||Jan: 57 ||83 |
|July-Aug ||Nov-Apr ||79 ||July: 89 ||Jan: 56 ||82 |
|Dien Bien |
|Apr-Sep ||Oct-Mar ||62 ||May: 90 ||Jan: 52 ||84 |
|Mar-Nov ||Dec-Feb ||109 ||August: 74 ||Jan: 43 ||87 |
|Jul-Jan ||Feb-Jun ||114 ||August: 94 ||Jan: 63 ||88 |
|Jul-Jan ||Feb-Jun ||78 ||June: 94 ||Jan: 66 ||83 |
|Qui Nhon ||Sep-Dec ||Jan-Aug ||65 ||August: 94 ||Jan: 69 ||81 |
|May-Oct ||Nov-Apr ||106 ||April: 87 ||Jan: 57 ||85 |
|Dalat ||Apr-Nov ||Dec-Mar ||72 ||April: 80 ||Feb: 50 ||84 |
|Nha Trang ||Sep-Dec ||Jan-Aug ||45 ||August: 92 ||Jan: 69 ||82 |
|Saigon ||May-Oct ||Nov-Apr ||78 ||April: 95 ||Jan: 70 ||82 |
|Can Tho (Mekong Delta) ||May-Oct ||Nov-Apr ||61 ||April: 93 ||Jan: 71 ||82 |
|*Click for current weather in Vietnam, by city||