Are you planning a winter trip to Vietnam? We pick our 5 best places to spend Christmas, plus we share our perfect winter in Vietnam packing list and lots of details about the weather!
What’s in our Guide to Winter in Vietnam?
2. What Should You Pack for Winter in Vietnam?
3. Climate, Rainfall, and FAQ About Vietnam in Winter
4. Don’t Miss These Vietnam Travel Guides
5. Want to Know Our Vietnam Secrets?
6. More Vietnam Travel Planning Help
If you’re thinking of visiting Vietnam this winter, we say, go for it!
With its diverse landscape and more than 3000 km of coastline, Vietnam has great weather all year round — as long as you choose your destinations wisely.
As one of our favourite countries in the world (we’ve visited at least 6 times), we don’t think there is a bad time to go to Vietnam. And, in fact, winter may be one of the best.
(Don’t miss our complete guide to your Vietnam adventure) →
These trips were all in different years. See, I told you we’ve been to Vietnam a lot!
Read on to learn all about…
Travelling in Winter in Vietnam
Top 5 Places to Spend Christmas in Vietnam
If you’re planning to be in Vietnam for Christmas, prepare to be surprised.
Even though Vietnam’s population is mostly Buddhist, many locals celebrate a secular version of Christmas – it’s a time to have some festive fun and get together with friends and family. You can expect to see Christmas trees and lights decorating city streets and shopping centres, while many tours and hotels will bring Christmas to life for their guests.
Plus, if you don’t spot at least one Santa Claus on your winter trip to Vietnam, I’ll eat his fuzzy red hat!
We highly recommend trying to spend Christmas in one of the following fabulous places, to maximize the holiday fun!
Halong Bay Cruise
For a Christmas you’ll never forget, spend it on a luxury cruise of Halong Bay or Bai Tu Long Bay. Experience the peace on board a traditional wooden cruise ship floating through some of the world’s most breathtaking landscape.
Most cruise operators get into the holiday spirit, too, providing Christmas decorations and special meals for the big day. Just don’t expect turkey with all the trimmings!
Ho Chi Minh City
If you’ve never spent winter in an Asian city before, you might be surprised to discover just how much the locals love Christmas.
In Ho Chi Minh City, the streets are strung with Christmas lights and Christmas trees twinkle enticingly around the city. Many hotels do special Christmas meals and you can even catch a Christmas mass at Saigon’s impressive Notre Dame Cathedral.
(Related: This City Pass Guide reveals the top ways to celebrate Christmas in Saigon) →
Phu Quoc Island
With an average daily high temperature of 30°C (85°F) and almost no rain in December and January, Phu Quoc Island, off the southwest coast of Vietnam, is the perfect place for a Christmas beach break. Of course, with such perfect weather, the winter holidays are extremely busy, so book your stay on Phu Quoc as soon as possible.
Mekong Delta Getaway
If you want to truly get away from your hectic city life, spend Christmas cruising the Mekong and staying with a local farmer on this Intrepid 2-day tour. Learn about life on the Mekong Delta and gain some perspective on your own life in the process. On this trip, you might just discover the true meaning of Christmas.
(Related: You can also turn this into a 4-day Mekong tour that includes Ho Chi Minh City) →
Luxury Retreat in Da Nang
If you want to spend the Christmas season basking on luxurious self-care, check out this retreat.
Spend a few days being pampered in the spa, relaxing on the beach, or lounging beside the gorgeous pool. You’ll get your own private villa and eat a delicious selection of restorative foods, including options for vegans, vegetarians, gluten free, and raw foodies.
What Should You Pack for Winter in Vietnam?
With its extremely diverse climate, you’ll need to pack based on your specific destination in Vietnam.
For winter in northern Vietnam don’t forget:
- A scarf & warm hat. It can get very cold in the mountains.
- A warm sweater or fleece. If you’re heading into the mountains, prepare for cold!
- A waterproof jacket. Especially if you’re going to be there in November.
- Hiking boots. The mountain trails get slick and muddy in rainy season.
For winter in central Vietnam, don’t forget:
- Sarong. So useful for beach and pool time!
- Long pants. It can get breezy in the evening.
- Light sweater. Evenings can be cool in winter.
- Walking shoes. Bring shoes that you can wear in the city and on short hikes.
For winter in southern Vietnam, pack these:
- Bathing suit / bikini. You’ll definitely hang out on the beach.
- One nice outfit. For fashionable nights out in Ho Chi Minh City.
- Close-toed sandals. It’s hot but walking in flip-flops is not OK on Vietnam’s broken streets!
For all locations, you’ll also definitely want to bring:
- Sunglasses. To protect your eyes from sun and dirt particles!
- Mosquito repellent. Mozzies can turn up anywhere in Vietnam.
- Travel camera. So many pictures to take!
- Travel insurance. Any adventurous country requires insurance!
Where to buy winter clothes in Vietnam?
