Although relatively compact, Vietnam Cambodia Laos and Thailand have a seemingly infinite amount of climates to match its varied mountains, beaches, religions and cuisines. Weather patterns vary wildly even within the same country — in Vietnam, for instance, when Hanoi gets downright chilly during the winter months, Ho Chi Minh City sees monsoons and temperatures remain fairly pleasant in central Vietnam throughout the year. Whether planning a week-long beach holiday or a three-month visit around the region, it’s useful to know best time to visit Southeast Asia. Here’s a handy guide to the best time to travel to Vietnam and Cambodia Laos and Thailand with a detailed guide for each destination.
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Overall, the best time to visit Vietnam Cambodia Thailand and Laos is from November to March since it has perfect weather throughout all the countries.
When is the best time to visit Vietnam?
Although Vietnam is located in the tropical area, Vietnam weather is divided into three distinct climatic zones. It is necessary to distinguish between temperate and tropical climates, temperate climates of four seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter in the North and North Central, the tropical moonson in the Central of Vietnam and the typical tropical climates with only two seasons: dry and rain in the South of Vietnam.
So the best time to visit Vietnam is depending on the destinations you choose. Let’s find out what is the best time to explore each region of Vietnam.
Hanoi – Ninh Binh – Halong Bay – Sapa – Ha Giang
Basically, the best time to visit North Vietnam is from October to May. However, you can visit North Vietnam all year round.
Hanoi and North Vietnam have a distinct winter and summer season.
November to April is the cool but mostly dry winter when temperatures average 17-22°C with the coldest months being January – March.
May to October is the summertime in Vietnam when it is hot and humid and North Vietnam experience its highest rainfall. Whilst, the wettest months of the year are July to September. During these months severe weather can prevent junks sailing in Halong Bay although such weather is rare..
The best month to visit Hanoi is from September to April when the weather is pleasant wilth milder temperatures. Whilst the other months are getting a little hotter with average temperatures around 28-35ºC (82º-95ºF) and the rainy season in Hanoi happen at these time: heavy rains may happen sometimes in the summer, however, it is not consistent and does not affect your travel. But the fact is that you can visit Hanoi all year round because every season has its unique beauty.
Hanoi weather by Month
December – March: cold (sometimes as cold as 5 degrees) but mainly dry
April – June: warm and humid
July – September: hot and humid and chances of showers
October – November: warm, clear skies.
- Ninh Binh:
Almost any time of the year is good to visit Ninh Binh.
Like in all the north Vietnam, May to October in Ninh Binh is hot, humid and with high rainfall. The region can be specially vulnerable to typhoons during September. November to April months tend to be cooler and dry.
However, the rainy season is also when the rice fields are at their best vivid green, so there’s really a reason to visit all year round!
- Ha Long Bay:
Halong Bay is situated in the Northeastern part of the country, its weather is different in 4 seasons but it can be mainly divided into cold dry winter and hot humid summer.
Winter in Halong Bay lasts from November to March which lead to cold weather, getting colder in Jan, Feb… not ideal for swimming. The foggy days or strong monsoon are also visible this time. Despite of this season feature, this time rises as high season of Halong Bay tourism. The temperature is from 12ºC to 20ºC
Summertime lasts from May to early September, as other part of the Northern country, the Bay is sunny and hot for swimming under clear blue sky. There is light rain in some days and even unexpected typhoon that might cancel your trip. Temperature rises from 25ºC. Summer promotion rate can be found during this time.
Spring (March, April) and Fall (September, October) seems to be the best time to visit Halong bay, the weather is cool and you enjoy the best time of the year.
However, in general, you can to visit Halong Bay all year around. Even though there are some unexpected cases leading to trip cancellation. Each season will bring you a different feeling that you will never forget.
- Sapa – Mu Cang Chai – Ha Giang( The North-west region)
The climate in Sapa and Vietnam’s north-west region including Mu Cang Chai is divided into two seasons: the dry season runs from October to late March with the wet season lasting from April to September. It can get very cold and frosty in December and January, especially at night.
The best months to travel in Sapa is during the dry season, from October to April, although December and January can get very cold. We recommend avoiding traveling in Ha Giang during the rainy season (May to September).
