Weather in Vietnam: When & Where to Go

Last updated May 2016 | Words and photos by Vietnam Coracle

INTRODUCTION | GUIDE | MAP | RELATED POSTS

Having travelled to all of Vietnam’s 63 provinces, I’ve put together this personal guide to where in Vietnam I would most want to be at different times of the year. I love weather, and it’s a fundamental consideration for me when planning when and where to go. Many people assume that Vietnam is bathed in tropical sunshine year-round, country-wide. But Vietnam’s climate is complex, variable, and very local: tropical monsoons, extended dry seasons, chilly winters, and the crachin (the name French colonials gave the grey drizzle hanging over the Red River Delta during Lunar New Year) are but a few of the weather conditions travellers can expect. As a long, narrow country – with a spine of mountains to the west, a curving coastline to the east, and flat river deltas in the north and south – Vietnam’s weather is anything but predictable. The following guide will help you decide when and where to go.

Weather in VietnamWeather in Vietnam is complex, variable, and very local

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GUIDE: WEATHER IN VIETNAM


A Personal Guide to When & Where to go
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Being English, I’ve always longed for sunshine and warmth, but now, having lived in Vietnam for a decade, I also appreciate the pockets of cool, misty, autumnal weather that certain areas experience at certain times of year. Monsoon rains also have a romantic appeal for me, as do the magnificent skies that the rainy season brings. Below I’ve split the year into quarters (blocks of three months) and written up a summary of where my favourite places to be are for each quarter. I’ve included links to relevant Vietnam Coracle guides to the places I mention.

Click on a time period below to read more about my chosen destinations and weather conditions for those months:


WEATHER MAP:

Map pin colours are as follows:

  • January-February-March
  • April-May-June
  • July-August-September
  • October-November-December

View in a LARGER MAP

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JANUARY-FEBRUARY-MARCH:

Weather: southern dry season 
Where to go: Saigon, beaches, islands, Central Highlands
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The first three months of the year is the height of the southern dry season. South of Nha Trang, Vietnam’s coastline sweeps westward, sheltering the southern provinces from the northeast monsoon, which brings cold, grey weather to northern and central regions. From Nha Trang all the way down to Phu Quoc Island, at Vietnam’s southwestern-most tip, the conditions are glorious: blue skies, warm sunshine, relatively low humidity, sharp light, and cool mornings and evenings. It’s perfect beach weather.

Vietnam southern dry seasonSouthern dry season: glorious beach weather

The water is calm, balmy, and blue on Phu Quoc Island at this time of year: it’s by far the best season to explore the many beaches of this tropical retreat in the Gulf of Thailand. Meanwhile, on the Con Dao Islands – far out in the East Sea – winds can blow hard, but this only serves to cleanse the islands; making the beaches, forests, and cliffs shine in the briny air.

Phu Quoc beach, southern dry seasonPhu Quoc’s many beaches are best explored during the winter months

Follow the sand from Vung Tau all the way up to Cam Ranh Bay on the fabulous Ocean Road. Cool nights and hardly any rainfall make this ideal camping weather: take advantage of Vietnam’s growing phượt culture (independent travel on the cheap) and pitch a tent at one of the campsites on the southern sands. There’s something inherently life-affirming about endless blue skies and the warmth of the sun on your skin: I take a road trip along the southern coast every year, during the Tet Lunar New Year holiday (January/February), and each time I do, it fills me with joy.

South coast road trip, Vietnam dry seasonA south coast road trip during Lunar New Year (January/February) is special

It’s not only the coast that basks in southern sunshine at this time of year: the Central Highlands are at their best during the winter months. Dalat, Bao Loc, Lak Lake, Cat Tien National Park, and the southern reaches of the Truong Son Mountain Range all enjoy the same dry, bright weather as the coast. Daytime temperatures in Dalat are around 25°C but the nights are cold. This presents a satisfying contrast: swim in the sea at Mui Ne in the morning and be wrapped up warm by the fireside in Dalat by evening. The highland pine forests are dry and fragrant – again offering a good chance for camping – and, with the coffee harvest over, the scent of coffee blossom fills the air. A favourite trip of mine at this time of year is the Southeast Loop, which takes in both mountains and coast. Since I live in Saigon, I enjoy the city at all times of year, but the cool nights during the dry season – when you can sit outside eating dinner without perspiring – are particularly nice.

