Weather Guide to Vietnam: When & Where to Go

Vietnam Weather Guide: When & Where to Go

Last updated October 2021 | Words and photos by Vietnam Coracle

INTRODUCTION | GUIDE | MAP | RELATED POSTS

Weather is an important consideration when planning a trip to Vietnam. Many people assume Vietnam is bathed in tropical sunshine year-round, country-wide. But this is not the case: Vietnam’s climate is complex, variable and subject to two monsoons, each affecting different parts of the nation at different times of year. Depending on the region and the month, Vietnam can experience hot and humid summers, chilly winters, an extended dry season, typhoons, and the crachin (a period of interminable grey drizzle in the Red River Delta). A long, narrow country, Vietnam spans both tropical to sub-tropical zones. Some parts of the nation have a temperate climate with four distinct seasons; other parts only have two seasons: wet and dry. At the same time of year, snow can fall in the northern mountains with temperatures close to freezing while the southern beaches are enjoying cloudless skies and daily temperatures above 30°C. But, no matter the month, there’s always a good region to travel in Vietnam. The following guide will help you decide when and where to go.

Weather Guide to Vietnam: When & Where to Go

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WEATHER IN VIETNAM


A Personal Guide to When & Where to Go

Below, I’ve written an overview of weather conditions nationwide for each quarter of the year, including a map and recommendations of where to go (and where to avoid) during each time period. Whether you’re planning a south-to-north adventure, a beach retreat, a mountain exploration or a motorbike road trip, this guide will help you decide when and where to go. Please bear in mind that weather patterns are inherently unpredictable: I’ve done my best to give an overview, but of course I can’t guarantee conditions will be exactly as I describe. For up-to-date weather reports, I highly recommend Windy.com.

Click below to read about weather at that time of year and what my recommended destinations are:

CONTENTS:

January-February-March

April-May-June

July-August-September

October-November-December


*Please Support My Site: I never receive payment for anything I write: all my content is free to read and independently financed. There’s no sponsored content whatsoever. If you like this article, please consider making a donation or becoming a patron. Thank you, Tom


Weather in Vietnam: When & Where to Go
Weather patterns in Vietnam are complex and variable

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MAP:

Where to Travel Month-by-Month in Vietnam

KEY:

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

View in a LARGER MAP


*Disclaimer: Information in this article is based only on my limited reading & understanding of various sources, conversations with people & my own personal experience: I’m not a meteorologist & I can’t vouch for the accuracy of weather-related details on this page. Weather is subject to change.

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January, February, March

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  • Weather conditions: southern dry season, northeast monsoon, northern winter & ‘crachin’
  • Where to go: southern beaches & islands, Central Highlands, Ho Chi Minh City
  • Where to avoid: north & central provinces & cities

The first three months of the year is the height of the southern dry season, a glorious period of warm, sunny and bright weather in most coastal and highland regions south of Nha Trang on the coast and of Buon Ma Thuot in the mountains. This is the perfect time to travel, explore and enjoy the southern provinces of Vietnam. Meanwhile, however, most of the central and northern regions of the country are subject to the northeast monsoon, which occurs when cold winds blow in from Siberia, Japan and the Korean peninsula, bringing long periods of bleak, grey, damp and surprisingly chilly weather. The popular central cities of Hoi An, Danang and Hue can be quite dark and grim for the first couple of months of the year. Further north, the Red River Delta region – including Hanoi, Halong Bay and parts of the northern mountains – suffers months of persistent light rain and concrete skies, known during French colonial times as the ‘crachin‘ (drizzle). In the mountainous far northwest and northeast of the nation, frost forms on the highest peaks, passes and plateaus abutting China, and some places even experience snow.

Southern Dry Season in Vietnam
From January to March the southern provinces of Vietnam bask in the Southern Dry Season

The Southern Dry Season in Vietnam
If you’re looking for warm, dry weather, stick to the south at the beginning of the year

South of Nha Trang, Vietnam’s coastline sweeps westward, thus sheltering the southern provinces from the cool winds and unsettled weather of the northeast monsoon. From Nha Trang all the way down to Phu Quoc Island, at Vietnam’s southwestern-most tip, conditions are excellent: blue skies, warm sunshine, relatively low humidity, sharp light, and cool mornings and evenings. It’s ideal beach weather. On Phu Quoc Island the water is calm, glassy, balmy and blue. The same is true of neighbouring islands and archipelagos dotting Vietnam’s portion of the Gulf of Thailand, such as Hon Son, Nam Du and the Pirate Islands. This is by far the best season to island-hop or settle into a comfortable beach retreat for a week or two. Meanwhile, on the Con Dao Islands – far out in the East Sea – winds can blow hard until February, but by March they abate and the archipelago looks fresh, green, clean and shiny.

If islands aren’t your thing, find a resort on one of the the long, sandy beaches and promontories on the mainland, such as Ho Tram, Mui Ne, Cam Ranh or Nha Trang. For more restless travellers, riding a motorbike along the southeast coast at this time of year is a beautiful thing. Link up the following famous quartet of coast roads from Saigon all the way to Nha Trang: the Ocean Road, the Sand Dune Highway, the Dragons’ Graveyard, and the Nui Chua Coast Road – forming the perfect sandy, salty, sunny beach road trip. There’s something inherently life-affirming about endless blue skies and the warmth of the sun on your skin.

Nam Du Islands, Vietnam
Nam Du Archipelago: the first months of the year are perfect for exploring Vietnam’s southern islands

Beach on Phu Quoc Island in the Dry Season, Vietnam
Conditions are excellent on Phu Quoc Island from January to March

Cool nights, low humidity and hardly any rainfall make the southern dry season Vietnam’s ‘camping window’. Pitch a tent at one of the many campsites along the south coast between Saigon and Nha Trang or wild camp in the pine forests of the Central Highlands and along the riverbanks of the southern plains. Every year I spend the Tet Lunar New Year holiday (which usually falls in late January or February) motocamping in the southern provinces, alternating between the mountains and the coast with my motorbike and camping gear: it’s one of the highlights of my year.

The southern dry season is also the best time to explore the mountains, plateaus and forests of the Central Highlands. Daytime temperatures in the mountains are at least 10°C cooler than on the coast, but at night they drop even further, sometimes to single digits. Staying in cosy accommodation in the former French colonial hill station of Dalat or exploring the vast and rich landscapes of the Central Highlands on two wheels is a wonderful way to spend the first quarter of the year. From January to March the highlands are dry, fertile and fragrant with coffee blossom and woodsmoke, and the light and colours are HD-sharp. Finally, Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) is at its best in the first month or two of the year. The cool mornings and nights make the city much more pleasant and manageable than at other times of year. In January, you can walk the city’s alleyways, explore its markets, or sit on the sidewalks enjoying Saigon’s famous street food, without feeling uncomfortably hot and sweaty.

