Vietnam's lush landscapes are as fruitful as its fascinating culture, and the two blend seamlessly in the watery world of the Mekong Delta. Known as the rice bowl of Vietnam, we love this region for its green paddy fields, sleepy villages, fishing boats, stilt houses and floating markets selling the freshest fruit and veg. Hop on board a traditional wooden sampan boat for the best way to explore the channels of the mighty, life-giving Mekong River.
November to February are the driest months in Con Dao. After the rainy season ends, September and October usher in warm weather, although the island breezes make the heat more comfortable.
We love visiting Con Dao’s pristine beaches and lush, forest-clad mountains between January and May. This dry season sees beautiful, sunny skies and warm temperatures with cool island breezes. The sea stays calm and you are unlikely to see any rain.
The rainy season in Con Dao runs from the end of June to early September. Rain typically falls quite heavily at night and thunderstorms happen occasionally. If rain falls during the day it is generally brief. November and December see quite strong winds.
The dry season stretches from November to April. Hanoi’s winter, November to February, encounters the coolest, driest days, but you will need a jacket for the evening chill. February to April sees warmer temperatures and a little more rain.
Temperatures rise and fall more dramatically in Hanoi than in many parts of Vietnam, so we think October, November, March, and April are the best months to visit, when the weather is mild and mostly dry; perfect weather for exploring.
Hanoi is affected by the southwest monsoon from May to October. May to August is typically the wettest time of year, with an uncomfortably hot, humid climate. September and October still see showers, but tend to be milder and sunnier.
The tropical dry season brings sunny weather with regular but brief downpours to Da Nang. June to August have the warmest temperatures, regularly pushing over 30°C. These months also bring the least rain and humidity to Da Nang.
Da Nang’s tropical monsoon climate is best enjoyed between June and August. These are the driest months, bringing blue skies and warm, sunny weather to Da Nang. You might encounter the occasional cloudburst but it is usually quite brief.
Da Nang’s rainy season brings a mix of sun and clouds, with daytime drizzle and heavy night time showers. There is no official start to the rainy season; typically it starts in September or late August with the most rain falling in September and October. Temperatures drop but stay comfortable between December and February.
The dry season starts in November and lasts until April. This time of year is also the hottest, peaking around late April. Humidity increases leading up to the rainy season, making outdoor activities more of an effort.
Ho Chi Minh City is warm year round, but we like visiting from December to March, when the weather is dry and not too hot for sightseeing. Christmas, New Year, Lunar New Year, and the Vietnamese Tet festival add extra cultural colour.
The rainy season falls between May and October, with a humid climate and frequent showers. Downpours usually make way for the sun within a couple of hours though. June and October are the wettest months and best avoided.
Nha Trang sees little rainfall for most of the year, with a dry season stretching from January to August. Late June, July, and August get pretty hot and humid, so make sure you head into the cool mountains to escape the soaring temperatures.
February to May is our favourite time of year in Nha Trang, when the diving is glorious, rainfall is at its lowest, temperatures are gorgeously warm, and the sticky humidity has yet to set in.
Nha Trang sees less monsoon weather than much of Vietnam, with a short rainy season from September to December. This time of year is best avoided though, due to heavy downpours, risk of storms, and even potential typhoon weather.
February to July is the dry season and the most popular time to visit Hoi An. This time of year is warmed by plenty of sunshine, ranging from an average of 26°C in February to 35°C in June, the hottest month.
Hoi An is at its best from February to April, when rainfall is low and temperatures are comfortable. Visit mid month for the Full Moon Festival, when Hoi An comes alive with colourful lanterns, traditional music, dance, and cuisine.
The rainy season, and low season for tourism, lasts from August to January. Heavy showers are the norm at this time of year, although occasional sunny days brighten things up. October and November are the wettest months.
The dry season starts in November and lasts until April, with late February to May seeing serious heat and humidity. Phan Thiet is famous for its plentiful sunshine (around 2,000 to 2,500 hours a year) and light winds.
Phan Thiet is at its best from November to April, when the sunshine seems endless and the warm climate is caressed by fresh ocean breezes. The sea is calm enough for swimming, but the windsurfing’s great this time of year too.
The rainy season lasts from May to November, however there is still plenty of sun at this time of year and any rain usually comes in the form of heavy but brief afternoon or overnight showers. May and September are the wettest months.
