The biggest force that affects Vietnam’s weather is the coming and going of the two different monsoons, causing heavy rains between May and October or September to February.
Weather in Vietnam's major cities
Because Vietnam is a such a long country, Vietnam’s climates vary greatly. Here is a brief introduction to the top three tourist cities in Vietnam (Hanoi, Hoi An, and Ho Chi Minh City) and their weather patterns.
Hanoi is located in Northern Vietnam and typically has a hot summer with lots of rain, and a cold but dry winter.
Like the majority of Vietnam, Hanoi has two tropical seasons which include the dry season and the rainy season. However, because Hanoi is in Northern Vietnam, it also experiences the four temperate seasons including spring, summer, fall, and winter.
The best time to visit Hanoi is in spring, between February and April, when average temperatures are normally from about 15 to 20°C (or 59 to 68°F).
Like the majority of Vietnam, summer in Hanoi is very hot, with an average temperature of 32°C (90°F). Hanoi's summers are also normally characterized by heavy rains and evening thunderstorms that last from May to August.
The fall season in Hanoi is normally quite short, lasting from mid-September to late November when temperatures are more pleasant around 25°C (77°F) and the weather is normally sunny and dry with a light, cooling breeze.
Winter typically lasts from December until possibly late February and can get quite cold. The average temperature is around 17°C (63°F) but can drop below 10°C (50°F) at times, and feels cold as it is humid at this time.
Read more about Hanoi’s weather.
Hoi An Weather
Hoi An's seasons are less complicated than Hanoi's as Hoi An typically sees warm to hot weather all year round and only has two seasons: rainy and dry.
The yearly average temperatures in Hoi An are around 29°C (85°F), however, during its hottest months of June, July, and August, the highest temperature can reach around 38°C (100°F). The months between November and January are normally the coldest in this city, though still warm, with temperatures between 19°C (66°F) and 24°C (75°F).
Although temperatures in Hoi An seem perfect for vacations, the one thing that can make visiting Hoi An difficult is the rainy season. The rainy season in this area is often quite long and intense, with constant heavy showers and typhoons that can cause floods. The rainy season typically lasts from September to January, and this the worst time to visit Hoi An.
During the dry season, the weather takes a sharp turn and is often mild with moderate temperatures. This season lasts from February to May, and is characterized by low humidity and plenty of sunshine. This is the perfect time to go to Hoi An and visit the nearby beaches.
Ho Chi Minh City Weather
Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) is located in Southern Vietnam has two main seasons, the rainy and dry seasons. The best time to visit is during the dry season, however, the weather is said to be good all year round.
The dry season in HCMC typically starts in December and lasts until April. This is the time when the city sees its hottest temperatures with highs around 39°C (101°F) and the lows in early December around 16°C (61°F). The dry season is the most popular time to visit HCMC because of the lower levels of humidity.
The rainy season in HCMC typically lasts from April to May and is not as intense as it can be in other areas of Vietnam. During the rainy season, the city often experiences humid and rainy weather, with short rains during the day.
Regional climate differences in Vietnam
Because Vietnam is a long and thin country with over 1,400 km (870 miles) from north to south, the weather varies greatly over those 15 degrees of latitude. Typically, Vietnam is divided into three distinct climate zones: the north, the center, and the south. The weather of these regions is strongly affected by the southwest monsoon that occur from May to October and the northeast monsoon from November to April.
Due to the large variation in weather in Vietnam, it can be difficult to plan your travels. Here is an explanation of the weather in the three different regions, as well as the average monthly rainfall and temperatures in Vietnam.
Weather in Vietnam’s North
The northern part of Vietnam includes Hanoi, Sapa, and Halong Bay and is known for being a mountainous region with four different seasons. North Vietnam can be cool in the winter but also quite warm in the summer.
Overall, the dry season in the north lasts from October to April, covering the region's fall, winter, and spring seasons. During this time, temperatures range between 10°C (50°F) and 25°C (77°F), and average rainfall is between 20mm and 130mm (1–5 in) with an average of 9-15 rainy days a month.
Fall is a very short season that typically takes place from October to December. Fall is the best time to visit the north due to the sunny, dry, and pleasant weather. Winter and Spring are still good times to travel in Northern Vietnam although winter tends to be colder and damper than fall and during the spring the rains start to get heavier and more frequent.
During fall, winter, and spring, we recommend brining long-sleeved clothing and a warm jacket alongside an additional warm layer for the evenings, as the dampness can make the lower temperatures feel colder than they actually are. You might even want to bring gloves and a warm hat if you are going to Sapa during winter or planning to spend a lot of time outdoors.
