Vietnam in December is at an incredible time to explore the country. One can comfortably visit the historical architectural sites, exotic beaches and culture, mouth-watering foods and lively markets. December is the peak season of winters in large parts of Vietnam. It is one of the peak times to also indulge in recreational activities. Although few parts of Central Vietnam are affected by monsoon yet many alluring destinations in the North and the South promise pleasant weather, especially the rural areas of Vietnam.
Weather in Vietnam December
December marks an end to the autumn and welcomes winter in Vietnam. In December, this South-Eastern Peninsula is slightly affected by Southeast Monsoon leading to wet weather in Central Vietnam. However, it is the best month to visit Vietnam, which glistens under clear skies and sunshine - superbly suitable for highlands trekking, beach vacations and exotic adventure. The weather is cool and dry in Vietnam with an average temperature around 26°C this month and the average humidity level remains 85%. However, the Highlands become chilly at night.
Northern Mountain Region - Sapa, Ha Giang, Bac Ha, Mu Cang Chai, Haiphong
December is a cool and dry month in the northern mountain region hence trekking is joyful in SaPa and Ha Giang. December marks a peak month to visit SaPa, Ha Giang and areas around Mu Cang Chai. This is the month when chilly winds can make you shiver, however, the lucky ones can witness snowfall. Sun appears for plenty of daylight hours but the temperature begins to drop by the evenings. The temperature might go as low as 8°C.
North Vietnam - Hanoi, Halong Bay, Cuc Phuong, Mai Chau & Ninh Binh
By December, North Vietnam is at the beginning of the dry and sunny phase with an average temperature of 19°C. Infact, December is one of the driest months in North Vietnam. Outdoors have plenty of warmth which tends to decrease by the end of the month and you might observe drizzling. All the major cities in North Vietnam are good-to-go in the fall season. Hanoi remains temperate while haze affects the visit to Halong Bay.
Central Vietnam - Hoi An, Danang, Hue, Dalat, Quy Nhon & Nha Trang
Central Vietnam experiences light northeast monsoon in early December with an average temperature of 24°C. Dalat and Central Highlands get clear skies and dry days while lowlands are still prone to storms.South Vietnam - Ho Chi Minh City, The Mekong Delta, Phu Quoc and Con Dao, Phan Thiet & Mui Ne, Ho Tram & Long Hai
During November, South Vietnam has an average temperature of 26°C. Saigon and Mekong Delta share soothing weather and clear skies. Southern beach resorts dazzle under the warm sun, visiting Phan Thiet & Mui Ne, and the islands of Phu Quoc & Con Dao to bask in the sunshine.
Events and Festivals in Vietnam December
1. Hoi An Lantern Festival
Spectacular night view on the 14th night of every month in Hoi An, Vietnam is worth experiencing as the city celebrates the festival of lights. Lighting lanterns is considered to be good luck and fortune charm in Vietnam. Hoi An lantern festival is considered to be an incredible moment to follow the rituals of worshipping the deceased relatives. The festival not just brings closeness and happiness but is a wise method to save electricity.
Visitors and locals gather at An Hoi Bridge and on the banks of Hoai River as the sunset begins, to enjoy the luring food of Vietnam. The view is the best at the ancient town area of Hoi An where natives light paper lanterns around 9 pm and hang on streets, bars, shops. Families give each other presents like flowers, foods and fake money in the belief of future prosperity. The streets are sparkled with musicians, instrumentalists, poetry readings and mini craft classes for kids too. The traffic is prohibited in the area allowing a hassle-free movement. Not to worry if you are vegetarian as there are numerous vegetarian foods and mouth-watering snacks to grab.
Christmas like all the Vietnamese festivals is celebrated with enthusiasm even though the country is majorly influenced by Buddhism and Taoism. This is the reason that Christmas is not a public holiday in Vietnam. The celebration of Christmas lasts for two days. However, weeks before the festival, buildings and streets dazzle in fairy lights, sparkling ornaments and Christmas trees. Major cities - Hanoi and Saigon display a spectacular view at St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Hanoi Old Quarter and Notre-Dame Cathedral in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City. Hoan Kiem Lake and Nguyen Hue walking street give a joyful experience as well. Visit a Southern beach or a famous street in Vietnam, go for a cruise in Halong Bay or hike in the Northern highlands, Vietnam has all types of weather for you to enjoy the Christmas eve.
Places to Visit in Vietnam in Winter
Why visit in December? What are the things to take care of?
