The Southern Dry Season: Travel Guide

First published December 2018 | Words and photos by Vietnam Coracle

The southern dry season is a period of glorious, warm, sunny weather in the lower regions of Vietnam. Lasting roughly from November to May, the southern dry season covers all regions south of Nha Trang. However, the very best weather is from December to February, when the sun shines almost all day, the skies are blue, the colours are brilliant, the air is clear, the heat is dry, humidity is low, and temperatures in the mornings and evenings drop to pleasantly mild (even chilly) levels. These months are the ideal time to travel in the south of the country. There are dozens of excellent road trips, destinations, and accommodations to choose from that fall within the region of the southern dry season. These include islands, river deltas, resorts, mountains, homestays, forests, beaches, camping, plateaus, and cities. On this page, I’ve pulled together all of my guides which are best explored during the southern dry season.

the-southern-dry-season-travel-guide The Southern Dry Season: Travel Guide

the-southern-dry-season-travel-guide The Southern Dry Season: Travel Guide

The southern dry season lasts from November to May: it’s the best time to see the south of Vietnam

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Below, I’ve listed all my guides that fall within the southern dry season in three categories: Destinations[2], Motorbike Routes[3], and Accommodation[4]. Each guide is illustrated with an image, and I’ve included a brief description, the date of latest revision, and a direct link to every one of them. All the guides are also plotted on my map[5]. The purpose of this post is to give travellers a better understanding of where to go during the southern dry season months, which I consider one of the best and most rewarding times to travel in Vietnam. While northern and central provinces endure their grey, cold winters – especially from November to February – the south is basking in glorious sunshine.

Click on a guide from a category below for more details:

DESTINATIONS[6]:

MOTORBIKE ROUTES[7]:

the-southern-dry-season-travel-guide The Southern Dry Season: Travel Guide

ACCOMMODATION[8]:

Southern Dry Season Guides: Destinations, Routes & Hotels


View in a LARGER MAP
[9]

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Ha Tien: Jewel of the Mekong [read here[11]]

Region & province: southwestern corner; Kien Giang Province 

Best time to go: November-March

First published: September 2017

Description: In the southwestern corner of the country, Ha Tien is the most attractive place to be in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta region. Its irresistible combination of bustling markets and languid backstreets, crumbling shophouses and forested hills, delicious street food and local temples, promenading pedestrians and river traffic, twittering swiftlets and chiming pagoda gongs, makes Ha Tien the ‘Jewel of the Delta’……read more[12]

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the-southern-dry-season-travel-guide-1 The Southern Dry Season: Travel Guide

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Exploring Saigons Railways Tracks: [read here[14]]

Region & province: Saigon; Ho Chi Minh City Municipality 

Best time to go: January-March

First published: June 2018

Description: Lined with cramped housing, intriguing architecture, temples, shrines, pagodas, fruit trees, flowers, cafes, casual dining, trash, beer joints and other such urban miscellanea, Saigon’s railway tracks are a fascinating area to explore, whether on foot or on two wheels……read more[15]

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the-southern-dry-season-travel-guide-2 The Southern Dry Season: Travel Guide

[Back to Contents[16]]


La Nga River & Thac Ba Waterfall: [read here[17]]

Region & province: southern Central Highlands; Dong Nai & Binh Thuan provinces 

Best time to go: December-February

First published: June 2017

Description: Offering freshwater bathing, lush jungle, mountain scenery, and opportunities for camping, all within a few hours’ drive of Saigon, La Nga River & Thac Ba Waterfall is a great escape for city-dwellers: best visited with your own wheels……read more[18]

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the-southern-dry-season-travel-guide-3 The Southern Dry Season: Travel Guide

[Back to Contents[19]]


Cam Ranh Bay: Cam Lap Promontory [read here[20]]

