Located in the southeast of Indochinese Peninsula Vietnam has 4,639 kilometer-long boundary on land and a coastline of 3,260 kilometers long. Lower from the northwest to the southeast, Vietnam has the diverse topography with mountains, hills, plains, coasts and continental shelf. The typical topography in
the North is mountainous, while the Central Vietnam has the largest difference in height between the east and the west, and quite simple topography with Mekong Delta in Southern Vietnam. Thus the Vietnam's climate also changes and different from the north to the south which has two main climate regions, the tropical monsoon climate with four seasons in the North and the typical tropical climate with two separate seasons in the South.
Vietnam is located in the southeast of Indochinese Peninsula and covers an area of more than 330,000 square kilometers (128,000 square miles). The country has the shape of letter "S" and lies entirely in tropical region, between latitudes 8°27' and 23°23'N, and longitudes 102°8' and 109°27'E.
Vietnam shares the borders with the Gulf of Tonkin and South China Sea to the East; Laos and Cambodia to the West; China to the North and the Gulf of Thailand to the South. Vietnam has 4,639 kilometer-long boundary on land and a coastline of 3,260 kilometers long. Vietnam’s territory on the sea occupies an area of about 1,000,000 square kilometers.
Vietnam's topography is very diverse with mountains, hills, plains, coasts and continental shelf. It's result of tectonic process in a long time of millions of years in the past. The topography is lower from the northwest to the southeast. Thus, almost the rivers in Vietnam have the stream following that direction.
Mountains and hills, which occupy three quarters of Vietnam’s territory, are the main landscape in Vietnam. However, 85% among them are low mountains and hills under 1,000 meters high. There are only 1% of mountains that have the height over 2,000 meters.
In northeastern Vietnam, there are several mountain ranges (such as Song Gam, Ngan Son, Bac Son and Dong Trieu) forming the shape of a bow. In northwestern Vietnam, high mountains and highland are the dominant scenery. This region is also location of the highest mountain of Vietnam – Fansipan (3,143 meters high), which is dubbed "the Roof of Indochina". In the central of the Northern part of Vietnam is the Red River Delta, one of two biggest plains in Vietnam. The Central Vietnam has the largest difference in height between the east and the west. The west is featured with high mountain range of Truong Son and Tay Nguyen’s highlands, while the east has various small plains along the coast. In Southern Vietnam, topography is quite simple with Mekong Delta, the largest plain of Vietnam (or “Nine Dragon River Delta”). Mekong Delta covers an area of 40,000 square kilometers in total and is the main rice-cultivating area of Vietnam.
Vietnam’s territory on the sea is featured with variety of islands with both small and big size. The gulf of Tonkin, in particular, comprises more than 3,000 islands, which belong to Halong Bay, Bai Tu Long Bay, Cat Ba Island, Bach Long Vi Island, etc. The two biggest archipelagos of Vietnam are Truong Sa Archipelago (Spratly Islands) and Hoang Sa Archipelago (Paracel Islands).
Vietnam's climate is typical for the tropics: the weather all around the year is in high temperatures and humidity. In particular, Vietnam's climate regions include two main climate regions: the North and the South with the boundary is Hai Van Pass.
In the North, climate is tropical monsoon climate and has four distinct seasons including spring, summer, autumn and winter. Climate in the North shows continental character clearer than that in the South. When northeastern monsoon is active (from November to March), it’s the winter and the weather becomes cold and dry. The temperature is lowest in December and January. On some mountains in the North such as Sapa, Tam Dao, Hoang Lien Son, etc, it can down to 0°C and have snow.
In the South, climate is less affected by monsoon operations. Thus, tropical character is more typical than in the North with two separate seasons: dry season and rainy season. The temperature in the South is quite stable and remains high all year round.
Beside climate division from the North to the South, the climate also has differences between low and high areas as given structure of terrain. It was formed sub-climate regions like Sapa (Lao Cai Province), Da Lat (Lam Dong Province) with temperate climate.
The average temperature of Vietnam ranges from 21°C to 27°C, and increases from the North to the South. The average annual rainfall is from 1,500 – 2,000 mm and humidity is around 80%. As the impact of complex terrain, monsoon operation and the sea, Vietnam usually suffers extreme weather phenomena such as hurricanes, floods, droughts. Statistically, there about 6-10 storms and tropical depression landed in Vietnam each year.
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