Best time to visit Cambodia

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When is the best time to visit Cambodia?

If you are deciding when to go to Cambodia, it’s good to know that there is really no wrong time to visit. Cambodia is warm all year, but it has a monsoon climate that creates two distinct seasons, rainy and dry. However, the dry period is split into two, hot and cool. Although the temperature is hot all year round.

Are you looking for the best month to visit Cambodia? Here’s our month by month guide. It will give you a good idea of the climate and how this might affect your travel plans.

Weather in Cambodia

It’s worth taking a look at the weather patterns to assess when to visit Cambodia. The best time of year to visit Cambodia depends on what you intend to do during your travels and if you want to try and avoid the rainy season.

The weather is hot all year round, but peaks in March and May when temperatures can reach around 32°C and above. In December and January, the weather is dry, but the temperatures are slightly cooler - it’s usually expected to be approximately 25°C - 30°C (77F - 86F) at this time of year. The cooler part of the season between November and February is the peak time for tourism. Mild enough to explore temples in comfort but warm enough to sunbathe by the coast.

May to October brings around 75% of the countries annual rainfall. The rainy season is humid, and temperatures will still be high.

When is the rainy season in Cambodia?

The southwesterly monsoon from May to October brings the rainy season, humidity and strong winds. The northeasterly monsoon brings the sunshine. From November to April, Cambodia is still hot with average temperatures rising to around 32°C (89°F).

It can still be worth visiting Cambodia during the rainy season. The scenery can be stunning. Mornings are usually dry, and the rain falls mainly in the afternoon. There are generally still windows of bright sunshine and clear sky.

In September and October, the rain can be more substantial and more consistent. It’s naturally much quieter, making this the best time to visit Cambodia for some. Travelling by road can be impacted during the rainy season as flooding is a possibility.

During the rainy season in Cambodia, as it doesn’t rain all day, it can be a good time for sightseeing. It is one of the quietest times to visit major landmarks like Angkor Wat and the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh. There will be fewer crowds and the countryside is appealingly green and lush. Some travel plans may be affected if travelling between the cities Phnom Penh, Battambang and Siem Reap, or if travelling to other villages as flooding can occur.

Best month to visit Cambodia

The best month to visit Cambodia depends on the temperature you prefer and what you plan to do during your visit. The dry season is between November and April.

November is popular with many tourists as the temperatures are cooler at around 25°C. It’s a great time to visit if you want to stroll around the plentiful monuments, markets and temples as it’s less crowded. It’s also the month that the Cambodian Water Festival usually takes place. It’s traditionally celebrated over three days with concerts and boat races in Phnom Penh.

Cambodia is also busy in December and January, but it’s dry and a perfect time for visiting the southern islands. Temperatures begin to rise in March and April to 30°C or more. In March and April, it can be particularly humid for sightseeing. Khmer New Year is celebrated in April, and it’s one of Cambodia’s most significant festivals.

For some visitors, the rainy season can be their favourite time of year as it’s less crowded and the surrounding countryside is green and picturesque.

Visiting Cambodia in winter

There isn’t an official winter season in Cambodia. It has hot weather all year round. Many tourists choose to visit Cambodia in the period between December and February due to the cooler temperatures. January is usually the coldest month, but temperatures are still around 25°C to 30°C. If you want to visit the Temples of Angkor, explore the colourful markets or trek in the jungle, it can be the best time to do so.

The slightly lower temperatures make it an excellent time to visit the cities like Siem Reap, Phnom Penh and Battambang. It’s a little easier to visit temples, markets and museums with less humidity. As it’s one of the best times to visit Cambodia, everywhere is more crowded.

December to February is peak season and one of the most popular times for travel, so expect to book your accommodation earlier. Usually, the accommodation is more expensive too. Spending Christmas in Cambodia is popular, so be sure to book in advance. You’ll also need to be prepared for crowds at the main tourist areas. Visits to Angkor Wat can get very busy during this time. December is also a good choice if you want to visit lakes, rivers and Tonle Sap floating villages as they are usually still full following the rainy season.

What is the weather in Cambodia in December — February

The weather is cooler in the dry season, and the lowest temperatures usually occur in November to February. From December to February you can expect the temperature to still settle at a balmy 25°C or more. It’s still a good time to catch the sunshine. There are fewer problems with the roads during this time, and the lower temperatures make sightseeing more pleasant.

Visiting Cambodia in spring

In spring you can bask in the sunshine and explore Cambodia’s idyllic beaches. For those seeking a beach holiday in a tropical paradise, it can be the best time of year to visit Cambodia. The southern islands and Kep and Kampot are popular at this time of year. Kampot is a peaceful town, and its laidback vibe is part of its charm. At this time of year, you can kayak and paddleboard along the Kampot river, or explore nearby Kep and Rabbit Island. The clear skies also make it the perfect time to take a boat tour.