Hoi An, Danang, Hue, Dalat, Quy Nhon & Nha Trang
Centre of Vietnam have hot and dry weather from mid-January to late August, with temperatures often reaching the mid-30’s °C. During the winter months the rainfall increases with October and November achieving peak levels, occasionally in the form of typhoons, it is not recommended to visit Center of Vietnam during these months.
Hue is often cooler than Hoi An, especially early in the year. In addition, with each sitting on opposite sides of a small mountain range the weather can often differ between the two greatly on any given day.
Quy Nhon is a six hour drive south of Hoi An and shares a similar weather pattern although the dry season is slightly longer due to its proximity to the southern system.
Nha Trang, Ho Chi Minh City, The Mekong Delta, Phu Quoc & Con Dao, Phan Thiet & Mui Ne, Ho Tram & Long Hai
With temperatures remaining constant year round, the climate of the south is split into two simple seasons, wet and dry. The dry season begins in November and ends in April/early May with late February to May being slightly hotter and more humid. The wet season lasts from May until early November with the months from June, July & August receiving the highest rainfall of the year. Throughout much of the wet season rainfall is generally heavy but short lasting, often occurring in a mid-afternoon heavy downpour. The average temperatures in the south range between 25 – 35°C year round.
In the far south, the islands of Phu Quoc and Con Dao can be enjoyed year-round, with high chances of sunny days, although if visiting outside dry season, afternoon downpours should be expected.
* Asianwaytravel.com can create your ideal trip to Southeast Asia . In addition to the benefits of all Asianwaytravel.com—booking handpicked hotels, transportation, excursions and more—customized tours offer a personalized experience. You decide where to visit, how long to spend and what type of accommodation suits you best.
If you are looking for more places to visit Vietnam in 2018 and see what is weather like in Vietnam then see our Vietnam Travel Guide in each month:
- JANUARY | FEBRUARY | MARCH | APRIL | MAY | JUNE | JULY | AUGUST| SEPTEMBER | OCTOBER | NOVEMBER | DECEMBER
- WHERE TO GO IN VIETNAM 2019: THE TOP HIGHLIGHT VIETNAM DESTINATIONS BY MONTH
- WHAT TO DO IN VIETNAM IN 2 WEEKS FOR THE FIRST -TIMER
What is the best time to visit Cambodia?
Cambodia is blessed with one of Asia’s simpler weather systems. The country has two distinct weather seasons, but you can visit Cambodia all year round.
In general, the entire country is subject to the same weather patterns, mainly due to the relatively uniform altitude and latitude throughout Cambodia.
There are two distinct seasons – dry (October to late April) and wet (May to late September). Within each season there are variations in temperature, with the final few dry months leading up to the wet season (March and April) and the early months of the wet season (May and June) usually being the hottest of the year with temperatures in excess of 35°C at times.
Humidity is at its highest during March and April whilst the coolest months of the year tend to be between October and December, however this is cool for Cambodia but far from chilly with average temperatures hovering around 24°C-26°C.
The Dry Season
October – April/Early May
Cambodia’s dry season lasts from October to April, when the dry north-east monsoon arrives, characterised by hot wind blowing across the entire country. Whilst November to January are quite cool (high 20°C’s), by April the weather is scorching making early morning and late afternoon Angkor Temple tours, with a few hours by the hotel pool at lunchtime, the preference for many.
Thanks to the hot weather this is unsurprisingly the season when Cambodia’s tourist numbers peak.
In more remote parts, such as the north east regions of Mondulkiri & Ratanakiri, the roads are at their best and journey times are shorter because of this. Kep and Sihanoukville on the south coast are popular during this season as they bask in the brilliant sunshine and sea conditions are very favorable.
The Wet Season
Early/Mid May – October
Cambodia’s wet season comes courtesy of the southwest monsoon and lasts from May to October, bringing with it almost 75% of Cambodia’s annual rainfall. Across Cambodia, throughout much of the rainy season, daytime temperatures average between 25°C and 27°C. The early months of the wet season (May – July) remain very hot with infrequent rainfall usually in the form of short downpours. In the latter months (late July – September) the rains tend becomes more constant and is heavy at times, especially in coastal and rural regions.
