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Best Time to Visit Cambodia

Written by Diana Bocco
Dec 27, 2019

Cambodia is best known for being home to Angkor Wat, one of the most stunning religious monuments in the world. But the ancient kingdom of Cambodia has much more to offer to visitors-from sandy shorelines with crystal blue waters to great café culture and historical places.

Whether you're planning a trip just to see the magnificent ancient temples or want to explore more of what the country has to offer, deciding when to travel here will help you make the most of your trip. The best time to visit Cambodia is between November and January, as the temperatures are lower, there's little rain and spending long days outdoors exploring is more comfortable.

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Best Time of Year to Visit Cambodia

Stone statue in Angkor Thom, Siem Reap

The months between November and January are the best time to travel to Cambodia-they are cooler by Cambodia's standards, with temperatures in the high 20s Celsius, and they also fall within the dry season, so you won't have to worry about carrying an umbrella or poncho with you at all times. The entire dry season, which lasts until April, is crowded with tourists, so expect hotels that fill up quickly and bumping into lots of other people when visiting the temples.

If you're planning on traveling in the countryside and visiting the regions of Mondulkiri and Ratanakiri to hike to tribe villages, visit an elephant sanctuary, or try jungle trekking, any time between October and March would work. You don't want to be caught in the area during the rainy season, as many of the roads are actually dirt and almost impossible to maneuver when muddy.

If you're heading to the beach, these are the best months as well, before temperatures go up significantly in April.

Best Season to Visit Cambodia

Workers in a Cambodian rice paddy

Depending on who you ask, Cambodia has either two or four seasons-while some travel experts divide the weather into dry, rainy, cool, and hot seasons, others consider Cambodia's seasons as dry and rainy, with periods that are either cooler or hotter.

Dry Season: November to April are considered the dry season, with minimal rain but humidity still in the 70-80 percent range. Both the hot and the cool season fall within the dry season. The cool season, between November and early March, is a great time to travel, as you'll enjoy both lower temperatures and dry, sunny days. December and January see temperatures in the mid-20s, making them the most popular (and crowded) months to visit.

Cambodia's hot season lasts from March to May-with April being the hottest month of the year, when temperatures can easily reach 40 degrees Celsius, and the air is muggy with humidity. This is a month for lounging near the pool, heading to the beach, or escaping the sun by visiting the pine forests in Kirirom (about an hour from Phnom Penh), where the shade at least brings some relief.

The Khmer New Year falls in early to mid-April, which results in the entire country shutting down completely and cities becoming ghost towns as the locals leave to visit their families-this means smaller crowds everywhere, but also difficulty booking tours and finding places to shop and eat. It's still sweltering hot in May, though the rains are slowly making their way into Cambodia-this is a great month to visit the mountains and your last chance to trek through the jungle before it becomes too muddy and difficult to explore.

Rainy Season: The rainy season starts in June and lasts until October, although the rain is not equally distributed throughout the season. While afternoon downpours usually offer a welcome break from the heat, they also increase the humidity in the air, which usually stays over 85 percent during these months.

Temperatures in the rainy season stay around 26-28 degrees Celsius. From May to July, rain comes in the form of short afternoon downpours, with August, September, and October getting the most rain.

Trips to the countryside become harder and harder as monsoon season progresses, since the many dirt roads become muddy and impassable. One great plus of the rainy season is that this is also low season, which means prices are lower and crowds mostly stay away.

Best Month to Visit Cambodia

Traditional boats on the Tatai River in Cambodia

January is the best month to visit Cambodia weather-wise-it's dry, it's at the heart of the cool season, and you won't feel like you're melting as you walk through the temples. On the minus side, these things make January a very busy month, when Angkor Wat is packed with tourists, hotels hike up their prices, and trying to catch the sunset at one of the temples without bumping into hundreds of other people is almost impossible.

To beat the crowds and land great sales, you might want to head out to Cambodia in June. Although technically the first month of the rainy season, June is relatively dry, with the sun shining in between heavy but short showers-the exception being the mountain areas, which receive heavy rain in June and often see mudslides and closed roads. The temperatures stay around 28 degrees Celsius this month, and the humidity barely reaches 70 percent, which is low for Cambodia.

Best Time to Visit Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat is Cambodia's most famous tourist destination and the world's largest religious monument. It receives over one million visitors every year -most of which arrive after a stop in Siem Reap, a city with French colonial influences and the gateway to the Angkor region.

The best time to visit Siem Reap and Angkor Wat is during the cooler months, especially between December and February, when temperatures stay in the 20s Celsius, and evenings can actually feel cool, especially if you're outside of the city. The Angkor Wat temple complex is massive and covers 162 hectares-even a "quick" tour of the buildings will take you all day, and these are the months when being outside for a full day won't be unbearable.

