Vietnam has a complicated climate. In the north, autumn (Sept to Dec) is the nicest season. At this time of year it's warm, dry and sunny, though you'll need warm clothes up in the mountains and Ha Long Bay. Winter (Dec to Feb) can be surprisingly cold with temperatures as low as 10°C. Things warm up in March then get hot in May, though the rainy season starts in June and brings heavy downpours and flooding. By mid Sept, it's perfect weather.
The central region has a wet climate, particularly around Hué. The dry season lasts from Feb - May although there are occasional shock typhoons in April and May. After this it gets wetter and hotter (averaging 30°C) until the rainy season in Sept, which eases off from Nov - Jan.
The lower east coast and the south have a dry season from Dec to late April/May, and rain from May - Nov. Most rain falls in brief downpours. Daytime temperatures rarely fall below 20°C.
BY AIR: The main carriers (to Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi) include:
There are 16 domestic airports in Vietnam, all operated by Vietnam Airlines. Most connect with both Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi; Phu Quoc connects only with Ho Chi Minh City.
Until 30 June 2018, visitors from Britain, Germany, Spain, Italy and France can enter Vietnam for up to 15 days without a visa. Passports must have at least six-month validity from the date of entry.
For longer stays, or if you are from a different country, you must apply for a visa (the standard one is valid for 30 days). This is best done through your embassy; processing typically takes 7-10 days, though some embassies offer an express service. There are also websites that can arrange visas on arrival, but you must organise this before you leave, and beware that some companies are bogus.
If you need to extend your stay, it is easy to apply for a visa renewal. This will be handled by tour agents / traveller cafés in Vietnam.
It is recommended that you have a diphtheria, Hepatitis A, Tetanus and Yellow Fever injection before going to Vietnam. Malaria protection will also be required. Click here for details.