Small Group Journey
What is great about Vietnam is that there is technically no wrong nor perfect time to plan a visit. Vietnam’s 1650 km (1025 miles) in length means you may want to consider the country as three different regions when planning your trip. These being Northern Vietnam, Central Vietnam and Southern Vietnam. You will experience both rain and sunshine, in varying quantities, during most months. When it comes to rain and all inclement weather in Vietnam as long as you come prepared, no weather will be able to stop your plans. As they say, there is “no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.” Overall, if you plan to embark on a journey that will cover the whole country the best time to come would be September through December or March and April.
The most appealing time to visit the North of Vietnam is from September through December as it will be warm and sunny, yet you can also expect less crowds. The Northern region of Vietnam has a cool to cold season from November to March and hot, rainy season from April to October. December and January can get quite cold, so pack accordingly — with this time of year comes mists that can reduce visibility but make outdoor relaxation and kayaking an amazing experience.
The weather in Central Vietnam is more consistent than that of the North. From January to August the climate is hot, dry and sunny with very little rainfall and temperatures reaching the mid 30’s (95℉). If you are planning to head to the beach islands during these months, the central coastline of Da Nang and Hoi An can hit 100℉ in the summer and 75℉ in the winter. If you prefer a hotter beach climate go toward the end of the dry season, around May through July and if you prefer a milder heat, make your visit at the beginning, January through April.
Come August, although still hot and humid, a change of climate enters the central region causing more likely chances of rain showers. High levels of rainfall from the northeast monsoon arrive in the northern section of Central Vietnam in September and conclude in December. The coast line is shielded by the Truong Son mountain range, the rain that comes from the southwest monsoon doesn’t quite make it to the coast – between April and September the coastal area sees less rain than the rest of the country. The sound of heavy showers may deter you from a visit at this time, but be assured, rainfall will normally last no more than a few hours before the sun comes back out. These interludes of rain provide the perfect opportunity to head inside and enjoy a Vietnamese coffee, cocktail or a meal.
The Southern region of Vietnam is home to a much more consistent year-round climate of tropical weather, often reaching 30℃ (86℉). Short and sharp rains arrive from May through September but are normally quick and not disruptive. December through March or April is a great time for a Southern Vietnam visit as it is not as busy as other travel times. Beaches in the south see warm temperatures year-round; Nha Trang monsoon season is from September to January and Phu Quoc and Mui Ne will experience light afternoon showers from June to September. Con Dao is hot and humid year-round with brief afternoon showers from May to November and heavy rainstorms at night from July to September.
You can visit Cambodia at any time of the year; however, if we had to pick a time it would be the dry season from October to May. The rainy season begins around the end of May and concludes half way through October. The great thing about Cambodia during its wet season is the lush greenery on the countryside.
Naturally you will want to avoid the rain and enjoy sun drenched days by the sea. If you want to visit the beaches of Cambodia we recommend visiting during the dry season from October to May. April and May are especially pleasant for beach visits as temperatures can reach 40℃ (104℉). Although Cambodia may not seem like the typical beach destination, there are in fact plenty of truly tropical spots and escapes to castaway islands.
The southwestern monsoon causes heavy rains almost daily from the end of May to October. Don’t let these rain falls stop your plans, because the rain only tends to fall during the late afternoon or evening and does not usually last longer than 1 to 2 hours. The rain is short and sharp providing short windows of beautiful skies with dark ominous clouds and amazing thunder and lightning displays during the rainy season.
We recommend traveling to Laos during the cool stretch of the dry season, between November and February. During these months temperatures are relatively low and the air is much cleaner. If you are planning a trip for November or December – rivers will still be high from the wet season, which means easier and breezier river travel. However, this season does yield larger crowds as it is also Laos’ peak travel season.
The dry season in Lao runs from November to April and is split into two subsections. November to February makes up the cool dry season while March and April, both blisteringly hot, make up the hot dry season, with April being the hottest month of the year. From March to May farmers set fire to rice stubble and degraded forests to improve soil fertility in preparation for a new rice crop. This time is something to be weary of when making travel plans and arrangements because the smoke factor in Laos at this time may ruin photos and irritate the eyes. However, traveling to Laos at this time will provide less crowds as it is not a peak travel time.
The wet season in Laos is from May to October and consists of a few hours of rain per day as opposed to torrential downpours all day long. In the Northern-most part of Laos and the Northeast showers may arrive early from Southern China and Vietnam. Towns along the Mekong River, south of Vientiane experience the least number of showers because of their higher elevation. Damaged infrastructure is an effect of the wet season across most of Southeast Asia. Although rutted roads are not as big of an issue in Laos due to sealed roads, the topography of Mountainous Laos is also prone to landslides. The rivers can become beastly and delays due to bridges being down are not uncommon – be prepared for slow travel times and delays. On the upside, the wet season does allow boat season to flourish. The rainfall makes the rivers water level rise, allowing slow-boats to make better pace. Another positive of this season is that temperatures are lower, the air is cleaner and there are less crowds. Traveling during the wet season won’t impose any problems other than the possibility for delayed travel times as long as you come prepared with rain gear visit the Bolaven Plateau exploding with vivid shades of green in southern Laos during the wet season and watch all the vegetation come to life. Don’t let the idea of possible showers deter you from making travel plans at this time. Although it sounds like there will be rain every day for five months; in reality the wet season will only consist of a few hours of showers per day, not constant torrential downpours.
