Southeast Asia is home to some of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Vietnam and Thailand in particular attract millions of travelers each year with their stunning natural scenery, fascinating cultural sites, delicious cuisine, and overall value for money. But with the region’s tropical climate and weather patterns, the timing of your visit can greatly impact your experience. Here’s a guide on the best time to visit Vietnam and Thailand.
Weather in Vietnam and Thailand
Vietnam and Thailand have tropical monsoon climates, with distinct wet and dry seasons.
Vietnam’s weather is generally divided into two main seasons:
- Dry season (November to April): Sunny days, comfortable temperatures, and low humidity. The north has cold winters.
- Wet season (May to October): Hot, humid, and rainy with occasional typhoons.
The ideal months to visit most of Vietnam are December to February during the peak dry season. Northern Vietnam has a cooler climate with the winter months from December to February being cold. Central Vietnam experiences hot and dry weather from January to August making it a good time to visit. The wet season falls from May to October in central and southern Vietnam.
Thailand also has three seasons:
- Cool season (November to February): Low humidity, comfortable temperatures, little rain except in the south. Best time for beach destinations.
- Hot season (March to June): Very hot, dry weather. Avoid beaches.
- Wet season (July to October): Monsoon rains across most of Thailand with flooding possible.
Like Vietnam, the most popular time to visit most regions of Thailand is during the dry season from November to February. The north has cool weather in the winter months of December and January. March to June sees very hot and dry weather making it unpleasant for beach time. Monsoon rains hit most areas from July to October.
Best Time to Visit Different Regions
With their vast territories spanning multiple climate zones, the ideal time to visit different cities and regions of Vietnam and Thailand can vary.
Best Time for North Vietnam
Places like Hanoi and Sapa have a cooler climate with cold winters.
- December to February is the best time to visit northern Vietnam. Enjoy Hanoi with comfortable temperatures and Sapa without heavy fog or rain.
- Late September to early October brings sunny days and fewer tourists.
- Avoid the hot summers from June to August.
Best Time for Central Vietnam
Central cities like Hue, Danang, Hoi An have a tropical climate with hot, dry weather for most of the year.
- January to August is the ideal dry season to visit central Vietnam.
- Late September to December brings pleasant weather but more rain.
- Avoid visiting during the wet season from October to December when flooding is common.
Best Time for South Vietnam
Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong Delta have a tropical wet and dry climate.
- December to February offer the coolest and driest weather.
- March to May transitions into hotter and more humid conditions.
- Avoid the September to November wet season if possible.
Best Time for Bangkok
Thailand’s capital has a hot tropical climate year-round.
- November to February is the most popular time with comfortable temperatures.
- March to June brings very hot weather making sightseeing unpleasant.
- Avoid September to October due to heavy monsoon rains.
Best Time for Beaches like Phuket
Thailand’s beach destinations enjoy tropical weather ideal for sunbathing and swimming.
- November to February offer sunny dry days and cooler nights – perfect for the beaches!
- March to May transitions into a hot and sweaty period. Avoid beach time.
- Avoid wet season months like September and October when seas are rough.
Best Time for Northern Thailand
The north including Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai has a cooler climate and distinct winters.
- November to February are the peak months with pleasant weather. Chilly in the hills.
- Late February to May sees rising temperatures and occasional storms.
- Avoid the rainy season from June to October.
Major Events and Festivals
Vietnam and Thailand have many lively festivals and events throughout the year that are worth timing your visit around.
Top Festivals in Vietnam
- Tet (Late January to Early February): Vietnamese Lunar New Year and biggest festival. Celebrated with family.
- Hue Festival (April): Showcases cultural performances and artefacts of Hue.
- Mid-Autumn Festival (September/October): Celebrates the harvest moon with lion dances and lantern displays.
Top Festivals in Thailand
- Songkran (Mid April): Thai New Year celebrated with massive water fights.
- Loi Krathong (November): Float decorative baskets on water during the full moon.
- Yi Peng Lantern Festival (November): Sky lanterns released into the night sky.
Avoid Monsoon Season
While Vietnam and Thailand have year-round appeal, its best to avoid the monsoon season from July to October if possible.
- Torrential rains can put a damper on beach vacations and outdoor activities.
- Flooding is common making getting around difficult.
