The chaos of Hanoi’s scooters and street vendors. The misty mountains of the North. The limestone karsts of Ha Long Bay. Northern Vietnam is the pearl of Southeast Asia. For first time travelers to Vietnam, there’s a surprise waiting for you around every corner. These surprises could be in the form of seemingly impossible motorbike acrobatics as drivers stack more goods and people on a single motorbike than anyone thought possible. Or it could be coffee so intense that you’ll see into another dimension. On the nature side, the surprise could be the most beautiful view you’ve ever seen. Whatever it is, there’s a lot of fun to be had in this vibrant nation.
Even if you’ve been to Southeast Asia before, you will be struck by just how unique Vietnam is when compared to other nearby destinations – such as Thailand.
When To Go
Vietnam has an incredibly diverse climate. The South is your typical tropical environment with only two seasons – wet and dry. Meanwhile, the North is notably more temperate with four fairly distinct seasons. Therefore, let’s take a look at Vietnam’s seasons and find the best times to plan an epic adventure.
The primary hot and wet season occurs between July and August. Most of Vietnam during this time experiences consistently hot and humid weather, which is perfect for tropical-loving adventurers. Keep in mind that very heavy rains typically accompany this heat, especially in the central highlands and northern regions. Therefore, trekking and hiking can be challenging during this time due to poor road conditions and tough hiking weather, both due to the heavy rains.
December to March is a relatively stable time, weather-wise, to visit Vietnam. Most of the country is drying out after the heavy rains of summer, and the temperatures will be noticeably cooler, making for a more comfortable travel experience. Take note, however, that the northern mountains typically experience chilly weather during this time, so pack layers. While the country may be relatively quiet in December, rest assured that that will change in late January to early February when Tet kicks off.
Tet is the Vietnamese Lunar New Year celebration. If you are looking for a cultural experience, this is a fun time to go. The buildings are decked out in beautiful yellow flowers. There are exciting festivals everywhere you look. The drawback is that it’s the most expensive time to go. This price increase is because the whole country is on the move at this time of year, going to visit friends and family.
Spring and Autumn
For a healthy balance between the dry and cool winter months and the wet and hot summer months, visit from April to June and September to November. The spring will see temperatures slowly rising, along with rainstorm frequency, but will provide excellent weather to see most of the country. The autumn, conversely, will experience gradually falling temperatures and rain frequency as the country’s hiking opportunities once again emerge after the constant deluge of summer showers.
Inn-Based & Homestay Tour
Experience the beauty and splendor of Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi, as we stay in charming luxury accommodations before taking a train to our hiking region. Once there, we’ll trek from village to village exploring Vietnam’s incredibly rich culture. Our nightly homestays will further enhance your connection to the region as we interact with local families and learn about their lives in the beautiful rolling green hills and stunning mountains of northern Vietnam. This trip truly introduces you to Vietnam’s most iconic elements and is the perfect way to explore everything this magical country has to offer.
Need to Know
Remember that all your transportation and meals are covered for the duration of your trip. However, you’ll be required to arrange your transportation to and from the country. Also, the logistics for any extra exploring before or after your Wildland trip is up to you.
Primary Departure Point For Vietnam
All our Vietnam trips begin and end in Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam. A Wildland Trekking representative will be waiting at the Noi Bai International Airport to take you to your first night’s accommodation. If you’re planning on arriving early to explore Vietnam before your trip, please coordinate your rendezvous with your guide. Please see our travel resources page for more information.
Book in Advance
Make sure you book well in advance for your Vietnam tour. We only run a select few trips a year, so be sure to get your spot! Additionally, please make sure you book your visit with us before you move on to reserve your flights. Once you Wildland booking has been confirmed, go ahead and book your travel arrangements.
General Travel Advice
There isn’t anywhere quite like Vietnam. If you haven’t traveled to the region before, there are a few things you should know before you arrive.
We organize all the transportation for you during the trip. However, if you are continuing by yourself afterward, you will have a blast on Vietnamese transport.
The long-distance buses are amazing with A/C and comfy bunk-bed style seats. They regularly stop along the way at roadhouses with tasty food and reasonable bathrooms. Apart from the Hanoi-Sapa train, the train system is no way near as effective as the buses. They run very slowly, there is no food on-board, and the bathrooms can be the stuff of nightmares.
In the cities, the traffic is crazy. You can get around by foot, on the back of a Grab scooter (like Uber for South East Asia), or a metered taxi. Before you get a cab, check which brands are the most reputable in whichever city you are visiting. Otherwise, you may end up paying much more in an unmetered taxi. You can also easily hire a motorbike for the day. While this is a thrilling experience, be aware that if you get into an accident, most insurance policies won’t cover you.
If you are a US citizen, or from almost any Western country, you will need a tourist visa to visit Vietnam. You will most likely need a single-entry 30-day visa, which is available for $25. See the US State Department’s Vietnam page for the most recent visa and travel information.
You can apply for a tourist visa in a few different ways. The first option is to follow the normal visa process by contacting the Vietnamese embassy by email or phone. Alternatively, you can also apply online ahead of time to receive a visa on arrival. You will get approval in 3-5 days, and you will obtain the actual visa upon arrival at the airport.
However, the most straightforward method is an e-visa. These only rolled out in the last couple of years. Right now, e-visas are only available to US, UK, Australian, New Zealand, and Canadian citizens. You can apply for an e-visa through Vietnam’s immigration portal.
Keep in mind that the tourist visa system in Vietnam is VERY complicated. It also tends to change often. We have, therefore, tried to keep it as simple as possible. But we recommend you check with your local Vietnamese embassy to find out exactly what you need to do to get a visa.
Have more questions? Send us an email or call us at 1-800-715-HIKE(4453). We’re here 7 days a week from 9:00 to 4:30 Mountain Time to make sure your trip planning goes as smoothly as possible.
For more information about all your options, check out our Vietnam page on the website with the button below! Individual trip pages have detailed itineraries, trip specifics, travel information, and more.