Region & province: south-central coast; Ninh Thuan & Khanh Hoa Provinces 

Best time to go: December-May

Last updated: January 2017

Description: Filled by the calm, glistening waters of the East Sea, Cam Ranh Bay is a splendid natural harbour surrounded by hills. From its southern shores, a finger of land points northwards into the bay: this is Cam Lap Promontory……read more[21]

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the-southern-dry-season-travel-guide-4 The Southern Dry Season: Travel Guide

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Ho Tram & Ho Coc Beaches: [read here[23]]

Region & province: southeast coast; Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province 

Best time to go: November-May

Last updated: August 2016

Description: Two long & wide stretches of sand, Ho Tram & Ho Coc are by far the best beaches within easy reach of Saigon. If you’re a Saigon expat with a mini-break of a couple of days, or a traveller looking for a short trip out of the city, this is where you should be heading……read more[24]

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the-southern-dry-season-travel-guide-5 The Southern Dry Season: Travel Guide

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Saigons Street Food Ghettos‘: [read here[26]]

Region & province: Saigon; Ho Chi Minh City Municipality 

Best time to go: December-February

Last updated: May 2016

Description: Throughout Saigon, there are clusters of crumbling old apartment complexes, all of which are on the verge of either collapse or demolition. As is so often the case in Saigon, street life enlivens these relatively poor areas, making them some of the most exciting street food destinations in the city……read more[27]

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the-southern-dry-season-travel-guide-6 The Southern Dry Season: Travel Guide

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Phu Quoc Islands Beaches: [read here[29]]

Region & province: southwestern corner; Kien Giang Province

Best time to go: November-April

Last updated: November 2018

Description: Phu Quoc is Vietnam’s largest island, and fast becoming the country’s premier beach destination. There are dozens of excellent beaches on Phu Quoc Island, and this guide covers them all, including my tips for accommodation on each one……read more[30]

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the-southern-dry-season-travel-guide-7 The Southern Dry Season: Travel Guide

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Phu Quoc Island by Boat: [read here[32]]

Region & province: southwest coast; Kien Giang 

Best time to go: November-April

Last updated: October 2018

Description: Taking the boat to Phu Quoc Island is fun, reasonably priced, relatively easy, and a really convenient way to combine a trip to the island with travels in the Mekong Delta or the Cambodian coast……read more[33]

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the-southern-dry-season-travel-guide-8 The Southern Dry Season: Travel Guide

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Public Swimming Pools in Saigon: [read here[35]]

Region & province: Saigon; Ho Chi Minh City Municipality

Best time to go: November-May

Last updated: December 2016

Description: If you’re not lucky enough to be staying at one of the smarter hotels with a pool, or if you’re an expat looking to escape the heat and clamour of the city, Saigon has plenty of decent & inexpensive public swimming pools to choose from……read more[36]

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the-southern-dry-season-travel-guide-9 The Southern Dry Season: Travel Guide

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The Con Dao Islands: [read here[38]]

Region & province: southeast coast; Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province 

Best time to go: February-May

Last updated: August 2018

Description: With its wild & beautiful beaches, rugged, jungle-covered interior & fascinating but tragic history, the Con Dao Islands is a remarkable place. Once a brutal penal colony, established by the French colonial administration, today the Con Dao Islands is one of Vietnam’s most beguiling destinations……read more[39]

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the-southern-dry-season-travel-guide-10 The Southern Dry Season: Travel Guide

[Back to Contents[40]]


Saigon to Phan Thiet by Train: [read here[41]]

Region & province: southeast coast; Binh Thuan Province 

Best time to go: December-April

Last updated: July 2018

Description: The daily, non-stop express train between Saigon & Phan Thiet (Mui Ne) is a cheap, easy, fun, fast & efficient way to get from the city to the beach. Put your motorbike on the train with you & let the rails carry your wheels……read more[42]

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the-southern-dry-season-travel-guide-11 The Southern Dry Season: Travel Guide

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Saigons Parks & Open Spaces: [read here[44]]