Dalat skies, cold at nightHighland winter: Dalat is cold and clear at night during the dry season

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APRIL-MAY-JUNE:

Weather: northern spring 
Where to go: extreme north & northeast mountains & valleys
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As the southern dry season comes to an end, temperatures in the south being to soar: humidity rises, the air thickens, and conditions become stifling. It’s time to head north to the mountains and valleys, where spring is taking hold: the sun regains its warmth after the cold winter, and the grey mists begin to lift from the peaks and rivers. Blossoms, wildflowers, and crops begin to bloom, and a fresh new light illuminates the grand northern landscapes.

Grand northern landscapes, VietnamThe grand northern landscapes look their best in the springtime

In the far north of Vietnam, the hauntingly beautiful province of Ha Giang is slowly waking from the frosts of a hard winter. A rocky landscape of limestone pinnacles that rise and fall like petrified waves on a ruffled sea, Ha Giang’s mythical landscape is never in sharper focus than in early spring. There’s no better time to ride the legendary Extreme North Loop.

Ha Giang in the springtime, VietnamHa Giang’s mythical landscape: never fresher than in early spring

Meanwhile, in the northwest, the giant peaks of the Hoang Lien Son Mountains prick the spring sky. Although temperatures may still be a little chilly at 1,500m, it’s still a good time to visit Sapa and drink in the mountain views. But to get a real flavour of how grand the scenery is in this region, and how the many ethnic minority peoples go about their lives, head west to Sin Ho or east to Muong Khuong. The landscape here is on a scale not seen anywhere else in Indochina, so it pays to see it in clear weather: visiting in early spring increases the chances of this.

Sin Ho landscape in sun & rain, VietnamSpring showers and shafts of light pass over a landscape near Sin Ho in the Northwest

Southwest of Hanoi, the warm clear weather makes a wonderland of Pu Luong Nature Reserve, Cuc Phuong National Park, Mai Chau, Thanh Hoa and Ninh Binh provinces. I call this area ‘The Limestone Valleys‘ because meandering rivers cut through steep, forested limestone hills. Rice terraces decorate the slopes, bamboo forests whisper in the breezes, and the waterways are clean and clear, not yet muddied by the runoff from the summer rains. This is Vietnam at its prettiest. A homestay in a wooden house on stilts in Pu Luong Nature Reserve is the best way to experience it.

Spring in Pu Luong Nature Reserve, VietnamWonderland: springtime in Pu Luong Nature Reserve is sublime

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JULY-AUGUST-SEPTEMBER:

Weather: central summer 
Where to go: central cities, Ho Chi Minh Road, south-central beaches
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The summer months bring hot, rainy, steamy and oppressive weather to the whole country. While the south experiences its rainy season, the north is unbearably hot and sticky, with frequent rains. Central regions are subject to similar conditions, but the long coastline and easily accessible mountains make it much more bearable in this part of the country. A plethora of cultural sites also provide a welcome distraction from the intensity of the weather. On the other hand, the ‘scale’ of weather at this time of year is an attraction in itself: massive heat, cathedralic thunderclouds and violent rains are exciting aspects of visiting an exotic tropical country. Being on a beach at dawn with the sand already too hot to step on; seeing an angry thunderhead rear up over an ancient Cham temple; sheltering under a tree while watching the rains sweep over the jungle canopy on the Ho Chi Minh Road – these are unmissable summer monsoon experiences for me.

Storms, summer in central VietnamA summer storm in central Vietnam: one of the ‘attractions’ of a tropical country

The three main central cities, Hue, Danang and Hoi An, are all fantastic places to spend time during the summer. Excellent food, local beaches, historical sites and friendly people make them easy to love. Cycling around the royal tombs outside Hue, wandering the old streets of Hoi An, eating seafood and enjoying the municipal beach in Danang, could keep me occupied for weeks.