If you’re heading to Vietnam in winter, and you forget to pack the essentials, you can buy what you need in Vietnam.
Look for bargains in Sapa Market
In the markets of Sapa, you can find warm hats, sweaters, and jackets to keep you cozy during your winter trek. Most of them are fakes of well known brands like North Face, so sharpen your bargaining skills and expect cheap low-quality goods.
I still have my knock-off North Face rain jacket I bought in Sapa a couple of year ago. It’s totally plastic and not at all breathable, but it still keeps me warm and dry all over the world!
Shopping for winter clothes in Hanoi
In Hanoi, there are dozens of stores that sell North Face and other well known brands. Almost all are selling fake merchandise – but there is plenty of choice to help you stay cozy during winter in Vietnam.
Shopping in Ho Chi Minh City
If you’re not into fakes, head to Ho Chi Minh City, where you have all the shopping options you might expect in any major city around the world. From high-end brands to bargain basement deals, shopping in Ho Chi Minh City will not disappoint.
How to Buy a Rain Poncho in Vietnam
Anywhere you go in Vietnam, as soon as it starts raining, you’ll find huge plastic rain ponchos available on every street corner for a couple of dollars. They can be much better than a regular rain jacket for keeping you dry in Vietnam’s torrential rainstorms.
Climate, Rainfall, and FAQ About Vietnam in Winter
When is winter in Vietnam?
Being in the northern hemisphere, winter in Vietnam officially starts at the winter solstice in late December and ends on the spring equinox, in late March. However, if you’re wondering when winter weather starts in Vietnam, that’s a little more complicated.
Because Vietnam is such a long, narrow country, we tend to divide it into three regions when it comes to talking about the climate: northern Vietnam, central Vietnam, southern Vietnam.
With such a diverse climate in Vietnam, here’s what to expect from each region in winter.
Winter in northern Vietnam
Northern Vietnam, which includes the popular tourist destinations of Sapa, Hanoi, and Ha Long Bay, experiences a remarkably cold winter for a country with a tropical climate.
The mountainous region around Sapa gets the coldest, with daily highs sinking down to below 15°C (60°F) in December and January. At night, it can get close to freezing.
November in Sapa can be quite rainy, but December marks the beginning of dry season. If you want to go trekking in Sapa, wait until mid-December so you’ll have a good chance of seeing clear views of the mountains.
Winter in central Vietnam
In the coastal regions of central Vietnam, around Hue, Da Nang, and Hoi An, early winter is rainy season. November is central Vietnam’s rainiest month but the rain tends to tail off in December and there is even less in January.
Winter average temperatures in central Vietnam hover around 20°C (70°F), so it is generally a comfortable time to travel.
Winter in southern Vietnam
In winter, southern Vietnam gets the best weather. Rainy season ends during November. Dry season runs from December through February. You’ll also get a lot of sun and daily high temperatures around 30° C (85° F). Winter is the perfect time for a beach vacation in southern Vietnam, so start packing your swimsuit and sunblock.
How cold is winter in Vietnam?
In most of the country, winter in Vietnam doesn’t get as cool as spring or fall in North America or Europe. It can drop down to freezing but only in the northern mountainous regions. In much of the country, average temperatures hover in the mid 20s during winter. So, winter in Vietnam is a perfectly pleasant time of year to travel!
Is there snow in Vietnam?
The only snow in Vietnam falls in the northern mountainous regions of the country. It doesn’t snow in the town of Sapa often but the top of Mount Fansipan can get dusted with snow. Parts of the Annamite Range, possibly the most beautiful mountains we’ve ever seen, can also get snow between December and February.
When is the best time to visit Vietnam?
The best time to visit Vietnam is… right now!
In truth, there really is no best time of year to visit Vietnam. It rarely gets too cold to travel comfortably and even rainy season can be a fun time to visit. Plus, if you don’t like the weather in the location you’ve chosen, just head north or south for something completely different.
If you’re thinking of going to Vietnam in December, be aware that it’s one of the busiest times of year. While it’s not a huge problem – you can always find a decent place to sleep in Vietnam – it’s a good idea to start planning your trip earlier than you might for less busy times of year.
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More Vietnam Travel Planning Help
- Don’t head to Vietnam without reading our complete guide
- Quick & easy guide to getting a Vietnam visa
- Grab our Vietnam itineraries for 2 fabulous weeks
We hope this guide to winter in Vietnam is helpful in planning your trip. If you have any questions, ask them in the comments below — we aim to answer within 24 hours. Now get that plane ticket booked and get to Vietnam!
♥ Happy mindful adventures, Jane & Stephen
We’re not going to lie, it takes a LOT of work to create travel guides like this. But it’s easy to help us out! If you book or buy something using one of our personal links in this post, we’ll earn a small fee at no extra cost to you. Of course, we would never recommend anything we didn’t 100% believe in! Huge thanks in advance! –S&J