Are you thinking of visiting Vietnam in January or already planning your trip? Are you wondering where to go? What to do and which tours to join? Continue reading this comprehensive guide to traveling to Vietnam in January to answer all your questions.
January is a fantastic time to visit Vietnam. People will be in the festive spirit as Tet, Vietnam’s most significant holiday usually starts towards the end of January and lasts until early February. Weather should be pleasant throughout most of the country.
Vietnam is a large country, so the weather varies considerably between north and south, but January is generally pleasingly warm throughout central and southern Vietnam. Northern Vietnam will be colder than the rest of the country, and it may even snow in the mountainous region close to the Chinese borders.
Where to go in Vietnam in January
Southern Vietnam is the place to visit in January. Weather will be warm with very little precipitation. Sun will be shining, and waters will be calm, making southern Vietnam the perfect beach destination.
For those seeking white sandy beaches, palm trees, snorkeling, and diving, we recommend Con Dao Islands, Phu Quoc Island, Mui Ne, and Nha Trang. Ho Chi Minh City and Mekong Delta are also ideal destinations in January.
Although northern Vietnam doesn’t enjoy as favorable weather as the southern region, travelers may still want to include Hanoi, Halong Bay, Ninh Binh, and Sapa in their itinerary as they never fail to amaze.
Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC)
The vibrant Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, is the perfect destination to visit in January. The average daily mean temperature is 26°C, with very little precipitation. January is the ideal month to enjoy what Ho Chi Minh City is famous for; culture, history, cuisine, and nightlife.
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Ho Chi Minh City’s central tourist district, District 1, has a mixture of French colonial buildings and sleek skyscrapers. The city center is often busy, crowded, and chaotic, but there is still something charming and energetic about the organized chaos that District 1 is.
There are plenty of things to do in Ho Chi Minh City. Tourist hotspots include the Notre Dame Cathedral, Central Post Office, Independence Palace, and War Remnant Museum. Walking the Nguyen Hue Pedestrian Street or enjoying a cold beer in the Bui Vien backpacker area are also popular activities.
But to get most of your visit to Ho Chi Minh City, you should make the effort of exploring the less touristy places of this energetic city such as Chinatown in District 5 or navigate the narrow streets and alleys of District 3.
The one thing you must do when visiting Ho Chi Minh City is to discover the excellent Saigonese cuisine, either on your own or by joining a food tour. Some of the most popular Saigonese dishes include banh me sandwiches, pho, bun rieu, banh xeo, and delicious spring rolls.
Tet in Ho Chi Minh City
If you ask the local Saigonese what their favorite month of the year is, they will likely answer January. In preparation for Tet or the Lunar New Year, which usually starts towards the end of January, the city fills with decorations, flowers, and festive spirit.
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In the days leading up to Tet, many migrant workers in Ho Chi Minh City will travel back to their hometowns for the new year celebrations, making the city look almost empty. Streets will be quiet, there will be less traffic, and pollution will drop significantly.
Travelers that spend Tet in Ho Chi Minh City will not be disappointed. Many restaurants and stores will be open although government-operated attractions will be closed.
One thing you cannot miss over Tet is the breathtaking Flower Festival on Nguyen Hue Street.
January falls into the dry season in Mekong Delta, which usually lasts from November until April. The dry season with calm rivers and plenty of sunshine is a great time to explore Mekong Delta, although the farmer may disagree as they struggle to raise their crops during the dry season.
Mekong Delta is one of the most visited places in Vietnam. And for a reason. This beautiful delta has a unique flora and fauna, bustling floating markets, exciting culture, and rich history.
If you’re traveling in Mekong Delta in January, you may not witness the primary harvest season, or get an opportunity to taste some of the exotic fruits that may not be in season. Still, January is an excellent time to explore the countryside, visit the local villages and get to know the culture of this beautiful area.
Con Dao Islands
Con Dao Islands are very different from the hustle and bustle of Vietnam’s large cities. This archipelago of 15 islands, most of whom are inhabited, is located off the southern coast of Vietnam. Less than 1-hour flight from Ho Chi Minh City.
