So, you are thinking of visiting Vietnam?
Congratulations, you will have a wonderful time!
Vietnam is a beautiful country with some of the nicest people you are ever likely to meet.
When deciding on the best time to visit Vietnam, there are a number of factors to take into consideration which we will now look at in this article.
Article's table of contents
The Unusual Shape
The first thing you need to understand when considering the best time to visit Vietnam is the size and shape of the country itself. Vietnam is long and narrow and is comprised of three primary regions: north, central and south. As a result, each of these regions experiences different seasons and weather conditions throughout the year. In the south, for example, the climate is quite tropical all year round whereas the further north you go, the cooler the temperature becomes particularly during the cooler seasons.
The Tropical Weather in the South Vietnam
You can visit the south of Vietnam any time you want but if you are planning to do a lot of sightseeing or other outdoor activities, you may want to think about the season. Being a tropical part of the country, south Vietnam has a monsoon season where the rain comes down so heavy that a lot of businesses and even public transport end up temporarily closing down. The driest months to visit the south are December through April, though in March and April the temperature starts to soar and can become quite unbearable for tourists. After that the monsoon rains then start coming and things get a little cooler. The monsoon season lasts between April and October.
Visiting During Monsoon Season
To people who have never experienced monsoon rains, a little bit of rain may seem like no big deal but therein lies the misconception. Monsoon rains are not a ‘little bit of rain’. They are huge downpours that can last hours or even entire days.
There are a number of other factors to also take into consideration if you want to visit during monsoon season.
- Limited outdoor activities
- Possible delays to public transport
- More mosquitoes
Now, the flip-side, of course, is that your trip is likely to cost significantly less and anywhere you do find open is unlikely to have large queues of fellow tourists! And, let’s be honest, experiencing a monsoon may be a common experience for the people of Vietnam for people from non-tropical countries, it’s definitely one for the bucket list!
Visiting During Typhoon Season
Yes, along with the monsoon rains, there are also regular typhoons in Vietnam. Despite popular belief, typhoons don’t respect seasons. They can occur during any season at any time. Broadly speaking, however, ‘typhoon season’ lasts between August and December, depending upon which region you are visiting. The worst month for storms has to be October.
Generally speaking, you shouldn’t be too concerned about typhoons. You get plenty of warning from local weather reports and the Vietnamese are experts in evacuating tourists to safety when and where necessary.
Key Dates and Festivals
There are lots of important dates and festivals in Vietnam and visiting during these times can offer a real flavor of the culture of Vietnamese people, who we have already established are some of the nicest people on Earth!
Tet celebration- “Têt Nguyên Dán”
The most important national holiday in Vietnam is the lunar new year celebration commonly called Tet, which a shortened version of Lunar New Year. Tet can be a very busy time to be in Vietnam as everyone starts celebrating the beginning of a new year. Like national holidays in any other country, millions of people start moving, heading home to see family and friends for the holidays.
Tet is a wonderful time to experience Vietnamese culture and hospitality. Celebrations go on up and down the country with free cultural shows, music and other entertainment. Because Tet is based on the lunar calendar, the actual timing of it varies but it usually falls in January or February time coinciding with the Chinese new year. Where the two differ is that Chinese new year is usually celebrated for fifteen days whereas Tet is normally only celebrated for three.
One important point to bear in mind is that most shops and businesses close during the Tet holidays but will be very busy in the run-up to those holidays.
Day of Southern Liberation for National Reunification
Another national holiday is Liberation Day celebrated all over the country on 30th April each year. It is also known as Reunification Day, Victory Day and Saigon Liberation Day and marks when the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces took Saigon on April 30th 1975 heralding the end of the Vietnam War. As you might imagine, the day is celebrated with military shows, street parties and festivals of light. Again, it is a great way to experience Vietnamese hospitality and culture.
The other big national holiday in Vietnam is, creatively-enough, known simply as National Day. It is observed on 2nd September and commemorates President Ho Chi Minh reading the Declarations of Independence of Vietnam in Hanoi on the 2nd September, 1945. As can be inferred from this and the other national holidays the Vietnamese are a proud and patriotic people. The holidays cited here are sacred to the people of Vietnam. If you are planning to visit during these times show proper respect and you will be made to feel welcome and part of the celebrations. What better way is there to experience a country and culture than to put your finger on the pulse of its traditions during times of national holidays?
Things like weather and national holidays are all part of what Vietnam is really all about. If you want to get a real taste of Vietnam, as opposed to the prepackaged travel experience, be prepared to go with the flow. Just remember, the most important thing to take into consideration when deciding on the best time to visit Vietnam is what you would like to see and do whilst there. As long as the weather or holidays doesn’t interfere too much with your plans, go right ahead. Your experience of Vietnam will be all the richer for having experienced such aspects of Vietnamese life!