The dry season stretches from January to July, although showers can spring up all year round. Temperatures start climbing in January, peaking in June and July when the heat can get too much for comfortable sightseeing.
We love exploring Hue’s historic monuments, so we like to visit between January and May, when there’s less chance of rain and the heat isn’t too oppressive. Every two years (usually in April, May, or June), Hue Festival brings extra cultural colour.
With frequent fog and rain, most people visit Hue for the culture rather than the weather. Mountains south of Hue cause misty or drizzly conditions most of the time, but the rainy season from August to December brings heavier downpours.
Sunshine rules the skies from November to May, when Phu Quoc’s climate is at its very best. April and May are the hottest months, but the rest of the season is more comfortable with lower levels of humidity.
The rainy season lasts from June to October, with wet weather pretty much guaranteed from July to September. June and late October can be a good time to visit though, with fewer people, lower prices, and realistic odds of good weather.
There are a number of carriers offering flights to Vietnam from the UK.
Direct Carriers: Vietnam Airlines offer a direct service from the UK to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
Indirect Carriers: Thai Airways, Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Qatar Airways and Air France offer indirect services to Vietnam.
Departure Taxes: An international departure tax of USD38/R15 must be paid at Vietnamese Airports.
As of 01 July 2016, the Vietnamese government have officially extended visa exemption for all British passport holders until 30th June 2017 for tourist stays of up to 15 days only. This visa waiver is only valid for one year and expires on the 30 June 2017. Your passport must be valid for a minimum of 6 months after your intended stay in Vietnam.
Please contact the Embassy of Vietnam if you require additional country and/or visa information on 0207 937 1912.
The official currency is the Vietnamese Dong. You can buy them before you leave the UK but you can only take 15,000,000 Vietnamese Dong in and out of Vietnam. Most major currencies, including the UK Pound, can be exchanged at banks and currency exchanges in the main tourist areas, but in other places you will need to use US Dollars to buy Vietnamese Dong.
Many places accept and quote prices in US Dollars, although you will need to use Vietnamese Dong in more remote areas. MasterCard and Visa cards are now widely accepted in cities and tourist areas, but a three percent commission charge is common so it's worth checking first. You will find plenty of cash machines in major towns and cities, and traveller's cheques are accepted in banks, currency exchanges and some hotels. You will need cash outside the main tourist areas, especially smaller notes as it can be hard to get change.
VND - Vietnamese Dong
Tipping isn't expected in Vietnam, but it is becoming common in tourist areas. Salaries being low, it is also much appreciated. Restaurants and hotels may add a five to 10 percent service charge to the bill, but this may not make it into staff pockets. You should also consider tipping hotel cleaning staff, drivers and guides. Remember to make a small donation after visiting a pagoda.
June to October
Hepatitis A, B, Polio, Typhoid and Malaria immunisation are recommended. All travellers should be up to date on routine immunizations. If arriving from an infected country Yellow Fever is recommended. Please contact your GP for further information.
Holidays in Vietnam can get very hot, so pack accordingly. Opt for loose, natural fabrics, although you may need warmer clothing from October to April in the highlands and northern Vietnam. Remember to bring your trusty waterproofs; rain showers can pounce at any time of year.
A wide-brimmed hat to keep the sun off your face;
High factor sunscreen;
lightweight clothing in natural fabrics like cotton or linen;
Long sleeved cover-ups for evening;
Comfortable walking shoes or sandals for exploring;
Warm jumper if travelling from December to February
especially in the highlands and northern Vietnam;
An electrical adapter (the power supply in Vietnam is 220 volts at 50 hertz);
PADI certificate and medical certificates if you plan to scuba dive.
An underwater camera for snorkelling;
Vietnamese cuisine is sizzling, steaming proof that food can be both good for you and packed with flavour. Dishes are built on rice, noodles, fresh vegetables, fragrant herbs and the essential salty soy or fish sauce. With a sprinkling of Chinese and French influences, a healthy serving of regional variations and a hint of sugar, chilli, lime, mint, and basil; Vietnamese cooking is starting to compete with Indian, Italian and Chinese cuisines as an international favourite, with restaurants popping up everywhere from London to New York.
