Best Time to Visit Cambodia

Updated: 15th January 2019

Sunrise at Angkor Wat - Cambodia - Southeast Asia - On The Go Tours
Visit between November and April to catch Angkor Wat in all its glory

Seasons and Weather

Cambodia has a tropical monsoon climate with two seasons: the rainy season from May to November when the countryside is lush and green, and the dry season from late November to April when there are long days of glorious sunshine and clear skies. Temperatures in Cambodia remain fairly constant and warm throughout the year, apart from in the north when winters (December to March) are generally colder.

The Dry Season

With lovely warm temperatures year-round there isn’t really a bad time to visit Cambodia. The country’s dry season occurs from November through to May with a slight increase in temperature from March onwards. November to February is arguably the most popular time for tourists when the weather is warm and sunny but not stiflingly hot and the rainfall is much lower, which makes sightseeing far more pleasurable.

The Wet Season

The rainy season arrives in June and lasts until late October. This can be a fascinating yet potentially challenging time to visit Cambodia. The rains generally fall in the afternoon providing a refreshing break from the midday heat with largely dry mornings. The rains that do fall are pretty spectacular and turn the country into a waterlogged expanse of lush green and it is generally the quietest time in terms of tourist numbers.

Ideal time to go

The best time to visit Cambodia does depend on what you are heading to Cambodia for. For instance, the best time to visit the coastal resort of Sihanoukville for beach-side relaxation is between December to April when it is nice and warm and dry. The best time to visit Angkor Wat would depend on whether you want to avoid the rain but take on the crowds, in which case travel between November and March, but if you would prefer less crowds and don’t mind a refreshing shower in the afternoon then May to October would be the best time for you to travel.

Best Time to Go by Region

The compact landmass of Cambodia does not experience wildly differing climatic conditions, which generally means the seasons and weather are similar from one destination to the next. Having said that, some months may be better for visiting particular spots thanks to less than ideal weather resulting in fewer tourists. Read on for more information.

Best time to visit the Angkor Temples

The temples of Angkor are Cambodia's star attraction and many travellers prefer to visit when the weather is at its best. And that would be the months of November to March, when temperatures are cool and days are mostly dry - great for exploring ancient temple ruins.

However, this coincides with Cambodia's peak season, which means bigger crowds, less hotel availability and higher prices. If you would prefer to visit when crowds are thinner, consider going in the shoulder monsoon months of June or September/October. It's likely to be wet, hot and humid but the temples will be a little quieter than at other times of the year. Plus you'll get to see Angkor Wat when its moats are filled with water.

Best time to visit Phnom Penh

Cambodia's charming capital Phnom Penh is largely considered a year-round destination. Like elsewhere, the dry season months of November to February are the best time to visit if you wish to avoid the rains and humid conditions. Though it's usually warm regardless of the time of year. Rainfall peaks in September and October so avoid these months if you hope to get out and about.

Best time to visit Sihanoukville and the south coast

Over the years Sihanoukville has become one of Cambodia's most popular beach destinations. It's situated on the south coast, where you'll also find the delightful seaside retreat of Kep. This part of Cambodia experiences the best weather between November and April with lots of sunshine and little rain.

The waters around Cambodia offer ample scuba diving opportunities so if this is of interest, visit between December and June when water visibility is at its best.

Best time to visit Tonle Sap Lake

Sometimes there are advantages to visiting a country during its rainy season, and Tonle Sap Lake is one of them in Cambodia. During the wet months of July and December, the impressive lake of Tonle Sap is surrounded by vivid green vegetation while the higher water levels mean better access to floating villages and flooded forests.

Climate | Siem Reap

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Temp Min °C192126252525252525242220
Temp Max °C323335363534333232313031
Rainfall (mm)142861176221237151276248822

Climate | Sihanoukville

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Temp Min °C232425252626252525242423
Temp Max °C313132333231303030303131
Rainfall (mm)28255012520725234137732029013854
Khmer New Year - offerings at temple - Cambodia - On The Go Tours

Festivals and Events

Whether it's celebrating independence or important events in the life of Buddha, a number of popular and colourful festivals take place in Cambodia throughout the year and here are some of the busiest and best.

Chinese New Year

Cambodia's Chinese population dates back to the 19th-20th century and today the country celebrates Chinese New Year with firework displays, family feasts and street parties in the larger cities. Although not an official holiday, many shops close for the day.

Khmer New Year

Marking the end of the harvest season, the Khmer New Year is a massive holiday in Cambodia, which takes place over three days. Like neighbouring Thailand, the New Year is celebrated with water-throwing as well as large feasts held and attending local temples.

Meak Bochea

Observed by Buddhists across Cambodia, Thailand and Laos, this important religious festivals is celebrated on the full moon day of the third lunar month with many attending local temples to celebrate Buddha and his teachings. A candle procession is often held in temples in the evening.

Royal Ploughing Day

Each May Cambodians mark the beginning of the rainy season with Royal Ploughing Day. Cows and ox are feed a variety of different crops with predictions made for the year's forthcoming harvest depending on which crops are eaten by the cattle. People in Phnom Penh visit the Royal Palace in colourful traditional dress to watch the celebrations.

Pchum Ben

This vibrant religious festival is one of the most important festivals in the Khmer calendar with Cambodians visiting local temples and pagodas with offerings of food, candles and prayers for the monks. It's also a time for families to remember their ancestors.

Cambodian Independence Day

Held on the 9th November each year, Independence Day is a national holiday with many Cambodians travelling to the capital of Phnom Penh to watch colourful parades and firework displays though such celebrations occur all over the country in order to celebrate Cambodia's independence from France.

Water Festival

This festival marks the reversing flow of Tonle Sap River and welcomes the fishing season with boat races and concerts. The largest celebrations take place in Phnom Penh over three days with large fireworks displays in the evenings on the banks of Tonle Sap.

Cambo Challenge

Cambodia has its very own tuk-tuk overland challenge with the Cambo Challenge offering intrepid motorists the chance to travel across rugged and often off-road terrain with 1,000km travelled over 9 days. Teams of 2-3 must register for the event.

2019 Calendar

To help you plan your visit to Cambodia in 2019, here's an overview of the year's calendar with dates of the festivals and events taking place:

February 5th - Chinese New Year (countrywide)
February 19th - Meak Bochea (countrywide)
March 8th - International Women's Day (public holiday)
April 14th-16th - Khmer New Year (countrywide)
May 1st - Labour Day (public holiday)
May 22nd - Royal Ploughing Day (Phnom Penh)
May 13th-15th - King's Birthday (public holiday)
June 1st - International Children's Day (public holiday)
September 27th - Pchum Ben (countrywide)
October 19th-27th - Cambo Challenge (Siem Reap - Phnom Penh)
November 9th - Independence Day (Phnom Penh)
November 10th-12th - Water Festival (Phnom Penh)

There's also a number of national holidays in Cambodia and on these dates many businesses and some tourist sites will close for the day so plan your visit accordingly.

See Also

For further help planning your visit to Cambodia, check out our handy Travel Guide resources:

Best Places to Visit - where to go and what to see in Cambodia
Top Travel Tips - useful information on money, health and food in Cambodia
Tourist Visas - what you need to know for entering Cambodia
Visiting the Temples of Angkor - our guide to when to go with lots of useful tips
Top 10 Angkor Temples - the best temples to visit in Angkor
Traveller Reviews - what our travellers say about our Cambodia tours

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