If you plan to visit multiple cities in Vietnam, it may get a little complicated. The country is over 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) long and has a lot of regional diversity. Yet it’s generally a year-round destination, so traveling during any season is doable. Our guide reveals how the climate changes in the northern, central and southern regions of the country, organized month by month.
January is generally one of the cooler months, especially up in the northern cities such as Hanoi and Ha Long Bay. Further up in the mountains in areas such as Sapa and Ha Giang, it gets even cooler, especially during late nights and early morning. Sometimes you can expect ground frosts or even the rare snowfall.
Sapa is perfect for trekking during this time, despite the cold—since the summer up north is also the wet season, making the pathways slippery. The only downside to trekking during this time is that many homestays do not offer electric blankets or hot water showers.
In the south, in cities such as Ho Chi Minh, Can Tho (Mekong Delta), Phu Quoc, Con Dao and Mui Ne, January falls under the dry season, so you can expect smooth traveling all around. Take advantage of this time to do some underwater exploration, as diving in Phu Quoc and Con Dao is especially favorable during this time. The same can be said about kitesurfing in Mui Ne.
Meanwhile in the central coast, in cities such as Da Nang and Nha Trang, it’s quite the opposite as January falls at the end of the wet season. However, it’s rather moderate and typhoon season starts way later, so you’ll still be fine.
Rainfall: 14 days (north), 15 days (center), two days (south)
Temperature: 63°F/17°C (north), 73°F/23°C (center), 79°F/26°C (south)
It’s time to get festive! Tet, the Vietnamese Lunar New Year, and the biggest holiday in the country, falls on February and festivities are grand, lasting for about a week! Streets will be lined with flowers, parades happen almost nightly and there will be plenty of sales. Everyone is just very happy during this time.
When it comes to the weather, the north will still be dealing with winter, whereas the central coast is about to head into summer with just a little bit of rain on the occasion. The south is still wonderful with cozy temperatures in all regions.
Rainfall: 17 days (north), eight days (center), two days (south)
Temperature: 63°F/17°C (north), 77°F/25°C (center), 81°F/27°C (south)
March seems to be one of the most pleasant times to travel the whole country. Winter season will be coming to an end in the north, whereas the south and center will enjoy pleasant temperatures. Take advantage of this time if you’re looking to backpack from the north to the south or vice versa and make sure you do plenty of hiking and exploring underwater! In the central coast, head up to Hoi An, as the city is extremely vibrant during this time. If you are there towards the end of the month, you can participate in the lantern festival. This happens every month, so don’t worry if you miss it this one time!
Rainfall: 22 days (north), six days (center), two days (south)
Temperature: 66°F/19°C (north), 82°F/28°C (center), 84°F/29°C (south)
April is at the end of Vietnam’s peak weather season and the north begins to head towards its hot, wet summer. The beaches on the central coast are still at their best, with sunshine and blue skies all the way! The south now is certainly hot, and rainfall starts to become more likely. April is still ideal for you to make your journey all the way from one end of the country to the other. You’ll also catch the celebrations of the Reunification Day, when Saigon fell to communist hands during the Vietnam War.
Rainfall: 18 days (north), seven days (center), seven days (south)
Temperature: 75°F/24°C (north), 82°F/28°C (center), 89°F/31°C (south)
May is when it starts to get wet in the south, with most of the rain falling in brief afternoon downpours, so it’s really not so bad as it also brings down the temperature. You’ll just be a little inconvenienced when it comes to transport. It’s best to carry an umbrella with you during the rainy season or buy a raincoat for a dollar at the Circle K convenience store.
The chance of rain starts to increase in the north too, and the temperature starts to rise. The central coast is still enjoying the few good months it has. Not for long, though.
Rainfall: 18 days (north), 10 days (center), 17 days (south)
Temperature: 84°F/29°C (north), 86°F/30°C (center), 82°F/28°C (south)
The rain carries on. June and the two months that follow receive the highest waterfall in the south of Vietnam, making the region prone to floods—especially in the Mekong Delta. In the central coast, peak temperatures will be reached, and the north is now well into summer mode with high temperatures and rain being the norm.
