Normally, it rains in Ho Chi Minh City from May until November. Almost daily, right through summer, the skies in Ho Chi Minh City lash its residents with a variety of showers from a light two-hour drizzle to monsoonal downpours.
The question often asked is: how can you enjoy Ho Chi Minh City knowing that you are going to have to battle the rain?
Well, there is good news. The rain in Ho Chi Minh City is rather predictable for about 80 percent of the wet season. Different regions have different wet seasons across Vietnam, but in Ho Chi Minh City you can count on having an afternoon storm roll in any time after 2:00 pm. These storms, especially the heavy ones, only last for an hour or before the skies clear and everything gets back to normal.
Many locals simply plan their day around the rain. In fact, when the rain is at its most predictable, locals rarely take out their raincoats because they are able to stay inside for the short periods of precipitation. However, this can also cause major traffic congestion when everyone leaves work at the same time after the rain has passed.
|Commuters ride in the rain in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, May 25, 2020. Photo: Chau Tuan / Tuoi Tre|
As a tourist experiencing Ho Chi Minh City, there are a few things you can do to have fun in the city during the rainy season. Here are a few tips for first time travelers:
Rain in Ho Chi Minh City mostly occurs in the afternoon. Mornings are mostly clear. If you want to experience something outdoors, choose the morning to venture out and have fun. By 11:00 am, the heat is often uncomfortable and everyone ventures inside for lunch and a rest.
Change your clothes
One of the biggest lifestyle changes I made after moving from Australia to Ho Chi Minh City was the clothing I wore. Jeans and heavy long or short pants were out. I now wear light and more versatile pants or shorts.
Shoes are also gone. Shoes get wet and become smelly and heavy in the wet weather. I now wear sandals with socks that are comfortable which allows me to walk reasonable distances. I also carry spare socks in case my socks get wet, which happens weekly. One tip is to stay in your wet socks until the rain is gone and any flood water goes away, and give your sandals time to dry.
Carry a raincoat all the time
It might seem obvious but you should always have a raincoat in your backpack. Around town, poncho style raincoats are available on almost every corner. They range from VND10,000 to VND100,000 depending on their quality (US$1=VND24,445). For tourists, I suggest a cheap, light raincoat to get through any storms which catch you off guard.
Carry a light jacket
I know everyone talks about how hot it gets in Ho Chi Minh City, but it’s important to remember that, when there is a heavy shower, the air temperature drops and your wet skin can actually make you feel quite cold. Carrying a light jacket can be a savior when you find yourself in a cool shopping mall or café after getting a bit wet.
|Commuters wear raincoats along a street in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Quang Dinh / Tuoi Tre|
Be thankful for the rain
One of the strangest things about Ho Chi Minh City’s climate is that the summer is not the hottest time of the year.
Dry season normally arrives early November and lasts until mid-May. During the wet season, there are some hot days, but the rain usually keeps the temperature at a moderate level.
By far, the most uncomfortable time of the year in Ho Chi Minh City is towards the end of the dry season. The end of March, all of April, and into May are unbearable with hot dry days that offer only a little relief after sunset.
Whilst the wet season comes with storms, floods, and periods of monsoonal rains, it is actually the best time of the year to experience Vietnam’s southern region. Average temperatures sit in the low-to-mid 30’s but it is the cloud cover that brings the most comfort to riders, walkers, and anyone venturing outside in the summer wet season.
There is one other season that doesn’t really exist in Ho Chi Minh City but people still welcome it with open arms. Winter is a bit of a fallacy in this region, but it actually does appear. The days are dry in December and January and in the weeks surrounding the winter equinox, the overnight temperature can dip just below 20 degrees Celsius. Whilst this is considered hot for most people, locals in Ho Chi Minh City consider it to be the winter chills.
One of the amazing and unique experiences is visiting the city around New Years and seeing families out looking at the lights with hoods and jackets on that would be more common in a city like Montreal or Moscow. They rug up with scarves, gloves, and winter hoods as they venture out in the “chilly” 19 degree Celsius nights.
Ho Chi Minh City rarely experiences weather extremes like Sydney or Melbourne where it is 35 degrees Celsius one day and 15 the next, or the blistering cold of North America and Scotland where the winter chills and stop you from venturing outside for weeks. Southern Vietnam is tropical and rather consistent, and of course it is also predictable. Enjoying the weather is one of the secrets that will create the best experience in the city for travelers.
Another secret to having a fantastic time in Ho Chi Minh City is to manage the weather and not fight it. If you wait for the right weather to visit this great city you will be waiting forever. It is much better to understand the weather at the time you will visit, prepare what you need, change your attire and plan around the obvious patterns. You might get a little wet at times, and other times you might be a bit hot, but that is the beauty of the region and one of the experiences of traveling in this city.
Ho Chi Minh City has a population of over 10 million people. It is a city that never sleeps and is a unique experience for any foreigner visiting for the first time. Embracing the imperfections and changing your plans a little will give you a great experience and help you to understand the local culture a little better.