The best place in Southeast Asia to witness the convergence of the old and new is Vietnam. It shows the contrasting characteristics, from historical past to modern developments as well as diverse landscapes and people that will leave a lasting impression.
A long, skinny country curled around the East Sea, Vietnam has 3,450km of coastline and a central spine of mountains, including the highest peak in mainland Southeast Asia, Mount Fansipan.
Vietnam’s shape is often compared to two rice baskets on a shoulder pole. The narrow band of lowland deserts and steep mountains in the center give way to broad expanses of river deltas in the north and south. Having begun its journey in Tibet, the Mekong River divides into nine tributaries and feeds the agricultural region of the Mekong Delta. Meanwhile, the Red River Delta is the economic center of the northern region notably known for farming and villages specializing in producing handicrafts.
Vietnam boasts amazingly varied landscapes; from precipitous mountains to uncharted forests, from emerald terraced rice fields to deserted pristine beaches. While large resort developments are heavily concentrated along the stretch of East Sea in Danang, there are still many parts of the country that remain untouched like the castaway islands of the Con Dao archipelago, an ideal getaway for those seeking an off the beaten path experience.
In general, Vietnam has a tropical climate with average annual temperatures ranging from 22˚C (72˚F) to 30˚C (86˚F). There are two distinct seasons: wet and dry. From April to October, most of the country is affected by south-western monsoons. The rains, which tend to be concentrated in the late afternoons, provide welcome relief to the heat. Travel to very remote areas may be affected by the rains, but overall they should not interfere with your trip.
Packing for a trip to Vietnam can be challenging, as the climate can vary depending on when and where you go. When the weather isn’t ideal in one area, it’s great in another. While Hanoi is cold enough to warrant a coat from December to February, this is an excellent time to visit Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong Delta. Although the temperatures are consistent year round, various parts of the country, at certain times of the year, can be affected by unpredictable storms which may cause flooding.
Vietnam operates on Greenwich meantime +7 hours. Vietnam does not observe daylight saving hours.
Popular regions for traveling:
Northern Vietnam (Hanoi, Halong Bay, Sapa, Cao Bang, Ha Giang):
The north is defined by four seasons with a cold winter and hot summer. The temperature can range from 5˚C (41˚F) in winter up to 35˚C (95˚F) in the summer. From April to October, it is generally warm and humid with average temperature around 31˚C (90 ˚F) and heaviest rainfall between July and August. The average temperature during the cold season (December to February) is 20˚C (68˚F). However, in the mountainous regions in the far north such as Sapa, the temperature can at times drop below zero (32˚F). The loveliest time of the year to visit is from September to December when there’s a good chance of clear skies and low humidity.
The average annual temperature in the provincial city of Ha Giang & Cao Bang is 22.78 °C (73.00 °F); the monthly averages range from a low of 15.48 °C (59.86 °F) in January to a high of 27.88 °C (82.18 °F)C in July. The rain season is from June to August. The best time of the year to visit these areas is from September to November.
Central Vietnam (Hue, Danang, Hoi An, Dalat, Buon Ma Thuot):
The average high temperature in the central region is 30˚C (86˚F). Heavy storms and highest amount of rainfall occurs from October to November and is prone to flooding. The best time to enjoy the beach weather and cultural sightseeing is between March till early October.
The central highland town of Dalat has a year-round temperate of 18˚C to 21˚C (64˚F to 70˚F) earning it the epithet “City of Eternal Spring”. The rainy season of Buon Ma Thuot lasts mostly from May to October of a year. Buon Ma Thuot is warmer and more humid because of its lower elevation.
Southern Vietnam (Saigon, Mekong Delta):
The south has a dry and rainy season. The highest amount of rainfall is from June to October with 80% average humidity. The average high temperature year round is 32˚C (90˚F). Beach destinations such as Nha Trang, Phan Thiet, and Phu Quoc Island are warm and sunny most of the year. However, the rainy season varies for each destination: Nha Trang (October to December); Phan Thiet (July to November); and Phu Quoc (May to October).