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Explore the different regions to visit in Vietnam

Vietnam

Posted by on 27 Apr 2021

Central Vietnam

Stroll down the narrow streets of Hoi An’s Ancient Town, where timber frame shophouses still appear the way they did centuries ago, and the streets are aglow in colourful lanterns each night. Or acquaint yourself with the final days of the Nguyen Dynasty in Hue, where royal citadels, tombs and temples are sprinkled along the tranquil Perfume River.

In between, modern Danang City offers a taste of some of Vietnam’s most luxurious resorts and top golf courses -- as well as one of the country's best beaches. And a few hours away, Phong Nha’s spectacular caves are the latest frontier for nature enthusiasts.

Places to visit:

  • Da Lat - Hidden away in the Central Highlands, Dalat plays the cooler cousin to Vietnam's seaside destinations. Famous for its countryside charm, Dalat draws couples, outdoor enthusiasts, and golf enthusiasts alike. This mountain resort town was once a summer getaway for the French, who left their mark in European-inspired architecture and manicured, rolling lawns. Dalat's main lake is the centre of the action, but countless treasures await in the hills as well.
  • Hoi An - Hội An is a place where the bold march of progress peters into a leisurely amble. In this one-time trading port, the Thu Bồn River meanders past crumbling shop houses and weathered pagodas, while sampans come and go from the old ferry quay. Outside the Old Town, two-lane roads slice through waving rice fields and emerge at a frothy coastline. Stay a couple of days, and Hội An's easygoing beauty and lantern-lit nights may leave you hopelessly beguiled.
  • Hue - Huế is a city chock-full of stories. The Kings of the Nguyen Dynasty built their feudal capital along Huế’s fertile riverbanks and atop its forested hills, but their imperial legacy is just one of many reasons to visit. Huế’s refined cuisine is the stuff of legend, and its leafy streets are lined with mossy pagodas, art déco mansions, and eye-popping markets. Through the whole scene flows the Perfume River, setting a languid pace the rest of the city is happy to follow.
  • Nha Trang - Perched on a pristine stretch of the southern coast, Nha Trang is a playground for sunseekers. Days here are spent dining on delicious seafood, snorkelling around stunning islands, and partying on the sand after dark. Nha Trang lays claim to some of the country's finest luxury resorts and thrilling watersports. Despite the development boom, colourful fishing villages and serene riverside restaurants are just a stone's throw away.

When to visit

Weather in Da Lat

Nestled in the central highlands, this charming mountain city is appreciated for its temperate climate. The air in Da Lat is always fresh and crisp. The mountains provide consistent cool temperatures and pleasant breeze, making it a great spot to escape the heat of the cities. Da Lat’s rainy season is from April until October. Temperatures are generally consistent with lows of 20 degrees in January and highs of 30 degrees in July.

Weather in Hội An

Hội An is one of the country’s picture-perfect places, but starting in September, tropical storms hit Central Vietnam hard. March is an excellent time to see Hội An when the fields, gardens and streets are awash in bright blossoms and soothing greens. From May to August, the town can be hot, and you’ll want to head to the beach to cool off. In the late months of the year, from September to November, Hội An sees a lot of rain and even a few small floods. The temperatures begin to dip and reach their coldest point in January, warming up just before the Vietnamese new year.

Weather in Huế

Huế, home of Vietnam’s last reigning dynasty, has a late rainy season, with storms and days that are wet and cool from September to February. Look out for occasional flooding from September to November. In the early months of the year, temperatures go down to 15 degrees, and January often sees a bit of mist. The rest of the year is dry, and in July you’ll have perfect beach weather, with highs of 35 degrees.

Weather in Nha Trang

Nha Trang gets the more than 300 days of sunshine per year, the most out of the whole country. Some monsoons hit between September and December, but in general Nha Trang has the shortest rainy season in Vietnam. Most of the year, the city has a pleasant temperature, with cooling sea breezes, although you should expect lots of sun and hot days from July until August.

Northern Vietnam

Along the banks of the Red River lies Hanoi, a city locked in time yet simultaneously leaping forward. Hanoi’s atmospheric Old Quarter, beautiful Hoan Kiem Lake and classic colonial architecture will leave you enchanted. There are excellent museums and art galleries to tour and when you get hungry, you’ll find the northern streetfood is both abundant and delicious. Pull up a chair at one of many charming cafes to watch life unfurl and gain a sense of the city’s timeless rhythm.

Not far from Hanoi waits the fairy tale landscape of Ninh Binh, where sheer limestone cliffs rear straight up from paddy fields, and rowboats will bring you on a mesmerising journey through river caves. No visit to the north is complete without a cruise on Halong Bay to soak in the sight of thousands of islets and the bay’s deep emerald green waters.