The weather in Thailand can be categorized into three seasons; hot, cool and wet. Thailand can also be separated into four regions North Thailand, Bangkok & Central Thailand, Southeast Coast and Southwest Coast. Although they all experience the same weather it does not come at the same time. There is no bad time to visit Thailand — aside from torrential downpours and crowded marketplaces — coconuts, zesty noodles and Thai massages will always be available to you. If returning from your trip with sun-tanned skin is on your to-do list you should avoid planning from July to October because the whole country will be impacted by the full effect of monsoon season. We recommend planning a visit during the cool season when there is less rain, more manageable temperatures, waterfalls are in full spate and upland flowers are in bloom. November to December is very popular among tourists and the busiest time so you must plan your trip accordingly. However, a visit in January and February will avoid crowded temples and beaches, yet still offer sunny and hot weather.
In the North of Thailand, it stays mostly dry between November and April. The wet season begins in May and normally will run through October with August and September experiencing the most rainfall. The climate remains hot and humid across both the wet and dry seasons. The rainfall that you will experience will realistically only last one to two hours per day and on the plus side, these short-lived showers is how the rainforest is able to flourish. These rainfalls also provide the perfect opportunity to head inside a Thai shop or restaurant!
Bangkok, the capital of Thailand is usually a starting point for travelers. The Central part of Thailand will experience beautiful weather from November on to February and a possibility of very high temperatures from March to May. The wet season comes around from August to October, there is often a lot of rainfall so thankfully this is only a short time span.
In the Southern region of Thailand, the Southeast and the Southwest coasts only experience two seasons – the wet and the dry – and they do not run at the same time. On the west coast, the southeast monsoon brings rain and often heavy storms from April to October and on the east coast the most rain falls from September to December.
Visa & Passport Information
Ansova will arrange to provide you with a Visa-on-Arrival approval letter. A ‘visa approval letter’ from the government of Vietnam is the first step to the official visa. Once received, please print out two copies (one to be used and one for security).
The invitation letter is required for check-in to your flight and for visa officials at the airport.
Ansova will arrange for a representative to meet you once you’ve disembarked the aircraft and will escort you to the fast-tracked visa services.
What you will need:
– Visa approval letter
– Passport sized photo
– $35 USD in cash for a single entry 1-month visa (credit card is not accepted)
– At least 6 months validity on your passport
– At least two blank pages on your passport
A 30-day tourist visa is required for all visitors coming to Cambodia. Visas can be obtained on arrival for $30 in Phnom Phenh, Siem Reap and Preah Sihanouk.
The Cambodian government website also offers e-visas, so you can apply beforehand to speed up your entry into the country. They cost an additional $6 and take 3 days to process.
What you need:
– $30 USD cash
– two passport-sized photos (4cm X 6cm)
– A passport that is valid for a minimum of six months beyond the entry date.
– Your passport must have two blank pages for the visa and entry/exit stamps (Check your passport prior to leaving, to avoid being denied entry
Currency restrictions for entry and exit:
– The import and export of local currency (Riel) is prohibited. When entering Cambodia, foreign currency amounts over US $10,000 must be declared.
– Foreign currency can be taken out of the country up to the limit declared at customs on arrival.
Tourist visas are required to enter Laos. The Lao government issues 30-day tourist visas on arrival at all international airports and most border crossings.
Make your way to the visa desk at arrivals and you will be directed through the procedure by staff. The process is quick and straight forward.
What you need:
– $40USD cash
– One passport sized photo (4cm X 6cm).
– Name and address of your hotel.
– Your passport must have 6 months remaining validity to be allowed entry
– Your passport must have two blank pages for the visa and entry/exit stamps (Check your passport prior to leaving, to avoid being denied entry) (endorsement pages are not considered blank).
Currency restrictions for entry and exit:
– The import and export of local currency is not permitted. 2,500 USD or equivalent in foreign currency must be declared.
Visa Exemption Rule
This rule allows tourists from 55 countries (U.S., Canada and UK included) to enter Thailand without a visa. They are granted to stay a maximum of 30 days if they are entering Thailand via an international airport or through a land border checkpoint.
Under the new provisions of the Visa Exemption Rule and Bilateral Agreement, effective December 31, 2016, passport holders of these 55 countries are entitled to enter Thailand under this rule provided they meet the following criteria:
1. Your visit must be strictly for tourism purposes.
2. You must have a confirmed return ticket to show that you are flying out of Thailand within 30 days of entry, as appropriate. Open tickets do not qualify. Traveling over land out of Thailand by train, bus, etc. to Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia (including en-route to Singapore), Myanmar, etc. may be accepted as proof of exiting Thailand.
You may be asked to show your flight ticket upon entering Thailand. If you do not possess a flight ticket to show that you will be exiting Thailand within 30 days of entry, you will be most likely refused entry.
3. It will also be necessary to prove that you have funds of at least 10,000 THB or cash equivalent (about 305/USD and 410/CAD) per person during your stay in Thailand.
A fee may be levied on persons entering Thailand under the VISA EXEMPTION RULE especially when entering through a land border in Southern Thailand.
Contact your dedicated travel consultant today