Sandwiched between Laos, Vietnam and Thailand, Cambodia is a country readily glossed over by travellers. The sprawling religious site of Angkor Wat draws the majority of tourists to the country but scratch beneath the surface and you’ll see there is so much more to Cambodia than temples.
The best time to visit Cambodia is from October to April. This overlaps with the high season and when Cambodia’s climate is at its most pleasant, with cool days. Despite this, the country is eminently visitable year-round and each month presents exciting opportunities to get involved in a range of activities, from island hopping to wildlife spotting.
If you’re considering a trip to Cambodia, our climate guide will tell you everything you need to know to help you plan the perfect trip. We’ll cover what to expect from the weather throughout the year, local festivals to be aware of and the best time to visit Angkor Wat and the country as a whole.
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When To Visit Cambodia – Climate Guide 🇰🇭
Weather and Climate in Cambodia ☀️🌧️🌤️
Cambodia benefits from a tropical climate year-round, with wet and dry seasons. There is also a hot season that falls somewhere in the middle – be warned, 40ºC is enough to melt even the hardiest traveller!
🌤 Dry season – November-February
Cambodia’s dry season is the best time to visit the country as the days are cooler and there is often a nice breeze – a definite relief from the humidity. Peak tourist season falls during the dry season, with travellers flocking to the country to enjoy the *almost* Mediterranean temperatures.
Despite Cambodia being a Buddhist country, the Christmas and New Year periods get very busy with visitors. It is worth booking any lodgings in advance, especially in desirable areas such as the islands.
☀️ Hot season – March-May
If you struggle with the heat, you should avoid the hot season in Cambodia, which tends to fall between March and May. During these months, temperatures regularly top 40ºC, making even the most low-energy tasks completely exhausting.
Bear in mind that with today’s warming climate, these temperatures are set to get even higher. If you happen to end up in Cambodia during these months, head to the South Coast for water sports and beach bumming – this will offer some respite from the sun’s powerful rays.
Areas such as Sen Monorom which sit at high altitudes are always cooler than those at sea level and can offer a welcome break from the sun. Be aware that while still warm during the day, these destinations get chilly at night.
🌧️ Wet season – June-October
While monsoon season isn’t the best time to visit Cambodia in terms of weather, it does bring other advantages like fewer tourists and less competition for lodgings.
If you are hoping outdoor adventures will make up the bulk of your trip, you should absolutely avoid the wet season – hiking and biking during a torrential downpour is not fun. You should also be aware that leeches are more likely to pose an issue if you are hiking in jungle areas during the rainy season.
Worried about travelling during monsoon season?
Cambodia Month-by-Month Breakdown 📅
The first month of the year is the pinnacle of the tourist season in Cambodia, with Chinese New Year (Chaul Chnam Chen) taking place sometime between late January and mid-February.
Phnom Penh is a great place to be for the festivities where it is possible to catch lion dances and other events. If you are travelling during this time, make sure to reserve your accommodation in advance to avoid missing out.
January is usually the driest month in Cambodia which makes it ideal for a bit of beach time. Divers and water sports fans will relish the dry conditions which lead to good underwater visibility and sunny days.
Depending on the exact dates of Chinese New Year, February is another busy month in Cambodia. There is also a giant puppet parade that takes place in Siem Reap around this time. It features a range of puppets, created by local organisations, which parade along the Siem Reap River. It’s a worthy spectacle if you happen to be in the city at the right time.
As February tends to be another dry month, it is a great time to partake in river travel. The riverboat from Siem Reap to Battambang offers a novel way to make the journey between the two destinations.
March is still in Cambodia’s dry season which means it is another popular time to visit the country. Many travellers enjoy visiting Angkor Wat around this time and cycling is also popular. Temperatures will rise throughout the month as the hot season creeps in so be prepared for humid conditions!
By April, the hot season has well and truly taken hold – expect temperatures to be regularly busting 40ºC. In terms of the Cambodian events calendar, April is when Khmer New Year (Chaul Chnam Khmer) is celebrated across three days.
The entire country is in good spirits during this time, with gift-giving, spring-cleaning and temple offerings in full flow. Visiting temples around this time provides great cultural insight, however, don’t expect a tranquil visit!