Places to visit:

  • Halong Bay - For many the seascape of Halong Bay is synonymous with Vietnam. Cruises lazily sail emerald green waters among thousand of rugged islands and islets, stopping at some of the most spectacular caves through which visitors can wander, viewing impressive, centuries-old formations. Halong Bay's mystical beauty has made it a bucket list attraction within the country, but it's still possible to find secluded corners to call your own.
  • Hanoi - Founded over 1000 years ago, Vietnam’s capital city is rich in history, with the streets of its rambling Old Quarter dating back to the 14th century. Wandering these tree-lined lanes past crumbling colonial facades will transport you back in time. However, today's Hanoi is about much more than the past. The ancient city is being invigorated with modern cafes, world-class restaurants, and cool art galleries. When the sun goes down, you have your pick of watering holes, from sophisticated rooftop bars to buzzing bia hoi.
  • Mai Chau -The Mai Châu valley’s proximity to the capital makes it an ideal overnight escape. Here, small, homestay-filled ethnic minority villages sit in among a patchwork of paddy fields surrounded by soaring mountain peaks.
  • Sapa - Sapa town stands at the head of a deep valley of magnificent rice terraces that are still worked today as they have been for centuries. Backdrops don’t get much more spectacular. Enticing ribbons of road lead the eye down to the valley floor, white-water rivers rush among rice fields, and lush green mountains stretch into the distance as far as the eye can see. The highest peak in the region, Mount Fansipan, crowns the ragged ridge line high above town.

When to visit

Weather in Halong Bay

If you’re coming to Halong Bay, try to visit from April to June or September to November. You’ll have a better chance of enjoying sunny skies and pleasant temperatures. Other times of year, downpour or heavy mist is common, and tropical storms can sometimes cause cruise cancellations. However, if you’re on the water during this time you can experience a more mystical side of Halong Bay, with its famous karsts shrouded in mist. Temperatures in January can be frigid, so be sure to bring warm layers.

Weather in Hanoi

The best time to visit Hanoi is usually from April to June or from September to December. From April the days are normally hot, occasionally above 30 degrees with clear skies. September to November sees cooler temperatures of around 25 degrees and sunny skies -- perfect for exploring the capital.

If you’re coming to Hanoi in June, expect soaring temperatures with humidity highs of 40 degrees, and the rainy season is full swing (June to August). December is cool, misty and atmospheric, however from late December until March temperatures are surprisingly cold with lows of 10 degrees. You’ll want to bundle up.

Weather in Sapa

Vietnam’s Northern destinations such as Sapa have a much cooler climate than the rest of the country, particularly from late December until March. Sapa sees the occasional snowfall in January, so be prepared. Hotels in the area are equipped with heated blankets and local spas offer herbal baths for you to soak in and warm up. Sapa is near-perfect in late April, as flowers bloom and skies are clear. Early October is also lovely, as its impressive tiered rice paddies turn golden just before harvest.

Weather in Mai Chau

March to May and September to November are the best times to visit Mai Châu. October is perhaps the most ideal month because harvest takes place and the rice takes on a glorious golden hue.

Southern Vietnam

Start off in the sensory overload that is Ho Chi Minh City, a metropolis where humble mom-and-pop shops share street space with modern skyscrapers. Beyond the city limits you’ll encounter the languid Mekong Delta, where life takes place on water and farmland rolls out as far as the eye can see.

Not far away, Mui Ne lures holidaymakers with a laid-back beach vibe and reputation as the kite-surfing capital of Vietnam. Offshore, islands such as Phu Quoc and Con Dao will welcome you with pristine coastlines and untouched landscapes.

Places to visit:

  • Mekong Delta - Comprised of dense green rice paddies and lazy, winding rivers, the Mekong Delta is like no other region in Vietnam. Whether firmly on land or floating with the river current, this region is flush with wildlife, historical sights, and incredible landscapes. The River of Nine Dragons, as locals know the area, is where the Mekong splinters into nine separate branches, crisscrossing low landscapes before reaching the sea. Life moves much more slowly here and is often surrounded by water. You'll find even homes, farms, and markets take on an aquatic adaptation in the Mekong Delta
  • Ho Chi Minh City - Vibrating with energy, innovation and traffic – lots of traffic – Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, is the economic heart of Vietnam and the main hub of the southern region. A freewheeling, cosmopolitan metropolis, HCMC's dynamic cityscape draws together old and new Vietnam in the most compact of spaces, representing the city’s past as well as its future.
  • Phú Quốc - Phú Quốc's pure white beaches, clear waters, and laid-back vibes have earned it a spot in the hearts of many travellers. Days here are spent on the sand, while nights are for feasting on fresh seafood and stargazing. Vietnam's largest island is home to a beautiful coastline. The An Thoi islands offer some of the country's best snorkelling and diving, and Phú Quốc's northern roads run through lush forest and branch off onto a handful of do-it-yourself hiking trails, inviting you to explore on your own. 

When to visit

Weather in Ho Cho Minh City & the Mekong Delta

Southern Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh city have consistent temperatures year-round. HCMC is either hot and dry or hot and rainy, although there are some pleasant fresh days early in the year, and some scorching days mid-year. Temperatures are normally around 30 degrees, with sunshine. From May to November, the wet season brings a dependable afternoon downpour, usually lasting a few hours.

Weather in Phú Quốc

The island of Phú Quốc has some of Vietnam’s best beaches and promises balmy weather year-round. However, you might want to avoid visiting in the rainy season, from July through September. During these months some storms roll through, making ferrying dangerous and the beaches less than ideal. The rest of the year is hot and dry, and Phú Quốc is a sublime tropical escape in December and January.