Vietnam is an amazing country to discover when you are in Asia. Besides having a lot to offer, it is also one of the cheapest Asian countries. To determine the best time to visit Vietnam depends on how north or south you start.
Most backpackers start in Hanoi (north) or Ho Chi Minh City (south). And in general, the best period is December through April. Temperatures are up and the rain is minimal. Why this is the best travel period I will explain further in this blog.
The long stretched and narrow Vietnam has not one climate, but several climate zones. The different zones are North Vietnam, Central Vietnam and South Vietnam.
With the different zones it is useful to know when it is best to go where. This is for your comfort, but also to know what to pack. The southern, the more tropical. And high up in the north most backpackers are surprised by the cooler winters it has. The area is one of the few places in Southeast Asia where you can get really cold without going to higher altitudes.
In the north of Vietnam you will find the famous spots such as Sapa, Hi Giang loop, the beautiful Ha Long Bay (and Cat Ba), Ninh Binh and of course not forgetting Hanoi.
This part of Vietnam has a great mountainous landscape. The temperature in the north is on average the lowest in Vietnam.
In the winter months (January and February), it can be surprisingly chilly in North Vietnam. When you want to go to Sapa or the Hi Giang loop, you need more than just shorts with your flip-flops. In Hanoi you can get warm clothing (long pants and/or jacket) everywhere if you need it. And keep in mind that North Vietnam in the summer months (June, July and August) is the warmest of all Vietnam.
The best months to visit North Vietnam are September, October, November and December. In addition, the months of March, April and May are also great to visit the north of Vietnam.
And if you want to go to Sapa for the rice fields, it is best to go in April/May or September/October. Then the rice fields are green.
In the middle part of Vietnam it never gets really cold, so you can lie there perfectly by the beautiful long stretched beaches or by the pool near your hostel. Keep in mind that in July and August the temperatures are high. In those two months the temperature can reach almost 40 degrees Celsius.
It rains most during the autumn months in central Vietnam, but it can also occur during the rest of the year. When I was here in December I didn't see a single raindrop in the middle of Vietnam.
To visit the middle of Vietnam there is no specific period, because you can visit well all year round. However, it is better not to go during the two hottest months (July and August) and not during the hibernation months.
The south of Vietnam is almost the same all year round. There are small temperature differences between the months. It does not get as cold and hot here as the rest of Vietnam can get.
In South Vietnam the rainy season is the most intense and also takes a little longer. From May until October you can expect a best rain shower almost every afternoon. It can sometimes be so bad that the streets in Ho Chi Minh City are flooded.
South Vietnam is best visited outside the rainy season, namely in the months of December to April. A nice warm temperature and not the chance of an unexpected rainstorm, which will get you soaking wet again at your hostel.
As you read, there are quite a few differences between the north, middle and south, but what is the best travel time to visit Vietnam? The best time to visit beautiful Vietnam is around the months of February, March and April. Especially if you are going to travel from the south to the north.
During my backpack adventure in Vietnam I was in December and January. In the south it was a good temperature, but in the north it was cool in the evening and I wore a jacket (maybe it was, because I had been used to the nice warm temperature for more than a month).
So you can certainly choose to go in other months as well. Keep in mind the clothes you take with you in your backpack. A nice warm sweater and long pants would not be out of place if you go to North Vietnam in December or January. Especially in the evenings it is a bit chilly and in Sapa and if you want to do the Hi Giang loop.
Also a country like Vietnam has to deal with high and low season. So the best travel months are directly the high season of Vietnam. The high season actually starts in December and continues through April. There is also a peak in the months of July and August, the Dutch summer vacations. Of course the other months (May, June, September, October and November) are in the Vietnamese low season.