Travel in the more remote corners of the country, such as Mondulkiri & Ratanakiri, is almost impossible due to the state of the roads and journeys into the north east are inadvisable during the peak wet season because of this. There is also very limited access to Bamboo Island (near Kep) due to high seas.
On the upside, travelling in monsoonal Cambodia does have its advantages. The dust is gone and the lush greenery of the countryside returns. Angkor Wat in particular is stunning in the wet season, with moats brimming with water and a severe drop in visitor numbers. High rainfall make it the perfect time of year to visit the flooded forests and floating villages of Tonle Sap Lake by boat, as it swells to more than 5 times its size during wet season.
When is the best time of year to visit Laos?
The dry season in Laos typically runs from October to April, and the wet season from May until September, with the heaviest rainfall generally in August & September, especially in the south. The hottest time of the year in Laos is typically between the months of March and June, when temperatures can climb to 35°C and above.
Despite having two distinct weather seasons you can travel in Laos all-year-round and with no coastline to influence things, Laos’ weather system is relatively straight-forward compared with much of Asia; consisting of a dry season (October to late April) and a wet season (May to late September). Within each season there are variations in temperature, with the dry months leading up to the wet season (March and April) and the early wet season (May and June) typically being the hottest of the year.
Temperatures throughout the country are also greatly affected by altitude with much of the country at a level that reduces the country’s average temperatures by several °C. As a general rule north, central and eastern regions are at a higher altitude than those in the south, where at its lowest, in the Mekong River valley, humidity is higher and temperatures in excess of 35°C are not uncommon between March and April.
The early months of the wet season (May to July) remain very hot and rainfall is often short-lived, whilst in the latter months (late July until September) the rains become more constant and can be heavy at times, especially in southern parts of the country.
Further north and in Luang Prabang, rainfall tends to be lighter and you can often expect rain during the night or mornings with some relatively clear afternoons. Across Laos, throughout much of the rainy season, daytime temperatures average around 29°C in the lowlands and 23°C in the mountain valleys.
Throughout the country in all but the hottest months of the year, it is often advisable to have a jumper or fleece for the evenings, when there is a tendency for it to get quite cool.
Luang Prabang, surrounded by jungle and ‘cut through’ by the flow of the Mekong River, has a typical tropical-monsoon climate and tends to be cooler than destinations further south. The dry season is split into two halves, with the latter months being the hottest. During its ‘coldest’ months (December and January), temperatures can settle at around 17°C and nights and early mornings can be chilly. Once you reach March temperatures start to rise and come April and May it can peak as high as 31°C+.
During the wet season (May to October) you can expect heavy downpours for short periods, most commonly during the night or early morning. Initially this rarely lasts more than an hour or two, and helps to clear the air, leaving bright blue skies in its wake. Come August and September the rainfall can be more prolonged.
The Mekong River
February & March
At this time a typically disappointing amount of international pressure is being applied to China to exercise more stringent control on their damming procedure to ensure the countries of the lower Mekong receive acceptable levels of water.
What is the best time of year to visit Thailand?
Thailand’s peak season is November to February, when the weather is generally at its best throughout the country. In northern Thailand dry season is between November & May; June to October is characterised by heavy rainfall and temperatures are cooler between October & January. The south can be split into two: the wettest months on the west coast are between April & October; whilst the east coast experiences heavy rainfall from September to December. During the rest of the year, dry and sunny weather is the order of the day.
Thai Land Weather overview
Known throughout the world for its welcoming people, spicy cuisine and outstanding beaches, Thailand offers the complete holiday package. The weather’s not bad either, with much of the country experiencing a typically tropical climate consisting of two seasons: dry and wet.
The exception to the rule is the southern regions, with either side of the Thai Peninsula experiencing a typically monsoon climate, although to complicate things a little further, the two sides are out of synch with each other.
This however does usually mean there is sun to be found on a beach somewhere.
You can visit Thailand throughout the year, however more rural parts become less accessible at the peak of the rainy season and winter weather brings higher seas which has its baring on those idyllic beach days!
