Vietnam Travel Guide


Posted On 3:18 pm May 5, 2011 | by Vietnam Cambodia Travel | under Vietnam travel guides
 VIETNAM TRAVEL GUIDES

NORTH VIETNAM

The North of Vietnam experiences cool, damp winters between November and April with temperatures in Hanoi falling to around 15°C. The summer months from May to October are hot and dry.

A pleasant time to visit is spring (March-April) or autumn (October-December). There are extremes in the Highlands as snow sometimes falls in the winter whilst the summer can see temperatures up around 40ºC. There is the possibility of typhoons between July and November.
When to Go?

The best time to visit the north of Vietnam is from September to December when it isn’t so humid. The weather turns quite cold and wet in January and this continues until March. The humidity can prove oppressive from May to the start of September and there’s a danger of flooding.

 

CENTRAL VIETNAM

The Central Part of Vietnam experiences something in between the weather patterns of the north and south with the rainy season in summer. The central coast area is usually quite dry from May to October and wet from December to February. Highland areas can experience freezing conditions in winter. There is the possibility of typhoons between July and November.

When to Go?

December to March is a good time to visit the Central Highlands when conditions are usually dry and cool. We visited the region in late November when the weather was beautiful with fine, warm days and pleasant evenings. We had a few light showers as we headed north towards Hoi An. Along the central coast there is a rainy season from December to February. June to October tends to be very dry and hot.

 

SOUTH VIETNAM

The South of Vietnam has a tropical climate with hot, humid conditions which makes sightseeing in Ho Chi Minh City very tiring for much of the year. The wet season is from May to November with June to August registering the highest rainfall figures. December to April tends to be very dry. Temperatures average around 25-30°C all year round with the hottest and most humid period from the end of February to May.

When to Go?

December to April is the best time to visit the south of Vietnam. There are short downpours during the wet season from May to November but they tend to only last a short time so you can still enjoy a visit during these months (just go for lunch when you see the black clouds developing). The Mekong Delta can experience severe flooding during this period making travel very difficult.


Conclusion

There is no neither ideal nor bad time to visit Vietnam as there are distinct regional weather variations between the Northern, Central and Southern regions.


January & February

The weather in north and along the coast of Vietnam in Jan and Feb is very comfortable, and among best months to travel of the year.


March, April and May

March/ April are pretty good too and less busy. It will start to rain more in May, but not all day. Phu Quoc Island is pretty pleasant up till September, when it rains all day. March is one of the best month to travel as it is one of the driest times of the year, although there can be occasional rain showers around Hue and Hoi An.


June-Aug

June-Aug are summer months and extremely hot in northern & central cities. It’s also the wet season in HCMC and the central highlands (and Phu Quoc in the south) and it’s the hottest time of year in Hanoi.


November & December

Nov and Dec are good months to visit Vietnam. not so cold in northern Vietnam at that time, Hanoi about 15-25oC, while Sapa about 10-20oC. The coldest months are Jan and Feb. Central and southern Vietnam are great at that time (except typhoon). The November visit was by far the most comfortable in terms of temperature and humidity (or lack of).

South Vietnam (HCMC and Mekong Delta, Can Tho, Chau Doc), the weather is fine, a little warmish and sticky, but not at all oppressive. No rain, only a few evening dry thunderstorms, very beautiful over the Mekong.


WHAT
TO WEAR

Throughout the year, it is advisable to wear summer clothing: thin clothes in light colour. In December and January, warm clothes are recommended for visits to the northern provinces.
It is advisable to bring umbrellas or raincoats in the rainy season from May to November in southern and northern Vietnam, from August to January in central Vietnam.
The wearing of suits for business is now common in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Dress should be respectable, especially if entering religious premises such as temples and pagodas.
 
SECURITY
In big cities, do not bring along valuables as going shopping or sightseeing in the street. It is dispensable to give alms to beggars and to buy souvenirs from street vendors.

Foreign currencies should be exchanged at banks or authorized exchange bureaus. Do not exchange money in the street. It is advisable not to ride on pedicabs or “honda-om” by oneself.


LANGUAGE
English, French, Cantonese and Japanese are spoken by hotel staff. Guides and interpreters speaking English, French, Russian, Japanese, German, Cantonese, Mandarin, etc.

FILM AND DEVELOPING
Fresh negative film is widely available. Popular brands are Fuji, Kodak, Agfa and Konica. Positive colour print film is only obtainable in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi.

 

One-hour service photo shops are ubiquitous in tourist areas. Positive film and digital card can be processed and printed only in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi.

 

SHOPPING
The following items are preferred by foreign travellers:
  • Carved wooden furniture, fine lacquerware (these can be shipped home on request).
  • Traditional Vietnamese hand-made silk dresses, kimonos, embroideries, etc.
  • Simulated antiques, fine ceramics, old watches or Zippo lighters, etc.
  • Copies of famous paintings.

 

HEALTH

No vaccinations are presently required for visitors to enter Vietnam. However, it is advisable that precautionary measures be taken for cholera, malaria, hepatitis A & B, typhoid and tuberculosis.
Although international medical centres are available in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, it can be expensive for emergency care. Therefore, health and emergency medical insurance prior to visiting Vietnam is highly recommended for foreigners.
Clinics with qualified Vietnamese and foreign doctors to treat foreign patients:
 
Hanoi:
+ Viet Duc Hospital
40 Trang Thi St., Hoan Kiem District
Tel: (84.4) 8253531
+ Asia Emergency Assistance
31 Hai Ba Trung St., Hoan Kiem District
Tel: (84.4) 9340555
Ho Chi Minh City:
+ Asia Emergency Assistance
65 Nguyen Du St., District 1
Tel: (84.8) 8298520
+ Columbia International Healthcare
08 Alexandre de Rhodes St., District 1
Tel: (84.8) 8238455

 

NATIONAL HOLIDAYS

1 Jan New Year’s Day
1 Feb 2003 and 22 Jan 2004 Lunar New Year (Tet)
30 Apr Saigon Liberation Day
1 May International Labour Day
2 Sep National Day
 
 
OTHER USEFUL TIPS
  • Business hours: (GMT + 7)
    – Offices: 8: 00 a.m to 11: 30 a.m and 1: 00 p.m to 5: 00 p.m, closed on Saturdays & Sundays.
    – Banks: 8: 00 a.m to 3: 00 p.m, closed on Saturdays & Sundays.
  • Airport tax for every passenger on every departure
    – International flights: US$ 14 at Noi Bai Airport, US$ 12 at Tan Son Nhat Airport, US$ 8 at Da Nang Airport.
    – Domestic flights: already including in airfares.
  • Electrical current: 110-220 volts A.C.
  • Long distance calls should be made at post offices, hotels or telephone booths (phone cards are available at post offices).
  • A tip for good service might be about 5% of the bill.
  • Bottled water and mineral water are obtainable at any shops in most cities. It is advisable to drink boiled water and not to drink ice and tap water.
  • Travel permits are only required for trips to off-limit areas such as border provinces, military bases and remote islands.