Region & province: Saigon; Ho Chi Minh City Municipality 

Best time to go: December-February

Last updated: March 2015

Description: During the dry season months, find respite from the heat in one of Saigon’s parks & open spaces. Some dates from French colonial times; some are a product of the recent economic boom……read more[45]

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the-southern-dry-season-travel-guide-12 The Southern Dry Season: Travel Guide

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Saigon to Dalat: the Back Ways [read here[47]]

Region & province: southern Central Highlands; Dong Nai & Lam Dong provinces 

Best time to go: December-March

Last updated: February 2017

Description: There are many ways to ride from Saigon to Dalat, but if you want a relatively direct route that avoids highways, there are several great options. These ‘back ways’ to Dalat utilize new, quiet & scenic roads to make the journey as fun as possible……read more[48]

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the-southern-dry-season-travel-guide-13 The Southern Dry Season: Travel Guide

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The Ocean Road: Saigon to Mui Ne [read here[50]]

Region & province: southeast coast; Ba Ria-Vung Tau & Binh Thuan provinces 

Best time to go: November-May

Last updated: August 2017

Description: Skirting the deserted coastline for much of its length, occasionally ducking inland through cashew trees & dragon fruit plantations, over white salt flats & green rice fields, past hot springs & hilltop pagodas, the Ocean Road is the scenic route between Saigon & Mui Ne……read more[51]

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the-southern-dry-season-travel-guide-14 The Southern Dry Season: Travel Guide

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Mountains in the Mekong: [read here[53]]

Region & province: southwestern Delta; An Giang Province 

Best time to go: November-March

Last updated: August 2016

Description: Most of the Mekong Delta is as flat as a sheet of rice paper. But my favourite corner of the region, the western edge along the Cambodian border, is blessed with some high ground, in the form of a mini mountain range, which rises from the plains of An Giang Province. These mountains are connected by beautiful back-roads, perfect for a road trip……read more[54]

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the-southern-dry-season-travel-guide-15 The Southern Dry Season: Travel Guide

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Midnight Motorbike Loop: Saigon [read here[56]]

Region & province: Saigon; Ho Chi Minh City Municipality 

Best time to go: December-February

Last updated: January 2018

Description: At night, Saigon is at its best: temperatures are cool, humidity is low, and traffic is light – it’s the perfect time to see the city. The Midnight Loop is an urban motorbike route designed specifically for riding after dark: a night out on two wheels……read more[57]

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the-southern-dry-season-travel-guide-16 The Southern Dry Season: Travel Guide

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Binh Thuan BackRoads: [read here[59]]

Region & province: southern Central Highlands; Binh Thuan Province 

Best time to go: December-March

Last updated: March 2016

Description: Binh Thuan Province is known for its beaches, but inland there’s a rich and varied landscape waiting to be explored. A network of rarely used, rural back-roads takes you on an inland loop – over arid plains, through forests, and across rivers……read more[60]

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the-southern-dry-season-travel-guide-17 The Southern Dry Season: Travel Guide

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River Road: The Cai Valley [read here[62]]

Region & province: lower Central Highlands; Khanh Hoa & Ninh Thuan provinces 

Best time to go: December-May

Last updated: March 2016

Description: A silver seam of glistening water, the Cai River meanders through a beautiful valley between Dalat & Phan Rang. A new road follows the course of the river, from its source in the high, forested hills to its mouth on the eastern seaboard.…..read more[63]

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the-southern-dry-season-travel-guide-18 The Southern Dry Season: Travel Guide

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The Pine Tree Road, Dalat: [read here[65]]

Region & province: Central Highlands; Lam Dong Province 

Best time to go: December-March

Last updated: February 2016

Description: An enticing road leads north from Dalat and into the remote forests and mountains of deepest Lam Dong Province. Coniferous forests stretch to the horizon, making this route great for camping or picnicking……read more[66]

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the-southern-dry-season-travel-guide-19 The Southern Dry Season: Travel Guide

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Tet Classic: Lunar New Year Loop [read here[68]]

