Best time to visit Cambodia
In case you’re wondering what’s the best time to visit Cambodia, we have you covered. With a tropical climate and warm temperatures ranging between 25- 35℃ (77-95°F) all year round, Cambodia has a rather simple weather pattern. Deciding your itinerary would depend on your interests and the weather in that particular location at a given point of time. Peak season across the country is between October and March. The rainfall is relatively low and the temperatures are cool, which is ideal if you’re looking to explore the different regions of this country. Read on to figure out the best time to visit Cambodia.
Cambodia has two distinctive seasons: dry and wet season. Both have their benefits and disadvantages, charms and difficulties.
Weather in Cambodia
There are two distinct seasons in Cambodia. The dry season starts in December and peaks post February. The season is further categorized into cool and hot temperatures. December to February fall under the cool season, with temperatures dropping to 16℃ (60°F) in December. April to June sees a relative hike in temperatures, making it incredibly hot. On the other hand, the wet or green season starts at the beginning of June. You will experience light showers every few days and cooler temperatures on most days. Days without rainfall mean a considerable rise in temperatures, especially between June and August. Maximum rainfall occurs in the months of September and October. Post this, you will get short bursts of light showers, mostly at the break of dawn or late at night.
Keen on witnessing lush green landscapes along the countryside? June to September is definitely the best time to visit Cambodia. However, the light showers will become heavier downpours in September. People often falsely generalize the Cambodian monsoon with other popular Asian destinations. Unlike say, Vietnam, rainfall here is sporadic, allowing you to continue exploring the country without hampering your itinerary. The weather is cool and being off-season, tourist population is low. The country is rather quiet, with luxury hotels at affordable prices. The winter season on the other hand is overcrowded with tourists, and rates rise for everything ranging from accommodation to transport. Another great time to visit this picturesque region is from September to February. The water levels have risen, the floating villages reveal their magnificent beauty and the temperatures are relatively cool. Read on for a regional overview of the best time to visit Cambodia.
Best time to visit Siem Reap
Being a tropical country, Cambodia boasts warm weather almost all year round. The primary distinction between seasons is the amount of rainfall at that particular time of the year. By default, November to March are the driest months. There’s little to no rainfall in December and January and yet, relatively low temperatures; ideal for temple excursions and walking tours. The blue skies this time of the year make for the perfect weather for those looking to escape the gloomy winters in the northern hemisphere.
December and January are the coolest months of the year, making it the ideal time to explore the region. The lakes and rivers are relatively full post the monsoon. Thus, visiting the floating villages or the stilt villages on the Tonle Sap, or the waterfalls at Kbal Spean or Kulen Mountain is a good idea. The lush green countryside and vibrant paddy fields are another gorgeous site. The one drawback of this season is the large tourist crowds and hiked up rates for accommodation.
April and May mark the onset of the summer, so finish all sightseeing in the morning or evening, steering clear of the afternoon heat. For a unique experience, visit the region during the rainy season where you’ll probably witness a couple of thunderstorms while avoiding the crowds. We definitely recommend this for all those photography enthusiasts.
Angkor Wat is the irresistible charm of this temple town. But there’s more to Siem Reap than just Angkor Wat. Exploring the floating village, traditional arts and handicrafts, and visiting the traditional circus are few other highlights of Siam Reap.
Angkor Wat can be visited throughout the year with April and May being the hottest months.
Best time to visit Koh Rong
Given it’s tropical climate, there’s really no bad time to visit this part of the country. The temperature and rainfall pattern play a crucial role in deciding when it is most suitable to visit this destination. Despite the minimal temperature fluctuations, May and June are slightly warmer. The humidity of the island makes the weather here seem hotter than it really is. Besides that, the temperature and humidity are both moderate all through the year. Rainfall is sporadic, September to November seeing the maximum amount of rainfall. October receives maximum precipitation during the year. Chances of lowest precipitation and the coolest weather conditions are from December to February, peak time for tourism. It is mild enough to explore the temples in comfort but warm enough to enjoy travelling and exploring the city.
Alongside January and February, April and May are also peak tourism months. If you’re looking for a budget trip with reasonably priced hotels and cheap airfare, August is just the right month to visit Koh Rong. Explore the island and indulge in exciting water sports like snorkelling and diving. Koh Rong also makes a great destination for some down time from the touristy parts of the country. Full moon parties, live music, jungle beach treks, Kayaking, with so much to offer, boredom is not an option here.
