Welcome to the third post in our “Meanwhile in ASEAN” blog series. So far, we’ve discovered beautiful sunny getaways to Southeast Asia including Indonesia and Singapore, but the list doesn’t stop there.
Join us in this feature, as we go in search of warmer climates in the summery countries of Viet Nam and Laos. We unveil all of the best events and adventures in these two Southeast Asian nations, where woolly hats are nowhere to be seen and sunshine is on tap.
Hoi An. Image: Charlotte Marillet / CC-BY-2.0 / Flickr
Viet Nam has varying temperatures depending on the region, with northern Viet Nam having two clear seasons; winter and summer. During the months of January to March, northern Viet Nam becomes quite cool, but fortunately for sun-seekers, central and southern Viet Nam provides wonderfully-warm temperatures that reach the mid-30°C’s.
Central Viet Nam is a great place to start to ease into the warm climate, with few places being more endearing than the port of Hoi An. Both enchanting and romantic, Hoi An exudes a combination of French-influenced with Vietnamese charm which can be seen through its various cafes, wine bars and abundance of dress and shoemakers. The biggest highlight of Hoi An, however, is its monthly lantern festival, where colored lanterns decorate buildings, streets and where paper lanterns are released into the river. An unforgettably picturesque time to visit Hoi An, it’s the perfect spot to enjoy a laid-back pace and warm Vietnamese temperatures.
No trip to Viet Nam is complete without a stop at the UNESCO world heritage site of Ha Long Bay. A truly unforgettable experience, thousands of visitors come to Viet Nam each year to see the towering limestone rocks dotted around Halong Bay. Every photographer’s dream, the still emerald waters, clear blue skies, and breathtaking large limestones create a magical sight to behold. Plenty of tour operators offer 1-3 nights onboard various ferries, to suit different budgets. Most ferries also feature sun-decks to soak up the beautiful clear sunshine, whilst enjoying the ethereal views.
Celebrated at the start of February, Tết (short for Tết Nguyên Đán) welcomes the Vietnamese new year and is an exceptionally lively time to be in Viet Nam. A fun, yet busy, holiday-period, it is advisable to plan in advance and stay in one place during the celebrations. Tet provides a wonderful opportunity to immerse yourself in traditional Vietnamese traditions and see Viet Nam at its most colorful.
Travel between Viet Nam and Laos
Flying is the fastest way to travel between Viet Nam and Laos, with flights being frequent and reasonably priced. In less than an hour and thirty minutes, travelers can fly directly from Hanoi to both Luang Prabang and Vientiane. Direct flights are also available between Ho Chi Minh City and Pakse, with journey times also being a speedy one hour and 35 minutes, in total.
Vat Phou / Image: Ken Marshall / CC BY-2.0 / Flickr
Laos offers a pleasantly warm-escape from January to March, where the climate is cool yet dry. It’s a great time to get involved in activities and still enjoy average temperatures of mid-20°C’s. Known for its mountainous ranges, Buddhist temples, and French colonial influences – Laos has plenty on offer at this time of year, to suit all tastes.
The ruined Hindu Khmer temple of Vat Phou, located in the southern part of Laos holds an annual 3-day festival that involves native rituals, traditional activities and Laotian ceremonies. All visitors are welcome to the UNESCO world heritage site for a lively celebration featuring food, drink, music, and entertainment. Guests can expect to see customary costumes, monk-blessings, sports, and traditional Lao dances.
Held in the first month of the year, religious festival Ban Pha Wet, celebrates the Lord Buddha and his life story, which is often referred to as the Jataka. Laotians all over the country celebrate this significant festival with plenty of food, music, and traditional rituals. A time for family and friends to come together - it’s a rare chance to make new local friends and enjoy this Laotian tradition. For those seeking higher temperatures of 30°C and more, we recommend heading to Pakse (southern Laos), to join the festivities.
The landscape in Laos provides visitors who enjoy trekking a fantastic terrain for exploration, views and a thrilling escape to nature. Luang Prabang and Vang Vieng offer organized tours, where you can get out into the wilderness and experience the breathtaking views of Laos. A chance to see wildlife and enjoy the natural beauty of this country under the warm sunny temperatures – trekking in Laos won’t disappoint.
Have we persuaded you to swap the winter coat for your sun hat? We’d love to know if you’ve chosen Viet Nam and Laos for your next winter escape. Follow our journey next time, as we explore more of Southeast Asia to seek out sunshine-activities in Thailand and Myanmar.