Enjoying the Central Highlands in the Southern Dry Season, Vietnam
The Central Highlands (especially by motorbike) are at their best in the early months of the year

Camping in the Southern Dry Season, Vietnam
The southern dry season offers ideal conditions for camping and motocamping

Although I generally avoid northern destinations and motorbike routes in the winter because of low temperatures and bleak conditions, it should be said that many, many people do travel the north in January and February and absolutely love it. Also, despite the often damp and grey weather in central regions at this time of year, such is the charm of cities like Hue and Hoi An that they can still be thoroughly enchanting, even in the constant drizzle. The same is true of Hanoi. In fact, the cooler temperatures make exploring these cities on foot much more appealing than in the sweltering, sweat-soaked summer months. I am not saying the weather is always bad in central and northern regions at this time of year, or that you shouldn’t visit these areas from January to March. But, for me, given the choice, I will stick to the south and make the most of the dry season.

Angry skies over the northern highlands, Vietnam
Northern destinations can be bleak and surprisingly cold during the first couple of months of the year

Dusk in the Central Highlands, Vietnam
In general, stick to southern destinations for the first quarter of the year

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April, May, June

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  • Weather conditions: northern & central spring, southern ‘hot’ season
  • Where to go: northern mountains, north-central countryside, central cities
  • Where to avoid: Ho Chi Minh City & the Mekong Delta

As the southern dry season reaches its crescendo, temperatures in the south begin to soar: humidity rises, the air thickens and conditions become stifling. Meanwhile, in the northern mountains and valleys and all along the central coast, spring is taking hold: the sun regains its warmth as the cold winds of the northeast monsoon fade; the grey mists lift from the highland peaks and the lowland Red River Delta; the damp countryside dries out, flowers bloom and crops begin to grow. A fresh, new light illuminates the grand northern landscapes and the sweeping central beaches. From April to June, the southern provinces are baking hot, but northern and central regions are relatively mild.

Majestic northern landscapes in spring weather, Vietnam
Sin Ho Loop: the spring is beautiful in the northern mountains

The northwest mountains, Vietnam
Northwest Loop: Vietnam’s most remote region looks fabulous in the spring months

In the far north of Vietnam, the hauntingly beautiful landscape of Ha Giang is slowly emerging from a cold, barren winter. The rocky landscape of limestone pinnacles, rising and falling like petrified waves on a ruffled sea, is never in sharper focus than late spring (April-May) or late summer (September-October). There’s no better time to ride the legendary Extreme North Motorbike Loop (although the high passes can still be surprisingly frigid). To the west of Ha Giang, the former French colonial hill station of Sapa, perched on a steep slope high in the mighty Hoang Lien Son Range, basks in crisp, clear spring light. Although, at 1,500 metres above sea-level, temperatures may still be a little chilly, this is the best time of year to visit Sapa town, drink in the mountain views, and even climb Mt. Fansipan, the highest peak in the nation, known as The Roof of Indochina. But to get a real feel of how grand the scenery is in this magnificent region, get on a motorbike and ride one of the jaw-dropping northwest routes. The landscape on these routes is on a scale not seen anywhere else in Vietnam, so it pays to see it in clear weather: visiting between April-May increases the chances of this.

Ha Giang in spring, Vietnam
The famous landscapes of Ha Giang Province are usually best in the spring

Fansipan, highest mountain in Vietnam
Mt. Fansipan: climb Vietnam’s highest mountain in the spring for the best chance of clear conditions

Hanoi is also nice in the spring and so too are nearby Halong Bay and Cat Ba Island, famous for their jungle-clad limestone karsts rising from the calm seas of the Gulf of Tonkin, not to mention the ever-popular limestone valleys of Ninh Binh. But, even more impressive at this time of year, in my opinion, are the verdant landscapes of Pu Luong Nature Reserve, Mai Chau Valley and Moc Chau Plateau, all of which are due southwest of Hanoi. In the warm, clear conditions of April and May, this wonderland is best experienced by homestay-hopping or by riding a motorbike on the Limestone Loop. Rice terraces decorate the valleys, bamboo forests whisper on the hillsides, and rivers, lakes and waterfalls are clean and clear, not yet muddied by the runoff that will come with the summer rains. This is Vietnam at its prettiest.

Inland Cat Ba Island, Vietnam
The dense jungles and limestone karsts of Ha Long Bay and Cat Ba Island look great in the spring

Pu Luong Nature Reserve, northern Vietnam
It doesn’t get much prettier than Pu Luong Nature Reserve in the spring

Moving south toward the central regions, April to June is one of the best times to visit the extraordinary cave systems and landscapes of Phong Nha. Rivalling Ha Giang as the most dramatic and spectacular scenery in the nation, Phong Nha offers lots of great accommodation in which to base yourself while exploring the numerous natural attractions. This time of year is usually a sweet spot between the cold, grey conditions of winter and the heavy rains and high temperatures of summer. Phong Nha has an abundance of great road trips – long and short – that can be ridden by motorbike or bicycle. Finally, the famous trio of central coastal cities – Hue, Danang and Hoi An – are all at their best around April: warm and sunny, but not too hot, humid or wet. Connecting these three cities is the Hai Van Pass, probably the most famous road in Vietnam.

Because of the massive heat and humidity between April and June, it’s generally best to avoid spending much time in Saigon, the Mekong Delta, and the southern beaches and islands at this time of year. Conditions are dry, bright and sunny, but the heat makes travelling quite exhausting, especially if you’re coming from a temperate climate.

Danang city, central Vietnam
View of Danang from Son Tra Peninsula: the central cities and the routes linking them are perfect in the spring

Bong Lai Valley, Phong Nha, Vietnam
Phong Nha: a wonderland of nature – probably most beautiful in the spring months

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July, August, September

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  • Weather conditions: northern & central summer, southern rainy season & southwest monsoon
  • Where to go: central & south-central beaches, south-to-north routes, parts of the northern highlands
  • Where to avoid: Central Highlands, southern islands, Ho Chi Minh City

The summer months bring hot, rainy, steamy and oppressive weather to the whole country. But, because conditions are similar nationwide between July and September, this is one of the best times of year to travel the entire country. For travellers wanting to experience all regions of Vietnam in one trip (on a south-to-north road trip, for example), this is probably the best window of opportunity. In the southern provinces, the southwest monsoon has arrived: it’s rainy season for all regions south of Nha Trang. Meanwhile, the northern cities, plains and deltas are unbearably hot and sticky, with frequent heavy rains, making the mountains an attractive retreat. Central regions are subject to similar conditions as the north, but the long coastline and easily accessible mountains make it much more bearable in this part of the country. However, despite the intensity of the heat and rain across much of the nation at this time of year, the sheer scale of these weather conditions is an attraction in itself. Cathedralic monsoon thunderclouds bearing over landscapes; violent rains bringing busy cities to a standstill; beaches where the sand is too hot to step on; sheltering from a storm under a banyan tree as rain sweeps over the jungle canopy – these are all exciting and exotic aspects of visiting a tropical country. The monsoon is an experience.

