When to go to Vietnam
Vietnam has three different regions – the North, Central and South – each with different weather patterns and different rainy seasons. This means that there is no best time to travel to all of Vietnam, but also that that there is never a bad time to travel to Vietnam.
The most popular times for tourists to visit Vietnam are the months of November through January and April through June. Since this is the high season for travel to Vietnam, hotels, trains, and flights tend to get booked up, and the prices for hotels often increase.
In addition, one important holiday to take into account when planning a trip to Vietnam is Tet, the Lunar New year, which is held each year in January or February (more information below).
Weather in Vietnam
The three regions of Vietnam each have different seasons of weather:
North: The best times to visit North Vietnam are the months of milder temperatures, from late September to November and again in March and April. The winters in the North, especially in January and February, can get colder than you might expect, especially in the mountainous regions, with temperatures reaching 12-15ºC. The humidity is high all-year, making winters cold and wet and summers hot and humid. During the summer, the average temperature is around 30-35ºC. The rainy season lasts from May to September, and while rains can be quite heavy, the rain is not consistent and does not usually ruin a visit.
Central: The temperatures in the Central region are milder than the North, with relatively warm weather year-round. The best time to visit is during the dry season from January to July, although these months can also be the hottest months. During the rainy season from August to December, rains can be quite heavy, particularly in the coastal areas. The weather in Central Vietnam varies more between destinations than other regions, with the weather becoming more tropical as you move south.
South: Southern Vietnam is in a tropical weather zone with year-round warm weather with an average annual temperature of 27ºC. Generally, the best time to visit is between October and February, when it is dryer and a bit cooler. The hottest months are March to May, followed by the rainy season from May to November. During the rainy season, rains can be long and heavy, but often are daily rains that clear quickly.
Holidays & Festivals in Vietnam:
Within Vietnam, the most popular times for locals to travel are during the Lunar New Year (Tet), the combined holiday of Liberation Day and Labour Day, National Day, and the summer holiday months. During these times, it is recommended to book domestic flights, short flights within the region, trains seats and hotels further in advance.
Lunar New Year (Tet) in Vietnam
The biggest holiday in Vietnam, by far, is the Lunar New Year celebration, Tet. Tet can be best described as Christmas and New Year’s (and perhaps a few additional holidays) all combined into one. The weeks leading up to Tet are a wonderful time to visit Vietnam to experience the shopping, preparation, and special flowers, trees and food of Tet. The actual days of Tet, however, are a less interesting time to visit, unless you have a local family to invite you to their home during the holiday.
During the Tet holiday, in the larger cities and major tourist destinations, there are limited restaurants and services that stay open, and in more rural destinations, almost everything shuts down. Thus, for the first two or three days of Tet, there is little for tourists to do, with the country starting to return to normal by the third or fourth day and most Vietnamese having up to a week in holidays from work and school.
The actual days of Tet change each year based on the lunar calendar. In 2007, the first day of Tet is February 18.
Other Vietnam Holidays:
Liberation/Reunification Day – April 30 (every year) – Celebrates the liberation of Saigon and reunification of the country
* Popular time of local travel (combined holiday with Labour Day)
International Labour Day – May 1 (every year) in Vietnam
* Popular time of local travel (combined holiday with Liberation Day)
Birthday of President Ho Chi Minh – May 19 (every year) in Vietnam
International Children Day – June 1 (every year)
* Popular time of local travel, marks the beginning of the summer school holiday
Vietnam National Day – September 2 (every year) in Vietnam
* Popular time of local travel
Le Vu Lan – August 27 (2007) – A day to honor and give thanks to ancestors. Celebrated on half-moon of the seventh lunar month.
Mid-Autumn Festival – September 25 (2007) – Children’s holiday famous for traditional moon cakes. Celebrated on half-moon of eight lunar month.