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Best Time of Year to Visit Vietnam
Rice paddy, Hoa Binh, Vietnam, photo courtesy M M on Flickr.
Vietnam has had a tumultuous background, with many different governments from imperial Chinese rule, to independent dynasties, to French Colonial rule then the brutality of the Vietnamese War until 1975 decided the victory of communist governance. Yet, Vietnam has really transformed into the ultimate destination. It has the best of both worlds with a relaxing lush countryside and dynamic cities to rival anywhere else in the world.
Boats in harbor, Danang, Vietnam, photo courtesy Loi Nguyen Duc on Flickr.
Weather in Vietnam
The weather in Vietnam is very dependent on the region, as the southern coast may be very warm while the northern region is freezing. The best time to visit Vietnam really depends on the destination.
In Northern Vietnam (Hanoi and beyond), most people prefer November to April when it is dry and cool in the low 60-70's Fahrenheit. Central Vietnam can be very hot and rainy so spring and autumn are the best times to go before temperatures frequent the mid 90's and there is constant rainfall.
In southern Vietnam, the climate is split into a wet (May-November) and dry season (October-April). The temperature usually remains in the 77-95F year round. Also relevant: the rains tend to be intense but short, making travel possible in the wet season if one does not mind short afternoon rainstorms.
Japanese covered bridge or Cau Chua Pagoda, Hoi An, Vietnam, photo courtesy David McKelvey on Flickr.
Things to See and Do
Vietnam has gorgeous natural landscapes to enjoy for the outdoor adventurer. Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park is a UNESCO heritage site in central Vietnam, and is renowned for large caves and limestone grottos, including the the largest known cave in the world.
Unlike Thailand (where people drive on the left side of the road), in Vietnam you'll drive on the right hand side of the road. If you plan to rent a car or motorcycle, and you're American, you won't have to make a mental adjustment--if you're from Australia, New Zealand, or the UK you'll probably find that you adapt pretty quickly.
Thien Duong Cave, Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, Vietnam, photo courtesy Tinker & Rove on Flickr.
Ecotourism tours, extreme rock climbing, and hiking are all tourist activities offered by the park.
Another UNESCO heritage site to visit in northern Vietnam is Halong Bay. It is a beautiful place to rent a kayak or junk boat to explore the over 700 islets and limestone cliffs.
Halong Bay, Vietnam, photo courtesy Andrea Schaffer on Flickr.
For a less crowded adventure, head to the southern islands with its thousands of beaches, amazing snorkeling and fresh caught seafood.
To compare all resorts in Vietnam, click here.
Typical airfares from LAX to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Airfares vary by season, but also day of week, and are definitely affected by holidays. The chart above shows the typical average fares for a economy class ticket from Los Angeles (LAX) to Ho Chi Minh City (SGN), by month. We gathered this data in March 2017 from FareCompare.com.
Lanterns, Hoi An, photo courtesy Khanh Hmoong on Flickr.
One of the top places to visit in Vietnam is Hoi An, a well-preserved 15th century port city still inhabited today. It has lovely architecture and four museums to explore the history of the region. It is also a great place to explore regional cuisine while enjoying the vista of the canals or the Thu Bon River. Vietnam also has huge ultra modern cities--the largest are Hanoi in the North, and Ho Chi Minh City (sometimes called Saigon) in the South. Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam and sometimes called Paris of the East with its picturesque tree-lined roads and colonial architecture. Hanoi is also known for its many shopping centers, and as a foodie destination, with many traditional Vietnamese dishes believed to have originated in Hanoi, perhaps most famously Pho.
Traditional pho, streetside, Hanoi, photo courtesy Jonathan Lin on Flickr.
Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city in Vietnam with many amusements for tourists. It is well known for hundreds of cinemas and theaters, museums, art, football clubs among other activities.
Water temperature and SCUBA diving in Vietnam
You can dive year-round in Vietnam, but the primary diving season is March through October for the southwest coast (before the monsoon season), or November through March for Phu Quoc Island and the Con Dao archipelago. Water temperature is typically around 82F. It's a relatively new destination for divers, but it's growing in popularity with both new and seasoned divers. Undersea life you might see includes black frogfish, sting rays, eagle rays, manta rays, bamboo sharks, barracuda, and dugongs.
For a list of the top dive sites in Vietnam, check out PADI's page.
Hanoi / Ha Long Bay
Ho Chi Minh (Saigon)
Hoi An / Hue / Da Nang
Map of all resorts in Vietnam