Thailand Vietnam best time to visit?

Old Feb 4th, 2023, 08:27 AM
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Thailand Vietnam best time to visit?

Hello all. Would appreciate your thoughts on the best time of year for a 3 week (ish) trip to Thailand and Vietnam covering Chang Mai, Hanoi, Hoi An, Ha Long Bay, and probably Ho Chi Minh city and Bangkok. I do not love heat, so prefer to find a time of year when it won't go much more than low 30s Celsius overall... Cooler (anything above 15C) is fine. Initial research is confusing me as it's hard to find a happy medium between the north and the south.

We are late 50s and more interested in culture, food and gentle natural environments than strenuous hiking or partying. We've currently done more research on Vietnam than Thailand, but overall hope to spend about 10 days per country (may whittle the location list down as we dig deeper).
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Old Feb 4th, 2023, 11:50 AM
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We have travelled in both countries at pretty much all times of the year and I would suggest December to Feb would stand the best chance of getting the weather you seek. Leave it any later and you would hit the burning season in Northern Thailand when the pollution can be terrible from late Feb/early March. Temperatures will also start to rise in the South of Vietnam. It is all very confusing especially in Vietnam which has very different weather split between the north, south and central regions.

I agree it would be wise to whittle down those destinations. Six locations in three weeks is pushing it somewhat. That works out to around 3 nights per destination which only provides for 2 days of usable time in each, the rest will pretty much be taken up in travelling between locations which can take much longer than expected in SE Asia. Personally, I don't think can possibly do either country justice in 10 days and would consider just sticking with one and for me at least that would be Vietnam. If you did want a flavour of Thailand then perhaps just spend a few days in Bangkok, the cultural hub of the country.

You are correct re Northern Vietnam being cooler than the south at that time of year. Hanoi, Hue, and possibly Saigon and the Mekong Delta would make a great trip. Plenty of "gentle natural environments" to be found in the delta area from Saigon and places like the Mai Chau Valley , Pu Long and Ninh Binh can easily be reached from Hanoi. Many of these places we posted about in our blog @ https://accidentalnomads.com/category/vietnam/ . Not a fan of Hoi An these days. Given the choice I would head for Hue around 50-60kms away. Much more by way of culture and it also has some of the best food in SE Asia. It have become overrun with tourists heading there from all the mega hotels strung out for around 20kms more continually along the highway towards Da Nang. The caves of Phong Nha Khe Be may be worth considering.



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Old Feb 6th, 2023, 01:19 PM
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Crellston thank you for your thoughtful and informative post. We are more interested in Vietnam, I have to say, but Thailand is generally spoken of as being more "retirement friendly" so we feel like we have to take advantage of being so close. Definitely more research is required.

I am heading over to check out your blog now, am especially curious about why Hoi An is not your fav as my dh seems especially taken with it (in theory!).

We are thinking end of Nov into December would work with our schedule, so that sounds close enough.

This part of trip planning is fun, because until the decisions are made, the world is your oyster...but it does feel overwheming to have so little knowledge. We are well travelled in North America and to some extent in Europe, but beyond that we are rank newbies.

Thanks again!

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Old Feb 7th, 2023, 12:24 AM
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You are very welcome CoastgirlNS.

To clarify my opinion of Hoi An, it is an extremely quaint and pretty town, at least in the Old Town in the centre. That is why it is a World Heritage Sight. The problem for me is that in recent years it has become vastly over touristed to the point were we found it uncomfortably crowded most of the time. We have visited several times over the last 25 years or so. On our first visit it was delightful. on subsequent visits it was overrun with (mostly Chinese) tour groups. I guess it has been a lot quieter since the Chinese were confined to China during the covid lockdowns but now they are free to travel, I imagine they will be back in huge numbers. If you do want to include it then, I would limit your time there maybe to a night or two (or even a day trip from Hue. Exploring the town doesn't take long as it is small and is best done either side of midday when the tour buses have left. I would stress that this is just my necessarily subjective opinion, I am sure others will disagree.

Thailand is definitely more retirement friendly than Vietnam. It also has much nicer beaches than Vietnam and arguably many more high end and competitively priced hotel options than Vietnam (worth splashing out in Bangkok if that is your thing). However, it has changed a lot over the years and many places have not dealt with the influx of tourism as well as they could. As far as cities go, I love Bangkok which, along with. Saigon and Hanoi are probably my top three Asian cities. Both countries have amazing food and are easy to get around.

