Cambodia, one of South East Asia’s gems, remains consistently warm year-round with its tropical climate. From Phnom Penh’s architecture and urban life to Siem Reap’s iconic Angkor Wat, Cambodia has endless attractions. However, depending on your activity and weather preferences, aspects such as the weather can affect your trip.
Several factors play a role in determining the best time to visit Cambodia. While temperatures in Cambodia do not drastically fluctuate, some seasons may be more humid or dry than others. Plus, if you want to skip crowds, consider visiting outside of peak season, like late January. Whether you’re looking to indulge in world-class hospitality or explore ancient temples, it’s important to know the region’s different seasons.
Seasons in Cambodia
Cambodia experiences two main seasons: dry (October-April) and wet (May-September). Each season also contains months with temperature variations. March to June typically remains the hottest months of the year, where temperatures can climb as high as 35°C or 95°F and humidity is at its peak. Contrarily, from October to December, you can find temperatures hovering around 23°C to 27°C (73.4°F to 80.6°F). Weather patterns remain relatively uniform throughout the country, so you won’t find one region notably cooler or hotter over another.
From October to April, Cambodia goes through dry season, where temperatures reach 40 °C or 104°F in April. High humidity levels characterize this time of the year, making temperatures feel higher than the actual weather reports. However, the roads tend to be in their best conditions during this time, thus making road trips smoother and shorter. When tourists aren’t exploring temples or Phnom Penh in the cooler hours, you’ll likely find them taking a dip in the hotel pool with refreshing drinks to cool down at lunchtime.
From May to late October, the fall of the monsoons marks Cambodia’s wet season. Nearly ¾ of the country’s annual rainfall comes during this time, although the first few months of the wet season may still frequent high temperatures. If you’re looking to avoid the scorching heat, late July to September tends to remain cooler. However, note that some attractions and remote regions, like Ratanakiri or Mondulkiri, may be inaccessible as water levels rise. Wet season is ideal for visitors who’d like to marvel at the lushness of Cambodia’s natural scenery in the countryside and take a peaceful boat ride on the moats of ancient temples in Siem Reap. If you’re in Phnom Penh, enjoy panoramic views of the Tonle Sap with fine dining on hotel rooftops as the river swells amid the rainy season.
Main Festivals and Holidays
If you’d like to partake more in the cultural aspects of Cambodia, then you may wish to know the key dates. Many festivals occur in Cambodia; however, specific dates may change based on the Buddhist lunar calendar. Some of the most popular ones include Khmer New Year (around April 13th or 14th), Visak Bochea Day or Lord Buddha Day (April – May), the Royal Ploughing Ceremony (May), Independence Day (November 9), and the Water Festival (late October or November). Be sure to ask your hotel or tour company if you need help finding tickets or locations to visit!
When to Avoid Visiting Cambodia
You have an idea of when’s the best time to visit Cambodia, but did you know there are times you should avoid? During the Cambodian New Year (usually celebrated on April 13th or 14th), many people return home from the cities to visit their hometowns and families. As such, many businesses remain closed and cities become quiet in observance of the holiday. Celebrations typically last an entire week, so you may find limited vendors, attractions, and restaurants open during this time. However, if you’re keen on avoiding Phnom Penh traffic and crowds, then Khmer New Year may be ideal for you! Not to mention, you can even experience some festive celebrations in the countryside villages or parts of Phnom Penh.
The Best Time to Visit Cambodia Depends On You
While the climate in Cambodia remains fairly hot all year long, there are certainly ideal weather and tourist seasons to consider based on your preferences. If you don’t mind the heat and want to avoid crowds, then wet season around May-July would be best. However, if you’re looking to stay cooler, visit during dry season around November-January with less rain and longer, sunny days. Regardless of which time of the year you choose, there is an abundance of things to explore throughout Cambodia.