The best time to visit Vietnam

Sapa rice terraces - Best time to visit Vietnam - On The Go Tours
Hill tribe trekking in Sapa is best undertaken between March and May

Seasons and Weather

Vietnam has a highly variable climate which is best explained by dividing the country into three distinct regions - the north, central Vietnam and the south. The north experiences a northeast monsoon between the months of November and March, which brings great swathes of mist to popular areas like the rice terraces in Sapa and the karst limestone outcrops of Halong Bay. Despite this being labelled the monsoon season, ironically, Hanoi is at its driest in December and January, however, temperatures can drop to below 20c so be prepared for some cold weather though you may also encounter some beautiful cloudless sunny days as well. Hanoi experiences the majority of its rainfall in July and August.

Central Vietnam’s coastal areas (Hoi An, Da Nang, Hue) benefit from the protection of the Truong Son mountain range. This region escapes a lot of the rains from the southwest monsoon between April and September thanks to these mountains, which means you can expect sunny days during these months. Unfortunately, the mountains do not protect these destinations from the northeast monsoon, which falls between September and December, coupled with the typhoons from the Western Pacific. Flooding has been known in certain areas, especially around Hoi An.

Southern Vietnam (Saigon and the Mekong Delta) benefits from a long dry season between December and May when the skies are clear, the land and scenery are incredibly lush and the waters on the Mekong Delta are very calm. The monsoons arrive towards the end of May and stay until about November. The showers during monsoon season are generally short and sweet and certainly shouldn’t deter you from travelling. If you’re in Saigon during these quite spectacular showers, you’ll be wowed by how quickly the water dissipates due to very impressive drainage and then it’s blue skies again.

Climate | Hanoi

Temp Min °C131417202326262624221815
Temp Max °C202123283233333231292622
Rainfall (mm)18283881196239323343254994320

Climate | Saigon

Temp Min °C212223242424242423232322
Temp Max °C323334353332313131313131
Rainfall (mm)15313422133031526933526911456

Climate | Hoi An

Temp Min °C192021232425252524232220
Temp Max °C242627303334343431282725
Rainfall (mm)102311218474299117447530221209

Climate | Sapa

Temp Min °C781113161818181613118
Temp Max °C131418212424242423201715
Rainfall (mm)417111917837135548048032019011940
Full Moon Festival Celebrations - Southeast Tours - On The Go Tours

Festivals and Events

The Vietnamese calendar follows the patterns of the moon and differs to the Western year and during a year a number of festivals and events take place from quiet visits to ancestral altars to vibrant nationwide celebrations. Here's our pick of some of the best festivals and events.

Tet - Vietnamese New Year

The lunar new year in Vietnam is one of the most important festivals with celebrations starting a week before the date. Families gather together to indulge in eating and drinking of specialty foods and welcome in spring with a clean of the house and a new haircut. At midnight on the New Year people hit the streets to make as much noise as possible with firecrackers and drums.

Lim Festival

Taking place in the village of Lim 18 km from Hanoi, the Lim Festival features two of the best female singers from one village and two of the best male singers from a second village singing to one another in lyrical dialogues. Settings for these 'dialogues' include local pagodas, in the surrounding hills and even on floating boats.

Thay Pagoda Festival

This annual event pays homage to the Vietnamese monk, Tu Dao Hanh, who lived at the Thay Pagoda, located 30 km southwest of Hanoi in the shadows of the Sai Son Mountains. The day begins with worship with games and water puppet shows held in front of the temple later in the day.

Liberation Day

Also known as Reunification Day, this public holiday marks the day the Vietnam war ended with the liberation of Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) back in 1975. Events are held throughout the country though Hanoi sees some of the most interesting parades, performances, local festivals and firework displays.

Giong Festival

This festival commemorates the national hero Saint Going, one of the four immortals of Vietnam who defeated the An invaders. Held annually in Phu Dong Village outside of Hanoi, a large and colourful procession moves from one temple to another culminating in a feast and opera performances.

National Day

Observed on the 2nd September to commemorate the Vietnam Declaration of Independence from France back in 1945, this public holiday often involves firework displays, especially in Hanoi's Ba Dinh Square where people gather to celebrate.

Mid-Autumn Festival

Also known as the Full Moon Festival as it falls on the night of a full moon, this is one of the Vietnam's most entertaining festivals, especially for children who celebrate with toys, cakes and candies including moon cakes made with delicious fillings. During the day dragon dances take place in the streets and in the evening lanterns are lit and released into the night sky.

Oc Om Boc Festival

This religious festival is held by the Kho Me ethnic minority group in Vietnam to worship their moon god in hope of a successful harvest and good health. Dishes of food are presented in shrines and temples, paper lanterns are released into the sky and traditional Ngo boat races take place on the river.

2017 Calendar

To help plan when to visit Vietnam here's an overview of the 2017 calendar:

January 12th - Oc Om Boc Festival (Tra Vinh and Soc Trang province)
January 26th-28th - Tet, Vietnamese New Year (countrywide)
February 9th - Lim Festival (Lim village near Hanoi)
April 1st-3rd - Thay Pagoda Festival (Quoc Oai near Hanoi)
April 30th - Liberation Day (countrywide)
May 4th - Giong Festival (Phu Dong Village near Hanoi)
September 2nd - National Day (countrywide)
October 4th - Mid-Autumn Festival (countrywide)

There's also a number of national holidays in Vietnam and on these dates many businesses and some tourist sites will close for the day so plan your visit accordingly.

Site Closure Dates

Museums in Vietnam are closed on a Monday.

In Hanoi the Ho Chin Minh Museum is only open in the morning from 8am to 11.30am and closed on Monday and Friday.

See Also

When planning your trip to Vietnam take a look at our other handy resources:

Best Places to Visit - what to see in Vietnam
Tourist Visas - details on visa requirements for different nationalities
Top Travel Tips - useful information on money, health and junk boats in Vietnam
Traveller Reviews - see why our passengers enjoy our Vietnam tours

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