Region & province: southeast coast & Central Highlands; Dong Nai, Lam Dong, Khanh Hoa, Ninh Thuan, Binh Thuan & Ba Ria-Vung Tau provinces 

Best time to go: January-February

Last updated: January 2017

Description: Tết (Lunar New Year) is the biggest festival of them all in Vietnam, but travel can be very difficult at this time of year. That’s why, every year, I take a meandering road trip that bypasses popular tourist spots & makes the most of the dry season weather……read more[69]

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the-southern-dry-season-travel-guide-20 The Southern Dry Season: Travel Guide

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Saigon to Phu Quoc: Motorbike Loop [read here[71]]

Region & province: Mekong Delta & southwest coast; Tien Giang, An Giang, Kien Giang, Can Tho provinces 

Best time to go: January-February

Last updated: January 2017

Description: Flying to Phu Quoc is easy, but if you want a real adventure, riding there by motorbike is much more fun. This road trip takes you from Vietnam’s biggest city to some its best beaches, via the waterways & back-roads of the Mekong Delta……read more[72]

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IMG_7227copy-final-blog-text-3 The Southern Dry Season: Travel Guide

IMG_7227copy-final-blog-text-3 The Southern Dry Season: Travel Guide

[Back to Contents[73]]


The Sand Dune Highway: [read here[74]]

Region & province: south-central coast; Binh Thuan Province 

Best time to go: December-May

Last updated: October 2016

Description: Get off the beaten track from Mui Ne with this short, scenic, easily navigable and rewarding road trip. Excellent coast roads lead between Mui Ne, Phan Ri Cua, Lien Huong and Ca Na, passing some great coastal scenery……read more[75]

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IMG_5119-copy-blog-text-1024x768 The Southern Dry Season: Travel Guide

IMG_5119-copy-blog-text-1024x768 The Southern Dry Season: Travel Guide

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Nui Chua Coast Road: [read here[77]]

Region & province: south-central coast; Ninh Thuan & Khanh Hoa provinces 

Best time to go: December-April

Last updated: March 2017

Description: Nui Chua is a beautiful promontory jutting into the ocean between Phan Rang City & Cam Ranh Bay, on Vietnam’s south-central coast. A spectacular coast road has opened up access to its superb beaches, forests, rivers & fishing villages……read more[78]

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IMG_8893-copy-blog-new-text The Southern Dry Season: Travel Guide

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Dragon’s Graveyard Coast Road: [read here[80]]

Region & province: south-central coast; Ninh Thuan Province 

Best time to go: December-April

Last updated: March 2017

Description: A new coast road has opened access to an arid, wild, windswept, boulder-strewn & cactus-studded section of coastline. People say this is where dragons’ came to die, and the earth scorched itself in grief……read more[81]

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IMG_5972-copy-blog-text-2-1024x768 The Southern Dry Season: Travel Guide

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Deep South: Riding the Dragon’s Tail: [read here[83]]

Region & province: the far south; Tra Vinh, Soc Trang, Bac Lieu & Ca Mau provinces 

Best time to go: November-March

Last updated: August 2015

Description: Vietnam’s ‘deep south’ consists of vast, flat, agricultural provinces, criss-crossed by rivers and canals. I like to call it the Dragon’s Tail. Travellers rarely make it this far south, but this motorbike loop is a lot of fun, taking in bustling Mekong towns & rustic backwaters……read more[84]

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20150803_101232-copy-blog-post-cropped-text The Southern Dry Season: Travel Guide

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The Burnt Road: Vietnam’s Desert: [read here[86]]

Region & province: inland south-central; Ninh Thuan Province 

Best time to go: December-May

Last updated: April 2015

Description: A short, easy ride through a big, hot landscape of barren hills and abandoned farmhouses, Highway 27B is the Burnt Road. This road trip takes you inland, through the vast open spaces of Vietnam’s driest province……read more[87]

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IMG_5846-copy-text-1024x768 The Southern Dry Season: Travel Guide