- December invites winters in North Vietnam and summers in Central and South Vietnam which is a major factor of crowding in popular sites of Vietnam. Overall, it is a picturesque month in Vietnam.
- In Hanoi ‘milk flower’ blossoms and brims the streets with its unique scent. Tourists can plan to visit Hanoi around Lantern festival to witness beautiful flower beds decorated on the streets along with colourful signboards.
- December attracts an abundant number of foreign tourists towards Vietnam especially around festive days hence do not expect low air fares and cheap prices of hotels and accommodations
Where to Go?
Where one major place is known for its art, another is an attraction point for its nightlife, all-in-all Vietnam wisely preserves its culture. Below is the list of the cities, places from North Vietnam to South Vietnam to visit in December.
Located in the Northwest Mountain region of Vietnam, this beautiful town SaPa has various small villages. SaPa is cool with an average temperature of 17°C but autumn winds make the surroundings more beautiful in December. There might occur drizzling but 4-5 hours of sunshine and fresh air make December the best month for trekking in SaPa.
Travellers must visit ‘SaPa museum’ and ‘Cat Cat Village’ (one of the oldest villages of Sapa) to learn the history of people here and ‘Cloud Yard’ to compliment the beauty of clouds. SaPa gives an opportunity to hike Vietnam’s Highest Peak ‘Mt. Fansipan’ whose viewpoint is called Heaven's Gate. Not just this, visitors can do boating on SaPa Lake, have warm beverages and taste the local cuisine or delicious desserts in restaurants. You can buy handicrafts from SaPa Market or visit ‘Ta Phin Village’ to witness Communal Church Singing - a marriage tradition. 3 or 4-star hotels are available at cheap rates, book your stay and enjoy the beauty of hills.
Not to miss sites: Fairy Cave, Silver Waterfalls, Tram Ton Pass, Muong Hoa Valley, Muong Khuong Bird Market.
2. Mai Chau
Mai Chau is a northwestern mountainous district in Hoa Binh Province. December is the peak tourist month in Mai Chau when the average temperature hovers around 28°C. Although there isn’t much to explore here yet, the peaceful and colourful environment of Mai Chau (home of Thai ethnic groups) is worth visiting in autumn. Pu Luong Nature Reserve is good for hiking and if you want to enjoy snow go for Deo Thung Khe. Stilt houses are the noteworthy architecture of Mai Chau district.
Not to miss sites: Go, Lao Waterfall, Chieu Cave, Thung Ke Pass Flagpole.
3. Mu Cang Chai
Mu Cang Chai is a northwest mountainous rural district in Vietnam which creates jaw-dropping scenery in December which is a winter season here. You will see ready-to-harvest golden rice crops swaying proudly on the terraces. This is the high time to know the lifestyle of Mong Ethnic farmers.
Mu Cang Chai consists of many small villages having beautiful terraces and weather. Khau Pha Pass, called ‘Sky’s Horn’ develops magnificent scenery. There are other small villages in the city to visit to adore the beauty of paddy farming and to experience their local culture by the homestay. Visit to Mu Cang Chai is incomplete without visiting two of its breathtaking waterfalls - Mo and Phu Nu waterfalls. Mu Cang Chai has its market too.
Not to miss sites: Ba Nha Bridge, Mam Xoi Hill, Kim Noi Village.
4. Moc Chau
Moc Chau is a beautiful and attractive mountainous district in Northwest Vietnam. December is a blend of autumn and winter in Moc Chau which makes it the best month for trekking and other engaging activities. International visitors arrive at Moc Chau to immerse into the natural colours as white mustard, wild sunflower and green tea plants blossom all around in December. You can take a bicycle ride to enjoy the tricolor beauty of the land. Ba Phach Village in Moc Chau is famous for cauliflower blooming in December.
You can soak up the authentic local culture and spellbinding scenery at Hua Tat Village, trek the pine forest or attend cooking, embroidery, and paper workshops. Know the romantic beauty of Dai Yem Waterfall or Pink Blouse Waterfall and hike the Pha Luong Mountain in Moc Chau. Emblazed with karst formations are On Village’s ’Five Caves’ depicting five natural elements - Metal, Wood, Water, Fire and Earth. Do not skip the Five-colored sticky rice when visiting Moc Chau.
