By August, most of Vietnam is into the latter phase of the summer monsoon and typhoon season, but there are still significant regional variations.
August is the rainiest month of the year in Hanoi and North Vietnam, and hiking is off the cards as rain soaks the mountains. Temperatures in North Vietnam remain close to their peak, at a sultry and very humid 85°F (29°C) average in Hanoi, and Halong Bay is prone to receive storms. Mosquitoes are also at their peak—bring plenty of insect repellent, plus raingear.
The beaches and coastal lowlands of Central Vietnam enter their last month of dry weather and sunshine before its seasonal monsoon begins in September. Although rains at the beginning of August are usually limited to intermittent showers, more prolonged rains and overcast skies begin to build towards months end. The summer monsoons drop plenty of rain on the Central Highlands, however, so July is not a good month for trekking. Temperatures remain at their peak, averaging about 88°F/31°C in Hue—the warmest part of the country. If you’re chasing the sun, bring lots of sunscreen.
August is only the mid-point of South Vietnam’s five-month monsoon season, and Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong Delta are deluged by near-daily downpours. These are usually in the afternoon, and you can still expect plenty of sunny and dry daylight hours.
After really heavy and prolonged week-long rains, you'll probably experience some flooding, while the South China Sea can be rough, and transportation delays are likely (it’s wise to have a backup plan in mind in the event that “rain stops play”). The temperature in August average around 80°F (27°C), but highs can still regularly climb into the 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
Crowds & Costs
Domestic travel is still at a peak, and international visitors are beginning to return. Be prepared for crowded beaches in early August as Vietnamese families make the most of what remains of their summer vacations before the kids return to school. By the second half of August, summer peak-season prices begin to fall and it’s easier to find bargains, including airfares from the West Coast of USA. Mid- to late-August is a good time to visit if you want to avoid crowds of other tourists.
Where to Go
The beaches and cities of Central Vietnam are still the top draw in August due to their uniquely sunny weather. The narrow waist of the country is blessed with fantastic beaches and fascinating historic and cultural sites. Start with some stellar beach time at Nha Trang, Quy Nhon, or the golden sands of An Bang. Then savor the graceful architecture and heritage of Hoi An, marvel at the Imperial Citadel and other historic sites of Hue, and hit dynamic Da Nang for its sensational cuisine and nightlife.
For a fascinating insight into what the “American War” (what locals call the Vietnam War) meant for Vietnamese families, head to the Cu Chi tunnels, about 70 km northwest of Ho Chi Minh City. This was where the miniature battles of Cu Chi and the locals used as the shelter in the Vietnam war over 30 years. Cu Chi tunnels are now admired by underground large construction, with many layers and niches like spider webs. Also, the tunnel had accommodation, meeting and fighting place with a total length of more than 200 km.
While exploring coffee country around Buon Ma Thuot, be sure to visit the Trung Nguyen Coffee Village to learn about kopi luwak (civet, or weasel, coffee). Then head to nearby Ban Don to learn about the M’nong peoples who have traditional tamed and cared for the wild elephants of nearby Yok Don National Park. Since 2018, elephant rides have given way to a more ethical treatment of elephants; visitors now view elephants from a distance as they are reintegrating back to the wild.
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What to Do
Vietnam’s karst limestone formations offer terrific options for active adventure. The main site unaffected by monsoons in August is Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, where you can pick from a smorgasbord that includes caving, climbing, forest hiking, mountain–biking, or even kayaking the underground rivers. Three or four days is not too much to exhaust the possibilities of this geologists’ and speleologists’ Nirvana.
August marks the height of Green turtle nesting season on the white sandy beaches of the Con Dao archipelago, off Vietnam’s southern tip. This former prison island is today a national park and marine tourism paradise, providing an opportunity to witness turtles laying eggs (and, later, baby turtles hatching from the sands). The female turtles come ashore between May and October, and the first hatchlings appear at night in mid-August to make a mad dash to the sea. They nest on 14 of Con Dao’s 16 islands, with Bay Cahn Island receiving the vast majority. Obligatory tours are offered through the national park office. You’ll need lots of patience and good fortune to see the turtles, which can come ashore as late as 2 or 3 am.
You’ve raved about the food. So why not learn how to make it. An ability to whip up stupendous Vietnamese dishes will wow your friends back home, and let you relive the memories. Cooking courses are available in every major city. For example, in Ho Chi Minh City the Vietnam Cookery Center has been teaching tourists traditional Vietnamese cooking methodology for two decades.
Ghost Festival (Vu Tan). Also known as the Hungry Ghost Festival, Vu Tan is held nationwide on the fifteenth day of the seventh month in the lunar calendar. Vietnamese pay homage to their deceased ancestors, whose wandering souls are believed to return to their former homes.
Chi Long Festival. A small village festival that takes place in early August in Phong Chuong, about 20 miles (32 km) north of Hue, it features a procession of votive tablets plus dancing, and offerings are floated down the O Lau River on boats.
Hon Chen Festival. Held on Hue’s Perfume River on August 21, this community celebration venerates the Hon Chem Temple with processions and offerings, including colorful dragon boats filled with people dressed as characters of the Nguyen Dynasty. Lanterns are set afloat at night.
Traveling to Vietnam in August? Check out these great itineraries
Cycling Vietnam’s Highlands & Coast – 6 days. Take advantage of July’s dry sunny weather as you wheel through pine forests and past coffee plantations then head along the picturesque coast to Hoi An.
Head Off the Beaten Path in Vietnam - 7 Days. The Vinh Moc Tunnels are a highlight of this week-long exploration of lesser-known, yet fascinating, sights.