Vietnam beckons in any season, but picking the optimum time for a visit comes down to what you crave from a trip most: optimum beach weather? Cultural festivals? Fewer tourist crowds? A combination of all three?
To help you choose the best time to book your flights, here’s our guide on when to visit Vietnam.
High season: July & August
Best time to go for beach lovers
July and August are the busiest months to visit Vietnam, with prices increasing by up to 50% by the coast; book hotels well in advance. The whole country, except the far north, is hot and humid, punctuated by spectacular summer monsoon downpours.
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The streets of Hanoi are primed for exploring from December to March © TK Kurikawa / Shutterstock
Shoulder season: December-March
Best time to go for visiting Hanoi and HCMC
Winter in Vietnam tends to be drier than the summer months, but also colder. Expect chilly conditions in the north, but in the far south, clear skies and sunshine are the norm.
If big cities are your thing, shoulder season is a pleasant time to be in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, with reliable weather and good temperatures. Although, during the Tet festival (late January or early February), the whole country is on the move and hotel prices rise.
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Get trusted guidance to the world’s most breathtaking experiences delivered to your inbox weekly with our email newsletter. Tourists visit Halong Bay all year round, but low season is particularly alluring © Alex Stoen / Getty
Low season: April-June and September-November
Best time to go for exploring the whole country
Low season in Vietnam falls on the transition period from winter to summer and summer to winter, offering unsettled weather that can provide glorious days of sunshine, but also days of rain. It’s a great time to visit for those who want to avoid tourist crowds, or those looking to tour the whole country (with weather not notably awful anywhere).
This is also a good time to tour Halong Bay, with weather relatively reliable in this region during these months, particularly October and November.
Here’s a monthly guide to what you can expect throughout the year in Vietnam. All events are subject to change.
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Winter temperatures can be bitterly cold in the far north, with snow possible. The further south you go, the milder the weather. Providing a dose of winter cheer, the Dalat Flower Festival, held early in the month, is always a wonderful occasion with huge elaborate displays, music, fashion shows and a wine festival.
Key events: Dalat Flower Festival
North of Danang, chilly ‘Chinese winds’ usually mean grey, overcast conditions. Conversely, sunny hot days are the norm in the southern provinces. February also welcomes Tết, the Vietnamese New Year. Travel is difficult at this time, as transport is booked up and many businesses close. Tết can also sometimes fall in late January.
Key events: Tết (Tết Nguyen Dan)
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Buon Ma Thuot is one of Vietnam’s top regions for coffee production © Bloomberg / Getty
Grey skies and cool temperatures can affect anywhere north of Hội An, but towards the end of the month the thermometer starts to rise. Down south, the dry season is ending. Caffeine cravers should make for the highlands during March, as Buôn Ma Thuột plays host to an annual coffee festival. Growers, grinders, blenders and addicts rub shoulders in the city’s main park, and local entertainment is provided.
Key events: Buon Ma Thuot Coffee Festival
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Generally an excellent time to cover the nation, as the winter rainy season should have subsided and there are some excellent festivals on offer. Enjoy a smorgasbord of art, theatre, music, circus and dance performances at Hue Festival, held every two years in the city’s Citadel, or observe the somber traditions of Thanh Minh (Holiday of the Dead), where ancestors are honored and offerings placed on graves and spiritual sights throughout the country.
Key events: Hue Festival; Thanh Minh
A fine time to tour the center and north of Vietnam, with a good chance of clear skies and warm days. Sea temperatures are warming up nicely and it’s a pretty quiet month for tourism. Things do get notably louder, however, during Phóng Sinh, which marks Buddha’s Birth, Enlightenment and Death with lively street processions, as well as lanterns being hung on pagodas. Complexes including Chua Bai Dinh near Ninh Binh and HCMC’s Jade Emperor Pagoda host lavish celebrations.
Key events: Phong Sinh
A great time to tour Vietnam as it’s just before the peak domestic season. Humidity can be punishing at this time of year, so plan to spend some time by the coast. Celebrated biannually in early June, Nha Trang Sea Festival whips the city into a frenzy with a street festival, photography exhibitions, sports events, embroidery displays and kite-flying competitions.
Key events: Nha Trang Sea Festival
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The Danang skyline is ablaze in colour for five weekends during June and July © thi / Shutterstock
July marks the beginning of high season, expect accommodation prices to rise and crowds to thicken (especially in coastal hotspots). Along with the balmy coastal weather, the Danang International Fireworks Festival adds another reason to visit this month, with fantastic pyrotechnic shows taking place in Danang during five weekends in late June and early July.
Key events: Danang International Fireworks Festival
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The peak month for tourism with domestic and international tourists. Book flights and accommodation well ahead. Prices rise and beaches are busy. Weather-wise it’s hot, hot, hot. Cultural festivals this month include Trung Nguyen, an ancient Vietnamese tradition where huge spreads of food are left out for ‘wandering spirits’ and the Children’s (or Mid-Autumn) Festival, a big event in Hội An and Hanoi, when citizens (especially children) celebrate the full moon by eating moon cakes and undertaking colorful dance processions.
Key events: Trung Nguyen (Wandering Souls Day); Children’s Festival
September marks the start of Vietnam’s second annual low season and is an excellent time to tour the whole nation. The coastal resorts are less crowded and there are fewer people on the move. Temperatures and humidity levels drop too. Big parades and events are held across Vietnam on September 2 for Vietnam National Day. Celebrations are particularly fervent in Hanoi, with a rally and fireworks at Ba Dinh Square (in front of Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum) and boat races on Hoan Kiem Lake. Hanoi Pride also comes to town towards the end of the month, adding to the September festivities.
Key events: Vietnam National Day; Hanoi Pride
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A good time to visit the far north, with a strong chance of clear skies and mild temperatures that are good for hiking. Winter winds and rain begin to affect the center, but down south it’s often dry. Wherever you end up, you’ll likely be able to tuck into a moon cake or two as part of Trung Thu (Mid-Autumn Festival), which sees locals across the country eating the delicacies, filled with lotus seeds, watermelon seeds, peanuts, yolks of duck eggs, raisins and other treats. The festival sometimes falls in September.
Key events: Trung Thu
A fine time to visit HCMC, Mũi Né, the Mekong Delta and offshore islands such as Phú Quốc as sunny skies are the norm. However, in the center and north it can be cool and rainy (though Hanoi is often dry and sunny). Another reason to head south is to witness the Khmer Ok Om Bok Festival, which the Mekong Delta’s Khmer community celebrates with colorful boat races at Ba Dong Beach in Trà Vinh province and on the Soc Trang River. The festival sometimes falls in late October.
Key events: Khmer Ok Om Bok Festival
Christmas is not an official holiday in Vietnam, but its traditions are still embraced © Linh Pham / Stringer / Getty
The month begins quietly, but from mid-December the popular tourist resorts get increasingly busy. Book well ahead to secure a room over the Christmas break. The weather is steamy in the south but can get chilly up north. Though not a national holiday, Christmas Day is celebrated throughout Vietnam, particularly by the sizable Catholic population. It’s a special time to be in places such as Phát Diệm and HCMC, where thousands attend midnight Mass.
Key events: Lễ Giáng sinh (Christmas Day)
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