Contrary to what you might imagine, Southeast Asia isn’t warm everywhere, all the time. While you can while away the winter months happily on the beaches of Southern Thailand and wander the temples of Angkor Wat below cloudless blue sky in December, other areas of Southeast Asia don’t have such perfect winter weather. Vietnam is one such place but a little extra planning goes a long way.
Vietnam in winter is a mixed bag, with Hanoi and the North experiencing cold temperatures and moody skies, and a rainy season descending on Central Vietnam. South of Nha Trang, all the way into the Mekong Delta, is where the best winter weather lies.
So, does this mean you shouldn’t travel to other parts of Vietnam in winter? Absolutely not!
Here is our advice for where to go in Vietnam in Winter.
Halong Bay in Winter
The majesty of Halong Bay is not dampened by the Northern Vietnamese winter. In fact, this is one of the best times to visit Halong Bay because you don’t have to worry about rainy season or typhoons cancelling your cruises.
While the beaches and swimming spots may not entice you as much in the cooler weather, kayaking and cave exploration are fantastic in any season. Plus, you will appreciate the sunny days you may get even more. Halong Bay’s beauty will take your breath away, whatever the weather and we think the area looks especially magical when it is misty!
Cat Ba Island in Winter
Winter is the low season for travel in Cat Ba island. Vietnamese people don’t usually travel here in winter so you will the quiet town and beaches all to yourself! There is plenty of adventure to be had here and you’ll be thankful for the cooler temperatures when hiking or rock climbing. Don’t miss out on Monkey island, Nam Cat island and trekking in Cat Ba national park.
Hanoi in Winter
Hanoi can be very cold, foggy and windy in winter, which doesn’t make for great travel. However, if you are travelling around Northern Vietnam you are likely to end up here for a day or two. So, what should you do? Eat! Take advantage of the fantastic food in Vietnam and snuggle up over a steaming bowl of Pho noodles, a DIY BBQ or hot pot, or simply spend a few hours people watching in one of the city’s many coffee shops.
We have a street food tour that is a perfect way to sample a variety of the best Hanoi dishes.
Ninh Binh in Winter
Ninh Binh is incredibly hot in summer but drops to a comfortable 20 degrees in winter. Take advantage of the cool weather to enjoy a boat ride along the river with one of the Vietnamese boat paddlers. Along the way, you will find gorgeous temples, grand valleys and as many as 50 different caves! Being paddled along the river on a tiny boat while surrounded by huge mountains on every side is truly an experience that you cannot miss. And just like Halong Bay, if you are experiencing a cold misty day, the mountains may seem even more mystical.
Read more about what to do in Ninh Binh here.
Phong Nha in Winter
Can you think of a better place to escape cold winds and rain than a cave? The magnificent caves of Phong Nha Ke Bang, the largest in the world, are a fantastic place to explore in the unpredictable winter weather. We recommend you make time for Dark Cave for the adventure and Paradise Cave for the grandeur of stalagmites and stalactites. And if you do have a sunny day? Hop over to coastal Dong Hoi for a day at the beach.
Hue in Winter
Hue is notoriously rainy all year round and therefore there is no reason not to visit in winter. Some locals would tell you that seeing Hue on a wet and windy day is the only way to see this poetic city! Explore ancient tombs and palaces and imagine the powerful dynasties of times gone by.
Hoi An in Winter
As one of Vietnam’s most well loved destinations, Hoi An is always busy with visitors. However, there are far fewer people than in the spring and summer months and the cooler temperatures are lovely for wandering around the Old Town. The beaches in Hoi An and around Da Nang will also be delightfully quiet!
The cooler months are also great for exploring by bike and we have some fantastic new tours of the Hoi An countryside that you can enjoy.
The Southern Coast in Winter
From Nha Trang to Mui Ne there is some beautiful coastal to explore and enjoy the sunnier weather in the South. If you are looking for beach time, this is definitely where you want to head. Nha Trang is a great place to go for snorkelling trips by boat and Mui Ne is well known for its delicious seafood.
Read more about beach-hopping around Vietnam here.
Saigon in Winter
Saigon experiences some beautiful weather in the cooler months, with little rain and bright blue skies. Spend your time wandering among the beautiful historic buildings and learning about the long and storied history of the country in the various museums.
Vietnam may not have an endless summer but it is still a fantastic place to travel if you want to escape the winter back home and the crowds of summer. We hope this list has given you some ideas for your own Vietnam itinerary and if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our travel experts.