The summer and the rainy season are one and the same and last from May to August. This is the hottest time of year and the rainiest time of year, with temperatures at a high of 38°C (99°F) and a low of 25°C (77°F). The constant downpours and humid weather make the north unbearably hot and sticky which makes traveling much less comfortable during this time. You’ll have between 14 and 17 rainy days a month on average, with average precipitation between 90 mm and 320 mm (3½–12½ in).
Clothing: During summer, we recommend wearing loose shorts or loose jogger pants, alongside sleeveless or short-sleeved tops for more comfort in the warmer weather. Bringing lightweight and breathable clothing will also help.
Regardless of precipitation or temperature, North Vietnam’s humidity is relatively high year-round, around the 75%–85% mark.
Weather in Central Vietnam
Central Vietnam includes many popular cities such as Hue, Da Nang, and Hoi An. This area of Vietnam is a paradise during the dry season but very frustrating during the rainy season.
In Central Vietnam, the seasons are opposite to that of Northern Vietnam because each region is affected by different monsoons.
The rainy season in the center starts in September and can last until February. During this time it is not uncommon for the area to have dangerous typhoons and flooding. Average precipitation during this season is 35 mm and 615 mm (1½–24 in), and you can expect an average of between 7 and 21 rainy days each month. Temperatures during this season range from 20°C to 30°C (68–86°F), and humidity hovers around the 75–80% mark.
The dry season typically lasts from February to August, when precipitation is on average between 20 mm and 105 mm each month (1–4 in) in Central Vietnam. The earlier part of the dry season is more pleasant with cooler temperatures, but during this time temperatures in Central Vietnam range from 22°C to 34°C (72–93°F). In the dry season, humidity is around 60–65%.
In Central Vietnam, during all seasons, we recommend light clothing with a jacket or a light sweater for the evening. If you are traveling during the rainy season, we recommend bringing a light raincoat or an umbrella.
Weather in Vietnam’s South
Southern Vietnam is different from the other two regions, especially because the average temperatures remain constant all year round. Daytime temperatures rarely drop below 20°C (68°F) and sometimes hit 40°C (104°F) at their highest. There is a dry season and a rainy season in the south, but they don't have as much of a negative impact as the rainy seasons in other regions.
The dry season typically lasts from December to late April, and sees an average precipitation of between 5 mm and 50 mm (0–2 in). During this time, humidity is an average of 70%.
The rainy season starts from May and continues through November, with average precipitation of between 115 mm and 325 mm (4½–12½ in), and is much more humid at an average of 85% humidity. Although it does rain often during the rainy months, an average of between 18 and 23 rainy days to be precise, most rain comes in brief afternoon downpours that quickly clear up. Flooding does sometimes happen in the Mekong Delta at this time, but most other areas of the south are safe.
Light clothing is recommended for all seasons as temperatures are high even during the rainy season, but do make sure you bring an umbrella or raincoat if you are traveling to the south of Vietnam between May and November!
Flooding and monsoons are difficult to predict, so in order to stay safe and avoid delays, it is a better idea to travel in the dry season.
Monsoons and typhoons in Vietnam
The two monsoons that affect Vietnam greatly, control the weather and the best times to travel. Although sometimes the rain during monsoons can be light and not affect travel, often times monsoon rains are hard downpours that flood major areas and cause delays.
The strength and exact timing of the monsoons can be difficult to predict, so it is best to try and avoid the time frame when they are likely to occur or to schedule in extra days that can be used in case of delays.
Typhoons are tropical storms that usually affect the central and northern portions of Vietnam. They often start in May and go to June in the North and then move south in the three months of September, October, and November.
Typhoons cause a lot of damage to the country, as well as making traveling difficult, as they can cause serious flooding that shuts down cities and causes massive delays.
The best time to visit Vietnam
Due to Vietnam’s long shape, it really depends on where in Vietnam you are hoping to go to figure out the best time to go, but overall, the best time to visit Vietnam is early February, the only time when the weather is not rainy or too hot throughout the whole country.
The North of Vietnam is best visited between October and December, when temperatures are moderate and it is less rainy, and December and January are also good times to visit Southern and Central North Vietnam as it is generally drier and less hot.
If navigating Vietnam’s weather sounds like just another of many things to worry about, one way to take the stress off you is to let us do the planning for you! We have a lot of experience with tourism and traveling in Vietnam and understand the best places to go to as well as the best times. We can help you plan and customize the perfect trip that won't get spoiled by the weather. Follow one of the links below to get in touch!