WHEN TO VISIT VIETNAM
So you know that you want to travel to Southeast Asia, but you’re not sure when to go. We can help! There are two seasons that you should know about, dry season and wet season. Dry season typically lasts from November through February. Wet, or rainy, the season typically begins with a May monsoon and lasts through October. When you travel to Vietnam, it depends on how you travel. For example, if you’re on a river cruise like our new Mekong River cruise, the best sailings are often during the wet season because the high waters allow for access to places that you can’t cruise to during the dry season.
Again, the dry season in Vietnam runs roughly between November and February. Temperatures range from 78°F to 86°F. November and January can be the coolest months with temperatures in the high 60°s but the closer you get to April (the hottest month), the warmer, and drier, it gets. November and January tend to bring in the most tourists, so keep that in mind if you prefer to avoid crowds and possibly, higher prices. If you’re traveling around by car, the dry season is a great time to go because you won’t have to worry about inaccessible roads! It’s also the best time to visit if you’re a beach-goer looking for long, sunny days.
Temperatures are similar to those during the dry season (78°F to 86°F), but this season is different in that it receives much more rain. In fact, nearly 75% of the annual rainfall falls during these months. The wettest months are July through September. During these months, you can expect it to rain every day. Typically rain falls in the form of heavy showers that last for an hour or two, so don’t spend too much time worrying about all-day downpours. This season can be a great time for river cruises and getting around by boat, but if you’re relying on roads, keep in mind that many roads will be inaccessible or extremely muddy. The scenery will be green and lush though and you’ll have some of the best bird-watching opportunities!
WHAT TO PACK FOR A TRIP TO VIETNAM
Now that you’ve decided to travel to Vietnam, you have the pleasure of preparing for your trip. How much preparation you have to do depends on whether or not you’ll be traveling as part of a guided group tour. If you’re flying solo, you’ll have a lot more planning to take care of, but we can at least help you with some of the packing. Here are a few things you’ll want to pack for your travels in Vietnam.
1. Soft-Sided Luggage
If your itinerary calls for a lot of travel within these countries, keep in mind that most public transportation, trains and boats have very limited cargo space so you’ll want to bring a bag that can be flexible storage-wise.
2. A Page-Turner
If you plan on traveling during the wet season, we recommend packing a good book and using the hour or two when you have to be indoors as an excuse to catch up on your reading for pleasure!
Although dress codes in Vietnam are less strict than those you’d find in other countries, if you plan on visiting temples or pagodas, you’ll want to have your shoulders covered. An easy way to do this is to pack a lightweight sarong which won’t take up much room in your bag and can be worn in a number of fun ways.
TRAVEL TIPS FOR VIETNAM
First time in Vietnam? You’re in for a treat! Here are a few things that we’ve learned over the years that you may want to take note of.
1. 5 a.m. in the Floating Markets
The Mekong Delta residents have perfected the art of the floating market. They travel in flat-bottomed wooden boats known as sampans, and it’s from these boats that they sell their wares. If you plan on visiting one of these floating markets, know that you’ll find the freshest products and the biggest selection around 5 a.m. when the markets first open.
2. Cigarettes for the Soldiers
Want to have a photo taken with one of the soldiers that guards the border between Vietnam and Cambodia? If you offer them a cigarette or two, they’ll usually oblige.
3. Six Days a Week
The typical workweek in both Vietnam is six days long with Sunday being their day “off.” Kids even attend school Monday through Saturday! Don’t schedule too much for Sundays because that’s the best day to interact with the locals and see what they do for fun.