The concept of a dry season might seem difficult to grasp for those who live in more temperate areas where the seasons are broken down into winter, spring, summer, and fall. But in the tropics, like Vietnam, the weather is almost always warm or at least warmish, so seasons are not so much distinguished by their temperatures but by their rainfall.
In Vietnam, the weather is mostly measured as “dry” or “wet”, and it differs according to the part of the country you are planning to visit. Before venturing out on your trip, it would be good to know when the dry season is in each region, the average temperatures, and the benefits of traveling during this time. On the flipside it’s beneficial to know when to expect Vietnam’s rainy season as well.
Vietnam’s Dry Season
What can be defined as Vietnam’s “dry season” varies depending on which portion of the country you’re planning to visit. While some areas experience much cooler and drier weather, other regions stay relatively hot throughout the year. Furthermore, some of the country’s dry seasons start at the end of the year, while other areas start at the beginning of the year.
- Northern Vietnam | Hanoi and above | November – April
- Central Vietnam |Da Nang, Hue, Hoi An | Mid-January to the latter half of August (though these cities’ geographical positions in relation to localized mountain ranges can result in great differences in weather on any given day)
- South-Central Coast | Nha Trang | January – September
- Far Southern Vietnam | Saigon & Mekong Delta | November – early May
Once again, the average temperature, much like the precipitation, will vary according to where you happen to be at a given time. In Vietnam’s north, which is the portion of the country nearest the dividing line of the Tropic of Cancer, the dry season coincides with what is locally considered “winter”.
Though residents of Canada, Russia, and Scandinavia might snicker, average temperatures range between 17° – 22° C (62° – 71° F), which compared to the rest of Vietnam will likely appear downright frigid! Much like the rest of the Northern Hemisphere, the coldest months are generally January through March.
From Ho Chi Minh City heading south, you might be jealous of those “cold” temperatures found in the north being that the year-round average is between 25° – 35° degrees C (77° – 95° F). In this region, temperatures and humidity rise slightly in the months of February through May.
Meanwhile, in Central Vietnam, the long dry season from January to August will often feature temperatures in the mid 30’s C (90’s F), and relief from the heat will require a change in altitude if a change of latitude is not an option.
Benefits of Traveling During the Dry Season
The primary advantage of traveling to Vietnam during the dry season is that it allows for favorable weather when enjoying the wealth of outdoor activities the country is known for. The experience of visiting urban centers like Hanoi, Da Nang, or Ho Chi Minh City usually won’t be measurably altered by arriving during the dry season.
But when venturing out to the amazing natural wonders that surround them, the time of year (again, depending on which part of the country you’re visiting) can have a major effect on your options, price, and/or enjoyment.
For example, the dry season is generally considered the best time of year to visit Ha Long Bay because, during the wetter months of the year in this part of the country (July-September), severe weather can at times curtail the popular tourist rite of passage of sailing the bay on a traditional junk boat.
If you’re looking to explore what is considered the largest cave in the world, Hang Son Doong, expeditions are only available during Central Vietnam’s dry season (January – August) due to the threat of flooding during other times of the year. Basically, the benefit of visiting Vietnam during the dry season is more about avoiding bad weather and the intrinsic risk of closures.
This is especially true when visiting beach locales along Vietnam’s more than two thousand miles of coastline. The dry season will offer sun worshippers a greater chance of good weather, especially in the south and on vacation islands such as Phu Quoc and Con Dao.
Naturally, prices for lodging and accommodations will reflect the greater demand of the season, but since Vietnam is already a great value for international tourists, it’ll be worth it. The dry season in Vietnam is often a favorite time for visitors to venture throughout the country. Coinciding with the holiday season, it is often a busy time of year for both locals and tourists.
Keep in mind that the rainy season also has its perks. Visiting during the wet season may provide you with a bit more peace and quiet in addition to lush and vibrant landscapes. However, if you’re planning to spend a lot of time outside, it may be in your best interest to plan your trip around the dry season.