The southwest monsoon, Vietnam
Summer brings heavy monsoon rains nationwide

Gazing over the jungle canopy on the Western Ho Chi Minh Road, Central Vietnam
Summer is also hot and humid with plenty of sunshine nationwide: perfect for a south-to-north trip

The south-central provinces of Phu Yen and Binh Dinh – some of the most attractive and unspoiled coastal regions in the country – are at their best during the summer months. This honeycombed coastline hides numerous sandy coves, secret bays and tiny islets. At the height of summer the empty hot sands, calm blue waters and clear skies have a benign and somehow immortal beauty. At the centre of this coastal region is the up-and-coming beach city of Quy Nhon, also boasting some for the best seafood in Vietnam. And the excellent beach conditions extend even further up the central coast, including the islands of Tam Hai and Ly Son, then Tam Thanh beach south Hoi An, and the long, long, empty stretches of sand between Hue and Dong Hoi. All of these beaches are a treat in the heat.

The beaches of the south-central coast, Vietnam
The glorious beaches of Phu Yen and Quy Nhon at the height of summer

Dao Be Island, off the coast of Ly Son Island, Central Vietnam
Tiny Dao Be Island off the volcanic shores of Ly Son: the central coast shines is the summer months

Inland, it’s a great time of year to explore the long spine of mountains forming Vietnam’s central border with Laos. Offering relief from the heat of the coast, the beautiful Trừong Sơn Mountains are remarkably easy to access: in many cases just a couple of hours west of the central coastal cities. There’s no better way to experience these spectacular landscapes than on a motorbike road trip. Several stunning roads traverse the mountains of Central Vietnam: the Western Ho Chi Minh Road – a staggering ride through some of the most pristine, remote countryside in Vietnam – can be completed in just a day or two. 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. Alternatively, any of the four routes linking Hoi An, Danang and Hue are perfect day trips in the saddle, each one offering different scenery. Or select an even longer route through the highlands, such as the little-known Truong Son Dong Road or any of the Saigon to Hanoi routes, giving travellers a chance to witness how the country changes from one region to the next. Whether bathed in sunshine or shrouded in mist, these road trips are all thrilling experiences in the summer months.

The Western Ho Chi Minh Road, Central Vietnam
Truly epic: ride the Western Ho Chi Minh Road in the summer – you won’t be disappointed

Scenery on the Western Ho Chi Minh Road, Central Vietnam
Scenery on the Ho Chi Minh Road: summer is a good time of year for a south-to-north road trip

The three main central cities of 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, and exploring the green and rugged Son Tra Peninsula could keep a traveller occupied for weeks. The multitude of cultural sites in these central cities also provide a welcome distraction from the intensity of the heat and rain. In the north, late summer (September) is harvest season. In certain areas, such as Mu Cang Chai, thousands of rice terraces have been carved into the steep valleys and mountainsides. When the rice is ready to harvest, it turns a luminous gold-brown, creating one of the most visually arresting natural sites in Vietnam. As well as Mu Cang Chai, the rice terraces can be seen on any of the northern motorbike routes.

Travel in the southern provinces between July and September is fine, but the region is not at its best. Ho Chi Minh City can be very wet and horribly humid; the southern islands in the Gulf of Thailand, such as Phu Quoc, can be stormy; the Mekong Delta gets a lot of heavy rain and suffers flooding; and the parts of the Central Highlands, like Dalat, can experience long periods of persistent light rain and grey skies.

Decorative tombs in Hue, Central Vietnam
Hue and the other central cities have numerous cultural attractions to distract from the heat of the summer months

The rice terraces of Mu Cang Chai, northern Vietnam
By September, harvest colours decorate the rice terraces of Mu Cang Chai and other northern regions

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October, November, December

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  • Weather conditions: northern autumn, central rainy season, southern transition, typhoon season
  • Where to go: Hanoi, the northeast mountains, Mekong Delta, southern islands
  • Where to avoid: central, north-central & south-central coast

The last three months of the year are best spent in the northern and southern extremes of Vietnam. In the north, it’s autumn, with mild temperatures and relatively dry conditions. In the south, it’s the tail end of the rainy season: downpours become less frequent and lose their intensity as the southwest monsoon fades and the region transitions to drier weather. Along the central coast and adjacent highlands, however, conditions turn grey, drizzly and bleak: anywhere from Nha Trang all the way north to Halong Bay can be subject to days of miserable skies reluctant to lift. In addition, September and October is Vietnam’s typhoon season, when powerful storms blow in from the east, affecting much of the nation’s coastline, but usually impacting central provinces the most. This can cause severe flooding in the cities and countryside alike.

Scenery in the northeast of Vietnam
Mild, clear conditions in the northeast during autumn months

Typhoon season in Vietnam
Typhoon season, from September to October, brings storms to Vietnam’s long coastline

Up in the northeast of Vietnam, the weather is balmy and beautiful. This little pocket of the country (Cao Bang, Lang Son and Bac Kan provinces) is generally under-appreciated by 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. Ban Gioc Waterfall, one of Vietnam’s most impressive natural sights, is at its most majestic in October. With its network of quiet back-roads, it’s easy to get off the beaten path in the northeast, especially by motorbike.

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 – it’s the only way to appreciate the multiple layers of this thousand year-old capital city – but the summer is too hot to be on foot, and the winter too cold and wet: autumn is ideal. Visit in October, and you’re sure to fall under Hanoi’s spell.

Ban Gioc Waterfall, northeast Vietnam
Ban Gioc Waterfall: this northeastern destination is one of Vietnam’s most impressive natural attractions

Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi, Vietnam
Hoan Kiem Lake: Hanoi is at its most enchanting in October

The last quarter of the year is a good time to explore the waterways and cities of the Mekong Delta, in Vietnam’s deep south. By the end of the rainy season, the Delta’s canals, rivers, channels, wetlands and marshes are brimful. The rice fields are flooded and the fruit orchards are bursting with colour. The cities and towns are alive – as they always are in the Delta – with commerce, food and festivals. The Mekong Delta is rich in culture, religion, history, architecture and cuisine – it’s a place to take your time and soak it up, either on foot or by motorbike. What’s more, the Delta is also the gateway to the southern islands, such as Phu Quoc, Hon Son and Nam Du, via frequent passenger and car ferries. October is shoulder season on these islands: an excellent time to visit before the tourists arrive and the prices go up.