The islands have beautiful white sand beaches, coral reefs, and unbelievable marine life such as rare dugong, sea turtles, stingrays, and barracudas. They are recognized as the region’s best diving and snorkeling spots.
This southern Vietnam paradise has a lot more to offer than just beaches and diving. Travelers can go hiking in the untouched tropical forests, explore the local fishing villages, visit the colonial-era Bay Canh Lighthouse, or explore one of the many prisons on Con Son, which French and US Forces used to house political enemies.
Phu Quoc Island
Phu Quoc Island is a tropical paradise of the southwestern coast of Vietnam, close to the border of Cambodia. January has the least precipitation and highest average sunshine hours of the whole year in Phu Quoc with a comfortable 25°C average daily mean temperature and clear skies.
Phu Quoc has an international airport with direct flights from various destinations in Asia and Europe. There are also regular ferries and high-speed boats from Ho Chi Minh City and Mekong Delta. There are no visa requirements for Phu Quoc, regardless of nationality, as long as you do not plan to visit any other destination in Vietnam during the same trip.
Similar to Con Dao Islands, Phu Quoc is known for its beautiful beaches, marine life, and watersport activities, including fishing, scuba diving, and snorkeling.
Apart from the beach activities, Phu Quoc has plenty to offer, including the famous Cay Dua, or Coconut Tree, Prison, which was South Vietnam’s biggest prison during the Vietnam American War. The prison is now open to the public and is a popular tourist attraction.
Other popular activities include hiking through the dense jungle, exploring the traditional fishing villages and enjoying the vibrant nightlife of the island. Even though taxis are readily available, we recommend renting a motorbike to get easily around the island.
Mui Ne and Phan Thiet
Mui Ne is increasingly becoming a major tourist attraction in Vietnam. Having made its name as the kitesurfing center of Southeast Asia, Mui Ne is now one of the fastest-growing destinations in Vietnam. It has gone from being a relatively unknown fishing village to a top destination amongst travelers.
If you like sunshine, palm trees, beaches, and relaxed living, Mui Ne is probably the place for you. Mui Ne, Phan Thiet, and the surrounding area have the perfect weather for July. You can expect clear blue skies and a relatively constant 25°C.
If kitesurfing is not your thing, you’ll have lots of other things to do in Mui Ne, such as relaxing on the beach, visit the local market, discover the many Cham monuments, or hike the nearby mountains.
Mui Ne is probably most famous for its white and red sand dunes located outside of town. So make sure to jump on a quad and explore the magnificent sand dunes of Mui Ne.
Hanoi in January
There is never a wrong time to visit Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, regardless of the weather. With average daily mean temperate of 16°C, January is the coldest month in Hanoi, with temperature going as low as 7-8°C degrees some days.
The chilly weather makes January the perfect month to enjoy a warm bun cha or delicious hot pot. Old Quarter is always bustling with life and energy, and travelers can visit the many museums and pagodas in the city.
Leading up to the end of January and the Tet holiday, the flower markets fill with life, and the city center and main avenues become one large flower decoration.
Halong Bay in January
As the coldest month of the year, some would not think of January as a peak tourism season in Halong Bay, but it is. The cold temperatures bring little precipitation, and an average of 7 sunshine hours per day, much above the yearly average.
The average daily mean temperature for Halong Bay in January is about 17°C, but you can expect the daily average to range from 14°C to 20°C, and there will be less humidity than in other months.
17°C may be too cold for some travelers to go jumping into the ocean for a swim, but there are plenty of other activities you can enjoy. Explore the magnificent caves such as Sung Sot Cave and Thien Ong Cave and go kayaking around the beautiful limestone islets.
January is the perfect time to go hiking the limestone mountains of Halong Bay. We especially recommend hiking the top of Titov Island for one of the most picturesque panoramic views of Halong Bay.
