Vietnam shares borders with Cambodia, Laos and China, and features 3,200 km of coastline bordering the Eastern Sea. With an area of 332,000 square km, Vietnam’s topography varies from coastal plains to mountain ranges
Vietnam stretches over 1,800 km from north to south; therefore weather patterns in the principle cities are very different.
Hanoi and surrounding
The dry season, from October to May, is divided into three periods. From October to November, it is comfortable and dry. From December to February, it is considerably cooler, and can sometimes be bitingly cold with persistent light drizzle, locally known as ‘mua bui’ – ‘rain dust’. Skies are grey in late January and early February, but warm bright spells do occur. The average temperature is about 20°C but can fall to 6°C or 7°C at night. From March to May, it is much warmer and drier, and can sometimes be quite hot. The rainy season is from June to September – the wettest months are July and August. In the past, violent tropical storms were a regular occurrence. Swimming in Halong Bay is possible from April to September
Sapa – different weather in the Northwest
In the northwest mountainous area, January and February are the coldest months. There are significant amounts of fog at that time, and even an occasional flurry of snow. Sapa is one of the few places in Viet Nam where hotels have fireplaces!
From March to early May, and from September to December, the weather is excellent but from June to August heavy rain makes climbing Mt. Fansipan and other peaks hazardous. Trekking is possible, but heavy rain and thick mud makes it very strenuous and uncomfortable.
- Central coast
Central Vietnam experiences a transitional climate, with heavy rainfalls between November and December and dry, hot summer months.
It is notorious for its wet weather. The rainy season lasts longer than the Vietnamese average, from May to December, and even during the so-called dry season, it rains regularly. In winter, it is significantly colder than other parts of the central area further south. Fortunately, the top of the Hai Van Pass marks a demarcation line between Hue and the sunnier weather in Danang and further south because it crosses a range of granite mountains that acts as a barrier.
Danang/ Hoi An
Once over the peaks of the Hai Van Pass, Danang, Hoi An, and the many fine beaches along the shore enjoy much sunnier weather. Danang and Hoi An are at the northern limits of Viet Nam’s tropical zone and boast a pleasant climate all year round. Although dry, onshore winds in autumn can make bathing risky for inexperienced swimmers, they can generate large breakers suitable for experienced surfers to enjoy themselves. In the autumn, the beaches in the Danang area are generally safer than those further south because they are sheltered by mountains, and thus less exposed to the strong onshore winds. Best time for swimming is between March and October. It can be too cold to swim from November to February.
- Central Highlands
Inland, the weather on the Central Highland plateaux is usually at its best in November, December and January. The landscape is green and verdant, flowers bloom profusely and the temperature hovers between 10°C and 15°C, on the chilly side, but comfortable. February and March are good as well, but hotter.
It is located 1,530m above sea level in the mountains on the southern edge of the plateau, and is therefore much cooler than other places in the central and southern areas. The average temperature ranges from 15°C to 20°C. Its dry season is short, only the few months from December to March, whereas the rainy season last from April to November.
Saigon & the Mekong Delta
The difference in precipitation between the two seasons (dry from November to May and rainy from June to October) is more obvious than elsewhere in Vietnam. However, the rain in the wet season is often limited to heavy showers at the end of the afternoon, and the weather is warm throughout the year. Annual rainfall in the south is approximately 65 inches and temperatures remain relatively constant –between 30°C and 35°C during the day and from 20°C to 25°C at night – throughout the year.
The best time to visit Nha Trang is between January and October when air temperatures are between 25°C and 35°C, and water temperatures between 20°C to 25°C. Diving is pointless from late October to mid–December because the water is badly muddied by sediment ‘run-off’ caused
by heavy rain and storms.
Phan Thiet/Mui Ne
In Phan Thiet and Mui Ne it is hot throughout the year. Its monsoon season (April to October) is not as wet as that of the south and central area to the north. Swimming is possible all year long whereby it can be a bit windy in December and January.
Phu Quoc has a monsoon sub-equatorial climate with two seasons. The dry season lasts from November to July while the rainy season is from July to October, with the heaviest months of rain in July and August. During the rainy season, it is still possible to visit Phu Quoc, although you
should expect daily and often heavy rain. The most popular time to come to Phu Quoc is during the dry season, so it is recommended to book in advance. The average temperature throughout the year is 27oC.
Your holiday weather – Overview
The following table is a rough guide to the best and worst months for visiting various places in Vietnam:
|Sapa||mountain scenery,ethnic groups,trekking|
|Hanoi||culture, craft villages, city tours|
|Halong bay||scenery, culture,
|Hue area||heritage, culture, war
|Hoian / My Son||heritage, culture,
beach, Cham relics
|Nhatrang||beaches, diving,Cham relics, mud
|Centre highlands||scenery, ethnic
|Da Lat||mountain scenery,
|Phan Thiet / Mui Ne||beaches, golf|
|Ho Chi Minh City||culture, city tours|
|Mekong Delta||scenery, environment, culture,
|Phu Quoc||beaches, scenery,
|.||Good time to visit|
|Ok, but with some limitations|
|Good time to be elsewhere|