Hungry in Hanoi? The smoky scent of this barbecued pork dish will have your mouth watering. Strips of pork are marinated in chilli, ginger and garlic; grilled over hot coals and served with rice noodles in a broth of fish sauce, vinegar, lime, sugar and herbs; usually accompanied by deep-fried spring rolls, garlic and chilli on the side.
A crispy crepe crammed with pork, prawns, onions, bean sprouts and aromatic herbs, this dish is named banh xeo (sizzling cake) after the tempting sounds it makes as it fries. The pancakes are made from rice flour, water, turmeric, and sometimes coconut milk; then stuffed with the tasty filling, wrapped in leaves or rice paper and dunked in a sweet and sour sauce.
These crispy spring rolls are made with ground meat and chopped vegetables rolled in rice paper, deep fried until golden and served with a tangy fish sauce. The exact ingredients vary from region to region and family to family, ranging from pork to crab, prawns, chicken or tofu. Cha gio are also known as nem ran, mainly in the north.
On any street corner in Vietnam, you will come across conical-hatted vendors offering you something to eat. Buy your snacks from bamboo baskets suspended from sellers’ shoulders, pull up a plastic chair at a makeshift roadside pho stall, or order noodles from a vendor who will stop to cook for you before moving on. Whether you are in a city, small town or seaside resort, the street is the best place to discover the tastes of Vietnam. Be careful to only order street food from vendors whose food is clean, fresh, and cooked right in front of you.
Number one contender for Vietnam’s national dish, you simply must try this steaming, fragrant noodle soup. The most popular variations are pho ga (with chicken) and pho bo (with beef). The broth includes rice noodles and bean sprouts, with flavourings such as cinnamon, ginger, basil, cilantro, onion, lime and mint.
This sticky rice dish is shaped into a square and wrapped in a banana leaf like a tasty gift. Rice, pork and onions are cooked for up to 48 hours and can be eaten cold. Stuffed with mung bean paste and flavoured with black pepper, banh chung is traditionally eaten in the Vietnamese new year.
Prices on holidays in Vietnam vary widely depending on what you want to do and where you want to do it, however on the whole Vietnam is still incredible value compared to many places. With a delicious street food scene, you can eat like a king for very little cost. On average though, a three course meal in a mid-range restaurant will set you back around 280,000 Vietnamese Dong, with a bottled beer about 30,000 Vietnamese Dong. To stop you getting thirsty, a 1.5 litre bottle of water is usually around 13,000 Vietnamese Dong.
Worn by women since the 18th century, the Áo dài is Vietnam's most iconic outfit. It consists of a long, flowing silk tunic, fitted at the top and worn over wide-legged trousers. For men, traditional clothing comes in the form of the Áo gam, an elegant brocade tunic worn for celebrations and formal occasions.
In Vietnam's mainly Buddhist society, polite behaviour is highly valued, especially when it comes to the young showing respect for their elders. In general, women are expected to stick to stricter social codes than men, avoiding alcohol and tobacco, speaking quietly, and dressing modestly.
Vietnam's rugged mountains, dense forests, green plains and sweeping coastline are home to many different kinds of wildlife. Iconic creatures like monkeys, gibbons, elephants, leopards, bears, pythons and crocodiles can be found here, alongside critically endangered species such as the dhole, a small wild dog; and the sao la, a forest-dwelling antelope native only to Vietnam and parts of Laos.
May is turtle season in the Con Dao archipelago, when endangered green and hawksbill turtles clamber ashore to lay their eggs, which hatch from June to August. Join a turtle watching tour to see turtles lay up to 100 eggs each before covering them in sand and returning to the South China Sea. In hatching periods you may even see baby turtles taking their first steps towards the water.
Cuc Phuong National Park
Two hours from Hanoi, Vietnam’s first national park is a wilderness of forest-clad mountains roamed by monkeys, gibbons, flying squirrels and pheasants, as well as rarely-seen panthers and bears. The Endangered Primate Rescue Centre, Turtle Conservation Centre and Small Carnivore Conservation Centre focus on the breeding and protection of animals endangered by poachers.
Cat Tien National Park
A few hours from Ho Chi Minh City, this 70,000-hectare nature reserve is home to creatures like Asian elephants, rhinos, sun bears and yellow cheeked gibbons. Visit the Endangered Primate Centre to see rare langur monkeys.