Travel planning is the ultimate way to take on a stress-free vacation to Halong Bay. However, it is sometimes stressful because there are many things to take into consideration such as when is the best time to visit Halong Bay? How to achieve a smooth and fun-filled journey? With first-hand knowledge and deep insight about Halong Bay, our complete guide below will hopefully make everything easier for you.

The Best Time to Visit Halong Bay

IN A NUTSHELL
  • Best time to visit Halong Bay: March, April, May, October, November, and December.
  • For sightseeing trips: April, May, June, October, November, and December.
  • For outdoor activities: March, April, May and June.
  • For money saving: late May, June, July, August, and early September.

1. Best Time by Weather

Featuring the tropical hot climate of Northern Vietnam, Halong Bay weather is characterized by two distinct patterns: hot & humid summer and cold winter. Between these seasons, there are also transitional seasons called spring and autumn in a short period of time.

Spring (March to April): Pleasant, dry weather makes spring among the best time to go on an overnight trip to the bay. The temperatures range between 18°C and 23°C. During these months, you can also expect to soak up the gentle sunshine and little rainfall, perfect for sightseeing excursions and outdoor activities.

Summer (May to September): Regarded as the off-peak season, especially for foreigners, the hot and humid summer can be really irritated and harsh for travelers. Extreme heat usually lasts all day long, 30°C on average so sunscreen is very essential. The hottest months are June, July, and August. In addition, August receives the highest precipitation and high risks of storms. Despite that, on the plus side, summer enables beach bums to freely enjoy a dip in the cool water and take part in multiple water-based activities. Budget-minded travelers can also save a great sum of money since many tour operations offer promotions, discounts during this season.

Beautiful Halong bay in Summer Time (May) 

Fall (Late September - October): Lasting too short but autumn is always the best season of the year. This is also the second peak tourist season in Halong Bay. Your cruise vacation will also be more tempting with less rain and more sunshine, ideal for going out.

Winter (November - February): Winter without a doubt is the coldest time of the year. The temperatures drop down to around 10°C and 20°C and the weather is dry. Therefore, swimming is almost impossible during this time and thick fog in the early morning may obstruct your vision. One plus point of winter is that this is the festival season with several important occasions like Christmas, New Year, and Lunar New Year.

Weather Average by Month (In 2018)


JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJuneJulyAugustSeptemberOctoberNovemberDecember
Maximum temp (ºC)242529333435353533292724
Minimum temp (ºC)171819212425252423222118
Maximum rainfall (MM)2211111437825611839492140
Avg rainy days1995836121014111419

Summary

  • January and December saw the highest number of rainy days (19/30)
  • April had the highest rainfall (143mm)
  • May had the least rainy days (03)

Verdict: For optimum weather conditions, the best months to visit Halong Bay are probably April and May. The weather will likely be warm but not too hot, there will be fewer rain showers and more sunshine.

2. Popularity: Peak vs Off-Peak Season

2. Popularity: Peak vs Off-Peak Season Cruises Docking at Tuan Chau Marina (March)

Peak season naturally means higher prices and more tourists, however, you will enjoy better weather conditions at this time. In contrast, the off-peak season means discounts on tours and accommodation with a higher risk of weather warnings.

Peak season makes up most of the year, but it really peaks in summer when many Vietnamese people take their annual vacation, adding domestic tourists to the usual mash of international tourists. Prices become more inflated and there may be long waits to see attractions.

The off-peak season tends to be in the mid-to-late summer months, as the weather is not ideal for a Halong Bay Cruise due to the higher risk of bad weather. Prices drop to a more acceptable rate and the crowds disperse.

Verdict:

A happy medium would be in the months of March to May, in between the peak and off-peak seasons. There are fewer international travelers meaning that prices are typically not at their highest and there are fewer crowds. Then there’s the added bonus of better weather compared to the rest of the year - not too hot, or too wet. What more could you ask for?!

3. Best Time by Event Calendar

3. Best Time by Event Calendar New Year Celebration in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (December)

Vietnamese people love a celebration, so naturally, there are many festivals and celebrations to consider when planning your trip to Halong Bay. Some festivals mean the area comes alive with activity, and others mean that many locals stay at home and enjoy quality time with their families.

Tet (Lunar New Year)

Tet is considered the most important of all national holidays in Vietnam, it is above all a time for Vietnamese people to spend with their family and friends. It’s traditionally celebrated on the first day of the Lunar New Year which is always in January or February. 

Traditional Meals for New Year Holiday.
 

While this an exciting time of year, it is also a very busy time as there are up to 9 days when Vietnamese people are off work and traveling up and down the country to visit family, leaving the transportation networks often quite congested. Despite the holiday, Halong cruises and tours continue to operate as normal and are sure to be a great time due to the festive mood. Just be sure that you allow extra time if you plan to travel to Halong Bay from elsewhere in the country!

Firework shows in Ho Chi Minh City in Lunar New Year Eve.
 

Halong Bay Carnaval

Halong Bay Carnaval is one of the most exciting annual festivals in Vietnam and draws thousands of tourists from all over the world. Highlights include lively street parades, performances from international troupes, dazzling fireworks and a great display of local culture. The carnival is usually held in late April or early May which is great timing as it coincides with the best weather.

Halong Carnaval (Photo credit: Congthuong.vn)
 

Other Festivals

There are many other festivals that are celebrated in Halong Bay and the surrounding area. Yen Tu festival is a period after the Tet Holiday when thousands of people make a pilgrimage to the top of Yen Tu mountain to pray for good tidings in the new year. It runs from the first to the third lunar month, which is usually February to April. The Bach Dang festival celebrates historic military victories on the Bach Dang river and attracts many more tourists and visitors each year. During the Bach Dang festival, there is a river procession, human-chess, and wrestling as well as a general atmosphere of celebration! Bach Dang is also celebrated around April or May.

Verdict:

If you’re looking for hustle and bustle and fun festivities, then you should definitely plan your Halong Bay trip to coincide with the Halong Carnaval. However, if you are steering towards a more mellow vacation then you should consider avoiding April and May!

Pro Tip: Whether you go in winter or summer, high or low season, pack a warm jacket AND a swimsuit. The weather in Vietnam is often unpredictable and you don’t want to be caught underprepared and miss out on any of the fun!

Last updated: 22 October, 2020

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