Planning a trip to see the incredible ancient Angkor temples around Siem Reap? Thinking of hitting the beaches of the southern islands? You’ll need to know when the best time to visit Cambodia is, and we’re here to help!
Read on for insider tips on when you should visit this fascinating Southeast Asian country.
When is the best time to visit Cambodia?
In terms of climate, Cambodia is rather straightforward, as there are only two major seasons: the wet, or green, season, and the dry season.
The former lasts from June to October, while the latter runs from November to May.
Within the dry season there is a short “cool” season from November to February, though it is only cool by subtropical standards. This is the peak tourism season as temperatures are mild and the days are dry.
April and May are the hottest months, when temperatures countrywide are in the mid-to-high 30s°C. The term “rainy season” should not deter visitors though, as when it rains it is usually in short downpours in the late afternoon, while the rest of the day is sunny and dry.
This is also called the “green season” as Cambodia’s jungles and the area around Tonle Sap Lake become a gorgeous, verdant landscape.
Cambodia is a fairly small country so there aren’t huge differences in the climate of its various regions, but below we’ll break down the best time to travel to the most popular destinations in Cambodia.
Seasons in Cambodia
Visiting Cambodia During the Dry Season
Temperatures: These vary through the dry season, as the so-called cool season runs until February, while the mercury and humidity soar from March to May due to the approach of the monsoon. High temperatures in these months can reach 33-35°C (high 90s°F) in Phnom Penh and Battambang while Siem Reap bakes near 40°C.
Night-time temperatures in January, the coolest month, can fall into the 20s°C (80s°F), while days are still plenty warm enough to hit the beach or explore ancient temples. This is the most popular season to travel to Cambodia, and the cooler months are the busiest period of the year.
Rainfall: Rain is rare during this time period, though the humidity starts to rise by March or April and you may encounter early monsoon downpours in May.
What to pack
Bring your swimsuit, as you’ll need to beat the heat of late spring! A light jacket or sweater is handy for evenings in the cooler months, while cool, breathable clothing will get the job done during the day.
Where to go
The entire country offers ideal travel conditions during this season, and December through February is an especially great time to visit the world-famous temples of Siem Reap, as temperatures are much cooler. However, keep in mind that the crowds are at their heaviest during this time of the year as well. Hitting the beaches of the southern coast is also highly recommended, as you can bask in brilliant sunshine all day without having to worry about a chance of rain.
Taking a Trip to Cambodia During the Green Season
Temperatures: In southern Cambodia, temperatures hover around 30-31°C (high 80s °F) during this season, while the area around Phnom Penh is a degree or two warmer, on average.
Siem Reap and other parts of northern Cambodia cool down from the intense heat and humidity of May, but it is still very warm.
Rainfall: Cambodia gets absolutely drenched by the monsoon, with very heavy rain affecting most of the country throughout this season. July, August and September are among the wettest months, though mornings are often dry, while the rains usually arrive in the afternoon. Heavy rain can cause problems in terms of travel, especially in less developed areas with unpaved roads. However, this is also a great time to see Cambodia at its most lush, as the jungle is vibrantly green and massive Tonle Sap Lake fills up, creating a waterlogged wonderland.
What to pack
Rain gear is an absolute must, though the local way is to buy a cheap poncho for keeping dry. Temperatures are still plenty warm, so bring light clothing that will keep you comfortable in the steamy humidity. If you plan to visit temples and other religious sites, remember to bring clothes that cover the knees and shoulders in order to show proper respect.
Where to go
All of Cambodia experiences heavy rain through these months, so you can’t avoid it. However, this is a great time to see the country’s top attractions at their quietest. Angkor Wat is far less crowded in months like September and October, so if you’re willing to chance getting caught in a shower or two, you can beat the crowds.
