Weather in Vietnam
All those Vietnam war movies showed a steaming hot country with heroes sweating it out, but this representation is only a part of the whole picture. The climate of Vietnam is actually very pleasant, if you pick the right time of year and location. Vietnam spans both a tropical and sub-tropical clmate zone on the Indo-China Peninsula, its topography providing variations which means its climate varies according to area.
The climate being largely tropical, Vietnam is subject to monsoon rains and winds. Winters (November to March) tend to be relatively dry, and the average annual temperature varies from region to region. The Mekong Delta and southern plains are, on average, a great deal hotter and more humid than the northern hill country, where temperatures can drop as low as 5 °C (41.0 °F) in December.
The north of Vietnam has two distinct seasons, with cold weather between November and March, and far higher temperatures from April onwards, along with some cloud and damp conditions. During the cold season ice and snow are frequent visitors to the mountains of the north, and temperatures have been known to dip below freezing. In summer (May to October) by contrast, the mercury can rise as high as 37°C (98.6 °F).
Far less extreme are the coastal provinces (including Hanoi) around the Red River Delta, where temperatures and humidity remain high all through the year.
In the central region of Vietnam the coastal areas take the full force of the winter monsoon season, with generally dry conditions but the threat of occasional typhoons, between November and March, while the south of the country (just a few degrees north of the Equator), experiences a tropical climate with little season variation in temperature or humidity.
The south of Vietnam, though, is a target for the monsoon rains between May and November, which swamp Ho Chi Minh City during these months. There are actually two monsoon seasons which influence Vietnam: the winter monsoon between October and March brings damp, cold conditions to the north, and hot dry weather to the south. Between May and October the summer monsoon brings hot, wet, humid conditions to the whole country. Averages are thus hard to calculate for this climatically diverse country.
When is the best time to go to Vietnam?
The decision of when to holiday in Vietnam is largely down to where you choose to go. Tourist season is generally accepted to be during July and August, but a month either side of this will probably be more advisable if one wants to avoid the rather heavy crowds of domestic holiday-makers at peak season. For cooler, dry weather the best season is during winter (November to March), but crowds can be problematic at the end of January, and early in February, when the country effectively closes down for the Tet new year celebrations. Prices also rise appreciably during this period.
What to pack for a holiday in Vietnam
With it's varied climate, some travellers will pass through rain and heat during their trip. It is best to pack lightly, with lightweight clothing that will dry quickly and aid with the heat. Most people are comfortable with T-shirts and shorts, a change of swimwear, with a light jersey, sarong or similar covering for monasteries or the scorching sun. Take a raincoat everywhere and at any time; and carry basic medical supplies, including insect repellent, as well as a water bottle with enough fresh water for the day. Walking boots with ankle support are essential for trekking the rugged terrain, and sandals must have good grip. It is advisable that people dress modestly, especially women, and temples or monasteries will require modest dress for entry.
Weather in Vietnam in JanuaryAverage temperature in Vietnam in January: 17°C, 62.6°F
Sea temperature in Vietnam (Nha Trang) in January: 24.9°C, 76.8°F
Average rainfall in Vietnam in January: 18mm, 0.7in
Note: Most of Vietnam experiences dry weather during January, making this a good month for Vietnam beach holidays on the coastal resorts and islands. The south, in particular, enjoys blazing sunshine with bearable temperatures and relatively low humidity. In the north Hanoi and the mountains are cool and dry, as are the central highlands.
Weather in Vietnam in FebruaryAverage temperature in Vietnam in February: 18°C, 64.4°F
Sea temperature in Vietnam (Nha Trang) in February: 25.5°C, 77.9°F
Average rainfall in Vietnam in February: 28mm, 1.1in
Note: February is an ideal month to travel to Vietnam weather-wise, with sunny, warm and dry conditions prevailing throughout the country. Trekking in the northern highlands is comfortable with warm days, although very chilly at night, and the southern and central beaches bask under blue skies.
Weather in Vietnam in MarchAverage temperature in Vietnam in March: 20°C, 68°F
Sea temperature in Vietnam (Nha Trang) in March: 25.5°C, 77.8°F
Average rainfall in Vietnam in March: 38mm, 1.4in
Note: March heralds the beginning of the end of Vietnam’s winter dry season, with plenty of sunshine still on offer, and little or no rain throughout the country. Temperatures in the south and central regions creep up slightly, enticing visitors to the popular beaches such as Hoi An, Danang, Phu Quoc and Mui Ne. In the far north it remains relatively cool, ideal for hiking around Sapa and Ha Giang.
Weather in Vietnam in AprilAverage temperature in Vietnam in April: 24°C, 75.2°F
Sea temperature in Vietnam (Nha Trang) in April: 27.4°C, 81.2°F
Average rainfall in Vietnam in April: 81mm, 3.1in
Note: Temperatures, humidity levels and the incidence of rain begin to increase as April progresses in Vietnam, particularly in the south of the country. There is still a preponderance of dry days, however, and the advantage of fewer visitors as the monsoon season approaches. In the north it becomes warmer, and there is the threat of rain showers, but conditions remain good for hiking.