Mekong River, Vietnam
The big skies and many waterways of the Mekong Delta are fascinating at the tail end of the rainy season

Bai Cay Men, Nam Du Islands, Vietnam
Cay Men Beach: Vietnam’s islands in the Gulf of Thailand are relatively empty in October: shoulder season

October to December can be very bleak along the central coast. The long sandy beaches of this region are marvellous in the sunshine, but miserable in the constant fine rain and grey skies toward to the end of the year. Inland, too, weather conditions in central regions aren’t favourable. The spectacular landscapes of Phong Nha, for example, are often flooded, the central cities of Hue, Danang and Hoi An can experience days of drizzling rain, concrete skies and fairly cool temperatures. Furthermore, typhoons blow in from the East Sea towards central provinces, usually after having battered the Philippines, or sweep down from the northeast into the Gulf of Tonkin, wreaking havoc in Halong Bay and Hanoi. The south is usually spared the full brunt of these typhoons (of which there around 10 every year), but every now and then one of them positions itself right above Ho Chi Minh City, like the space craft from the movie Independence Day (1996). The bottom line is, if you’re travelling during typhoon season, make sure to keep up to date with storm warnings. Windy.com is a good way to do this: view the radar map of Vietnam and click the filter for ‘Rain, thunder’.

Typhoon rains flood the city streets in Vietnam
Flooded streets are a common sight across the nation during typhoon season: September and October

Sunset after a tropical downpour at the tail end of rainy season in southern Vietnam
A painterly sky at dusk after a tropical downpour. Check Vietnam’s weather conditions on Windy.com

*Disclosure: I never receive payment for anything I write: my content is always free and independent. I’ve written this article because I want to: I like weather and I want my readers to know about it. For more details, see my Disclosure & Disclaimer statements and my About Page

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Questions, updates and trip reports are all welcome. However, please keep comments polite and on-topic. See commenting etiquette for details.

105 Comments
  1. Mikael says:
    August 18, 2019 at 7:18 PM

    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

    1. Tom says:
      August 21, 2019 at 5:02 AM

      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

      1. Mikael says:
        August 21, 2019 at 3:53 PM

        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

        1. Tom says:
          August 22, 2019 at 5:53 AM

          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

          1. Mikael says:
            August 22, 2019 at 7:21 PM

            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

            1. Tom says:
              August 23, 2019 at 3:43 PM

              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

              1. Mikael says:
                August 23, 2019 at 5:16 PM

                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:
    July 4, 2019 at 3:28 AM

    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!

    1. Tom says:
      July 4, 2019 at 7:39 AM

      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

      1. Michael says:
        July 7, 2019 at 4:51 PM

        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

        1. Tom says:
          July 8, 2019 at 8:14 AM

          Hi Michael,

          It can happen, if for example there’s a typhoon coming in from the east, then the rains can last 2-4 days.

          Tom

  3. Robert Glasbrenner says:
    June 30, 2019 at 2:40 PM

    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

    1. Tom says:
      July 1, 2019 at 2:07 PM

      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

      1. Robert Glasbrenner says:
        July 1, 2019 at 11:27 PM

        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:
    January 20, 2019 at 8:39 PM

    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

    1. Tom says:
      January 21, 2019 at 2:36 AM

      Hi James,

      May is one of the best months to ride the length of the country – it should be hot and sunny in most regions, but with tropical downpours every now and then.

      Tom

  5. kayi says:
    February 1, 2018 at 7:15 PM

    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?

    1. Tom says:
      February 2, 2018 at 12:52 PM

      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:
    February 1, 2018 at 4:42 PM

    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!

    1. Tom says:
      February 2, 2018 at 1:47 AM

      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

      1. Thibaut says:
        April 3, 2018 at 9:59 PM

        Hi Tom,

        Sorry I did not understand.. September/october or october/november for the north ? Because you wrote october/november/december in the article and now you said september/october ?

        1. Tom says:
          April 4, 2018 at 1:35 AM

          Hi Thibaut,

          Personally, I like September and October in the north.

          Tom

  7. evan says:
    January 12, 2018 at 3:04 PM

    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

    1. Tom says:
      January 14, 2018 at 7:31 AM

      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:
    December 6, 2017 at 11:36 AM

    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.

    1. Tom says:
      December 6, 2017 at 11:48 AM

      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

      1. Tony says:
        December 6, 2017 at 1:40 PM

        Amazing, I’ve met many travelers along the way in Vietnam that reference to you. We are all very greatful for your efforts. Thanks for the advice. I’ll be off tomorrow morning then. 🙂

        Cheers

        1. Tom says:
          December 6, 2017 at 2:10 PM

          Thanks, Tony.

          It’s great to hear that other travellers are using my site too.

          Have a good trip,

          Tom

  9. Craig says:
    November 26, 2017 at 3:15 PM

    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

    1. Tom says:
      November 27, 2017 at 12:55 AM

      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:
    November 8, 2017 at 11:07 AM

    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

    1. Tom says:
      November 8, 2017 at 3:30 PM

      Hi Noam,

      Well, the weather is pretty similar all over Vietnam in Augest. But I would start in the south and head north, because September and October are best in the northern provinces.

      For ideas about routes, start by taking a look at my 5 Suggested Routes from Saigon to Hanoi.

      I hope this helps to get you started,

      Tom

  11. Daniel says:
    November 1, 2017 at 1:17 PM

    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.

    1. Tom says:
      November 2, 2017 at 12:02 AM

      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

      1. Daniel says:
        November 2, 2017 at 2:51 PM

        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?

        1. Tom says:
          November 3, 2017 at 12:36 AM

          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:
    October 26, 2017 at 7:32 PM

    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

    1. Tom says:
      October 27, 2017 at 12:08 AM

      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:
    October 9, 2017 at 10:14 AM

    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.

    1. Tom says:
      October 10, 2017 at 12:28 AM

      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:
    August 29, 2017 at 4:29 PM

    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

    1. Tom says:
      August 30, 2017 at 2:16 PM

      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:
    June 28, 2017 at 11:50 AM

    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

    1. Tom says:
      June 29, 2017 at 1:26 AM

      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:
    April 27, 2017 at 10:19 PM

    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.

    1. Tom says:
      April 28, 2017 at 4:08 AM

      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:
    April 11, 2017 at 1:45 PM

    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

    1. Tom says:
      April 11, 2017 at 3:07 PM

      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:
    March 20, 2017 at 7:45 PM

    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

    1. Tom says:
      March 21, 2017 at 12:38 AM

      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

      1. Alex says:
        March 21, 2017 at 7:21 AM

        That was so helpful. Much obliged!