The northern mountainous regions, especially Sapa, are popular for trekking. It’s best to avoid trekking in the rainy season as not only is it uncomfortably hot, but the rain can make paths slippery. If you still plan to do so, bring appropriate trekking clothes—good trekking shoes with grips on the soles are recommended. You don’t want to slip and roll down a hill. We speak from experience.
Rainfall: 18 days (north), eight days (center), 21 days (south)
Temperature: 84°F/29°C (north), 86°F/30°C (center), 82°F/28°C (south)
July paints a similar picture to June—with the north and south both experiencing heavy downpours. Peak temperatures in the central coast and in the north are also likely reached during this month. If you plan to get some diving done along the south coast, this would be the last ideal month before unfavorable conditions kick in.
Rainfall: 18 days (north), nine days (center), 23 days (south)
Temperature: 86°F/30°C (north), 89°F/31°C (center), 84°F/29°C (south)
August is one of the wettest months in the north. Cruises in Ha Long Bay are a no-go at this time, as are extensive treks in the mountainous regions. The good days in the central coast are now dwindling, however it’s still a rather OK time to travel here. Meanwhile, it’s still raining down south.
Rainfall: 18 days (north), 12 days (center), 22 days (south)
Temperature: 86°F/30°C (north), 86°F/30°C (center), 84°F/29°C (south)
Wet weather is now on the increase in the central regions, however the rest of the country seems to be heading in the opposite direction. Trekking in the north is very much an option again. September is a particularly picturesque time to visit the rice fields in the north as they turn a beautiful golden color, ready for harvest time.
Unfortunately, wet season in the central coast also means that typhoon season is approaching. These typhoons bring in torrential rain and strong winds.
Rainfall: 14 days (north), 15 days (center), 21 days (south)
Temperature: 82°F/28°C (north), 82°F/28°C (center), 82°F/28°C (south)
Rainy season is now over in the north and trekking is at its best! A cool, dry winter will set in following October. This is the best time to visit Ha Giang as well, as you will be welcomed with the buckwheat flower season! The highlands bloom with buckwheat flowers, over the mountains, across the plains and passing through the Ma Pi Leng cradle. It’s an extremely picturesque sight.
The south sees an end to its rainfall, and moves toward its dry, hot summer. The central coast is now the complete opposite, with October and November seeing the highest rainfall of all months. No more beach time.
Rainfall: 11 days (north), 21 days (center), 22 days (south)
Temperature: 79°F/26°C (north), 77°F/25°C (center), 81°F/27°C (south)
November is a great time to travel in the south, as the cool, dry season has returned. November is also ideal for the north and presents some of the best conditions for traveling up there. This is also the best time for a junk cruise in Ha Long Bay.
Central Vietnam is still not doing well. Hoi An is particularly prone to flooding during this time, so we suggest you hold off your visit. But only for another month, as come December, things are going to improve again drastically.
Rainfall: nine days (north), 21 days (center), 13 days (south)
Temperature: 75°F/24°C (north), 77°F/25°C (center), 81°F/27°C (south)
December is good news for much of Vietnam, with optimum conditions in both the north and south, and the central region seeing improvement from the past rainy months.
If it’s winter for you back home, Vietnam presents a wonderful tropical getaway at this time. If you’re looking for beaches, head down to the south coast, to islands such as Phu Quoc and Con Dao. There will be plenty of sun and sand. If you’re looking for something more adventurous, the north is where it’s at. Don’t leave central Vietnam out either—make a midway stop at Hoi An to experience beautiful Vietnamese culture and the magical Ancient Town.
Rainfall: nine days (north), 19 days (center), eight days (south)
Temperature: 66°F/19°C (north), 75°F/24°C (center), 79°F/26°C (south)
When not to go
Since the weather paints such a complicated picture in Vietnam, there really is no best time or worst time to visit. When it’s great in one region, it may be a nightmare in the other.
However, September to December and March and April are generally the best months if you are looking to cover the whole country. March and April have the lowest rainfall across all destinations and temperatures are pleasant. June, July and August are probably the worst times to visit as the rainfall is high, as is the temperature. You don’t want clothes to cling to your body within five minutes of stepping out of your hotel.