Sihanoukville is also the entry point to the islands of Koh Rong, Koh Rong Samloem and Koh Ta Kiev. Tranquil Koh Ta Tiev remains peaceful undiscovered territory although there are some more lively beaches like Ochheuteal Beach and Serendipity beach where you can party from sunset to sundown.

The Khmer New Year spans across three days in mid-April. In the capital Phnom Penh, most major attractions, museums and restaurants close during the celebration as Cambodians return to provinces to celebrate with family. Siem Reap usually has events taking place too. In the countryside, families celebrate as they reunite. It’s one of the busiest celebrations of the year, so you’ll need to book accommodation early.

What is the weather in Cambodia in March — May

The temperatures increase between March and May. In March and April temperatures are beginning to rise to over 30°C in some areas. In May, temperatures in Phnom Penh and Angkor Wat can be as high as mid 30 to 40°C. The rainy season begins in May, but there is a moderate rainfall compared to the extremely wet months of September and October.

You can be sure of sunshine and heat in the southern islands, which is perfect for lazy days on the beach and water activities. The temperature is cooler on the coast. Angkor Wat in April and May can be unbearably hot for some visitors. Avoid visiting unless you can handle humidity. March can be a little cooler and can be a good compromise if you are looking for the best time to visit Cambodia.

Visiting Cambodia in summer

Cambodia can be less popular during the summer, which is officially when the rainy season is in full swing. The rainy season can still be the best time of year to visit Cambodia. It’s also known as the “green season” as the countryside is flourishing. During rainy season Cambodia is in full bloom, and it’s a great chance to see the landscape as a lush green oasis.

It doesn’t rain all day during the rainy season, so it’s possible to visit some of the highlights of Cambodia while avoiding the crowds. Summer can be the best time for families to travel to Cambodia if they need to coincide with school holiday dates. Everything is quieter wherever you choose to visit.

Flooding can be a problem on the roads in Cambodia during the summer, and although you can travel anywhere, it may take a lot longer. Mud can cause road closures, especially in the countryside.

What is the weather in Cambodia in June — August

June to August is the rainy season, and although you can expect a downpour, temperatures are approximately 30°C or more, and very humid.

The amount of rainfall per day starts to increase towards August. It can rain every day in the wet season in Cambodia, but generally, there won’t be a downpour that lasts all day, although that can happen.

The mornings can be bright and dry, with rain and potentially some impressive lightning and thunder in the afternoon, which clears the humidity. Road travel can sometimes be impacted by flooding, but it is still a good time to visit with fewer crowds, and the countryside is at its finest.

Visiting Cambodia in autumn/fall

During September and October, the country transforms into a waterlogged expanse of tropical green under the daily deluge of rainfall. It’s a fascinating time to see the country, although dirt roads can turn into mud and flooding is commonplace. Although the rainfall can present practical challenges, it can be a beautiful time of year to see the stunning scenery of Cambodia.

In November, the temperatures are cooler, and there is less rain. It marks the end of monsoon season, and this becomes a popular time to visit for many tourists. It can be a great time to visit the floating markets of the Tonle Sap, and Angkor Wat is quieter than in December and January.

It is also the month the Cambodian Water Festival is celebrated. This festival celebrates the reversal of the Tonle Sap River into the Mekong River. In early November, the Bonn Om Toeuk Water festival has traditionally been celebrated in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. You can watch the colourful boat races take place on the Mekong. Most towns and villages seek to participate by building boats that can hold up to 100 people. The racing boats are decorated in the style of each village community. During the water festival, Cambodians from all over the country head to Phnom Penh to celebrate. You can head to Sisowath Quay if you want to join the crowds. The centre of festivities is at the riverbank where crowds gather to watch an illuminated boat parade, the boat racing and fireworks.

What is the weather in Cambodia in September — November

September and October is the height of the rainy season and can have several days of rain. Temperatures are still around 30°C or more, and it’s very humid. This latter part of the monsoon season is the wettest time of the year and also has a risk of flooding, particularly in areas surrounding the Mekong.

November begins to cool as it is the end of the monsoon season, and it can be a good time to visit and explore.

When is the best time to visit Angkor Wat?

Millions of visitors head to Angkor Wat every year, and it can often get crowded, particularly between December and February. It is cooler at this time of year, but nothing can prepare you for the crowds. In the dry season, even if you get up very early before sunrise, you will experience crowds. The best times to visit are early morning and late afternoon if you want to avoid the sweltering hot weather at midday.

In March to May, it can get hotter, and the weather is usually dry and bright. For some, walking around Angkor Wat in the heat could be unbearable. Angkor Wat covers a large area, and you need to be prepared to travel around to see it fully.

During the rainy season in June to October, the whole of Angkor Wat will be quieter, so it is the right time to avoid the crowds. It’s most likely to rain in the afternoon, so it’s better to visit in the morning. Rainfall won’t impact the entire day, but mud roads or flooding may affect your journey to Angkor Wat. It may just take longer to reach your destination. The rainy season also brings intense humidity, so you need to be comfortable with heat if you choose to go at this time of year.

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Andy Turner
8/29/2020
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