Vietnams climate is in the tropical zone. However, because of the monsoon influences and the countrys geographical features, the weather of each region varies from north to south and from east to west according to the topography. This country has the largest horizontal width of only about 310.7 miles (500 km) but its north-south distance is up to 1,025 miles (1,650 km) and the coastline measures 2,140 miles (3,444 km) length.
The Northeast (Winter) Monsoon and Southwest (Summer) Monsoon
For easier understanding, we can divide Vietnam into three separate regions: the North, the Central, and Southbased upon their weather characteristics. The temperature of the whole country is quite constant: hot and humid all year round. It is applied for most parts of the country, except for the north with the cold winter in December and January, and the Central Highlands which is always cooler compared to other places and is said to have a temperate climate.
The monsoon also has a huge impact on the weather, it decides whether that region would rain at that time or not. The Northeast monsoons effect is from November to April. It brings rain to regions from the north half of the Central Coast to the North; sometimes it can be the cause of torrential rain and hail in these areas. The Southwest monsoon starts from May to October. The North, Central Highland, and the South would face a lot of downpour in this period, while northern Central Vietnam and southern Northwest Vietnam is much drier and has less rainfall.
With the annual average amount of 1,500-2,000 mm, rain is definitely a crucial factor that you should consider when planning to visit Vietnam. It does not mean that you have to totally avoid the wet season, you just need to pay attention to the match of your intentional arrival time and the suitability of the weather system in your preferable-to-visit destinations. Here are some noteworthy features of the monsoon season in Vietnam depending on regions together with our advice for your trips and required clothes.
Effects of Monsoon Season in Vietnam on Three Regions
The North of Vietnam
Most provinces in Northern Vietnam have distinguishable summer and winter. From November to April is the cold, dry winter, and from May to October is hot, humid, rainy summer. In December and January, several areas can be freezing cold and experience some heavy mists, which might lead to bad visibility. In return, the landscape would be picturesque and dreamlike.
The mountainous area in the Vietnam northernmost has the coldest weather compared to other parts. At the top of Fansipan, the highest peak of Indochina, snow covers all the paths in winters. One of the most interesting places to visit is Sa Pa, a frontier town and also the tourism center of the northwest. You can meet some Vietnamese ethnicities here and join their local fairs. The average temperature is 15 Celsius (59 Fahrenheit), while the lowest point is 5 Celcius (41 Fahrenheit), so if you have no difficulty handling this cold, add Sapa to your traveling checklist.
Since Vietnam is a coastal country, there are many beaches that are worth visiting along the borders. The North region is no exception. There is Ha Long Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has two iconic seasons of the North: dry winter and wet summer. However, thanks to its location in a closed-sea area, it is protected from hurricanes and tropical cyclones. Beaches in other provinces such as Hai Phong, Quang Ninh are also breathtaking and relaxing. Despite that, note that January to March is not the ideal time for swimming since the weather is in cloudy condition, and the seawater is relatively cold. If your vacation is in these times, exploring the national parks and the local historical site is recommended activity.
Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam, is a typical example of the North plains climate. Its summer and winter is no different from other places, but April and October are two transitional months, which makes it a four-season city. The winter monsoon comes from the Asian continent with the property of dryness, brings light but frequent rain to Hanoi. Although the rain does not continue day after day, the sunlight is wintry and pale these days.
See What to do in Hanoi in Summer
The dry peak in December and January, while the wettest time is July and August. In the rainy season, scattered showers usually occur in the afternoon and evening. Therefore, if possible, arrange all your outdoor activities in the morning, the rest of the day can be spent with a cup of hot tea or coffee at your warm room or at a cozy coffee house. Even though the average temperature is about 24 Celsius (75.2 Fahrenheit), it can reach 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) on some days, so check the forecast to prepare appropriate clothes.
The hot and cold weather in the North is usually more intense than other parts
With the above information, the most enjoyable time to travel to the North of Vietnam is in the spring or autumn, particularly April and October-November, right after the winter. The weather in these months would not be too severely cold or skin-burning hot.
The Centre (Northern Central Coast, Southern Central Coast, and Central Highland)
This is the transitional part of the weather conditions in the North and the one in the South. To the west of Central Vietnam, the Truong Son mountain range dries the southwest monsoon, or the summer monsoon, and prevents it from bringing its pure characteristics to the coast. Since the impact of the monsoon is weakened, in the rainy season, April to September in particular, the area receives less precipitation in comparison to the rest of the country.
The northern half of Central Vietnam is in the exposed zone to the northeast monsoon, which leads to a huge amount of rainfall and vulnerability to typhoon season, especially in the last months of the year. In this period, Hoi An, which is near this area, is often flooded. In 2017, the residents and the provincial authority had to spend a lot of effort to clean up after the flood in Hoi An so that the city is well-prepared to welcome the delegates of the APEC.
While the rain seems to be harsher, the temperature here is higher and it also gets more sunshine than the North. Hue (Thua Thien Hue Province) has an average temperature of around 26 Celsius (78.8 Fahrenheit). Quang Nam Province (the land of modern beach city Da Nang and Hoi An ancient town) also has similar weather. However, Quang Nam is a bit warmer since the locations of the two provinces are on the opposite sides of Bach Ma Range, which is also the borderline for the northern half and southern half of Central Vietnam. The coolest month is January, but the temperature varies from just 20 Celsius (68 Fahrenheit) in Hue to 24 Celsius (75.2 Fahrenheit) in Nha Trang.
The Centre has many coastal provinces
Those provinces that are near the south of Vietnam experience a longer dry season which length is from January to September since the cold air from the north hardly reach this area. Rain also only comes concentratedly in only a few months with a less abundant amount. Therefore, some places like Phan Thiet become semi-arid and sand dunes are founded in Mui Ne and Quy Nhon. However, intense storms usually occur from August to November, bring terrible damages and inconveniences to the life of the locals along the coast in the southern half of Central Vietnam.