[Back to Contents[88]]


The Southeast Loop: [read here[89]]

Region & province: southeast coast & highlands; Binh Thuan & Lam Dong provinces 

Best time to go: December-March

Last updated: March 2015

Description: This road trip is a classic ‘Saigon escape loop’, taking in Mui Ne and Dalat via good coastal and mountain roads, but avoiding most of the big, busy highways. This guide hasn’t been updated for a long time, but the route is still just as rewarding as when I first wrote it……read more[90]

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IMG_8613-copy-text-1024x768 The Southern Dry Season: Travel Guide

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Cat Tien National Park: Where to Stay [read here[92]]

Region & province: southern Central Highlands; Dong Nai Province 

Best time to go: November-April

Last updated: November 2016

Description: Traditional longhouses, luxury safari tents, bamboo huts, camping under tall trees: accommodation in & around Cat Tien National Park is atmospheric, good value and, more often than not, environmentally & socially responsible……read more[93]

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IMG_5774-copy-blog-text-1024x768 The Southern Dry Season: Travel Guide

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Beach Camping: Saigon to Nha Trang [read here[95]]

Region & province: southeast & south-central coast; Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Binh Thuan, Ninh Thuan & Khanh Hoa provinces 

Best time to go: December-May

Last updated: October 2016

Description: Pitch your tent under a coconut palm just metres from the surf & enjoy Vietnam’s south coast sleeping in the open air. This is my guide to camping on the beaches along the Ocean Road from Saigon to Nha Trang……read more[96]

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IMG_1653-copy-blog-text-1024x768 The Southern Dry Season: Travel Guide

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Ana Mandara Villas, Dalat: [read here[98]]

Region & province: Central Highlands; Lam Dong Province 

Best time to go: December-February

Last updated: November 2016

Description: With 17 beautifully restored French colonial villas on a pine-studded hillside, Ana Mandara Resort & Spa keeps the romance of Dalat alive. Luxury accommodation in the Central Highlands doesn’t get more atmospheric than this……read more[99]

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IMG_6129-copy-text-2 The Southern Dry Season: Travel Guide

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Camping in Dalat: [read here[101]]

Region & province: Central Highlands; Lam Dong Province 

Best time to go: December-February

Last updated: June 2017

Description: Watch the sun set over purple mountains cloaked in pine forests stretching into the misty distance, with the smell of wood smoke & coffee blossom scenting the cool highland air, as you camp in the hills north of Dalat……read more[102]

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IMG_0184-copy-blog-text The Southern Dry Season: Travel Guide

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Ho Tram Beach Boutique: [read here[104]]

Region & province: southeast coast; Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province 

Best time to go: December-April

Last updated: April 2017

Description: Just a couple of hours southeast of Saigon, Ho Tram Beach Resort is one of Vietnam’s most tasteful & charming coastal retreats. It’s romantic, elegant, refined yet understated, and blends in with the natural surrounds……read more[105]

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IMG_6378-copy-blog-text-1024x768 The Southern Dry Season: Travel Guide

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Mango Bay, Phu Quoc: [read here[107]]

Region & province: southwest coast; Kien Giang Province 

Best time to go: November-April

Last updated: July 2016

Description: Mango Bay Resort has been around for over a decade & withstood the massive changes the island has gone through. And, despite increasing competition, Mango Bay is still the best place to go if you want to live the tropical island fantasy for a few days……read more[108]

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171-copy-blog-text-1024x768 The Southern Dry Season: Travel Guide

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Thanh Kieu, Phu Quoc: [read here[110]]

Region & province: southwest coast; Kien Giang Province 

Best time to go: November-April

Last updated: March 2017

Description: The unsung hero of seafront, mid-range accommodation on Long Beach, Thanh Kieu Resort is an exceptionally lush, peaceful, and unassuming place to stay on Phu Quoc Island. It’s been my go-to resort for years……read more[111]

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IMG_8298-copy-blog-text-1024x768 The Southern Dry Season: Travel Guide

