When to visit Cambodia
When to visit Cambodia
Best time to visit Cambodia
Cambodia is a tropical destination and as such sees warm temperatures year-round. Even in the coolest months of December and January the mercury will rarely drop below 25C / 77F in the middle of the day so whatever time you plan to visit, pack some shorts!
Cambodia’s climate can typically be divided into three seasons: cool, hot, and wet. The cool season is the established ‘high’ season, falling between December and March, during which time temperatures are manageable and you’ll see little to no rainfall. From April onwards temperatures climb rapidly, reaching a prohibitively hot 40C / 104F on most days through May. This is broken by intense monsoonal rainfall from June onwards which typically lasts until October.
There’s a little more to it when planning an extended trip to Cambodia however. The wetter time of year need not necessarily be a hindrance for summer holiday travel, and there are also two distinct shoulder seasons which see attractive rates and are excellent times to visit as long as expectations are well managed. A complete season-by-season guide can be found below.
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Cambodia is a fascinating destination and has much to offer at any time of year. We’ve put together an overview of climate season-by-season and region-by-region below.
December to March
The established best time to visit Cambodia is in the ‘winter’ months from December through to March, with warm-but-not-hot temperatures and very little rainfall. This is a perfect time to travel countrywide, particularly into rural areas where any post-rain patching up of roads and hiking routes will have been completed (before they are decimated once more by the heat and then downpours of the summer). The best weather brings with it the largest crowds, with Angkor Wat very busy throughout the entire high season period, but a carefully managed itinerary will ensure you avoid the worst of the crowds.
Hot Shoulder Season
April & May
From late April onwards the temperature really begins to climb. The monsoon is still a few weeks off yet, and having seen little rainfall since the previous summer Cambodia is not just dry at this time of year – but parched. Heading into May temperatures regularly reach and exceed 100F, which – combined with the scorched earth and still air – can be just too much for many western travellers. Those who are happy with the heat – this is a particularly popular time of year for Spanish and Italian travellers for instance – can still travel and will enjoy the benefits of travelling out-of-season with lower rates and thinner crowds.
The Green Season
June to September
At some point around late May or early June the heat will finally be broken as the southwest monsoon arrives and dumps buckets of rain across the country, seeing temperatures tumble down to much more manageable levels in the process. Although rainfall figures can be daunting – September typically sees 9 inches in Phnom Penh, and 20 rainy days out of 30 – it’s important to remember that when the rain comes it is in short, sharp downpours which generally clear up after an hour so. Cambodia remains a popular destination for school summer holidays, and if travelling in June and early July – within the green season but avoiding school holidays – you’re likely to find tourist spots delightfully empty.
Green Shoulder Season
October & November
The monsoon rains continue into October but then usually tail off into early November. Occasional sharp showers persist but generally the late autumn months see Cambodia warm, crisp, and fresh. Visitors at this time will find the country carpeted in green and its waterways at their highest; this is an excellent time of year for rural adventures and also marks the beginning of the river cruising season. With high season not kicking in until late November, this can be a great time to visit with excellent rates and much lower tourist numbers around the major sites.
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