North & Central of Thai Land
Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Nan, Chiang Kham, Kanchanaburi, Issan
In the north of Thailand, the dry season runs from November to May/June, with little if any rain expected throughout the region for much of this time. After the cooler winter months, from mid-January temperatures start to rise, peaking between March and May when it is not unusual for the mercury to break into the high 30’s and even 40°C+ especially in the central regions. These sky-high temperatures can last well into the rainy season, however with the rain comes cloud cover and a rise in the humidity, making travel less comfortable.
The south-west monsoon usually arrives between May and July. Initially, the rain usually comes in the form of short downpours, lasting an hour or two, clearing the way for warm, clear skies. As the rainy season progresses, the rain can become heavier and more constant, traditionally reaching peak levels in August and September. In the early wet season (June to August) temperatures generally remain high (avg daily temp: 28 °C-34°C), although they drop dramatically in the winter months of October and November.
By November, the rainfall and hot, sticky weather will have decreased significantly, with dry weather returning for the next six months. From October to January, temperatures can be relatively cool, especially in the north of the country at higher altitude (avg daily temp: 17°C -26°C). Throughout the region at this time of year, evenings can be chilly due to the lack of cloud cover and the temperatures relatively low.
Gulf of Thailand
Koh Samui, Koh Phan Ngan, Koh Tao, Khanom, Hua Hin & Cha Am
Thailand’s east coast has three defined seasons. From December to February you can expect good weather, with little if any rain, and refreshing winds helping to keep temperatures more moderate. Because of the winds, the sea can be a little ‘dynamic’ creating ideal conditions for water sports enthusiasts.
From March, temperatures will start to rise (avg daily temp: 29°C – 35°C), usually reaching peak levels in April and May.
Whilst initially rainfall remains unlikely, by June a little rain becomes is expected, usually in the form of an hour-long afternoon downpour, clearing the way for more blue skies and bright sunshine. In late-August/September the monsoon is expected, bringing with it plenty of rainfall and a rise in humidity. Temperatures are still in the 30ºC’s however and you can expect sunny spells interspersed with rainy periods.
Rainfall usually peaks between October and November. Despite being on the Gulf of Thailand coastline, Hua Hin & Cha Am experience slightly different rain patterns with serious rainfall only occuring in September and October. Another slight anomaly are the islands of Koh Chang and Koh Kood that sit on the eastern side of the Gulf of Thailand and experience similar weather patterns to the beaches along the Andaman Sea coast with wet season occurring between May and October.
Andaman Sea, Khao Sok
Phuket, Krabi, Koh Phi Phi, Khao Lak, Koh Lanta, Koh Kood, Koh Chang, Khao Sok National Park
Thailand’s west coast has three defined seasons. From November to March, many consider conditions to be at their best with a cooling wind keeping the sky-high summer temperatures at bay and making the daytime more comfortable (avg daily temp: 26°C -32°C). Thanks to the breeze, the humidity levels are lower than later in the year.
From March through to May the temperatures rise (avg daily temp: 30°C-36°C) as the cooling winds depart and the humidity rises.
Come late May, monsoonal weather will usually have arrived, which is expected to last through to October. Peak rainfall levels are usually experienced between mid-September and mid-October. Outside of these months, the rain will often come in a short, heavy downpour, usually in the afternoon.
Khao Sok National Park in southern Thailand follows the same weather patterns as the Andaman Sea coastline, experiencing most rainfall between May and October, although being one of the wettest areas of the country, rain showers can be expected year round. Wet season is actually a good time of year to visit the National Park as average temperatures are a comfortable 25-26°C, the rainforest is green & lush, and there is more chance of spotting wildlife.
What the best time to visit Southeast Asia: Vietnam Laos Cambodia Thailands?
So in conclusion, the best time to visit Southeast Asia is from November to Febuary, this is the peak season since the weather is cooler and drier than the rest of the year. It also happens to coincide with the western winter; all the more reason for tourists from the other side of the world to plan their trip to Southeast Asia during this time.
March through May, for all intents and purposes, is shoulder season in Southeast Asia. It’s the hottest time of the year there, with temperatures often hovering around 100 degrees. It’s also insanely humid, with occasional rain.
June through October is generally considered wet season – prime time for monsoon rains. It’s not uncommon for the daily rain to start a month earlier as it did during my trip.
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- For where to go in other months, see our Vietnam Holiday Calendar: