In the Northern Hemisphere, January is mid-winter. It does not matter so much in tropical regions but those who live in temperate climates are likely to experience low temperatures, often rainfall that turns to snow and perhaps icy roads. It is a great time to get away on holiday if work permits. These days there is far more flexibility with taking holidays though if you are considering a Vietnam family vacation, you will need to consider the school holidays.
A good Vietnam travel agent will be able to advise you on the best Vietnam travel package to select if you want to travel in January. Here are a few thoughts to bear in mind if you decide that January is the month for you.
In the North of Vietnam, you will experience relatively cold days. That can equate to around 10C though some people say it feels colder than that. It may not be the best time to visit such great places as Halong Bay, Sapa or Ha Giang because coastal areas are best enjoyed in warm weather. Hanoi, the Capital, may be cool at this time of year, but some warm clothing can counter that. Hanoi should be part of any Vietnam holiday, whatever the month. The average temperature is 17C so don’t think you will need to be wrapped up in warm clothing all the time. The Highlands north of Hanoi centred around Sapa are very interesting and great for trekking as well as meeting the ethnic hill tribes. It will not get much better than 10C at best at this altitude and temperatures will drop as the day continues.
If your intention is to travel the length and breadth of Vietnam, you will find it is warmer as you head south to such places as Da Nang and Hue. There may still be a little rain about but not sufficient for it to spoil your holiday. Central Vietnam saw a great deal of conflict during the Vietnam War but it is also a region blessed with a rich history. Hue was the Ancient Capital during the time of French occupation while the port of Hoi An dates back many centuries to the time of the Champa Kingdom.
Down in the South, in Ho Chi Minh City for example, January is the middle of the dry season with sunshine until around 7pm most days. It is certainly a month for the South and that of course includes the Mekong Delta, and many of the coastal resorts that have developed as tourism has increased.
The Delta is a must. There are many small channels away from the bustle of the main waterways. You can quietly move along through orchards by boat or perhaps hire a bicycle and travel through local villages. The markets are a major attraction. The Delta is Vietnam’s most fertile region and buyers come from far and wide to purchase its produce. It goes to food processing factories, restaurants and homes. An early start is advisable but it is worth the effort.
There are several coastal resorts on the mainland but Phu Quoc Island off the Cambodian Coast in the East Sea is a great place to add to a January itinerary, and it has its own airport, including some international flights.
January is a month for celebrations. The lunar calendar means that Tet, the Vietnamese New Year, does not correspond with the New Year celebrated in other parts of the world, but you can still expect to enjoy it in Vietnam. Often new arrivals in Vietnam on the 1st of January are greeted at the airports with bouquets and wreathes organised by Vietnam tourism authorities.
There is plenty of colour in the markets in January. It is the time for peach and kumquat blossoms that are displayed alongside many of the things locals buy at that time of year as Tet approaches; candles, dried fruit and cakes especially. The local markets are a treat any time of the year, and the locals seem especially happy in January anticipating the weeks and months to come.
If you decide to travel to Vietnam in January, you should not be disappointed. Certainly, you should be prepared for some cool, even cold, weather in the North but you will be largely avoiding any rain. It will become warmer as you head south and certainly some people think that the South of Vietnam is at its best in January; a great way to kick off a new year of your life.