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Victoria Beach Resort, Mui Ne: [read here[113]]

Region & province: southeast coast; Binh Thuan Province 

Best time to go: December-May

Last updated: April 2016

Description: One of the first luxury resorts to grace the sands of Mui Ne, Victoria is still one of the best places to stay on this popular beach on Vietnam’s southeast coast. With lush tropical gardens & a long stretch of beach, Victoria is far more spacious than its competitors……read more[114]

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IMG_3415-copy-text-1024x768 The Southern Dry Season: Travel Guide

[Back to Contents[115]]


Binh Chau Hot Springs: [read here[116]]

Region & province: southeast coast; Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province 

Best time to go: December-April

Last updated: November 2017

Description: Just a couple hours’ drive from Saigon, Binh Chau Hot Springs Resort & Spa has improved its facilities and aesthetics in recent years: it’s now a lush, relaxing and satisfying retreat from the city……read more[117]

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IMG_0911-copy-blog-text-1024x768 The Southern Dry Season: Travel Guide

[Back to Contents[118]]


Leman Cap Resort, Vung Tau: [read here[119]]

Region & province: southeast coast; Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province 

Best time to go: December-April

Last updated: April 2017

Description: Sitting on the rocks above Vung Tau’s attractive seafront promenade, Leman Cap Resort is an excellent option for expats or mid-range travellers looking to escape Saigon for a couple of nights by the sea……read more[120]

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IMG_8389-copy-blog-text-1024x768 The Southern Dry Season: Travel Guide

IMG_8389-copy-blog-text-1024x768 The Southern Dry Season: Travel Guide

[Back to Contents[121]]


Vinh Hy Bay Resort: [read here[122]]

Region & province: south-central coast; Ninh Thuan Province 

Best time to go: December-April

Last updated: September 2016

Description: Vinh Hy is a gorgeous natural harbour between Phan Rang & Nha Trang. At the centre of the pretty bay & fishing village, there’s an excellent-value place to stay: Vinh Hy Resort is perfect if you’re on a road trip along the coast……read more[123]

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IMG_9196-copy-blog-text-copy-small-1024x768 The Southern Dry Season: Travel Guide

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Ocean Dunes, Phan Thiet: [read here[125]]

Region & province: southeast coast; Binh Thuan Province 

Best time to go: December-April

Last updated: August 2016

Description: On the beach in Phan Thiet City, the Ocean Dunes Resort is excellent value for money. Offering high-end amenities at mid-range prices, the Ocean Dunes is a great option for budget travellers looking for a slice of luxury and, because of its wide greens spaces, for families……read more[126]

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IMG_1751-copy-blog-text-1024x768 The Southern Dry Season: Travel Guide

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Juliets Villa Resort: [read here[128]]

Region & province: southern Central Highlands; Lam Dong Province 

Best time to go: December-March

Last updated: March 2017

Description: Surrounded by coffee farms, tea plantations, rice paddies & fruit trees, Juliet’s Villa Resort is a family-run, quiet, secluded & peaceful place to stay near Di Linh, a part of the Central Highlands most travellers overlook……read more[129]

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IMG_6268-copy-blog-text-1024x768 The Southern Dry Season: Travel Guide

IMG_6268-copy-blog-text-1024x768 The Southern Dry Season: Travel Guide

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Lotus Lake Homestays, Mekong Delta: [read here[131]]

Region & province: southern Central Highlands; Lam Dong Province 

Best time to go: December-March

Last updated: January 2018

Description: In the Mekong Delta province of Dong Thap, a collection of bamboo & palm-thatch huts on wooden stilts above a sea of lotus flowers, offer a night in a hammock or on a futon under a mosquito net, just a few feet above the frogs, the fish & the flowers……read more[132]

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IMG_0875-copy-blog-title-text-1024x768 The Southern Dry Season: Travel Guide

IMG_0875-copy-blog-title-text-1024x768 The Southern Dry Season: Travel Guide


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