Not to miss sites: Son Moc Huong Cave, Tan Lap Hill, Na Ka Valley
5. Ha Giang
Ha Giang is a province in the northeast mountainous region of Vietnam. Its pink-coloured atmosphere due to buckwheat blooming attracts the tourists in December every year. In early December, visitors can witness the beauty of layers of golden rice crops in Hoang Su Phi. By the end of the month, you may even witness snow in Ha Giang.
Ha Giang Loop is better known as Happiness Road and was the first road built in Ha Giang. To explore the mountain-view, visit Quan Ba where you get to witness Twin Mountains and the Heaven's Gate. Right above it, is the picturesque ‘Dong Van Karst Plateau Geopark’ showcasing huge mountain peaks like Mount Mieu Vac (1971m) and deep canyons like Tu San (800m). And if you want an actual adventure, go to Lung Cu Flag Pole (northernmost point of Vietnam) and melt into the panoramic view of Ha Giang, Dong Van and Happiness Road. To know the culture of Han Giang more, hit Dong Van Sunday Market.
Not to miss sites: Ma Pi Leng Pass, Dong Van town, Meo Vac mountain pass, Ha Biang museum, Khau Vai love market, Vuong mansion.
Hanoi is the only capital of a country which isn't its largest city. Capital of Vietnam - Hanoi, is a place for every traveller. Hanoi’s weather in December is cool with breezes, it’s the time when you witness autumn’s end. December is a peak month to explore Hanoi and to witness the blooming of ‘Milk Flower’ or Alstonia scholaris. Definitely taste ‘Com’ - green coloured rice flake which originates from Vong Village.
From several historical museums to underrated monuments to extravagant nightlife, Hanoi offers everything all together. There’s a lot to do in Hanoi, in the morning travellers can visit historical sites and enjoy markets to save the nights for the view of Old Quarter Hanoi at weekend and Hoan Kiem Lake for a boat ride. Where St. Joseph’s Cathedral and OnePillar Pagoda are major sites for worshipping, there are Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Hanoi Opera House, Thang Long water puppet Theatre, Temple of Literature, Tran Quoc Pagoda that reflects Vietnamese culture. If you love museums you should not miss the National Museum of History, Vietnamese Women’s Museum and Hanoi Museum, Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, and Thủy Cung Times City which is an aquarium. Families can visit Thu Le Zoo, Union Park, Hanoi Botanical Garden. To buy souvenirs, gifts and to taste Vietnam’s cuisine, night markets are the best so hit Hanoi Night Market, Long Bien Market.
Not to miss sites: Hanoi Train Street, Cau Giay Park, Dong Xuan Market, Rose Park, Smiley Ville, Lotte Observation Deck, Long Bien Bridge, Ba Vi National Park, Perfume Pagoda.
7. Ha Long Bay
Halong Bay located in North Vietnam is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so there’s much to explore and spend a perfect December here. The weather starts to cool down with fewer sunshine hours, so it isn’t a great time to get tanned on beaches and islands. Near the end, nights become chilly. Nevertheless, travellers can go for a cruise, swimming, cooking classes. It is a good month for kayaking and snorkelling.
There are caves to explore and floating villages to visit. Halong City (divided into East HaLong - Hon Gai and West HaLong - Bai Chay) in the North part of HaLong Bay has an artificial beach 'Bai Chay Beach’ and a Bai Chai Market to buy fresh fruits, vegetables, gifts or souvenirs. Amongst islands, Dau Be Island is famous for diving and swimming, Dau Go Island for its large and colourful caves and Fighting Cocks Island for its sunset view when purple-red colour sets across the sky and two large rocks in water appear as two fighting cocks. You can enjoy the top view of islands from seaplane rides as well. To enjoy the quieter part of Halong Bay, visit Lan Ha Bay renounced for white sandy beaches. You can enjoy swimming, rock climbing, sea kayaking and visit Cai Beo Floating Village.
Not to miss sites: HaLong Queen Cable Car, Sun World Halong Complex, Stacking Rocks, Tuan Chau Island, Cannon Fort.
8. Cat Ba Island, Halong Bay
Cat Ba Island is one of the most amazing and highly visited Islands connected to Halong Bay. December is the beginning of the dry season in Cat Ba Island with an average temperature around 25˚C.