As you say, the planning is a major part of the fun. Worth checking out this website www.travelfish.org which has a lot of information (warts and all!) on travel in SE Asia. For Vietnam only, this blog is excellent https://www.vietnamcoracle.com

Happy planning.
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Old Feb 19th, 2023, 07:50 PM
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Hey there! The best time to visit Thailand and Vietnam would be during the dry season, which is from November to March. The weather is cooler and drier during this time, with temperatures averaging in the mid-20s Celsius. If you don't like the heat, this is a great time to go. It's also the peak tourist season, so keep in mind that there may be crowds and higher prices. Since you're interested in culture, food, and gentle natural environments, you might enjoy visiting some of the smaller towns and villages. They offer a more authentic experience and are less crowded than the big cities. Have a great trip!
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Old Feb 20th, 2023, 12:55 AM
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Iím in Vietnam right now and it was stinking hot in Saigon, in the 90s (Fahrenheit) every day. Even Hoi An yesterday was about 90 degrees, but somewhat cooler today. Also, today was cloudy which helped a lot. Every time Iíve been to Bangkok, including February, it has been hotter than hell and humid, but thatís about as good as it gets! Itís far worse in May.
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Old Feb 20th, 2023, 09:46 AM
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Osmanalpay - where do you get the idea that temperatures will be in the mid 20s C in Thailand and Vietnam between November and March? Whilst that period is sometimes referred to as the cool dry season these things are relative. It would be rare to find temperatures like that. Indeed it is more likely to experience temperatures in the low to mid 30s C.

Weather patterns in Vietnam are way more complex than that with wide temperature and rainfall variations between the north, the south and the central regions.
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Old Feb 21st, 2023, 06:04 PM
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We tend to go to SE Asia in January if possible. Still sometimes pretty hot but nothing close to what it was a few months later in the year. Hanoi was significantly cooler than was Luang Prabang in Laos (we did a short return trip from HAN). Some areas in the hills of Northern Thailand felt like a relief from the heat of Bangkok too.

Crellston, I very much agree with you regarding Hoi An. Beautiful old section, perfectly intact and I enjoyed seeing what Vietnam looked like back then. But so different (in an unnatural way) from what everything else in Vietnam feels like or probably ever felt like. The matching shop signs just kill me. Just a mark of how pre-packaged the experience is. It's like one of those open air museums but combined with the t-shirt shops and cafes usually placed just outside such places.

We ended up being befriended by a waitress at one of the riverside restaurants (having a little one with us seemed to start a lot of conversations) and she asked us out to her family's house in the country, a few miles outside Hoi An. Literally a block outside the historic area, you would never know you were in the same town. Not that the modern, actual city of Hoi An would have a lot to attract most tourists but it was just illuminating how insulated visitors are just wandering around in the old part. Probably the case in most tourist towns, I guess.

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Old Feb 22nd, 2023, 07:09 PM
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Thailand is either hot or very hot (and not that exciting apart from the islands) . Vietnam is very much different, one of the most beautiful countries in the world,: hot in July and August (terrible in the he South). If you want to visit he whole country in a nice weather, it is April-June ,
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Old Feb 22nd, 2023, 11:00 PM
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Donít listen to Larsay. Thailand is wonderful. Itís cooler in the north but Bangkok is a fabulous city, even when hot. Vietnam has been very hot. Weíre there now. Saigon was as hot as Bangkok and Hoi An and Hue, while not as hot, is still very hot, and there is very little air conditioning outside of hotels.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2023, 12:14 AM
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LISTEN TO LARSAY !!! Would you please explain what is "fabulous" in Bangkok. The ubiquitous concrete ? The pretentious shopping malls ? The bar girls ? Th hideous katoy with their enormous boobs ? The charm of its avenues bordered by deluxe apartment buildings ? The appalling traffic ? The scamming tuk tuk. The air pollution maybe ? Or is it the stupidity of the local ThaÔ, who think that, if you do not have a Mercedes, BMW or Volvo, the latest model of Nokia and Rolex, and (fakes) designer clothes, you are an idiot ? . The expression "ugliest city in the world" is not from me, it is from Jean Lartťguy, one of the most famous contemporary French writers . He lived in Asia for over 330 years, enough for you ? The only redeemable things are the edge of the Chao Praya River and restaurants. Not much to fly 30 000 km round-trip ! You like it, good for you ! Me, I prefer Hanoi, all its parks, lake, beautiful avenues lined with trees and small buiidings, its famous Old Hanoi, its street markets etc. etc. etc. a LIVABLE large town.

Small geography lesson. Of course, Saigon is as hot, it is at the same latitude, dodo bird !
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Old Feb 23rd, 2023, 01:24 AM
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Iím not going to indulge you. You have a problem with Thailand and Bangkok in particular. But many people love it and we canít all be wrong. You obviously never bothered to find the beauty there. The people are lovely and the culture is deep. Iíve never been scammed in Bangkok. You seem to want to dislike it. Fine, but donít put others off it because you have some deep-seated unreasonable hatred of it. Iíve been scammed in Vietnam but that doesnít put me off it.
And donít call me a dodo bird. Itís against the rules of Fodorís and I have a good mind to report you.