Due to the humidity during April (around 75%), it is best to try and stick with half-day tours if possible. Embarking on your adventures early in the morning or late in the afternoon means you’ll get to avoid the worst of the midday sun. Alternatively, this is a great time to check out Cambodia’s street food scene from the shade of one of the many markets.
May ☀️ 🌧️
May marks the final month of the hot season but can also be rainy. Despite this, rain showers tend to be infrequent and offer a welcome break from the humid conditions. It is a great time to enjoy fresh fruit like mango.
The Royal Ploughing Ceremony takes place at the start of the month to mark the beginning of the rice growing season. It is believed the royal oxen will indicate whether the upcoming season will be fruitful!
The wet season kicks off in June to the relief of farmers but the chagrin of travellers. While showers should be expected during this time of year, they will likely come in intense bursts rather than marring the entire day. There will definitely still be pockets of sunshine you can enjoy!
The plus side of travelling in the rainy season is that the main attractions will be quieter. It is a good time to visit museums and learn more about Cambodian culture.
Most of Cambodia will be wet during July however, the benefit of this is that landscapes appear really lush and green. While not a huge travel month domestically, western tourists head to the beaches of the south during the summer holidays – bear this in mind if you want to avoid peak times at beach destinations.
Temperatures are on the decline by August, making it more comfortable to explore temples and get involved with outdoor activities. This is a great time to check out Angkor Wat!
Bear in mind that it can still be very wet, making cycling and trekking a somewhat soggy affair. The plus side of the rain is the boom in flora and fauna, making it a good time for wildlife spotters.
This is the wettest month in Cambodia and some areas along the Mekong are a washout. It is not advisable to visit during September if you are planning to travel to rural areas – the weather often disrupts travel to destinations where the infrastructure is less developed.
The Festival of the Dead (P’chum Ben) is a hugely important event that is celebrated around this time. Essentially an opportunity to make offerings to the dearly departed, gifts are passed through monks, meaning that temples can get very busy.
October 🌤 🌧️
Travellers can celebrate the official end of Cambodia’s wet season in October, although the downpours can linger right through the month and humidity is still high.
The Water Festival, known locally as Bon Om Tuk, takes place in October and is one of the most important celebrations in the Cambodian calendar. It celebrates the reversal of the current of the Tonlé Sap River, close to Siem Reap.
Celebrations, which include boat races, take place in both Siem Reap and Phnom Penh and it is a wonderful festival to see Khmer culture in full bloom. Lodgings sell quickly so reserve ahead.
November marks the ramping up of arrival numbers in Cambodia. This is the time to visit the country if you are creative – there is a photo festival in Angkor and a writers and readers festival in Kampot.
Christmas and New Year are two of the most popular times to visit Cambodia. Angkor Wat sees an influx of visitors around this time and beach accommodation on the islands gets booked far in advance by those seeking winter sun.
Best Time to Visit Cambodia – FAQs
When is the best time to visit Angkor Wat?
The best time to visit Angkor Wat is during the dry season which stretches from November to February. However, this is also peak season and visitor numbers will be at their highest. July and August offer a good compromise. For an experience you’ll never forget, why not run the Angkor Wat Half Marathon in December? Talk about a unique travel experience!
Is Cambodia affected by burning season?
Burning season in Cambodia usually starts at the beginning of January and lasts around three and a half months. Compared to some other countries in the region, Cambodia is not seriously affected.
When is the best time to go hiking in Cambodia?
November through February are the best months for hiking.
When is the best time to cycle in Cambodia?
The best time to cycle in Cambodia is during the dry season, from November to February.
When is the best time to visit Cambodia’s southern islands?
November through February is the best time to visit the southern islands in Cambodia, however, this is also peak season. You should expect crowds and book accommodation in advance.
In a country as varied and exciting as Cambodia, there really is no bad time to visit. The climate is hot and humid year-round and there is an abundance of fascinating cultural celebrations filling the calendar.
If you want fewer rainy days and lots of sunshine, October to April are the best months to visit Cambodia. However, you will need to book lodgings in advance during peak tourist times, such as Chinese New Year and Christmas.
Whether you’ve come to laze on Cambodia’s underrated beaches, dive into its underwater world or explore its many temples, you’ll undoubtedly have a great time no matter when you visit. Oh – and don’t forget that sun cream!