There are three famous sand beaches- Cat Ba 1, 2 and 3, enjoy the time under the sun or swim in the water. If you want to explore caves, visit Surprise Caves to enjoy the colourful atmosphere, Hospital Cave to learn how this secret hospital functioned during the Vietnamese War, Trung Tran Cave. There’s Cat Ba Island Resort which offers a water park and spa centres. Cat Ba National Park is home to native Cat Ba Langur, 1500 plant species and over 280 fauna species, commonly seen mammals include civet, deer, macaques and squirrels. Apart from going on a cruise and enjoying the beach, visitors can take part in Yoga Classes which is a popular activity here. To experience the raw culture of Cat Ba visit Viet Hai Village.
Not to miss sites: Dinh Lagu Lam, Cat Ba Archipelago, Monkey Island.
Hue is an ancient city in Central Vietnam which is also recognised as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Hue has preserved its old fashion, cuisine, language, art and architecture. It is located on the banks of the picturesque Huong River, commonly known as Perfume River. Starting from Imperial City, Hue has a plethora of historical sites to visit. Ngo Mon Gate is the entrance to Imperial City, inside has museums, lawns, temples, art galleries and markets. Hue Museum of Royal Fine Arts and Forbidden Purple City are a must-visit spots. Thien Mu Pagoda (a seven-story Buddhist Temple), Ta Mieu Temple, Minh Mang Tomb are some of the historic sites for worshipping.
For outdoor activities and great photographs, travellers can go to Thanh Toan Bridge, Trang Tien Bridge and Thuy Tien Lake. For hiking, to explore wildlife in Hue visit Bach Ma National Park. Then there are ancient tombs of emperors constructed according to Feng Shui - Tomb of Tu Duc, the Tomb of Minh Mang and the Tomb of Khai Dinh. Hue offers Thuan An Beach to relax under the sun on off-white sands and multiple spa centres and hot springs. Buy traditional Ao dai, souvenirs, handicrafts, gifts from Dong Ba Market and do not skip Hue’s famous dishes like Com Hen, Hue Beef Noodle Soup, Steamed rice cakes, Vietnamese Crepe.
Not to miss sites: An Hien Garden House, Huyen Tran Princess Temple, Vong Canh Hill.
10. Da Nang
Da Nang is a first-class city located in Central Vietnam which is visited by many mainly because of beaches but there’s more to see. If you want to experience the vibes of SaPa or DaLat visit Ba Na Hill Station which provides cable car rides and a fantasy park. Marble Mountains are a collection of Mountain of Metal, Wood, Fire, Earth and Water. Monkey Mountain is the place of the tallest statue of Goddess of Mercy in Linh Ung Pagoda. Non-Nuoc Beach, a white sand beach and My Khe Beach are good to go for scuba diving, enjoying the sunbathing and sunset, snorkelling, jet-skiing, and surfing. You can shop for food, clothes, souvenirs from Han Market. There are many pagodas and temples to visit as well. An interesting museum is 3D Museum Art in Paradise Da Nang where you can click trick shots.
Not to miss sites: Am Phu Cave, Son Tra Mountain, Dragon Bridge, Giant Hand Bridge, Han River Bridge, Imperial City, My Son Hindu Sanctuary, Da Nang Museum, Black Rock Beach.
11. Da Lat
Da Lat, a city in Central Vietnam is recognised as a garland of flowers where the average temperature remains 22-degree celsius in December. Travellers get to enjoy the pleasant weather with light drizzling, adorning flowers everywhere.
Da Lat showcases French Colonial times which can be explored in Colonial Palaces - Da Lat Palace I, II, III. Truc Lam Temple - Zen Buddhist Temple and Linh Phuoc Pagoda are best places to adore the art along with worshipping. Get crazy in the Crazy House, a guest house with weirdly interstitial architecture. Natural beauty can’t be skipped in Da Lat, route your tour towards Datanla Waterfall, Valley of Love, Clay Tunnel, Elephant Waterfalls, Xuan Huong Lake. Not just this, the city offers specialised gardens - Dalat Flowers Garden, Zoodoo Garden, Giant Pumpkin Garden, Lavender DaLat Garden, Maple Leaf Garden. There’s plentiful flowers, fruits, fruit candies, coffee beans, vegetables to buy from DaLat central market. DaLat is a magnet for photographers to capture the flowery surroundings and spectrum cloudy sky.
Not to miss sites: Dalat Railway Station, Clay Tunnel of DaLat, Smurf Village, Dalat Heaven Gate, Prenn Waterfall.