Sapa in January
Sapa isn’t high on the list of many travelers in January. It will be cold with an average daily mean of about 9°C, with some days going below 0°C and even a chance of snow. So make sure to pack warm clothes if you’re including Sapa in your January itinerary. But there will also be an equal chance of sunny days and lovely weather.
There is a possibility of fog in January, and the rice terraces will seem bare, making the view not as breathtaking as during the harvest season.
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But don’t let that discourage you from visiting Sapa. There is a major advantage of visiting Sapa in January, and that is there are much fewer travelers. Hotel accommodations and activities will be cheaper, and you’ll have a high chance of lucrative last-minute deals.
With fewer travelers, January the perfect time to explore the local hill tribe towns around Sapa, and you’ll get more authentic experience while getting closer to the locals. You will get the real feel to how the hill tribes of Sapa live.
What to do in Vietnam in January
Regardless of where you are in Vietnam, you’ll find plenty of things to do in January. You can enjoy city food and sightseeing tours, trekking the breathtaking mountain of central Vietnam, discover the Mekong Delta, or just relaxed on the beaches of southern Vietnam.
Cruise Mekong Delta
January is the perfect time to cruise the beautiful Mekong River Delta. The weather will be lovely, warm with little chance of rain. You will be able to disembark and discover the local towns and culture and cycle amongst the rice fields and orchards.
You will have plenty of options when selecting a cruise through Mekong Delta. Most of them start with a pick up at your hotel in Ho Chi Minh City and take you either to My Tho or Can Tho, where you’ll embark on the cruise boat. You will have an option of a 1 to 4-night cruises through the Mekong’s maze of rivers, while most travelers choose 1-night cruises
Below are our most recommended Mekong Delta Cruises.
Mekong Delta 2-Day Luxury Cruise
Cruise the beautiful Mekong Delta and discover its beauty on a 2-day tour from Saigon. Experience the daily life on the river, visit the exotic fruit orchards, sail through Vietnam’s busiest floating market on a traditional sampan boat, and taste the local cuisine. This tour is ideal for those who want to explore Mekong Delta with comfort and ease.
2-Day Mekong Delta Cruise & Floating Markets
Sail the beautiful Mekong River on a 2-day luxury cruise, and experience authentic Mekong Delta culture. Taste the delicious local cuisine, cycle through small villages, and visit the bustling Cai Rang floating market on an unforgettable journey tailored to those seeking to travel the Mekong Delta in comfort and ease.
Diving and Snorkeling
Vietnam is developing into a diving and snorkeling paradise with the advancement of world-class diving spots, including Cham Islands, Con Dao, Phu Quoc, Nha Trang, and several other destinations.
If you are planning on going diving or snorkeling in Vietnam in January, we do recommend Nha Trang and Phu Quoc.
Dive and Snorkel off the Coast of Nha Trang
Dive into the crystal clear waters by the islands of Nha Trang Bay and marvel at the otherworldy coral reefs and the colorful tropical life with which the seas are teeming. Complete two dives on a single tour that caters to the needs of marine lovers of all skill levels.
Go Snorkeling and Fishing in the Aquatic Paradise of Phu Quoc
Discover an underwater paradise in the waters surrounding Phu Quoc Island. Cruise on the turquoise waters to two of the island’s most excellent diving spots, see the extraordinary variety of colorful fish and coral and try your luck fishing on an unforgettable tour into an aquatic Eden.
Vietnam is a trekking paradise, and although northern Vietnam trekking hotspots such as Sapa, Mu Cang Chai, and Ha Giang enjoy most of the attention, central and southern Vietnam has fantastic trekking areas as well.
If you plan to go trekking in Vietnam in January, we recommend the area around Ta Hine in central highlands or the magnificent Bi Doup National Park.
Trek from Ta Nang to Phan Dung
Trek Vietnam’s most scenic hiking route in this unforgettable 2-day tour. Hike through pine forests, across streams and rivers, up steep trails, and through beautiful openings with breathtaking views of the countryside. This tour is ideal for those who want to see authentic rustic Vietnam while enjoying a challenging trek.
