While most travellers tend to book their holidays outside of the rainy season, there are quite a few advantages to traveling in Vietnam during this time. For one, it’s definitely cooler and a welcome relief for many who don’t want to sweat 24/7. If you’ve decided to travel during rainy season, check out these tips to keep yourself not only (somewhat) dry but also entertained.
For many travelers planning to visit Vietnam, the rainy months between May and September are to be avoided. Tall tales of epic floods and inevitable house arrest scare many off from visiting the country outside the months that promise mostly sunshine and clear skies. Yet, those who don’t brave the downpours are sure to miss out on some of the country’s most intriguing culture and color, whether it is the fabulous summer festivals or the natural beauty of Vietnam under cloudy skies. Those brave souls content to battle the torrential rains are promised a truly authentic travel experience, and with a few tips and tricks in mind, may find their rainy season journey the most memorable they’ve ever had.
Perhaps the most important factor in traveling comfortably during rainy season is packing right. But in Vietnam, the usual umbrella and trench coat won’t fare as well against the Southeast Asian rains as will Vietnam’s signature rain ware: plastic ponchos. Rather than bringing along a heavy raincoat, getting the best rain gear is easily done while in Vietnam.
Impending rain is usually signaled by shop keepers moving their racks of rain ponchos out to the road, where drivers can purchase one without ever getting off of their bikes. Most travelers buy simple plastic ponchos that are little more than an oversized plastic bag, but splurging on slightly more expensive — but much more effective — thicker, longer poncho is worth the extra cash. Most come in different sizes, so find one that reaches to your ankles and wrists.
Watch the clock
Thankfully for travelers to Vietnam, the rains in the region are usually two things: regular and short lived. Most heavy downpours last no more than an hour, and largely come at regular times during the day, usually during the morning hours or around lunchtime.
Taking cover during those times can keep you dry while still enjoying the magnificent and awe inspiring rains that can bring visibility down to only a few feet. Once there’s a downpour during the day, it’s highly unlikely for there to come another within 24 hours. So, although the rain may halt your plans for a short while, once they pass, you’re nearly guaranteed a dry rest of the day to roam about the city.
Most traveling in Vietnam during the rainy season learn one lesson very quickly — rain boots are a distant second to plastic sandals. Although it’s tempting to don a pair of plastic, knee high boots, the result will be sweaty feet and the good chance of soggy socks.
Yet, if you wear a good pair of plastic sandals, the cuts on your feet are more prone to germs in the rain than when the walkways are dry. A small bottle of sanitizer and gauze in your travel bag is a good idea to protect yourself while still avoiding the pitfall of uncomfortable rain boots.
Know your surroundings
As with most major cities, some areas boast better drainage systems than others, so knowing the best places to travel on days that heavy rain is likely will save you a lot of headache. For rural areas or outer urban districts, road blockages due to rain and flood can be common. Ask your hotel staff which parts of the city suffer the worst detriments of rain and avoid them on days where the skies look brooding. Save the journeys outside of downtown areas to friendlier skies, or perhaps for after the day’s downpour.
And, although traveling to the country’s more rural areas outside of urban centers is certainly possible during rainy season, the most enjoyable travel during the rains is usually within larger cities like Hanoi, Danang and Ho Chi Minh City, where infrastructure is better and roads are less likely to flood. However, most travel companies run tours throughout the year, rain or shine, and can provide comfortable trips to the outer limits in relative comfort.
Enjoy the show
While the dry season promises blue skies and little rain, it also has some of the hottest weather of the year. The rainy season, while certainly wet and with higher humidity, lowers the temperatures drastically and makes for a more comfortable travel experience overall. Plus, as the rains begin to fall, ducking under the cover of a bridge, a roof or a cafe awning can make for an incredible show of mother nature with front row seats.
Take the time to watch as drivers pull to the side of the road in perfect synchronization to find their raincoats. See shop owners roll out their awnings with the first sign of rain, and enjoy the city’s sixth sense for impending rain as pedestrians head for cover before the first raindrops even fall.
Sitting back and enjoying the beautiful natural show of rainstorms is perhaps one of the most incredible experiences to be had in Vietnam. After all, a little rain never hurt anyone.
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