Is the Vietnamese monsoon season to be avoided at all costs or are the long summer months the time to visit? Umbrellas at the ready as we take a closer look at the ‘green season’.
As I sit here in the midsummer heat of Hanoi, it seems as good a time as any to answer the age old question on every traveller’s lips – “So when exactly should I visit Vietnam?” Queue furrowed brows and a weather chart that would impress even the most enthusiastic meteorological student.
Stretching over 1,000 miles (or about 1,600 kilometers) from north to south, Vietnam takes in more weather systems than the average country. From the steamy water ways of the Mekong Delta in the south, to the cool breezes of the mountain ranges of Sapa in the north – Vietnam is a country as geographically diverse as it is fascinating. The common wisdom is to travel in the months of spring – after the ‘winter’ in the north and before the summer monsoon arrives in May. But with fewer tourists and great offers out there, is the monsoon really to be avoided at all costs?
Where is the rain?
Think of the Vietnamese monsoon and most people picture Forest Gump wading through water up to his neck, whilst listing the 37 types of rain you can experience on any one afternoon. Now don’t get me wrong – when it rains here, it really does rain. For one hour you best take cover, put your feet up and enjoy an ice coffee (or an ice cold beer) as raincoats of all shapes and sizes are thrown on, street stalls are relocated in the blink of an eye and people make a mad dash for cover.
And as quickly as it arrived – it is gone. But where were the other 36 varieties of rain? You only counted one – very heavy. Where were the 5 months of continuous downpours you were ready for? Well, you will be sad to hear that Gump has misled you – in fact most showers last for an hour or two, every few days or so.
If the monsoon has just lost a bit of its aura then I apologise. Coming from London I look forward to months of endless rain as much as the next person, but the monsoon just doesn’t deliver. What it does deliver is a bloom of colour and vibrancy that is unmatched at any other time of year. This has led to the rather more apt name for the monsoon: Green Season.
It is the monsoon that keeps the countryside green and makes for some of the best rice crops in the world. Ask anyone who has travelled here what their memory of Vietnam is and somewhere on that list will be the word “Green”. There are more greens than an artist’s pallet. The fields, the jungles, the tree lined boulevards in every town, the plants on every balcony, the stacks of green vegetables sold on every street corner. Vietnam is green and it is greenest in the summer months!
So if you want to see the country at its vibrant best, and can handle an occasional downpour then why not travel over the summer months? You will be avoiding the crowds, and may just find that your dream trip to Indochina is that little more affordable than you thought. As I write this the heavens have just opened – the cue to put away the weather charts, open a beer and enjoy the show.
Buffalo Tours offers tailored tours to optimize travelling during the monsoon season in Vietnam! Discover our wide slection to help you explore rainy Vietnam. For more practical tips about tavelling Vietnam in Monsoon season, read these tips from our resident travel experts.