Trek Deep Into the Jungle and Visit Dung la Gieng Village
Venture deep into a secluded valley in Bi Doup National Park to the secret village of the K’Ho People. Trek in the densely forested highland plateau with an experienced local guide. Camp in the town for the evening and enjoy food prepared over a campfire while interacting with the locals. This tour is ideal for the traveler seeking a truly off the beaten path adventure in the heart of the Vietnamese jungle.
What is Happening in Vietnam in January?
Vietnamese people love parties and festivals, and the period from Christmas until Tet or Lunar New Year is one of the most festive seasons in Vietnam. January starts with a massive party after midnight on January 1st to celebrate the Gregorian New Year and ends with Vietnam’s biggest annual celebration, Tet.
Tet Holiday (Tet Nguyen Dan, Lunar New Year)
Tet, or the Lunar New Year, is the most important holiday in Vietnam. It is Vietnam’s equivalent of Christmas and is very sacred to the Vietnamese people. As the name suggests, the holiday follows the lunar calendar but usually starts towards the end of January until early February.
Lunar New Year holiday is the time people travel back to their hometowns to enjoy the holiday with their families. Large cities such as Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi become much quieter than usual, but some smaller towns may come busy as migrant workers travel back home for the holidays.
As recently as 10-15 years ago, the whole country would shut down for the 10-day holiday, but that has changed in recent years. Now you can expect several stores and restaurants in the large cities to be open for the entire holiday, although some attractions and museums will not be open.
Tet is a great time to visit Vietnam. Everyone is in festive spirits and streets and squares are beautifully decorated in flowers and ribbons. If you want to discover true Tet, try to get invited to a local Tet celebration party, you won’t be disappointed.
Hoi An Lantern Festival
The charming Hoi An Ancient Town holds a monthly festival that has become a major attraction and a popular Instagram sensation. Lanterns are lit every evening in Hoi An, but they become especially impressive during the monthly lantern festival.
The Hoi An Lantern Festival takes place on the eve of the full moon, each lunar month. Travelers can participate in the festival by lighting up lanterns and placing them into the river.
How is the Weather in Vietnam in January?
January is probably the month with the greatest variation in the weather. There may be snowing up north in Sapa, while southern Vietnam may have 30°C+ and clear skies. January is usually the end of the rainy season for the central coastal area around Danang.
The Weather in Northern Vietnam in January
January may not be the month with the best weather for northern Vietnam, but you’ll still enjoy some sunny days with clear skies even though it’s middle of winter. The climate between Hanoi, Halong Bay, and the surrounding area compared to Sapa and the northern mountain region.
- See also: Sapa & Ha Giang – The Ultimate Guide
Sapa has a higher number of average sunshine hours in January than Hanoi, but Hanoi’s average temperate is 8°C higher, and Sapa will have more rainfall.
Make sure to pack warm clothes if you plan to trek Sapa, Ha Giang, or Mai Chau, but if you place to visit Hanoi, Halong Bay, or Ninh Binh, it may be enough to pack trousers and a sweater.
The Weather in Central Vietnam in January
January marks the end of the monsoon season and the beginning of the dry season in central Vietnam. Danang and Hoi An will have an average daily mean temperature of around 20°C while Ba Na hills will be cooler.
It may be too cold for the beach, but the weather will be ideal for hiking, cycling, and other outdoor activities, although there will be a chance of some rainy days in-between beautiful sunny days.
The Weather in Southern Vietnam in January
January is one of the best months of the year to visit southern Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh City, Mekong Delta, Phu Quoc, and Mui Ne will have a fairly constant 25°C throughout January with very little precipitation.
The temperate will fluctuate between 21°C to 31°C in southern Vietnam in January. Ho Chi Minh City has an average of less than three rainy days for January, and humidity will be at its year lower.
Dalat and the south-central highlands will be considerably cooler than the rest of southern Vietnam. Dalat’s daily mean temperature will be around 15°C with little chance of rain.