Inside a temple in Hue, VietnamInside a royal tomb near Hue; sheltering from the summer heat

The Hai Van Pass links these cities, and most people make the road trip between Danang and Hue via this scenic coast road. However, I choose the inland route instead: a rarely used section of the Ho Chi Minh Road that meanders across spectacular mountains between Thanh My and A Luoi. Whether bathed in sunshine or shrouded in mist, this road is superb. If that’s not enough, continue north on the Western Ho Chi Minh Road from Khe Sanh to Phong Nha: a staggering ride through some of the most pristine, remote countryside in Vietnam. There’s a good chance the sun will be shining at this time of year, so the rivers will be ribbons of turquoise, irresistible for swimming. At the end of this stretch of road are the famous caves systems of Phong Nha, Son Doong, Hang En and more.

Western Ho Chi Minh Road, VietnamRain or shine, the central section of the Ho Chi Minh Road is a staggering ride

South of Hoi An, the beaches of Binh Dinh and Phu Yen provinces are some of the most attractive and unspoiled in the country. The honeycombed coastline hides numerous sandy coves, secret bays and tiny islets, such as Vung Ro Bay. At the height of summer the empty hot sands, blue waters and clear skies have a benign and somehow immortal beauty. Drop in to the laid back beach town of Quy Nhon for the best seafood in Vietnam.

Beaches & coves near Quy Nhon, VietnamSouth-central beach hopping in the summertime is difficult to beat

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OCTOBER-NOVEMBER-DECEMBER:

Weather: northern autumn/southern transition 
Where to go: Hanoi, the Northeast, Mekong Delta
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The ’embers’ are best spent in the northern and southern extremes of Vietnam. Towards the end of the year the weather starts to turn grey and drizzly on the central coast and highlands, but up in the Northeast it’s beautiful and balmy. This little pocket of the country, mainly Cao Bang, Lang Son, and Bac Kan provinces, is under-appreciated by many domestic and foreign travellers. But the richly cultivated limestone valleys – where jade-coloured rivers amble past sleepy stone villages – are as scenic as any storybook version of rural Vietnam. With the harvest over, the rice fields turn beige but the forests are still lush and green. Criss-crossed by country back-roads, it’s easy to get off the beaten path in this region.

Cao Bang, northeast VietnamA bucolic corner of Vietnam, the Northeast is mild and bright in October

October in Hanoi is lovely. Gone is the searing heat and stifling humidity of summer: October is warm, bright and mellow. Hanoi is a great city for walking – only then do you have time to appreciate the multiple layers of this thousand year-old capital – but the summer is too hot to be on foot, and the winter too cold and wet: autumn is ideal walking weather.

Hanoi's famous red bridge, Hoan Kiem LakeAutumn is walking season in Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi

While autumn is taking hold in the north, the southern rainy season is gradually transitioning to drier conditions. This is a good time to be in the Mekong Delta. A water-world throughout the year, by the end of the rainy season the Delta is full to the brim. Rivers and canals are at their highest level, rice fields flooded, and fruit orchards bursting with colour. Kien Giang, in the southwest corner, is my favourite Mekong province. Unlike the rest of the Delta, there’s some high ground here, especially around the laid-back town of Ha Tien, close to the Cambodian border. Ha Tien has plenty of Mekong charm – crumbling French colonial-era shophouses, shady backstreets, a busy waterway, excellent street food, a bustling fish market, and a waterfront promenade. Boats leave regularly from the pier to Phu Quoc Island which, along with other islands in the Gulf of Thailand, can be seen out on the horizon. Get here in November/December and you can jump on a boat to Phu Quoc and start the year according to this guide all over again.

The Mekong River, VietnamBrimful: the Mekong River is at its ‘fullest’ towards the end of the rainy season

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105 Responses to Weather in Vietnam: When & Where to Go

  1. Mikael says:

    Hi Tom,

    Thank you for youre for youre work with this amazing site.
    Im coming to Saigon 30th of September this year and my plan is to rent a bike and drive for about 3,5 weeks.
    Starting in Saigon and make some kind of loop back to Saigon.
    Been looking at youre guides a lot now but its so hard to decide which one, in terms of weather this time a year and the lenghts of the trips. I would really like to see the countryside, some mountains and of course some coastline and beaches.
    Is there any of all youre guides/loops you can highly recommend for this amount of time and the weather this time a year.

