Halong Bay, Vietnam is an absolutely wonderful place to spend your vacation at any time of the year.
You’re bound to have very different experiences depending on which time of the year you choose to visit.
Bustling and busy during the high season versus quiet and empty during the low; hot and wet during the summer typhoon months versus cool and breezy during the winter.
The best time to visit Halong Bay will likely depend on your own preferences… but there are still things to be aware of.
Let’s take a look at your options, and what you can expect in Halong Bay throughout the year. By the end of the article, you’re going to know what the best time to visit Halong Bay is.
Best Time to Visit Halong Bay According to Weather
Halong weather is typical of a tropical climate, with two major seasons dominating throughout the year: hot and humid in the summer with irregular rainfall starting in May and ending in September, and “dry season” during the winter months from October till March.
There’s still quite a difference between the weather in each specific month. If you want to know more details on a month to month basis, check out our overview on Halong Bay weather throughout the year.
In the meantime, here’s a basic rundown:
The annual average temperature is 23.7 degrees Celsius. Summers are hot with a mean temperature of 34.9 degrees Celsius, but that can go as high as 38 degrees Celsius and still be considered normal.
March till May is definitely the best time to travel to Halong Bay in terms of weather. Spring is ending and summer is starting; the weather is relatively cool with the best chances of sunshine.
From June to August, there are lots of typhoons occurring- and no one wants to enjoy their vacation with a raincoat or an umbrella, right? And between August and November, the weather may be even worse.
Drizzling, cold wind, cloudy skies and mists prevent you from enjoying the terrific view of Halong Bay.
According to the Tourist Season
Vietnamese people usually take their vacation in summer, so at that time of year Halong receives a lot of domestic visitors.
On the weekends, the tourist wharf can be pretty chaotic. Hotel rooms always run out of vacancy, and the famous tourism hotspots turn into makeshift shopping malls.
In the high season price inflation is a huge problem that faces foreign visitors. You are often asked for extra money for goods and services if you are a foreigner, no matter where you came from.
Could you imagine one 500ml bottle of water during peak time may cost you about 3 USD? It’s insane. However, travelling to Halong during the off-peak season (March represents the start of the off-peak season) is a different story.
There will be plenty of available rooms and places won’t be too crowded. Moreover, the price of beverages, services, and everything else is acceptable.
What’s the bottom line?
The good weather from March to May coincides with the changeover between peak/off-peak season, arguably making it the best time to visit Halong Bay.
According to the Festival Season
This has got to be high on the list for the best time to visit Halong Bay.
Halong Carnival is the most spectacular celebration in Halong, every year captivating the attention of large numbers of local and international tourists.
At this time, Halong city fills with colour, sounds, parades, music, and more; it’s one of the most special displays of the local cultures and traditions you can see.
Here are the highlights:
A vibrant street parade, fireworks displays, colorful costumes, dancing, traditional live music performances.
The Halong Carnival usually happens in the last week of April or first week of May.
In 2013, Halong city first began to celebrate the “Cherry Blossom Festival” in April, which honours the anniversary of diplomatic relations between Japan and Vietnam.
It’s a celebration of the meeting of the two cultures, and usually includes performance in traditional costumes, dance, and folk music of Japan.
That’s not the best part though:
There also is a trade fair displaying and selling one of a kind handicraft products, speciality foods, art performances, and an exhibition of paintings and portrait drawings.
Traditional festivals like Bach Dang Festival and Cua Ong Festival are also an interesting (and hugely important) part of the country’s culture, and an exciting thing to witness.
The festivals celebrate Vietnam’s victories throughout its history of warfare against foreign invaders, and honours those who spearheaded the crusades.
The celebrations include all sorts of activities, performances, and oddities, such as wrestling, human chess playing, and cock-fighting.
Purely as a matter of intrigue, festival season in April and May is easily the best time to visit Halong Bay.
Best Time to Visit Halong Bay on a Cruise
Cruising is the most popular way to explore the bay, but it’s a weather dependent activity- so time of year matters.
What’s the best time to visit Halong Bay on a cruise?
We already know that March to May offers the best weather in terms of temperature, sunlight, and rainfall- but let’s look at the other months to get a more well-rounded view.
From August to November, the chance of the bay being hit by a monsoon increases dramatically, which poses a risk to cruises planning to go out into the water. If a storm is on the way, cruises tend to cancel their operations.
December to February is great weather-wise, the temperature drops down to the late teens and rain is pretty infrequent. However, this is considered to be peak-season, so prices hike and the crowds roll in.
All things considered, March to May still seems like the best time to visit Halong Bay.
Ready to plan your Halong Bay adventure? Drop us a line for help with ideas, information, and bookings.