Special Tips for the Green Season in Cambodia
The green season can bring flooding to parts of Cambodia which may disrupt transportation, but this is rare in cities like Phnom Penh. In the unlikely event that you get stuck in your hotel due to a brief flood, wait until the water drains before going back outside. It is also best to avoid jungle treks during this season since conditions aren’t suitable for such adventures.
Weather in Cambodia
|Months||°C||°F||Rain (mm)||Rain (inches)||Overall Rating|
Best Time to go to Cambodia by Region
Best time to go to the south
Popular destinations include Sihanoukville, Kep and Kho Rong
Climate in Sihanoukville
Dry season: Highs in the mid-30s°C (90s°F), rain begins in April.
Green season Highs in the low 30s°C (high 80s°F), heavy rain.
Best time to visit Sihanoukville, Kep and Koh Rong: November to April
From November or December to April, Cambodia’s Gulf of Thailand coast is bathed in sunshine, with blue skies, sea breezes and low humidity dominating the days – perfect beach weather.
Temperatures start to climb in March and peak in April, the hottest month, so if you’re sensitive to heat it is best to visit this region earlier in the year.
From May the monsoon pounds the coast, with very heavy rain occurring from July through October. The high temperatures drop a bit, but high humidity creates very muggy conditions.
Best Time to Visit Central Cambodia
Popular destinations include Phnom Penh
Climate in Phnom Penh
Dry season: Highs in the mid-30s°C (90s°F), mostly dry.
Green season: Highs in the low 30s°C (high 80s°F), daily rain.
Best time to visit Phnom Penh: November to February
Central Cambodia sees less rain than the coast, but the temperatures are also significantly higher during the hottest months. March, April and May regularly see temperatures hit the mid-30s°C (mid-to-high 90s°F), while some days in April and May could see the mercury push 40°C. Unlike other regional capitals like Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur, Phnom Penh does not have a bevy of air-conditioned shopping malls to escape the heat, so these excessively hot days can be hard to handle.
The wet season begins in June, but rainfall totals are much lower than elsewhere in the country. However, daily short downpours are still likely, especially in September and October. Temperatures stay in the low 30s°C (low 90s°F) during this period, while humidity remains high.
By November the rain tapers off and temperatures and humidity remain fairly pleasant until March.
Best Period to Visit Northern Cambodia
Popular destinations include Siem Reap and Battambang
Climate in Siem Reap and Battambang
Dry season: Highs in the mid-30s°C (90s°F), rain begins in April or May.
Green season: Highs in the low 30s°C (high 80s°F), rain tapers off by November.
Best time to visit Siem Reap and Battambang: November to April
These same months are generally the best time to visit all of Cambodia. As in the central region, temperatures and humidity are lower during this period, especially in December, January and February. However, keep in mind that this means Angkor Wat and the other temples around it are very busy, as these world-class attractions are a huge draw.
The rains begin to arrive in May, just as temperatures reach extreme highs, sometimes pushing 40°C. Heavy rain occurs through October, keeping temperatures in the low or mid 30°C (high 80s to low 90s°F). Crowds are also lighter, so if you’re prepared to get wet this is an ideal time to see the temples without fighting for space.
People also play games and dance in public, creating a joyous atmosphere throughout the holiday. As in Thailand, people celebrate by throwing water at each other, though the celebration isn’t quite as raucous as Bangkok’s legendary Songkran.
Note that travel during the holiday can be difficult as many local businesses close, while hotels often increase prices.
Many Cambodians pay respect to their ancestors at this time, while another tradition is to offer food to monks at temples in order to make “merit”.
Many local businesses close during this holiday as well.
The festival celebrates the reversal of the flow of the Tonle Sap River and the end of the wet season, and while the whole country celebrates, the biggest party takes place in Phnom Penh.
Over a period of three days thousands of people pour into the city to take part, as boat races along the riverfront draw huge crowds to enjoy time off from work.
Did we miss anything? Do you have some other insider tips you’d like to share? Leave your thoughts and comments here about when is the best time to visit Cambodia—your fellow travelers will thank you!