  19. Mitch says:
    February 1, 2017 at 7:06 PM

    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?

    1. Tom says:
      February 2, 2017 at 12:02 AM

      Hi Mitch,

      I would start in the north and travel south at that time of year. But either way the weather should be pretty good in general during those months.

      Enjoy,

      Tom

  20. noam giladi says:
    January 12, 2017 at 3:53 PM

    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.

    1. Tom says:
      January 13, 2017 at 2:05 AM

      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

  21. noam giladi says:
    November 22, 2016 at 6:31 PM

    hi tom
    i read about all the places you have written and they all look cool, cant real know what i prefer.
    i will travil in vietnam for a month.

    i realy love nautre, not planing on staying at a city more then need.
    i am planing on ridding a moter bike.
    could you plise recomend about a route, and what month is the best to do it.

    thanks noam

    1. Tom says:
      November 24, 2016 at 3:50 AM

      Hi Noam,

      There are so many good road trips to choose from. If you want to stay away from the cities, perhaps you should take a look at the Ho Chi Minh Road, particularly the central sections (sections 3-6), and also browse through all my northern guides.

      You’ll find more details about what time of year is best to ride these routes in the introductions to the guides.

      I hope this helps,

      Tom

  22. Véronique klx says:
    November 20, 2016 at 4:09 PM

    Bonjour Tom

    Bravo pour ce blog si complet et instructif!

    Nous envisageons un séjour au Nord du Vietnam Aux environs du 20 Octobre 2017, pdt 10 jours (sur place).
    Nous hésitons (en plus des baies d’Halong terrestres et maritimes et Hanoi) à aller sur Ha-Giang et Cao-Bang ou bien dans le réserve de Pu Luong?
    Nous désirons marcher au milieu des rizières, voir des gens dans les champs, des buffles aussi, des roues d’irrigation, un peu de jungle aussi.
    Dites moi ce qui vous parait le mieux à cette période de l’année s’il vous plait?

    Pour la baie d’Halong maritime: on voudrait qq chose d’assez confortable et le plus “vrai” possible: Lan Ha ? Tu Long ou Ha Long old school??
    Qu’en pensez-vous?

    Pour finir, on voudrait bien aller faire du snorkeling pdt 4 ou 5 jours (donc entre le 31 octobre et le 5 novembre): Con Dao ou Phu Quoc ? Est ce que la visibilité sera correcte (mer calme, pas ou peu de vague)?

    Sur toutes ces questions, je n’arrive pas à avoir de vrais et honnêtes renseignements (chacun défend sa région ou ses “intérêts”) qd j’interroge les agences locales voilà pourquoi je vous interpelle ! 😉

    Merci d’avance
    A très bientôt
    Véronique

    1. Véronique klx says:
      November 20, 2016 at 5:36 PM

      Excuse me I’ve written in French !! So stupid !

      Hello Tom

      Congratulations for this blog so complete and informative!

      We are planning a stay in the North of Vietnam around October 20, 2017, for 10 days (on site).
      We hesitate (in addition to the land and sea bays Halong and Hanoi) to go on Ha-Giang and Cao-Bang or the Pu Luong reserve?
      We want to walk in the middle of the rice fields, see people in the fields, buffaloes too, irrigation wheels, a bit of jungle too.
      Tell me what you think is best at this time of year please to see beautifull landscapes?

      For the bay of Halong Maritime: we would like some junk quite comfortable, not to big and the most “real” possible: Lan Ha? Tu Long or Ha Long “old school” ??
      What do you think?

      Finally, we would like to go snorkeling for 4 or 5 days (ie between October 31 and November 5): Con Dao or Phu Quoc? Will the visibility be correct (calm sea, not or little wave)?

      On all these questions, I can not get true and honest information (each defends his region or his “interests”) when I ask the local agencies that is why I am calling to you!
      😉

      Thank you in advance
      See you soon
      Veronique

      1. Tom says:
        November 21, 2016 at 9:56 AM

        Hi Veronique,

        The northern landscapes around Ha Giang, Cao Bang and Pu Luong are at their best in the spring and autumn months: March, April, May and September, October are best. However, by October the harvest may be over, which means that there will be less colour in the landscapes, so try to visit in September or early October if possible. Those parts of Vietnam are among the most beautiful in the country so I’m sure you’ll enjoy it whenever you go there.

        Ha Long Bay is very impressive but it is very touristy and busy these days. Lan Ha and Bai Tu Long Bay are quieter than Ha Long Bay and therefore much nicer. Another option is to stay on Cat Ba Island and take boat trips from there to Lan Ha Bay instead.

        If you take an overnight boat trip in Ha Long Bay, it’s worth paying a bit more money for a better (and safer) boat – some of the really cheap tours are very bad value.

        Con Dao has the best snorkeling and diving in Vietnam, but I’m not sure what the visibility is like in October. Try contacting Larry from Dive, Dive, Dive on Con Dao for more information. It’s the rainy season on Phu Quoc in October so the visibility may not be good.

        I hope this helps,

        Tom

  23. Owen says:
    November 14, 2016 at 3:27 PM

    Hi Tom. Thanks for all the great info, and also for your time and patience in answering everyone’s questions. I’m hoping you can handle one more!

    I land in Vietnam on 15 Dec. I have to be back in KL to fly home on 3 Jan. During this time I want to be in Dalat for about 4-5 days (checking some things out)… and the rest of the time I want to do some bicycle touring (bringing my bike).

    My original plan was to do Dalat first, then fly to Vinh and head over to Laos to cycle on the quieter roads. But recently I saw pictures of Ha Giang, and I can’t get it out of my head. The question is though…Is it worth going at that time of year? I know I will miss the buckwheat flowers but that’s ok… my main concerns are (1)Will the weather be miserable, or is there some chance of clear views? I don’t mind the cold (2)Will there be anyone else around (locals or tourists)? I am ok with my own company but I don’t want to be visiting complete ghost towns.

    what do you think? Give it a go or leave it for another trip?

    1. Tom says:
      November 14, 2016 at 5:23 PM

      Hi Owen,

      Well, considering that the weather in northern and central Laos at that time of year will be comparable to that in Ha Giang, I think you should go for Ha Giang. It will be cold, and it may be grey and misty at times, but you should also get some clear days too.

      There will be other people around – locals and travellers. Recent reports suggest that weekends can get relatively busy with visitors from Hanoi, but at that time of year I wouldn’t expect it to be particularly busy.

      The weather in and around Dalat in December should be lovely – it’s the beginning of the dry season, but there may be a little bit of rain around still.

      I hope this helps,

      Tom

  24. How & Linda says:
    November 5, 2016 at 12:16 AM

    Hi Tom;
    Once again – so nice of you to post such valuable information – what a great resource!

