Vietnam: Best Time to Go

Apr 24th, 2004, 05:09 PM
  #1  
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Vietnam: Best Time to Go

After having read many posts, I still cannot figure out when is the best time of year to go to Vietnam (Hanoi, Halong Bay, Hue, Hoi An, Champa, HCM, Mekong Delta) and Angor Wat. I would like to go when it is not hot and not rainy. Any advice?
evelyntrav is offline  
Apr 24th, 2004, 09:15 PM
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Hi, evelyntrav.

Well, the climate varies considerably from north to south. The South is sub-equatorial and always very warm to hot, especially in the Mekong Delta. The wet season runs from May to November, June to August being the wettest months. From late February to May is hot and very humid, cooling slightly when the rainy season arrives.

Central Vietnam is dryer overall, most rain falling between December and February. Dalat, in the central highlands, is a good deal cooler (but still pretty warm during our stay).

In the north-central coastal lowlands the winter can be cool and marked by fog and fine drizzle. North of the 18th parallel, winter (from November to April) is quite cool and wet. February and March experience a persistent fine drizzle. The hot summer runs from May to October and typhoons are a possibility. The northern highlands can be very cold in winter.

By now you're probably wondering whether there's an ideal time to visit, and I guess the fact is that there isn't.

Our visit occupied most of the month of May and it was almost invariably hot, but not insufferably so. I should add that I'm not at my best in hot and humid weather, but you just have to accept that you're in SE Asia. We found it hottest in the central coastal areas, specifically in Hue, but on that occasion relief came in the form of an evening thunderstorm that left the next day cool and misty. Hanoi was also hot, but the effect depends on how much walking you do. The upside is that at the end of the day you'll really enjoy a a cold Tiger, Hanoi Lager or 333 (in Vietnamese 'Ba Ba Ba' - essential learning). If you don't like beer I can only commiserate, as a glass of wine (even French stuff) will cost you a few dollars - OK, no more than in the US or Australia, but probably as much as your main course.

Overall, I concluded that May was probably as good a time as any to visit, but I'd be interested in hte view of visitors who went at other times.

(Acknowledgement: the above climatic summary was pinched from my Lonely Planet guide to Vietnam.)
Neil_Oz is offline  
Apr 25th, 2004, 01:04 AM
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hi evelyntrav and Neil - just returned from 3 weeks in Vietnam yesterday, so I guess Neil, weather just a little cooler than your May trip. Flew into Ho Chi Minh city from HK - it was hot but not horribly so, stayed there (our hotel had a superb swimming pool which I was too stupid to take advantage of) a few days and then down to Cantho in Mekong Delta. Temperatures here would have been in mid 30's around midday - very hot in small canopy-less boats used on the narrower waterways, but they supplied us with those conical hats you see everywhere which were pretty effective. I did find it hard to buy sun block - nothing seemed to have a SPF no - all I could find was something that said "UV Skin Whitener". Stayed that night in Cantho - the airconditioner in hotel room had rusted out and there was only one tiny window but after a lot of walking and several Ba Ba Ba's we slept like logs. Had dinner in restaurant near river in Cantho - menu featured a variety of snake recipes but it was Grilled Rat with Soya Cheese Dressing which really took my eye! (OK I know they're not common old house rats, but it sort of puts one off). From HCMC took train (sleeper) to Danang - 15 hours, less said about this the better but the train was airconditioned. Then to Hoi An - pleasantly warm - lucked onto fantastic hotel on riverside - the barely completed Life Resort Hoi An River Park. It's managed by some very affable South Africans, website should be up and running in a few weeks (they're just waiting to finish the final touches before photography for website) - it will be http://www.life-resorts.com Truly delightful with breeze from river, marvellous pool, quiet except for the quacking of several hundred plump ducks on little island on river. We hired a car with driver to take us to Hue which was slightly cooler than Hoi An. We then flew to Hanoi - people had told us there'd been a cold snap but it was over by the time we arrived - they kept forecasting temperatures of around 32C but I don't think it got much over 27C. Still, hot enough when you're walking all day! Didn't get to Halong Bay as Mike, my husband, managed to get violent food poisoning in Hanoi - hotel food too - our fault, it was a seafood buffet (I never touch buffets at home and I prefer Vietnamese food - most of it anyway) but it came with the irresistible offer of "free flowing wine". As Neil has mentioned, wine costs an arm and a leg in Vietnam. Anyway, it's nice to come home from a holiday a few kilos lighter than when you started!
pat_woolford is offline  
Apr 25th, 2004, 09:12 PM
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Loved your trip summary, Pat! I was going to try buffets in HCMC but think I'll stay vegetarian.
Carrabella is offline  
Apr 26th, 2004, 02:46 AM
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Pat, hope you'll forgive me if I pinch your grilled rat experience for a new thread - I think these dining experiences deserve wider exposure.
Cheers, Neil
Neil_Oz is offline  
Apr 29th, 2004, 01:40 PM
  #6  
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Thank you all for your wise comments. I cannot handle such continuously hot weather and will find someplace else wonderful to visit.
evelyntrav is offline  
Jun 9th, 2004, 05:43 PM
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Well April and May are definitely warmer, however there is a reason December to February is the hgh season -- that's when there is the most pleasant weather overall. And if you go in December, you can definitely expect to be chilly in the north, including Sapa area, Halong Bay and Hanoi. Even the central coast can be cool at this time.
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