International travel experts who study the Vietnamese market have divided Vietnam into three peak - mid - low seasons, as well as the best times to visit if you want to avoid crowds, get cheap prices, and see nature at its most beautiful.

Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi

Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi

The peak season in the North is from September to November and March to April; in the Central region from April to August, and in the South from October to April. The transitional periods between peak and low seasons in the North are from December to February and May to August; in the Central region around September to March; and in the South from September to December. The low season: in the North from May to October, in the Central region from September to May, and in the South from May to September.

Times when it’s not crowded

Matthews says the rainy season (May to October in the North, September to May in the Central region, May to September in the South) will attract fewer tourists.

Train Street in Hanoi

Train street in Hanoi

“Visiting Vietnam at this time has many privileges,” Matthews says, because hotel room rentals and airfares are cheap. Restaurants and tours to famous spots have fewer customers, offering a rare opportunity to immerse yourself in local culture. “You can leisurely enjoy the famous bun cha on a plastic chair on the sidewalk without worrying about crowds,” one tourist shares.

However, rain and cloudy weather can hinder long walks in Sa Pa or cruises on Halong Bay, two experiences that any visitor to Vietnam would want to participate in.

Best times to visit

For those who want to visit Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and the Central region, the best time to visit is the dry season. February and March are the best times to travel across Vietnam. February may coincide with the Vietnamese Lunar New Year, so Matthews advises foreign tourists to choose seaside destinations for relaxation and visit the big cities after the New Year. During the New Year, everyone wants to go home to gather with their family, and fewer shops are open, according to Matthews.

Ancient town in Hoi An

Ancient town in Hoi An

If you want to explore Hanoi, visit in September to November or March to April when the weather is dry. If you want to experience sunny beaches like Hoi An, Nha Trang, you should visit from April to August. From October to April of the following year is the most beautiful time to explore the Mekong Delta, Phu Quoc.

Cheapest times

International experts rate Vietnam as an “affordable destination all year round”, with a rich variety of street food, convenient hotels but still suitable for all budgets. To have a cost-saving trip and enjoy the most beautiful times, tourists should visit in April, May, October, and November. These months have warm weather and fewer tourists.

Best times to visit Sapa, Halong Bay

A visit to the golden terraced fields in Sapa is a must for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.

Matthews notes that this area starts to get colder from December to February, so it’s best to plan your trip from September to November or in March to April. The rice harvest season is also a good time to visit: from late August to September, the vibrant green hills turn yellow as the rice ripens.

Sapa rice terrace

Sapa rice terrace

Halong Bay is a favorite destination for both domestic and international tourists. To have a less crowded experience, tourists should consider an overnight cruise. This journey will take tourists deeper into the bay or visit the nearby Lan Ha Bay, which is “no less beautiful”.

March, April, October, and November are ideal times to visit because the weather is warm, sunny, and less humid. Tourists also avoid the peak season and can comfortably kayak, hike on Cat Ba Island, and snorkel.

Times of bad weather

Foreign experts advise tourists to avoid traveling during the monsoon or rainy season. “When the monsoon hits, Vietnam is very wet,” Matthews says, and warns.

Vibrant Ho Chi Minh City

Vibrant Ho Chi Minh City

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