    We are a fit 50’s couple from west coast of Canada travelling 1st time to Vietnam from 27Feb to 18March. Looks like we will start in south because of weather, with 5 days Saigon/Mekong, then fly DaNang for 6days (Hue & HoiAn also – maybe beaches warm by then…), then on to Hanoi 5 days with HaLong… sort of your less exotic “first look at Vietnam” trip!
    Question: Are their private tour/homestays in the Mekong Delta? or do we have to submit ourselves to the group/cattle-car experience? How about homestays in the DaNang/HoiAn area?

    Thanks for any info!

    1. Tom says:
      November 5, 2016 at 6:15 AM

      Hi How & Linda,

      Yes, that itinerary should work fine weather-wise.

      The homestays on the islands near Vinh Long and My Tho are pretty popular with tour groups. But I would think you can do it independently: just take a local bus to Vinh Long, get the ferry over to the island, and then walk around and choose a homestay.

      Hoi An probably has some homestays but I don’t know any specific ones.

      I hope this helps,

      Tom

  25. Rene says:
    October 5, 2016 at 12:36 AM

    Hi Tom,

    What a great blog you’ve got, thanks for all the information. That’s just great.
    I’m planning to go to Vietnam at the end of November and staying at least 2 months while travelling through the country. I actually wanted to start in Hanoi and drive down south, but I’ve just seen, that flights are 2-3x the price to Hanoi than to Ho-Chi-Minh-City. Do you think it would be worth spending that extra money to start in the north or would it be still ok to go the other direction and save money on the flight?

    Cheers
    Rene

    1. Tom says:
      October 5, 2016 at 1:00 AM

      Hi Rene,

      Well, the advantage of starting in the north at that time of year is that the weather may be a little bit better than if you leave it to the end of your two month trip, but which time it will be mid-winter in the north, and rather cold. So it depends how you feel about weather conditions really 🙂

      In general, bear in mind that for the months you will be in Vietnam, the weather conditions will be best everywhere south of Nha Trang.

      I hope this helps,

      Tom

  26. Mark says:
    September 23, 2016 at 10:13 AM

    Thanks Tom for providing such a valuable resource. I plan to ride ‘The Big One’ starting in November. Apparently this is the rainy season in the central part of the country. Any advice here? Is it dangerous? Are there areas I should avoid? Will it be miserable riding? Thank you for any additional insight.

    1. Tom says:
      September 23, 2016 at 11:10 AM

      Hi Mark,

      Yes, it’s likely that the weather north of the Hai Van Pass (Danang and Hue) will be quite wet. But there’s nothing you can do about that – the more time you have the better, so that you can just wait it out if/when it rains. Also, keep an eye of the weather forecast for typhoons – best to stay off the roads during those!

      I hope the weather stays good for you.

      Tom

      1. Gene says:
        June 3, 2019 at 5:30 PM

        Hi Tom. great info and great site!
        i plan to ride from danang to HCMC in late december & early january.
        is there usually a lot of rain along the coast that time of year?
        thanks in advance!

        1. Tom says:
          June 4, 2019 at 2:11 PM

          Hi Gene,

          It might be bad in patches, particularly between Danang and Nha Trang. But you never know for sure. That time of year should be the dry season south of Nha Trang, but weather patterns are increasingly unpredictable.

          Tom

  27. Alexandra says:
    August 6, 2016 at 7:47 PM

    Dear Tom, your information about Vietnam is very detailed and useful. Thank you so much for your website!

    1. Tom says:
      August 8, 2016 at 3:05 AM

      Hi Alexandra,

      Thank you! It’s great to hear you like my site and find it useful 🙂

      Tom

  28. Iker says:
    July 1, 2016 at 3:26 PM

    Hello Tom,

    First of all, it is really a nice/useful website, thanks!
    We will be in Vietnam for 2 weeks during Christmas time.
    We have a plan for the major destinations but some parts are missing.
    We are planning to start our trip from Saigon and stay a few days (26-27) in there and stay Hoi An (28-29) and Da Nand/Hue (30) and Hanoi (31) and Halong Bay (1-2) and Phu Quon (3-6) and return back from Saigon(Sorry for explaining detailed just want to imagine easier :)) . Do you think that this plan gets us tired or difficult? We are not sure where to visit between Saigon and Hanoi. Do you have any recommendation? We haven’t booked any hotels yet. Therefore open also any advises for the others!

    Thanks in advance and cheers!

    1. Tom says:
      July 4, 2016 at 1:18 AM

      Hi Iker,

      Yes, that itinerary sounds fine to me. But as you don’t have that much time in each place I would advise you to book everything in advance, including domestic flights.

      One thing to remember is that the weather in central and northern Vietnam during Christmas can be quite cold and grey, but in the south (especially Saigon and Phu Quoc) the weather is perfect in December.

      If you like what I do and you want to support Vietnam Coracle, you can book your hotels (in Vietnam or anywhere in the world) through Agoda on my site. Either start your hotel search from this link or the searchbox in the right sidebar of any of my pages. If you end up making a booking then I receive a small commission at not extra cost to you. Any money I make goes straight back into my website.

      I hope this helps,

      Tom

      1. Iker says:
        July 8, 2016 at 9:23 AM

        Hi Tom,

        Thanks a lot for the information.
        Sure, i will try to book via agora 😉
        Do you have any suggestion for new year eve?

        Cheers,

        1. Tom says:
          July 8, 2016 at 3:18 PM

          Hi Iker,

          So you’ll be in Hanoi on New Years’ Eve, right?

          Well, it’ll be great around St Joseph’s Cathedral and Hoan Kiem Lake on that night. Lots of people in the streets and fireworks too probably.

          I like staying at the Hanoi Impressive Hotel or Silk Path Hotel for great mid-range value in the Church area which is good. Or if you want to treat yourself, try a lake view room at the Apricot Hotel 🙂

          Tom

  29. Rick says:
    June 20, 2016 at 12:03 PM

    Hi Tom,

    Great guide!

    I am planning a 30 day trip this from the end of september till the end of October. I’ve already read that this is a great period to travel the entire country, which is great! I would like your advice in my route: travelling from north to south or the other way around? My guess is from south to north since the north is better towards the end of October?

    Thanks in advance and thank you for your great website!

    Rick

    1. Tom says:
      June 20, 2016 at 1:01 PM

      Hi Rick,

      Well, I’m not sure if I’d pick one direction over the other at that time of year. Hanoi is certainly great in October, but this can paradoxically also be when typhoons hit the north and central provinces. It’s just down to luck really – if a storm hits while you’re there, you’ll just have to wait it out a couple days.

      If you haven’t already, then take a look at my 5 Suggested Route from Saigon to Hanoi.

