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When is the best time to visit Vietnam and Cambodia?

| Words by Rachel McCombie | , ,

Our definitive guide to when to travel to Vietnam and Cambodia

Overview: Best time to visit Vietnam and Cambodia

In the broadest sense, the best time to visit Vietnam and Cambodia is from November to April. This is because temperatures and humidity falls across central and northern Vietnam and rainfall becomes less frequent in both Vietnam and Cambodia.

As one might expect, the dry season, from November to April, is when the cost pf travelling to Vietnam and Cambodia tends to rise. The cosy of travelling is particularly acute during the week-long Vietnamese Tet Festival in late January or early February. If travelling during this period try to book travel arrangements as early as possible. For a quieter visit to Vietnam and Cambodia, travel between May and early October. Lower prices can be enjoyed during the 'wet season' (short and sharp showers are no be expected), which is still a good time to visit.

Map: When is the best time to visit Vietnam and Cambodia Map: When is the best time to visit Vietnam and Cambodia

Seasons in Vietnam and Cambodia

Cambodia and Vietnam, situated side by side, are often visited in conjunction with each other, but what’s the best time of year to make the trip? Both countries are subject to two main seasons, wet and dry, but they can still be visited and enjoyed all year round. The dry season, from November to April, is the most popular time to visit both countries, but the wet season isn’t as bad as the label implies, and can actually be a pleasant time to go thanks to lower visitor numbers. Indeed, depending on what you want to do in Vietnam and Cambodia, tourist numbers may be more of a consideration in your plans than the weather.

The Dry Season

Weather: This is the time when both Vietnam and Cambodia experience least rainfall, particularly in March and April. Temperatures are more pleasant, too, in the low to high 20s (Celsius), though cooler in the north between December and February, and into the 30s in April. October and November sometimes see flooding in Central Vietnam, so take care if you plan to travel this region at this time of year.

Highlights: The dry season is an ideal time to visit both countries, though important sites such as Angkor will be busier. In Cambodia, December to April is the best time to visit the south coast for sunshine and clear water, the latter particularly desirable if you’re planning to go scuba diving. Though it can be cold, Vietnam’s Halong Bay is atmospheric from December to February, when mists often cover its thousands of limestone islands.

Note that Tet, the Vietnamese New Year celebration, happens at the end of January or early February, and is a particularly busy time because this is when the Vietnamese have their holidays; many travellers advise against travel during this holiday, as it’s really a time for the locals, and transport will be crowded.

The Monsoon Season - May to October

The wet season is also known as the green season because the scenery is lush and green, especially the rice fields.

Weather: Though it’s the wet season, the months between May and November aren’t filled with continuous rain. There will still be plenty of sunshine (paradoxically, probably more than in the dry season), particularly in the mornings. You can expect temperatures to be hot and humid (as much as 38 degrees in May), and the brief afternoon showers of rain can actually be very refreshing. In the far south, it often rains heavily overnight.

Highlights: This season is also known as “the green season”, because scenery is a lush green at this time of year, particularly the rice paddies. Despite this, there are fewer tourists around, meaning you can enjoy the tourist sites in relative peace and quiet. In particular, the ruins of Angkor in Cambodia will be less crowded, and their moats will be full, which makes for some good photographic opportunities. However, if you’re planning a trip to Cambodia’s Battambang, avoid going in September and October, when heavy rain can result in delays on unpaved roads.

This is a great time to visit Vietnam’s dramatic Halong Bay, as the clear blue skies give you a fantastic view of the aforementioned islands. Hoi An is another good wet season destination, as it largely escapes the summer downpours between February and July. To get away from the summer heat, try heading inland to Dalat, a mountainous area with cooler, more pleasant temperatures all year round.