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Old Feb 23rd, 2023, 01:57 AM
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I'll admit - I too much preferred Hanoi to Bangkok... or any other SE Asian city for that matter. I don't see anything wrong with disliking a city and saying so, because how could you be wrong about that??. But I think the writer in question may be a little harsh on Bangkok.

I did enjoy Bangkok for what it is and I wouldn't mind going back someday. (ok, I'd probably go to VN again first) I found the back canals of Bangkok interesting and peaceful and felt like I got to see a different side to the city (but yes, polluted canals as well but that's true of waterways across Asia). Just about any neighbourhood temple provided some beauty and a respite of shade and quiet. Conversely, a raucous crowd at muay thai is pretty great too.

And then, there's the fact that not everyone wants peace and quiet and leafy reminders of colonialism. The buzz and noise of bustling modern cities like Bangkok (and New York, Berlin, London, etc) obviously have their fans. You have to be able to accept and embrace the realities of a place or of course you're not going to like it. I kept having people tell me Phnom Penh wasn't worth checking out. This was years ago and I'm not sure people say that now. But in any case, it was one of the most memorable few days I've spent on a trip. You can't really know what's worthwhile to others.

I'm also not surprised that a French writer would most enjoy a city designed by French people.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2023, 07:04 AM
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As far as Iím concerned, to each his own, but I have a (big) problem with someone completely bad-mouthing a place and telling people how awful it is and to stay away, rather than letting them make up their own mind. His hatred of Thailand is a big red flag to disregard what he says.
And what is with the bullshit that the French writer lived in Asia for 330 years? That statement alone should tell you that he doesnít know what heís talking about. Someone lived for 330 years?

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Old Feb 23rd, 2023, 08:39 AM
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Laurieco - Don’t waste your time engaging with Larsay. He used to plague TripAdvisor forums (under a different screen name) with all his nonsense. I think he got banned in the end. I recall a few years ago he directed a barrage of insults at me personally for daring to disagree with him. Just bizarre behaviour. I doubt anyone takes him seriously.

His latest diatribe in post #11 is just typical of the nonsense he spews out time and again. Hopefully the moderators will get around to banning him here, although part of me would miss the entertainment value.

Hope you are having a great time over there
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Old Feb 23rd, 2023, 01:58 PM
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Originally Posted by laurieco View Post
As far as Iím concerned, to each his own, but I have a (big) problem with someone completely bad-mouthing a place and telling people how awful it is and to stay away, rather than letting them make up their own mind. His hatred of Thailand is a big red flag to disregard what he says.
And what is with the bullshit that the French writer lived in Asia for 330 years? That statement alone should tell you that he doesnít know what heís talking about. Someone lived for 330 years?
I do wish people would remember that everyone is not them nor would the world be a better place if they got to decide for us all what was worthy and what wasn't. lol

At the same time, I do hope no one doing their trip research here is so susceptible to suggestion that they can't discern facts from opinions, no matter how strongly stated.

Also, I'm pretty sure 330 was a simple typo. Doesn't matter. Neither 30 years nor 330 years is long enough for some people to overcome their biases and misimpressions. It was hardly a persuasive reason to accept someone's bad experiences as inevitable. All any reader has to do is ask themselves why so many people besides this one poster keep going back to Bangkok I actually think there's some value in getting both negative and positive experiences, IF they're presented that way and not as gospel. Lord knows I've been less than positive about Hoi An in the last couple of posts I've made.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2023, 06:21 PM
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Not "bullshit" as you so rudely write,
Typo. 33 yars, .
the culture is deep.
Culture ? Funny !!!! I taught marketing, psychology and History at the large St John's University; NONE of my students knew anything about the history of their own country, not even the name of their first king. They knew NOTHING except eating, getting drunk (which most did every Friday and Saturday night) and screwing (one day, since they were not listening to me, I told them that I should teach them the Kama Sutra instead). I know of ONE art gallery whereas they are numerous in Hanoi, and the only bookstore there was on Shukumvit, Asia Books, is closed ; go in the small streets just before the Opera, there a two streets of bookstores + at least one in front of EVERY school. ).. Talk about culture !!!

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Old Feb 23rd, 2023, 06:23 PM
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As far as "badmouthing" is concerned, I still have the RIGHT to say want I feel about a place or somebody, don't I ? I HATE Bangkok and you love it, and that's it i !!!
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Old Feb 23rd, 2023, 09:56 PM
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Just got scammed by a taxi driver in Phu Quoc. Thatís twice in one week in Vietnam. 5 trips to Thailand and never scammed. Not once. Go figure.
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