      I hope this helps,

      Tom

      1. Rick says:
        June 20, 2016 at 4:40 PM

        Hi Tom

        Thanks for your swift response!

        Well when it all comes back to luck I think I’ll just guess on the route from south to north, so I get in the north in the later part of the journey. (or postpone my travel to october/november, so the weather is better in the south as well). Thank you for your routes as well, I think I’m going for the classic one, but I’ll take a closer look at the other ones and might pick some interesting spots out!

        Thanks again! have a good day

        Rick

  30. Karin says:
    June 5, 2016 at 6:52 PM

    Hi Tom,
    Wonder about going to Saigon Oct 28 to Nov 6. Not many days but I think we could fit in Saigon to start and end with due to flight schedule and then some beach in between, 5 days. What would you recomend for beach location: Phan Thiet/Mui Ne or Phu Quoc? /Karin

    1. Tom says:
      June 6, 2016 at 4:15 AM

      Hi Karin,

      Both Phu Quoc and Mui Ne a good beach destinations within easy reach of Saigon – the former by plane, the latter by bus or train. Weather in Mui Ne at that time of year should be decent, but there’ll still be some rain around, and the same goes for Phu Quoc – October/November is the end of the low season on Phu Quoc, so on the one hand you might get some bad weather, but on the other hand you might get some good discounts on hotels.

      I like both destinations, so it’s difficult to choose between the two 🙂

      Tom

  31. Jan says:
    May 27, 2016 at 12:05 PM

    Hi Tom,
    at first I want to thank you for all the helpful informations you give on your Website about this fascinating country. Actually I planned to explore the whole Country within 4 weeks by bus and train. But I think I better concentrate on the south because the weather seems more often sunny&dry at that time (although…I would really love to see the Halong Bay up north). I have a 4 week Slot somewhere between October and mid December this year. Being flexible about the date, would it be recommendable to better start travelling by mid November? Anyhow there is still lots of time for preparation (also necessary vaccinations etc.) for this trip.
    Best Regards,
    Jan

    1. Tom says:
      May 27, 2016 at 1:44 PM

      Hi Jan,

      I suggest going as close to October as you can because the weather is still good in the north at that time of year, so you could still see the whole country. But, if you can’t come until November, then the later the better, because the dry season in the south starts around late November/early December, at that’s when the south gets really nice.

      Tom

      1. Jan says:
        May 29, 2016 at 8:02 AM

        Hi Tom,
        Thanks a lot for your help.
        It is much apreciated!
        All The Best,
        Jan

  32. Rose says:
    May 27, 2016 at 10:27 AM

    Hi Tom,

    I’ve just begun my research into planning my brief trip into Vietnam for mid-September of this year, and luckily landed on your blog!
    My boyfriend and I have only half a week once we land in hcmc, and are definitely looking to make the most out of it. Phu Quoc was originally on the radar, but I’m getting mixed signals weather-wise after reading around a bit. What is your advice?
    Alternatively, if mid-September doesn’t prove to be a feasible time for Phu Quoc, I’d appreciate suggestions on other areas of the country with close access to some sunny sessions by the water!

    Best,
    Rose

    1. Tom says:
      May 27, 2016 at 10:54 AM

      Hi Rose,

      Well, September’s not too bad on Phu Quoc; it’s around the transition from the rainy to the dry season. For more ideas about beach destinations that might be good alternatives to Phu Quoc have a look at my guide to the Best Beaches in Southern Vietnam, and my Beaches Archive.

      I hope this helps,

      Tom

  33. Jessie says:
    March 9, 2016 at 2:28 AM

    Did maiden trip to Viet last Dec, with my boys and this place left a deep impression in me. Me and hub are looking to be back this April! Excited to discover new places, new fav. Viet a gem not known much, am so Glad to chance upon your blog, more than a personal travel blog with so much insights. Keep writing! I am so looking forward .

    Cheers! From Singapore

    1. Tom says:
      March 9, 2016 at 2:38 AM

      Hi Jessie,

      Great to hear you enjoyed your first trip to Vietnam and that you’ll be back for more soon! I’m happy that my blog has been of help. I hope you enjoy the next trip as much as you did the first one 🙂

      Tom

    2. Alexia says:
      October 3, 2016 at 8:23 PM

      Hi Jessie,
      We are planning a family trip this december-january for about two weeks. I’m curious to know what your trip was like in December with kids and where you went.
      I just read Tom’s weather advice and it looks like our idea would not be perfect… (Hanoi, Anbang, Hue, Phong Nha-Ke Bang, Tam Coc, Halong Bay)
      Thank you!
      Alexia

  34. Rich says:
    January 21, 2016 at 2:55 AM

    Hey Tom,

    Thanks for the post/site. It’s my primary resource for the trip I’m planning. So valuable!

    I’m motorbiking from Saigon to Hanoi (loosely based on your “scenic route”) for three plus weeks starting in mid March. Seems like I’ll be leaving the south as it’s getting hot and following the nice weather northward. Is there a stark, sudden shift in weather patterns or does it just gradually get hotter and hotter as March comes to a close? I dont mind hot weather, but if I can time my escape from the heat, I feel like I might as well.

    Thanks again!

    1. Tom says:
      January 21, 2016 at 3:49 AM

      Hi Rich,

      Yes, that’s right. You should be following the good weather up from south to north. Spring weather can be really great in central and northern provinces, but you still can’t guarantee it – I’ve had miserable rainy days in Hue and Thanh Hoa/Ninh Binh provinces in April before.

      No, there’s no real sudden shift in the southern dry season, it just slowly gets hotter and more humid from March through to June. The two big weather shifts usually occur at Nha Trang and the Hai Van Pass – these are both areas where mountainous promontories stick out to sea forming a kind of weather barrier, so that sometimes the conditions on one side of the promontory are very different to those on the other side. You can read a bit more about it in my Hai Van Pass Guide.

      Also, when planning the central section of your road trip take a look at this Golden Loop Guide because it deals with dropping down off the Ho Chi Minh Road to the coastal towns of Hoi An, Hue etc.

      I hope this helps. Have a great trip,

      Tom

      1. Rich says:
        January 21, 2016 at 3:55 AM

        Thanks, Tom!

  35. Brent says:
    November 19, 2015 at 4:27 AM

    Hey Tom,

    Great work on keeping the website updated with new content, I am coming to Vietnam for only 4-6 weeks in mid March – April anyway I didn’t want to do the ride from Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi as I really want to spend a good 2-3 months doing that crossing over into Laos at a later date.

    I was thinking of doing a northern ride as you say the weather is good in that area I am looking at starting at Hanoi and finishing at Hanoi I would allocate 2-3 weeks for this do you think that’s a good amount of time? or too long ? or maybe add another week? I am someone who likes to go slower and see more than go faster and see less would love your thoughts?

