Vietnam lies in the East Asian monsoon zone and is affected by the south-western and the winter monsoon seasons. Because of the country’s 1,600km length, each region has definite different weather patterns that must be factored in when planning your trip.
There are three distinct regions where the climates differ: North, Central and South Vietnam.
Northern Vietnam North Vietnam is generally cooler than the rest of the country. The winter months of November to January can be unexpectedly cold, especially in the mountainous areas of Sapa and Cao Bang along the Chinese border. Even in Hanoi, you will need a jumper to keep warm. The hottest period of the year is May to October where temperatures can rise to 37 degrees Celsius. During these months, the North will have the occasional typhoon.
Local insight: Remember that the air conditioner that kept you cool in the south will keep you warm in the north.
Central Vietnam Central Vietnam can be split into two sub-regions. The Coastal Lowlands is generally dryer and hotter than the Central Highlands. However, unprotected parts of the coast have more typhoons and storms than the North during the months of November to March. Nha Trang experiences a longer dry season which runs from January to September with high temperatures and little rain. With cooler temperatures, the Central Highlands experiences more than double the average rainfall of the country so prepared to get a bit wet.
Local insight: One positive aspect of the monsoon season are the surfable waves around the region. Head to Danang from September to March for peak surf season.
South Vietnam South Vietnam experiences little variations in temperatures during the year fluctuating from 27 – 32 degrees Celsius and only has two seasons: rainy and dry. The rainy season lasts for seven months from May to November while the dry season dominates the rest of the year. Temperatures tend to drop in January and February and is the best time to travel through the South. To beat the heat, take a trip to Dalat where the temperatures are always a bit cooler than Saigon.
Local insight: Remember to bring a raincoat to Dalat. The province experiences nearly double the average rainfall of Vietnam.