A downside of visiting the temples in the cool season is that everybody else will be there, too. Peak season starts in November and ends in March. During that time, tourists (especially in the form of big group tours) can be a nuisance, and trying to take a picture of the temples without 20 other people in the frame is virtually impossible.

Your next best option if you want thinner crowds and cheaper prices is to arrive in March. April is the hottest month of the year, so by March the weather is already warming up considerably, but you still should get temperatures mostly in the high 20s or low 30s, very little to no rain, and less-aggressive mosquitoes.

Best Time to Visit Phnom Penh

Royal Palace in Phnom Penh

Like the rest of the country, Phnom Penh is hot year-round, with only slight variations in temperature from month to month. During the hot season, which lasts February through May, you can expect two things: temperatures in the 30s and smaller crowds, as people stay away during the hotter, stickier months. So if you're after special deals and discounted package tours, the hot season is the best time to visit Cambodia.

Late November to January are the coolest months and the best time to visit. With very little rainfall and overnight temperatures that can get as low as 22 degrees Celsius, moving around feels much more comfortable. During the day, however, the temperatures stay around 26-28 degrees, with humidity around 70 percent.

While the cool season is usually the busiest time for tourism in Cambodia, this feels much different in Phnom Penh than in Siem Reap. Phnom Penh doesn't receive as many visitors, so even though the city is busier in the cool months, it never gets uncomfortably crowded.

The one exception is in mid-November, during the Bon Om Touk or Cambodian Water Festival. The festival attracts tens of thousands of visitors every year, who come to the city for three days of boat races, floating lanterns, and free concerts on the riverbank in the evenings. The festival celebrates the end of the rainy season, and it's a great way to appreciate the cultural heritage of Cambodia.

Best Time to Visit Cambodia Beaches

Stunning beach on Koh Rong Island

The hotter it is in Cambodia, the more people flock to the soft sandy beaches on the large Koh Rong island, where the 32nd season of Survivor was filmed. In April and May, the two hottest months in the country (with temperatures that regularly get into the 40s), the beaches on Koh Rong and the quieter Sihanoukville are popular destinations-while the sun is strong, the ocean is the perfect way to get a break from the heat and escape the sweltering cities. This is also a good time to visit if you're looking for bargains, as many hotels are discounted during the hot season.

Cambodia's best beach season, however, is in December and January, when the slightly cooler temperatures make it possible to work on your tan for hours. Koh Rong is Cambodia's main summer resort destination, with 28 beaches that go from the popular Sok San (or Long Beach) to the quiet, secluded Koh Rong Samloem (Lazy Beach).

During the cool season, the islands see very little rain, and the humidity is much lower than the rest of the year. Temperatures don't vary much during the day, when it's usually in the low 30s with plenty of sunshine. In the evenings, however, it can drop down to the high 20s.

Best Time to Visit Vietnam and Cambodia

Terraced rice field near Sapa, North Vietnam

If you're thinking of hopping over to Vietnam after a visit to Cambodia, keep in mind that the central area and lower half of Vietnam have weather patterns similar to the entire country of Cambodia-a dry and a rainy season, with temperatures that remain hot all year long and high humidity.

Vietnam sees a lot of flooding during the rainy season, so it might be better to avoid visiting during August and September, when the monsoon rains are at their heaviest. The cool months, between between November and March, are a great time to visit most of Central and Southern Vietnam, as well as Cambodia-but keep in mind that this is prime tourist season, which means higher prices and bigger crowds everywhere you go.

North Vietnam has four distinctive seasons, and the mountain areas of Sapa experience true winter, with lots of rain, fog, and sometimes even snow. Temperatures in northern Vietnam can go down into the single digits in December and January. If you want to combine a visit to Sapa with your trip to Cambodia, the best time to visit is in late spring or early fall (especially May and October)-the temperatures are warmer, and the days sunny in Sapa during this time, and Cambodia will be mostly dry with bearable temperatures.

More Related Articles on PlanetWare.com

Planning Your Trip: Cambodia has much more to offer than the world-famous Angkor Wat. For ideas on what else to see when visiting this stunning corner of Southeast Asia, take a look at our article on the Top-Rated Places to Visit in Cambodia.

Cambodia's Best Towns & Cities: If you're coming to Cambodia from overseas, chances are good you'll stop in Phnom Penh first. Before you head south to the temples, check out what the country's capital has to offer in our article on the Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Phnom Penh. Siem Reap, the gateway to Angkor Wat is an artsy, busy city with lots of great cafés and much more. See what else you can do here after a long day exploring the temples in our piece, Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Siem Reap.

Sand & Sea: Cambodia's beaches are some of the most stunning and most secluded ones in Southeast Asia and you should fit some into your trip if possible. Check out which ones are worth visiting in our Top-Rated Beaches in Cambodia article.

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