    One other thing would you recommend buying or hiring a bike only thing that concerns me with hiring a bike is if it gets stolen or damaged I’m alot more out of pocket as I have to pay the full amount but if I buy a Honda Win for say $200 and that got stolen or damaged then I would only lose that money if you get what I mean.

    1. Tom says:
      November 22, 2015 at 2:20 PM

      Hi Brent,

      Thanks.

      Sure, I think 3 weeks is plenty of time to ride a good northern loop in March/April – although, as always, the more time you have the better, especially as you say you are the kind of traveller who likes to go slower and see less. Weather should be pretty good and spring-like at that time of year, but the north is mountainous and that means weather is always unpredictable: the more time you have for your trip then the more chance you’ll have to see it in good weather: if it rains you can afford to sit the day out somewhere and start again the next day. There’s so much good stuff to see in the north that you can never really have enough time 🙂 If you haven’t already, then check out all my northern rides and guides.

      Buying or hiring is the famous question! Again, time is a consideration: it takes time to find a bike suitable to buy and get it fixed up how you want it; it takes time to find a buyer at the end of your trip; and, because they are more likely to need technical tune-ups while on the road, it takes time to stop and get it fixed. On the other hand, yes your’re right, if something happens then you only loose the money you spent on it. However, if you contact reputable bike hire companies in a advance and be specific about what you want then it should all be pretty smooth: try contacting Flamingo Travel and Rent a Bike Vietnam – you can mention Vietnam Coracle if you like, them know me.

      Happy trip planning!

      Tom

  36. Donna says:
    November 9, 2015 at 11:48 PM

    Hi Tom,
    My husband, My 17 year old grandson and I are traveling to Cambodia and Vietnam in November / December. We begin our Vietnam leg in the south at Saigon/ Mekong Delta. Then we are traveling north/east to the coast. To Nah Trang, Da Nang, Hoi An, Hue and then inland to Phong Nha to stay with a family in the Jungle and explore the caves weather permitting. From there we fly to Hanoi and cruise Halong Bay. (Too cold for Sapa I think?????) then back to Hanoi. Flying to Phu Quoc for 3 days R&R before returning to Australia for Christmas. We know at that time of the year the coast will probably be wet but that’s just part of the adventure. Can you give me any little hints on things to do or not do to make out trip as memorable a journey as possible. We like to get off the beaten track and not do the most touristy things. Any suggestions?

    1. Tom says:
      November 11, 2015 at 1:41 AM

      Hi Donna,

      Yes, the weather at that time of year is great anywhere south of Nha Trang; as you move north it will get cooler and perhaps wetter too.

      Well, to get off the beaten track in popular places, such as Hoi An, Nha Trang, Hue, you just need to wander away from the main tourist centres where all the hotels are. In the cities, the best off the beaten track experiences are through food: walk around local streets at meal times and stop to eat at any place that’s full of local people; regardless of how it looks just point at whatever everyone else is eating and sit down. This is a great way to get into local life. There are other ways to arrange meals with people in their houses which is great fun: read this

      In the countryside and on excursions, try to visit places very early in the morning or at lunchtime, as this is when they should be quietest. Also, avoid visiting popular sites and cities on weekends if possible, as this is when they are busiest. For some trips is best to hire a car a driver through your hotel because this gives you the freedom to leave when you want, take different roads and go at your own pace. The journey between Hoi An and Hue for example would be great with a hired vehicle because you can take some interesting backroads: read this guide.

      Finally, get up and about early – this is a beautiful time of day and a quiet one too: read this.

      I hope this helps,

      Tom

  37. Maria says:
    November 2, 2015 at 5:52 AM

    Hello Tom,

    I’m planning a trip in January (10 days more or less), but don’t have accommodations booked yet, do you think is possible to arrange for this once we get there. I will be traveling with my son (19 y/o) We want to start in the North and travel south. Can one also purchase the airfare for national travel there or would you recommend having that all arranged prior to arriving since I know this a busy time of year.

    Thank you.

    Maria

    1. Tom says:
      November 2, 2015 at 6:37 AM

      Hi Maria,

      You can arrange hotels and flights once you are in Vietnam. However, because you only have a short stay in Vietnam, I would recommend arranging most, if not all, your flights and hotels before you arrive, because this will save you precious time once you are on holiday 🙂

      January is a great time to be in the south of Vietnam because it is the dry season, but in the north it can get very chilly. Also, check when Tet (Lunar New Year) will be in 2016, as domestic travel can be very difficult indeed during that period.

      I hope this helps,

      Tom

  38. An says:
    October 22, 2015 at 5:23 AM

    Thank you so much for the post. It’s terribly useful, and the pictures are just breathtaking. Keep up the good work, Mr. Tom.

    1. Tom says:
      October 22, 2015 at 8:21 AM

      Thanks, An.
      I’m glad you like it and found it useful. I will try to ‘keep up the good work’ 🙂
      Tom

  39. Davo says:
    October 3, 2015 at 9:51 PM

    Hi Tom,

    Thanks for much for this website/post, lots of great information.

    I am planning on riding Vietnam from South to North next year and was wondering which time of year you think would be best to get the most out of the trip. It would take me approximately a month and would prefer to avoid as much wet weather as possible. I was thinking March or April ?

    Cheers

    1. Tom says:
      October 5, 2015 at 12:08 AM

      Hi David,

      Yes, April is a decent time for the whole country. It’s very hot and humid in Saigon, and it’s the start of the rainy season in the south, so although there maybe some wet weather, it shouldn’t be too bad. Central provinces should be good at that time of year. From Hue north will probably be a mixed bag: I’ve had awful weather in Hue in April but great weather in Ninh Binh, so you never know.

      Another good time for the whole country is September/October. So, if you have the freedom to choose a time of year, I’d recommend April, September, October.

      Have a great trip,

      Tom

  40. Ali says:
    September 12, 2015 at 8:44 AM

    This is such a great post – thank you. It’s really helpful for planning my trip in January and I’ll definitely focus on the south. Thing is, I really want to see Hoi An, Hue and Hanoi in January too – I was expecting the weather to be less good but what do you think it will be like? Still worth a visit? Thanks.

    1. Tom says:
      September 12, 2015 at 12:25 PM

      Hi Ali,

      Hoi An has good and bad days at that time of year. I’ve been there is January for rainy days and mild sunny ones too – so I think Hoi An is worth it.

      Hue can get pretty bad and sometimes cold too. Hanoi is good in any weather.

      Really, it depends how much time you have in Vietnam. But, yes, in general if it’s January and you like sun and warmth; stick to the south 🙂

      Tom

      1. Ali says:
        September 13, 2015 at 7:32 PM

        Thanks again Tom 🙂