Avoid the beaches of Cambodia during the wet season from September to November as swimming and sun bathing won’t be an option.
Best time to visit Phnom Penh
The dry season is divided into two distinct phases. The cool season here runs from November end to February. Humidity and temperatures rise slightly during the hot season (March–May). Phnom Penh and Battambang experience peak daytime temperatures of 33–35°C (91-95°F). Temperatures around Phnom Penh vary very little with a moderate climate all through the year. The hottest months are March to April where despite average temperatures, the humidity makes it extremely hot. For a dry weather, January to March is your best bet, when precipitation is at its lowest.
The busiest month for tourism in Phnom Penh is January, followed by July and May. Prices for hotels and flights will be most expensive during these months. However, you can get good rates if you purchase them well in advance. Want to experience boutique hotels and luxury stays? August is the best time to visit Cambodia’s capital. Being off-season with light, sporadic rainfall, some of the best luxury resorts are available at affordable budget rates. One thing you ought to keep in mind is the mild rainfall in the month of September till November, when rainfall is maximum and the humidity is high. Peak tourist season runs from December through February.
The Royal Palace, street food, boat rides and cycle rickshaw tours are our favourite experiences in this region of Cambodia. One sight worth experiencing is when the river flow changes and the Tonle Sap river meets the Mekong river in Phnom Penh. During the wet season the Mekong presses water into the Tonle sap lake. But, when the water level reaches a certain level it reverses and the Tonle sap river pushes into the Mekong – around November. The highlight is in the winter season when one can see the difference in colour where the rivers meet. That’s also when the water festivals take place.
Phnom Penh is a year-round destination as even in the wet season all sights stay open.
Must-experience Festivals in Cambodia
Rich in culture, with a fascinating history, Cambodia is strongly influenced by the Buddhist culture. Meak Bochea Day is an important Cambodian festival that marks the day Lord Buddha conducted a sermon for 1250 monks at Rajagaha Valuwan Vihara, where Lord Buddha also stayed. Another festival worth witnessing is Khmer New Year, the largest celebration in Cambodia that marks the beginning of the rains and the end of the harvest season. Families reunite and perform traditional rituals, visit temples and socialise. The two festivals are usually celebrated in the months of February and April respectively. Khmer New Year can be best experienced in Siem Reap as celebrations take place across the entire city unlike Phnom Penh where most people head home to the countryside to see their family. Shops, cafes and several other establishments remained closed for this festival in particular.
The annual Royal Plowing Ceremony, usually celebrated in the month of May, is held by the Royal family. A representative of the king commences the harvest season by plowing with the royal oxen. The boat racing Water Festival, also known as Bonn Om Touk, takes place towards the end of the year in Phnom Penh. Cambodians celebrate it as a mark of respect for the naval forces. It stands out for tourists since it’s celebrated outdoors instead of being celebrated at home with family like most other festivals. One festival that is extremely fascinating is Pchum Ben. Locals believe that the last seven generations of dead family members that couldn’t get to the next life, visit earth that day. They either bring food to the pagodas, or even drop it in front of their houses or on the street as an offering to them.
Other interesting festivals in this diverse region include – The Cambodian Independence Day, and Visaka Bochea Day (Buddha’s “Birthday”). Now that you know the best time to visit Cambodia, you can organise your itinerary around which festival you want to witness.
Bonn Om Touk, the water festival celebrated across the country of Cambodia in November, marks the end of the wet season.
To sum it up
Cambodia has opened to tourism only in the last two decades, thus the land remains unexplored with tons of offbeat experiences to offer. While Angkor Wat is definitely the highlight of this tropical nation, its rich culture, fascinating history, exciting ecotourism and tropical islands also add to the charm of Cambodia.
Visit Cambodia and its unique monuments around the year as there is no bad time to get awestruck by the beauty of this country.
Our guide on the best places to visit in Cambodia will give you a broader perspective of this country and all that it has to offer. Given its year round moderate weather conditions, you needn’t think twice before picking what region to visit and at what time of the year.
helping you travel your way
We provide a helping hand to independent travellers who need assistance with planning and booking their trip. The primary goal is to turn your dream holiday into reality.