Vietnam (officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam) stretches over 1,600 km from North to South and covers an area of 332,698 km2. Vietnam shares borders with China in the North and Laos and Cambodia in the West; it faces the Pacific Ocean in the East.
With a population slightly exceeding 90 million people, it is the second most populated country in South-East Asia. The majority of the population is of “Kinh” (also named “Viet”) ethnicity, while 53 minority groups are officially registered, such as the Muong, Thai, H’Mong, Khmer, Meo, Cham, Tay, Nung, etc.
The shape of Vietnam is reminiscent of the letter S, featuring two large plains in the North and in the South, separated in the middle by an isthmus of 50 km at its narrowest section.
The two largest cultivated zones are the Red River Delta in the North and the Mekong Delta in the South. In the North, the plain of Bac Bo (15,000 km2) is composed of alluvial deposits carried by the Red River and its tributaries, canalized by a 3,000 km of dikes. In the South, the plain of Nam Bo (60,000 km2) is formed by the alluvial deposits from the Mekong River.
Hills and mountains cover 75% of the territory. The highest peak, mount Fansipan, culminates at 3,143 m and is located in Northwestern Vietnam. The Truong Son mountain range forms the Tay Nguyen, the Central Highlands, and winds along the borders with Lao and Cambodia.
Vietnam features several archipelagos scattered from North to South, including Hoang Sa (Paracel Islands) and Truong Sa (Spratly Islands).
The biggest metropolis is Ho Chi Minh City, followed by Hanoi, Hai Phong and Da Nang. The largest ports are Saigon and Hai Phong.
Vietnam, a country once forbidden to tourists, now attracts millions of visitors each year, thanks to its rich culture, its strong traditions and its hospitable people. This exotic destination offers fabulous wonders, including magical islands located in pristine waters, historical and cultural sites such as pagodas and also other sites listed as World Heritage. Traveling to Vietnam is an unforgettable experience for any visitor.
Vietnam is located in a region with tropical and subtropical climate, marked by monsoon. As a result, it is hot and humid and there are a lot of discrepancies between the North and the South.
There is no good or bad season to visit Vietnam. In fact, if the weather is sunny and hot in one region, it can be very cold and rainy in another region at the same time. The best time to travel to Vietnam thus depends on what you want to visit and do once you get there.
Hanoi and Northern Vietnam are characterized by 4 seasons: spring is mild and humid, summer is hot and rainy, autumn is mild and pleasant and winter is cold and humid.
The best time to visit the North is from March to May and from September to December. During those months, it is neither too hot nor too cold.
In January and February, temperatures can fall to 8oC – 10oC.
From June to September, the weather is nice and sunny. Temperature ranges from 25oC to 38oC. It is a good time to gaze at the landscapes and to visit the rice terraces in the mountains. There can be storms and typhoons, which can sometimes cause the cancellations of cruises on Ha Long Bay.
In Central Vietnam, and particularly in Da Nang, Hue and Hoi An, the weather is hot and dry from February to August and temperatures usually reach 30oC. From mid-October to the end of November, it can rain heavily and even flood in Hue and Hoi An (in general, it regularly rains from the end of October to December).
January to May: best time to travel. The period extending from June to August/September is the hottest. The temperature in the Central Highlands (Dalat, Buon Ma Thuot, Pleiku) is cooler than on the coast.
Ho Chi Minh City and the South
Ho Chi Minh City and the Southern part of Vietnam have two distinct seasons:
- A dry season from December to April, with rare periods of rain and usually a sunny sky. Temperatures oscillates between 28oC and 38oC;
- A rainy season extending from May to November. Rains are occurring regularly, mostly in late afternoon (usually short but strong rain showers). The weather is hot and sunny.