    Thanks in advance

    //Mikael

    • Hi Mikael,

      Well, the weather in central provinces starts turning wet around that time of year, so I would suggest staying south of Danang, or even south of Nha Trang. They’ll still be rain around but it shouldn’t be as bad as central Vietnam. For some ideas about that region, take a look at the Motorbike Guides section of my Southern Dry Season post. That you get you started.

      I hope this helps,

      Tom

      • Mikael says:

        Hi Tom,

        Thank you for youre answer. What do you think about taking the” Saigon to Dalat: The backways and after that go for Phan Thiet and follow youre “Southeast loop” back towards Saigon.
        Is that reasonable in like 3 weeks?

        //Mikael

        • Hi Mikael,

          Yes, that’s easily doable in 3 weeks. But, from Dalat, I would suggest taking road QL20 and QL27 east down to Phan Rang, and then joining the Dragon’s Graveyard Road to Ca Na, then the Sand Dune Highway to Mui/Phan Thiet. That’s a very nice coastal stretch.

          You can also put your bike on the train from Phan Thiet back to Saigon, so you don’t have to ride through the traffic back into the city.

          Tom

          • Mikael says:

            Tom,

            You got too many routes, its really hard to choose one 🙂
            Im getting more and more tempted to take The Ho Chi Minh Road from Saigon to Hanoi, maybe the coast road to Mui Ne and then Dalat and join the Ho chi Minh Road west of Dalat.
            Is it doable 1 st October and a month ?
            How is it with ATM:s on The HCM road?

            //Mikael

            • Hi Mikael,

              It’s not such a good idea to take the Ho Chi Minh Road all the way to Hanoi at that time of year because, as we discussed in the previous messages, the weather will probably start to get worse north of Danang.

              Most towns now have ATMs.

              Tom

              • Mikael says:

                Thanks Tom,

                Better just stick to the Backways to Dalat and then take the coast down south. Maybe its nice to have 3 weeks on that route to just stay and relax at some places for a day or two.

  2. Michael says:

    Hi Tom,

    Thank you for a very insightful post. I am planning on motorbiking from Hanoi to Saigon from the start of August. I am a fairly inexperienced rider and am concerned about the rain. How long do the rains last each day? What’s the best and safest way to manage it? And are there any areas that you would recommend I avoid at this time of year?

    Many thanks!

    • Hi Michael,

      In general, the weather in August is pretty much the same nationwide: hot, dry, humid in the mornings, clouding over by noon, then heavy tropical downpours by afternoon.

      So the idea would be to get most of your time on the road during the first half of the day.

      If you’re not comfortable on a motorbike, don’t ride during the heavy rain – it can be treacherous.

      You’ll need to buy a rain poncho or suit and dry bags or plastic bags for your luggage.

      Of course, it’s very difficult to predict exactly how the weather will be. Just keep an eye on it – try using Windy.com – it’s got a rain & thunder setting so you can get an idea of when the rains are going to come.

      I hope this helps,

      Tom

      • Michael says:

        Thank you so much Tom. Thats really helpful. Also to note is that my visa expires mid August so would be looking to do a visa run halfway down at lao bao. This I think is manageable, unless I am met with successive days of rain that goes through the whole day. Is this a common thing to happen during August?

        Thanks again

  3. Robert Glasbrenner says:

    Wow, fantastic site and will contribute. Here is my concern, retiring, want to move to Vietnam for about 5 years. I know, sounds like every other Expat story and wish you had a nickel…lol. I have been to SE Asia a number of times and now that plan to live for while. The weather is my biggest issue. Simply put, can’t stand the extreme heat of Vietnam, Thailand, so trying to find a balance.

    Here’s the question, I want to live 6 months in Hanoi, winter months say October – March, looking for another colder or cooler place to live during the summer months. I have looked at De Lat, but seems just too quiet for me. What can I say, I like to hang out and drink a beer at night and people watch. So do you recommend any place to go live for say six months that has cooler temps, and a decent expat nightlife? I know, the $20,000 question right.

    Thanks in advance, great blog, cheers.

    Anthony

    • Hi Robert,

      Well, Dalat would be the obvious choice really, because of its cool climate and the fact that it’s a big and fast growing city with a fair few bars and an ever growing expat scene. So it’s definitely worth looking into that some more.

      The other choice might be Vung Tau, which is slightly cooler than other places because of its position out on a peninsular, where it gets plenty of cool breezes and the air quality is pretty good. There’s a good expat scene there, and in recent years it’s become a very nice place to be. What’s more there’s easy, fast and regular daily connections to Saigon if you need more of a metropolitan vibe for a day or two.

      I hope this helps,

      Tom

      • Robert Glasbrenner says:

        Perfect Tom, great information and very much appreciated. Da Lat looks fantastic, very beautiful. I’m just a night person and was afraid they rolled up the sidewalks at 9…12 would be ok with me..smile

        Thanks again. Robert

  4. james says:

    Hi Tom,

    I am arriving into Hanoi at the very start of May, I plan to motorcycle to Saigon. It seems most of the websites say the best time to travel to Vietnam is between October and April. Will the weather actually be that much of an obstacle? It’s my only real concern about biking across the country.

    Regards,
    James

  5. kayi says:

    your web site is wonderful!!

    I’m planning my first trip this year in October for about 6 days, we are particular interested in Hanoi and Hoi An
    What is the best way to get to Hoi An from Hanoi, by plane then take a taxi to old town from the airport/
    Is October a good time to go to these two places?
    Where would you recommend us to go at this time of the year?
    I read about Mekong Delta and seems very interesting, how far away is it from Hanoi?
    we are from the US, do we need visa?

    • Hi Kayi,

      Yes, from Hanoi to Hoi An you can fly (to Dannag) then take a taxi from the airport to the old town (or some hotels offer airport pickup).

      The weather in Hanoi and Hoi An at that time of year is pretty good, but sometimes Hoi An can be wet in October.

      The Mekong Delta is as far away from Hanoi as you can get – it’s at the other end of the country, about 2,000km away. But you can make day trips there from Ho Chi Minh City.

      For visa information I suggest contacting your nearest Vietnamese embassy to check the requirements.

      I hope this helps,

      Tom

  6. Thibaut says:

    Hello Tom.
    First of all, i would like to thank you for this website and for all your work and good advices.
    I took your “uncle ho’s road” that i have a lil bit remixed and it was amazing.
    And i wanted to do a big northern loop, by mixing the limestone loop, the 2 sapa loop, the ha giang loop and the northeast loop. But i became “weather-dependant” and “landscape-with-beautiful-colors-dependant”.. so it is not the best time right now, everything is grey and brown. So i gave up and i continue my way to Laos, i’ll come back but i dont know when.

    What would you recommand for this kind of loop ? April/May or October/November ? Because northern/northern west seems to be good during spring whereas northern east seems to be better in October/November.

    Thank you again!

    • Hi Thibaut,

      Yes, the weather can be pretty grim up in the north during this time of year. But either April/May or September/October are the best times to ride in that region. The colours and landscape look fantastic at those times and the weather is generally good, although there is still some rain, and because it’s the mountains there’s always the chance of heavy mist, especially in the Northwest.

      Please note that I am currently updating the Limestone Loop and Northeast Loops guides.

      I hope this helps,

      Tom

  7. evan says:

    Hi Tony,

    I’m planning first trip for later this year in either September, October, or November. Unfortunately I only have about 10 days this time so want to focus on 1-2 parts of the country. Was thinking of combining Saigon with either Con Dao or Nha Trang and possibly one night on the Mekong. It seems like the weather patterns are different for Con Dao & Nha Trang and my travel time overlaps an inbetween period in the seasons you mentioned. Any recommendation on which combination of month/beach area would give me the better chance of good weather?

    Evan

    • Hi Evan,

      Those months aren’t usually that good for weather in Nha Trang or Con Dao – it’s the rainy season in Nha Trang, and Con Dao can get quite windy. But if I had to choose between those months, I’d go in September, because there’s more chance of good weather conditions in both Nha Trang and Con Dao at that time.

      I hope this helps,

      Tom

  8. Tony says:

    Hello Tom I’m in a bit of a crux, I’m here 50 km east of Saigon. And I’ve been reading into your weather recommendations. I was going to take the ocean road but I’m unsure whether it’s the best route at this time. I’m at a point that I could go any route. I have 40 days in total and I’m ready to explore this beautiful country. Could you point me to the best route? Maybe I was already on the right path with the ocean route.

    • Hi Tony,

      Yes, I would stick to the Ocean Road. The weather should be good at this time of year everywhere south of Nha Trang, but the last two years weather patterns seem to be changing. You might also make your way up to Dalat from Cam Ranh. But just take it as it comes and keep an eye on the weather.

      North of Nha Trang, and especially north of Danang, conditions will probably be colder and rainier.

      I hope this helps,

      Tom

  9. Craig says:

    Hi Tom

    Firstly, great site! full of great info.

    I’m hoping to go from Saigon to Hanoi, but the big question is when? I don’t mind rain I think it adds to the adventure. So would I be right in thinking that March from the south heading north should provide me with not only a great ride but a mix of weather? Also, do you know a rough price guide to buying a 125cc. Thinking about the buying route rather than renting.

    Cheers
    Craig

    • Hi Graig,

      Yes, that’s pretty much right: in general the best times of year for a Saigon to Hanoi ride are either spring (March-May) or autumn (late August-October).

      For buying a 125cc bike I would strongly recommend you do so through one of the recommended companies in the right sidebar and bottom of this (and every) page of my site. These companies are extremely efficient and professionally run: most work on a buy-back basis – so you buy a 125cc bike from them and they guarantee to buy it back at the end of your trip for an established price. Try contacting a few of them and asking for more information. You can mention Vietnam Coracle if you like, they know me.

      I hope this helps,

      Tom

  10. noam says:

    hi tom
    i will arrive at vietnam at the middle of augest for three months, i want to see most of vietnam.
    i am trying to bulid a route that will work with the weather.
    can you plise explaine me in genreal where to start and where to go.
    i am trying to undstend how to travil with the weather.

    thanks noam

  11. Daniel says:

    Hello,
    Which month do you recommend to ride from Hanoi to Saigon? I have two options: December and february. December would be better for me, but if difference of joy is big I can ride in february.
    Best Regards.

    • Hi Daniel,

      Well, both of those options the weather will be best in the south: once you get north of Danang you may find it gets colder and grayer, because the north gets a real winter. If you ride during February, you will probably overlap with the Tet Lunar New Year celebrations – this is very interesting but it’s not great for travel, because many businesses close and most of the nation goes on holiday so places become busy.

      So perhaps December would be your best option.

      I hope this helps,

      Tom

      • Daniel says:

        Thank for your reply. I want be 100% sure because today I will book flight tickets. Btw I have no experience riding scooter or motorbike.
        I see Lunar New Year will be at 16th February.
        I saw also that in central Vietnam the amount of rain in December is 370mm (18 rainy days) and in February it’s a only 90mm (12 rainy days). That’s why I thought February is better. Of course if you think that problems with Lunar New Year is more important than the weather I will go for December. Is it better to start from Hanoi or from Saigon?

        • Hi Daniel,

          I would start from Hanoi and go south, because that way you will save the better weather for last.

          If your dates would fall over the Lunar New Year holiday then I would advise travelling on the earlier date.

          Tom

  12. Alice says:

    Hi Tom!
    Congrats to your blog! It is really helpful and you did a great job!
    We plan to come to Vietnam for a month from mid-decembre to mid-january.
    We will land in Hanoi and fly back from Saigon. We would like to discover the whole country from north till south on our motorbikes but are still unsure about the weather conditions and the best route. We think about starting in the north (northteast loop) and then cruise towards south through eather the Ho Chi Minh Route or the Classic.
    Would you recommend the north at this time of the year?
    Which route would you recommend for travelling from north till south?

    Thanks,
    Alice

    • Hi Alice,

      It will certainly be rather chilly in the north at that time of year. The colder temperatures and grey weather could last all the way down to Hue. South of Danang the weather should get warmer and brighter.

      Yes, the Northeast Loop or the Ha Giang Extreme North Loop would be good options for the north, before riding south on the Classic route. I would choose the Classic because it will give you some time by the beach in the south where the weather should be better.

      I hope this helps,

      Tom

  13. Warren says:

    Hello Tom, your motorcycle guides have inspired me to do a ride south to north. I am going to follow your Easy route and was thinking about starting this Christmas onwards. However I note the weather from Da Nang might be wet. I was wondered if you might comment from riders point of view how rainy it might be end of December first week January. I am experienced rider and can handle some rain but if riding in it all day I always seem to wet which if cold ends up being miserable.

    • Hi Warren,

      Yes, that’s right: during that time of year the weather can be quite grey and drizzly, and surprisingly cold too, anywhere north of Danang. However, it shouldn’t be enough to ruin a motorbike road trip – just bear it in mind while planning your trip. For rain protection on the bike you can either buy a local rain suit (about $10, available in some supermarkets, called bộ áo mưa in Vietnamese) including a waterproof jacket, pants, and a poncho which goes over your handlebars, or buy a ‘real’ rain suit at the GIVI store in Ho Chi Minh City (about $50).

      As well as this, you’ll need to make sure your luggage is waterproof – a large plastic ‘bin bag’ is good for your backpack or daypack.

      I can actually be quite fun riding in the rain sometimes 🙂

      Tom

  14. Brian Britt says:

    Hi Tom,
    So I’ve been traveling the classic route by motorcycle for a few weeks and taking the liberty to find even more off the path tracks. Needless to say it has been quite an amazing experience, even getting stuck in massive monsoons on the highest peaks.
    I’m deciding now on what to do with my final two weeks, and was hoping to hit the extreme northern loop and incorporate more of the far North into the trek, maybe going counter clockwise from here in Ninh Binh. HOWEVER with all the recent rain, I’m wondering if you have any insight into the current road conditions for some of the areas.
    The weather predictions are obviously quite fickle.

    Thanks in advance and I hope you’re able to get back to me.
    Also thanks for having such an encompassing insightful site.

    BB

    • Hi Brian,

      Good to hear you’re enjoying your road trip so far.

      Yes, it’s a good idea to incorporate a couple of northern loops together.

      Road conditions are always unpredictable in those areas so it’s very difficult to say. In particular, the northeast is famously bad for road conditions. The Ha Gaing Loop should be OK, but some readers have reported road works. Mu Cang Chai was recently washed away by flooding – I don’t know how the road would be now.

      So I think the best thing to do is take it as it comes, pack some extra time into your itinerary to allow for some slow progress, and always try to ask a local before taking a road you’re not too sure about.

      If you come across any bad (or good) roads you think I and other readers should know about then please let me know.

      Good luck,

      Tom

  15. Liz Gosbell says:

    Hi Tom,
    I’m another lucky person to bump onto your website. Thank you for your great travel advice. I’m starting to think that a 2-3 week trip to Vietnam is not long enough but that can’t be helped, maybe we will have to go again another time. Actually my husband just had a golfing trip to Vietnam with three mates about 4 weeks ago (only played 2 games in 10 days!) and they had the best time and now we are both booking a trip in October this year, he absolutely loved Vietnam. I think my husband wants to see the north this time and I’m now researching this. My question is about motorbikes and this might seem like a silly question but I have no one else to ask this. Do you need to be experienced to ride? It seems to me that a lot of people that travel to Asian countries always talk about renting motor bikes, including my 22 year old daughter who hired a motor bike in the Phillipines recently and she had no experience at all. I may be generalising here but it seems to me people may not be experienced riders at all but it’s just the ‘thing to do’ in those countries. I am wondering what your thoughts are on this. The only biking I do is mountain bike riding in Australia – I wear a helmet of course but that’s it! I would love to know what you think, both my husband and myself are not familiar with bikes or engines and with respect he is so NOT handy at all and either am I. In my research to date and looking throughout your website it makes me want to jump on a bike and stay in guesthouses and explore the back country and mountainous regions up north. I want to be open to all options of travel and I’m interested in what you have to say about inexperienced riders in Vietnam.
    Looking forward to hearing from you.
    Thanks
    Liz

    • Hi Liz,

      If you rent bikes away from the big cities (namely Saigon and Hanoi) most travellers should feel fairly comfortable riding a motorbike (most are scooters, really) after a day, even without previous experience, providing you are already familiar with the balance, which is the same as a bicycle.

      The traffic in the big cities is very chaotic and the biggest challenge when riding motorbikes in Vietnam. And the general lack of road ‘etiquette’ is one of the biggest risks facing travellers riding in Vietnam. However, in general people ride quite slowly: badly, but slowly.

      Bottom line is that if you are careful and cautious you should be fine. However, you must always remember that it is a potentially dangerous thing to do. Once you rent a bike for one day you will know very quickly whether you feel comfortable enough to go on a longer road trip or not.

      I hope this helps,

      Tom

  16. Samantha says:

    I am planning a 4 week motorcycle trip along the entire length of Vietnam. What time of year do you think we should go? And do recommend any particular root? North to South? or South to North? We were thinking about doing your “classic” root and debating bringing a tent as well as staying in “rest houses” along the way…

    Your website is awesome by the way! Most helpful resource yet.

    • Hi Samantha,

      In general the best times of year to ride the length of the country are spring (March to May) and autumn (September/October).

      Whether you go south-north or north-south depends on your preferences: as a general rule the south is more about the coast and the beaches, and the north is more about the highlands and the mountains. So if you prefer to leave one of those until last then that will determine which direction you travel.

      As there are local guesthouses almost everywhere there’s not really much need to bring a tent with you. If you want to camp there are opportunities to rent a tent, on the Ocean Road for example.

      I hope this helps,

      Tom

  17. Mia Sørensen says:

    Hi Tom,

    Thank you for an amazing site!

    I’m planning a six weeks solo trip (two weeks in June and 4 in july) and I’m planning to go from north to south.
    Would you recommend doing it this way or would the opposite be better?
    It seems like everyone has a different opinion on the weather in these months? I’ve traveled tin Thailand and Malaysia during rainy season and I didn’t think it was a problem at all. Is the rainy reason in Vietnam comparable?

    – Mia

    • Hi Mia,

      During June and July the weather is pretty similar all over Vietnam – hot and humid with fairly regular tropical downpours – so in my opinion there’s not much difference if you choose to go north to south of vice-versa.

      Travelling Vietnam at this time of year is absolutely fine – just expect some heavy rain every now and then.

      I hope this helps,

      Tom

  18. Alex says:

    Hello Tom
    Can I ask you 3 questions please?
    I was planning to buy a motorbike with my girlfriend and cross Vietnam from North to South in Augoust (4 weeks).
    1. Is Augoust a bad time to do this?
    2. Can 2 persons and baggage go fine in one bike?
    3. Is better from Hanoi to HoChimin or the opposite way?
    Thanks a lot
    Alex

    • Hi Alex,

      Yes, August is fine for the trip – the weather will be quite similar throughout Vietnam at that time of year: hot and humid, with tropical downpours.

      Yes, two people and baggage on one bike is OK – your rental bike will have a baggage rack on saddle bags to carry your stuff and there will still be enough room for a passenger. But it will be a bit less comfortable and a bit more tiring – so just bear that in mind, especially when it comes to how much distance you plan to cover each day.

      At that time of year I would suggest going from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi.

      I hope this helps,

      Tom

  19. Mitch says:

    Hi Tom,
    I am beginning to plan a month long motorbike trip through Vietnam and will starting at the beginning of May. During this time (May-June) would the weather be best for a north to south or south to north trip?

  20. noam giladi says:

    hi tom
    thanks for your website, it helped me alot.
    i am thinking on landing at hanoi at the 12.2 till the 28.2.
    i have read your loops and most liked the north ones.
    i undrstand that it is not the best weather, but when looking at weather( http://www.accuweather.com/en/vn/sa-pa/416623/february-weather/416623?monyr=2/1/2017).
    it dosnt look so bad, could you plise tell me what you think about it, and how do you think it will be.
    thanks noam.

    • Hi Noam,

      Yes, that’s right, the weather in the north at that time of year can be quite cold. But many travellers still visit the northern areas during the winter and enjoy it. For example, the Ha Giang Extreme North Loop and the Sapa-Sin Ho Loop are great rides on pretty good roads, but it will be a little bit cold and maybe quite cloudy.

      In general, the best weather in February is in the south of Vietnam – anywhere south of Nha Trang. Although the most spectacular rides are in the north of Vietnam, there are still lots of great, really beautiful rides in the south too. Take a look at my South Motorbike Guides Archive.

      I’ve also written more about weather in Vietnam here.

      I hope this helps,

      Tom

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