The Central Highlands is cooler than many parts of the country all year round. A popular destination is Da Lat - the romantic city. Its annual average temperature is 18 Celsius (64.4 Fahrenheit). The lowest temperature of the day is 15 Celsius (59 Fahrenheit) while the highest is 24 Celsius (75.2 Fahrenheit). Because of this, Da Lat is said to have four seasons in just one day. In the wet season from June to October there is considerable precipitation, other months are much drier.
The best time to visit Central Vietnam is February - March for the north region and January - March for the south one. It is recommended to come no later than April. If you happen to arrive from May to August, read our suggested belongings which are mentioned below to cope with the monsoon season in Vietnam.
The South region has constant hot weather with two distinct seasons: the wet season and the dry season. The temperature does not change significantly during the year, with an average of 25-35 Celsius (77-95 Fahrenheit).
The dry season is from November to April. The temperature is about 27 Celsius (80.6 Fahrenheit) from November till mid-February. It gradually increases to 30 Celsius (86 Fahrenheit) in March and April, before reaching the peak of 36 Celsius (96.8 Fahrenheit) as the southwest monsoon is about to arrive. The hot and humid summer starts in May and ends in October. Abundant rain is the result of the southwest monsoons effect. June and July are the peaks of this wet season when it rains almost every day. However, unlike the North, particularly the sprinkling and drizzle in Ha Noi, rain in the South comes in a heavy amount but is not long-lasting.
The Southern provinces are hot all year round
During these months, many roads in Ho Chi Minh City would be flooded, which makes it difficult for vehicles to move around. This city is a little bit later than other provinces in the matter of rainy peak that is September. Going through the summer when hardly a day goes by without a gentle to drenching rain, the city would still receive an adequate amount of sunshine. It is a good time to visit Ho Chi Minh City from December to mid-February. Not only the weather would welcome you, but you also have a chance to witness and learn more about the biggest holiday of Vietnamese people, the Tet holiday. March and April are also in the dry season, but sometimes it can be inconveniently hot since it is getting close to the summer monsoon, so keep that in mind while packing for the trip.
A trip to Ho Chi Minh City inthe dry season
The Southwest provinces, also known as the Mekong Delta, are some destinations that would make you want to travel in the monsoon season in Vietnam. To provide water for the local agriculture, complex networks of canals have been built for many years. If you are eager to find out and try the exotic yet fresh, delicious fruit of Vietnam, June, and July should be considered. From September to December is the floating season, many activities that you rarely find anywhere else like floating markets or listening to Southern Vietnamese folk music on river cruises.
Stream down a river in Mekong Delta when it's sunny
The Southern islands like Phu Quoc or Con Dao have less intense weather compared with the land. Most of the time, the sea here is warm and calm. Although it is apparently in the tropical zone, Phu Quoc is still comfortably cool all year round. October to March is the most suitable period for you to enjoy your swimming and tasting varied types of seafood. There are some days in the wet season when the weather is persistently poor, the sunlight is pale and the sea is too rough for ships to sail and go fishing, the seafood dishes on your table can be less diverse. Swimming is still acceptably safe, but do not forget to avoid rocky beaches.
What to Bring on Your Trip to Deal with the Monsoon Season in Vietnam
No matter what part of Vietnam you plan to visit, prepare for experiencing the hot and humid weather. If possible, bring your bottle from home and drink the boiled water, not tap water in Vietnam (yes you can easily buy water from the supermarkets and convenience stores, but the package is made from single-use plastic which is definitely not good for the world environment). You can be dehydrated and have sunstroke without drinking enough water.
Light cotton clothes would be much comfortable in the summer here. A small bucket hat or a cap is useful for your daily sightseeing, while a wide-brimmed hat would be more suitable for your trip to the beaches. Dont forgetsunglasses and sunscreen to protect yourself from the intense sunlight. You might also need a pair of flip-flops, but dont worry if you did not buy one yet. You can find it in your hotel room or get it at a very cheap price in Vietnam's local markets.
Non la is a traditional hat of Vietnam, you can buy one if you forget your hat at home and then keep it as a souvenir
Mosquito spray is necessary especially when you intend to travel to the Southwest region. A significant characteristic of Ho Chi Minh City is the sudden cloudbursts, so if you do not want to bring a raincoat, carry a lightweight, waterproof jacket to avoid getting totally soaked while finding a place to shelter from the rain. Read more on our Introduction to Ho Chi Minh City.
However, if you are traveling to North Vietnam in the winter, remember to bring some jackets, sweaters, and gloves to keep yourself warm. And if you are thinking about visiting the mountainous area, hiking sticks and sneakers can be useful.
Check out recommended hiking shoes for traveling to Vietnam
Pagodas and temples are a part of the cultural specificity of Vietnam so many tourists are enthusiastic to go there. Polite clothes are a must when you visit those places, so prepare some trousers, pants, jeans and long dresses. No above-knee skirts or tank top is allowed. Here we have a list of 8 amazing pagodas you have to see.
Summary on Monsoon Season in Vietnam
The monsoon season in Vietnam affects your travel plan a lot. However, there is no bad time in the year to visit this tropical country. If you are going on a long trip across the whole country of Vietnam, from November or February would be suitable since the weather is warm with little heavy rain and the sun is not burning, the Northside can be much cooler but still not freezing. March to mid-April is also a great time. Although it is the transitional time between two types of monsoon, it is still in the dry season and not uncomfortably hot or humid.
Sources from Vietnam Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Vietnam in CIA Factbook, andVietnam Tourism.
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