- Seas are rougher making ferry routes inoperable.
- Rural roads in Vietnam can get damaged.
Some exceptions where the rainy season is ideal:
- Northern Vietnam sees rice planting and harvesting.
- Bangkok can have cheap rates and smaller crowds.
- Nature lovers can enjoy lush greenery.
High vs Low Tourist Seasons
Tourist seasons impact pricing and crowds at attractions.
- November to February is peak season with ideal weather but higher rates and crowds. Book early!
- March to May, September are shoulder seasons with lower prices and still decent weather.
- June to August are low season with fewer tourists, lowest prices but hot weather in most areas.
Tips for Visiting in Shoulder or Off Season
Visiting Vietnam and Thailand during shoulder and off season has pros and cons. Here are some tips to maximize the experience:
- Research weather patterns before finalizing your itinerary.
- Book early for key festivals like Tet or Songkran when demand is high.
- Expect occasional rain and storms during shoulder seasons – have backup indoor activities planned like museums.
- Off season sees limited hours or closures for some attractions and businesses.
- Enjoy lower prices on hotels and activities! Look for special promotions.
- Head to cooler northern regions in the hot season to beat the heat.
Here is a table recommending the best months for a trip combining Vietnam and Thailand:
|January||North: Cool and dry, great for Hanoi and Sapa. Central: Hot and dry. South: Comfortable and dry.||Cool and dry. Great for Bangkok and beaches.|
|February||North: Cool and dry weather. Central/South: Hottest and driest month.||Hot but dry. Good for Bangkok. Cooler on beaches.|
|March||North: Warming up. Central/South: Hot and dry.||Very hot and dry.|
|April||North: Warm and wet season starts. Central/South: Hot and dry.||Hot and dry. Songkran Festival!|
|May||North: Hot and wet. Low season. Central/South: Hot and dry.||Very hot and dry. Low season.|
|June||Hot, humid and wet. Low season.||Monsoon season starts. Low season.|
|July||Hot, humid and rainy. Low season.||Heavy monsoon rains. Low season.|
|August||Hot, humid and wet. Low season.||Rainy season continues. Low season.|
|September||North: Cooling down, rain easing. Central/South: Rainy season.||Still rainy. Low season.|
|October||North: Cool and dry. Central/South: Rainy season.||Rainy season. Avoid most areas.|
|November||North: Cool and dry. Central/South: Rain easing, nice weather.||Dry season starts. Great weather.|
|December||North: Cool and dry. Best time! Central/South: Cooling down, dry weather.||Excellent weather. Peak tourist season.|
Recommendation: For a combined Vietnam and Thailand trip, the best months are December, January, and February when both countries have predominantly dry and comfortable weather making it ideal for all the top attractions. November is also excellent for Vietnam while a bit rainy still in Thailand. Avoid June through September due to monsoon rains.
Frequently Asked Questions
When is the best time to visit Vietnam?
The peak tourist season in Vietnam running from December to February offers the best weather across most regions. The north has cool and dry winters while central and south Vietnam see hot, dry conditions.
What is the rainy season in Vietnam?
The rainy or monsoon season in Vietnam falls from May to October bringing very hot, humid, and wet weather with potential flooding and typhoons. Central Vietnam sees a shorter wet season from October to December.
When should I avoid visiting Vietnam?
Try avoiding June to August in northern Vietnam when its hot and humid. Steer clear of central and south Vietnam during the wet season months of September to November.
What month has the best weather in Thailand?
November to February offers the best weather across most of Thailand with comfortable temperatures and low humidity ideal for sightseeing.
When should I not travel to Thailand?
Avoid Thailand in September and October during the height of the rainy season with potential flooding, as well as March to June when its excruciatingly hot in most regions.
When are the cheapest times to visit Vietnam and Thailand?
The low tourist seasons of June to August offer the most affordable rates on hotels and activities in both countries. March to May, and September to early November are shoulder seasons with lower prices and crowds compared to peak times.
While there’s no absolute best time to visit Vietnam and Thailand due to their diverse regions and weather variations, the cool, dry months of November through February are ideal for most parts of both countries. Avoid the monsoon season if possible. Shoulder seasons can still be a good time to visit with proper planning around weather patterns, lower crowds, and cheaper prices. Time your travels around major festivals for an incredible experience!