A lot to gain from rain

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Vietnam's rainy season can actually add charm and romance to several popular destinations

 

Foreign tourists visit a market in Sa Pa Town in the northern highlands province of Lao Cai. Highland regions in Vietnam are particularly good for "˜monsoon tourism.'/PHOTO: DIEP DUC MINH

If it is summer, it can also rain. With the skies over Vietnam prone to opening up around May before calling it a day sometime in November, the rainy season coincides somewhat with peak tourism season.

However, the rains are no reason for you to put off a summer vacation in Vietnam. If anything, they can make your stay even more memorable and enjoyable, instead of being an annoyance and a nuisance.

 A few destinations, especially in the central and Central Highland regions, are particularly good for "monsoon tourism."

Hue

With the highest rainfall (2,000-4.000 mm) and number of rainy days (200-220 days) in the country, the central town of Hue is probably the best place to enjoy the rain in Vietnam.

In fact, many people come to see the former capital getting drenched a scene that has been described very often as "romantic," and "beautifully sad" in Vietnamese poems and songs.

So, if you happen to be Hue and it begins to rain, do not feel disappointed. Instead, catch a cyclo to wander around the town, capturing its corners with your camera. Many visitors have said Hue in rain is as beautiful as a watercolor masterpiece.

A trip on the thuyền rồng (big boat) gives one the opportunity to observe the town getting a good soaking from the vantage point of the Huong River. It is an experience that you will remember for long.

Those who do not want to get wet can sit in a café or a tea room, and admire the iconic scene from a glass window while sipping a cup of hot coffee or tea.

Hoi An

Recognized as a world heritage site by the UNESCO in 1999, Hoi An Town is a must visit destination for most visitors to Vietnam. Last month it was ranked 17th among the top 25 destinations in Asia by popular travel website TripAdvisor.

But, if the ancient town is inundated by heavy rains, will tourists want to visit? Actually, many people deliberately visit the town between October and November when it is flooded. Seeing the famous town under water is certainly a novel experience. 

For many, flooded Hoi An looks like Venice in Italy, especially when they go around town on a boat through streets that have become waterways.

During the town's "floating season," the temperature is about 20 degrees Celsius, and rains are heavy but not of long durations, so visitors are apt to be quite comfortable.

Da Lat

Unlike Hoi An, Da Lat the Central Highlands resort town in Lam Dong Province is famous for sudden, long-lasting drizzles.

The light rains decrease the temperature of the town that is some 1,500 meters above sea level, making it cold enough for people to tighten their jackets and feel like having something hot a glass of soya milk, a cup of coffee, or a sweet potato that is grilled on charcoal.

But rains in Da Lat is also a sight to be enjoyed, perhaps more from a shelter with a hot drink or snack than out on the streets, unless you happen to favor the chilly wetness.

After the rain eases, wandering about in the less crowded streets, looking at glistening pine leaves and freshened flowers is a pleasurable activity that one would want to repeat.

Buon Ma Thuot

During the rainy season, the resort town in the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak is slashed by torrential downpours that can inflict serious damage on the soil, it is said. 

 DOS AND DON'TS FOR RAINY-SEASON TRAVELS

  • Use water-proof backpacks or bags
  • Always carry raincoats and umbrellas
  • Use hairdressers to dry things when they get wet
  • Stuff wet shoes with old newspapers and replace the papers every two hours. The shoes will dry the next day.
  • Do not wear disposable underwear

The rains increase the sizes of waterfalls like Dray Sap, which can expand considerably over the dry season, from around 8 meters high, and 70-80 meters wide to 12 meters, and 120 meters respectively.

Lak Lake, which is some 50 kilometers to the south of Buon Ma Thuot, also expands to some 600 hectares, from around 400 hectares.

These sites are best seen after the rains have done their magic, but when it is still pouring, and you are in Vietnam's coffee capital, there is no arguing what the best option is.

Snug and warm, enjoy both the beverage and the rain.

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