Weather in Vietnam in MayAverage temperature in Vietnam in May: 28°C, 82.4°F
Sea temperature in Vietnam (Nha Trang) in May: 28.8°C, 83.9°F
Average rainfall in Vietnam in May: 196mm, 7.7in
Note: Down south in Vietnam during May the incidence of rain increases, and conditions become very hot, damp, and sticky. It is still possible to enjoy sunny skies in the central areas, with much drier conditions. In the north temperatures increase gradually along with the incidence of rain, but with a waterproof jacket it is still possible to enjoy the mountains.
Weather in Vietnam in JuneAverage temperature in Vietnam in June: 30°C, 86°F
Sea temperature in Vietnam (Nha Trang) in June: 28.8°C, 83.9°F
Average rainfall in Vietnam in June: 237mm, 9.3in
Note: The rainy season is now in full swing in Vietnam in June, with the possible exception of the central area of the country where it is still possible to catch a tan on the beaches of Hoi An, Danang and Nha Trang, in peak temperatures. The south is subject to daily deluges, but these usually arrive in the afternoon and evenings. In the north temperatures are high and rain prevalent, with occasional fierce storms.
Weather in Vietnam in JulyAverage temperature in Vietnam in July: 29°C, 84.2°F
Sea temperature in Vietnam (Nha Trang) in July: 28.4°C, 83.1°F
Average rainfall in Vietnam in July: 323mm, 12.7in
Note: The north and south of Vietnam are swamped by rain during July, the steamy, wet conditions putting the southern beaches and northern hiking trails off limits for all but the most intrepid travellers. Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh are extremely wet at this time of year. In the central areas, however, showers are lighter and although temperatures are high, it is possible to see some sunshine.
Weather in Vietnam in AugustAverage temperature in Vietnam in August: 29°C, 84.2°F
Sea temperature in Vietnam (Nha Trang) in August: 28.5°C, 83.2°F
Average rainfall in Vietnam in August: 343mm, 13.5in
Note: It is possible to enjoy a beach holiday in Vietnam in August if you stick to the central coastal resorts, such as Nha Trang, where the monsoon season is not as marked as in the rest of the country. As the month progresses, however, cloudy skies predominate even here, and temperatures are exceedingly high. The south is blanketed in rain and conditions are very hot and humid, while the northern areas are exceptionally muddy, wet and hot.
Weather in Vietnam in SeptemberAverage temperature in Vietnam in September: 28°C, 82.4°F
Sea temperature in Vietnam (Nha Trang) in September: 28.3°C, 82.9°F
Average rainfall in Vietnam in September: 254mm, 10in
Note: September is a good month for trekking in north Vietnam, ahead of the main season, as the monsoon rains and high temperatures begin to tail off from the north downwards. The central areas, which escaped the height of the rainy season relatively lightly, are now very wet, while the south remains swamped in rain and experiences hot, humid conditions.
Weather in Vietnam in OctoberAverage temperature in Vietnam in October: 25°C, 77°F
Sea temperature in Vietnam (Nha Trang) in October: 27.7°C, 81.9°F
Average rainfall in Vietnam in October: 99mm, 3.9in
Note: Skies begin to clear in the north of Vietnam as the rainy season tails off, bringing with it relief from the high humidity levels of previous months, although it remains hot. In the central areas the rain continues to be frequent, with the threat of storms. In the south of the country the incidence of rain lessens, but heavy showers are still possible most afternoons.
Weather in Vietnam in NovemberAverage temperature in Vietnam in November: 22°C, 71.6°F
Sea temperature in Vietnam (Nha Trang) in November: 27°C, 80.5°F
Average rainfall in Vietnam in November: 43mm, 1.6in
Note: November heralds the start of the beach holiday season in southern Vietnam, with the rain abating, giving way to blue skies at resorts like Phu Quoc and Mui Ne. The central area, however, remains wet and stormy. Those heading for an adventure holiday in the northern mountains will find conditions conducive for trekking and exploring.
Weather in Vietnam in DecemberAverage temperature in Vietnam in December: 19°C, 66.2°F
Sea temperature in Vietnam (Nha Trang) in December: 25.6°C, 78°F
Average rainfall in Vietnam in December: 20mm, 0.7in
Note: December is what passes as the start of winter in Vietnam, with temperatures becoming more bearable, the monsoon rains decreasing and humidity levels declining during the course of the month. The central areas remain prone to heavy rainfall and storms during the first weeks of December, but by month’s end resorts like Nha Trang are pleasant. The southern beaches and northern mountains enjoy relatively moderate temperatures and dry conditions – it is cold at night in the north.