12. Dak Lak
Located in the Central Highlands of Vietnam, Dak Lak Province is one of the best attractions in December. It is the beginning of the dry season in December in Dak Lak with an average temperature of 22-degree celsius. Moreover, it is the time when many local festivals are celebrated, anemones blossom and coffee flowers brim the mountains of Dak Lak. Home to indigenous ethnic minorities - the Rade, the Jarai and the Mnong, it has “Lak Lake'' which is the largest freshwater lake of Dak Lak.
Top attraction site of Dak Lak is Trung Nguyen Coffee Village. It is famous not only for the poetic mood while sipping pure coffee but also for a miniature park, large waterfalls, bridges, lakes and stilt houses. There are Coffee Museum and Central Highlands Ethnic Museum where you can learn about ancient artifacts, musical instruments and weapons of the ethnic minorities of Central Highlands. Serepok River has two majestic waterfalls ‘Dray Sap waterfall’ or ‘Husband waterfall’ and ‘Dray Nur waterfall’ or the Wife waterfall. Do not miss to eat red noodles and try the legendary Mink Coffee.
Not to miss Sites: Don Village, Khai Doan Pagoda, Trohbu Botanic Garden, Ban Me Thuot Cathedral
13. Ho Chi Minh City
In the Southern part of Vietnam, Saigon or Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city in the country. December is the beginning of the dry season with 31-degrees-celsius temperature which makes it the best month for a trip to Saigon.
Travellers visit Saigon every year majorly for diverse cuisine, magnetic nightlife, french architecture and fascinating skyscrapers. This major city offers spectacular enjoyment spots - Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden, Ho Chi Minh City Opera House, Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon, Chu Chi Tunnel and Buddhist Cultural Theme Park. Hit ‘Ban Than Market’, ‘Binh Tay Market’, ‘An Thong Market’ for shopping. The night is alive in Saigon through rooftop bars, lush nightclubs, casinos, music bars and Ben Thanh Night Market.
Not to miss sites: Artinus 3D Art Museum, September 23rd Park, Tao Dan Park, Ngoc Hoang Pagoda, Cao Dai Temple.
14. Phu Quoc Island
Phu Quoc Island lies in Southwest Vietnam apart from the mainland. Located in the Gulf of Thailand, Phu Quoc is the largest island of Vietnam with its own international airport. December is the peak tourist season in Phu Quoc as beaches dazzle in the sunlight.
There are four major beaches - Bai Sao (silky white sand beach with starfishes spotted in crystal water), Hon Xuong Beach (white sandy small beach, perfect for snorkelling), Starfish Beach (white sand beach with floating eateries, red sea starfish being a picturesque) and Bai Truong also known as Long Beach. Long Beach is the main stop-spot for visitors because of the yellow sand, sailing, swimming, snorkelling, and beach massage. Apart from this, there is Phu Quoc National Park and Suoi Tranh Waterfall which offer the perfect time for camping, trekking. The island is distributed in three different parts, out of which the downtown Duong Dong is highly visited for shopping. Duong Dong offers Duong Dong Market and Dinh Cau Night Market from where travellers can buy souvenirs, pearls, funky jewellery and eat delicious seafood. Do not go back from Phu Quoc without buying the world's best fish sauce and Vietnam’s tastier black pepper.
Not to miss sites: Vinpearl Safari, Sun World Hon Thom Nature Park, Trúc Lam Ho Quoc Zen Monastery.
15. Can Tho
Can Tho is the biggest city in the Mekong Delta in South Vietnam. Famous for its floating market, Can Tho has a temperature around 31 degree celsius in December when nights can be warm and sticky nevertheless it's a good month for travelling. Different-sized boats are adorned with vibrant flowers and fresh fruits in Cai Rang floating market. Some of the tropical fruits include dragon fruit, durian, jackfruit, pomelo. So, if you are vegetarian or a botany lover, this is a place to visit in December. Can Tho Bridge, Mai Khanh tourist village, Bang Lang Stork Garden are some of the popular outdoor attractions. The city also offers historic art displays at Binh Thuy ancient house and Can Tho Museum. Can Tho has tremendous sites of worshipping - Nam Nha Pagoda, Binh Thuy Temple, Quang Duc Pagoda.Not to miss sites: Kai Khe Market, Phong Dien Floating Market, Can Tho Cathedral, Ninh Kieu Park, Luu Huu Phuoc Park.
So, here was our complete guide for visiting Vietnam in December. It is one of the best times to visit the country even though it might certainly not be the cheapest. What's even better is that while being a very touristy period, many places are not that crowded owing to mostly foreign tourists. Let us know down in the comments your favourite experience in the month of December in Vietnam.