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When is the best time to visit Saigon?

| Words by Rachel McCombie |

Thinking of planning a trip to Saigon? Then be sure to read this guide to the best time to go to the Vietnamese metropolis now known as Ho Chi Minh City

Now officially known as Ho Chi Minh City, Saigon is Vietnam’s largest city, though not its capital (that’s Hanoi). Once described as “the Pearl of the Orient”, it’s now a frenetically busy place where throngs of motorcycles whiz past parks and museums telling the story of the city’s role in Vietnam’s turbulent 20th century history. The city may now be named after a communist leader, but French Colonialists have left behind plentiful traces of Western architecture, which sits alongside the city’s many beautiful temples and gardens. But when’s the best time of year to see all this for yourself?

Saigon’s Seasons

Saigon is blessed with a pleasant climate all year round, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take its two distinct seasons into account when you’re planning your trip. The rain is only part of the consideration, as humidity varies according to the time of year, and that has a bearing on how sticky your experience of Saigon will be.

Key highlights

  • December to April: the Dry Season - hot, dry, and low humidity
  • March to May: temperatures are at their hottest, reaching as high as 39°C (102°F)
  • May to November: it’s rainy season in Saigon, and that means more frequent showers - but there’s still sunshine in between
  • December: early-morning temperatures can get as low as 16°C (61°F)

Dry Season - December to April

Blue skies, common from December to April, make a stunning backdrop for the Notre Dame Cathedral in Saigon.

Running roughly from December to April, the Dry Season is generally thought of as the best time to visit Saigon. March, April and May are the hottest months, with temperatures reaching as high as 39°C (102°F), but there’s less humidity, which makes it much more bearable. In December, temperatures in the early morning can get down to 16°C (61°F), but it’s comfortably warm for a westerner during the day.

If you visit in late December, you’ll get to experience Christmas and New Year in Saigon. Though primarily a Buddhist country, Christmas is celebrated in Vietnam, and you’ll see plenty of decorations up and sales on in the shops.

Note that during Tet - Vietnam’s Lunar New Year celebration, falling between late January and the middle of February - lots of shops and restaurants will be closed, and accommodation will be more expensive. However, the Tet festivities also make it an exciting time to visit Saigon, so if you have a decent budget then it’s still worth travelling at this time.

Monsoon Season - May to November

Tropical storms hit the streets of Saigon, but rarely stop activity.

The Monsoon Season sees higher humidity and, of course, more rain. Tropical storms are considerably more frequent, but it’s still a perfectly good time to visit Saigon because the rain isn’t non-stop all day; it usually falls in heavy showers, with sun in between. May to September are a good bet if you’re on a budget, because accommodation prices tend to be cheaper.

It’s worth noting that various public holidays take place over the Monsoon Season, and they can mean that restaurants and shops are closed and public transport is harder to come by. The main ones are Vietnam Reunification Day (30 April), May Day (1 May) and Vietnam National Day (2 September).

Planning a trip to Saigon? Find out about our small group tours to Vietnam.