When's The Best Time of Year To Visit Cambodia?

A typical rural Cambodian scene
A typical rural Cambodian scene | © nattanan726/ Shutterstock.com

Cambodia is a year-round destination, depending on what you’re looking for. Here, we take readers month-by-month through the Cambodian calendar, so you can decide when’s the best time to plan your trip.


The fact that November to January is classed as Cambodia’s high season suggests January is traditionally one of the best months to visit the country. Temperatures are cool and the dry season is in full swing, meaning the weather is at its peak. However, this comes coupled with crowds as January is one of the busiest months, so tourist traps such as Angkor Wat and Phnom Penh’s riverside become way more congested than usual. Accommodation prices are also at their highest. To avoid the crowds, swop Sihanoukville’s beach for Kep’s, skip sunset at Angkor Wat and enjoy it at Ta Prohm instead, or head to the laid-back riverside town of Kampot.

Temperature: 78.8°F (26 °C)

Rainfall: 10mm

Enjoy idyllic Kampot River


Weather-wise, February is still a good month to visit, with temperatures remaining relatively cool in Cambodian terms. Mango rains can make an appearance towards the end of the month, usually a surprise appearance overnight. While the heavy tourist crowds are starting to wane, Cambodia’s tourist hot spots can still remain crammed. If you’re in the country for Valentine’s Day then prepare yourselves because this Western celebration has been increasingly welcomed by Cambodians in the last few years, with heart-shaped balloons, giant stuffed bears and huge bunches of flowers dominating the landscape.

Temperature: 80.6°F (27°C)

Rainfall: 20mm

Valentine’s Day in the capital is an experience


March is when things start really heating up in preparation for the humidity of April and the tourist crowds start noticeably thinning out. Now is a great time to head into the Cardamom Mountain’s jungle, with months of dry weather – or very little rain – making trekking paths more accessible and the blood-thirsty mosquitos less aggressive. Spending a lazy weekend on the river on the outskirts of Kampot town is another great March activity, with a drive to the top of Bokor Mountain offering refreshing breezes away from the mounting heat. While the rains are still a couple of months away, March marks the tail end of dry season so Cambodia’s vast countryside is arid, dry and dusty.

Temperature: 86°F (30°C)

Rainfall: 10mm

The Cardamom Mountains, Cambodia © Andrii Lutsyk / Shutterstock.com


April’s sweltering heat and oppressive humidity makes walking outside akin to wading through thick muggy air and visitors should expect to sweat by the bucketload. Temperatures are known to hit more than 104°F (40°C) Despite this, April comes with a sense of celebration because it is the month of Khmer New Year. While the exact dates vary, this year’s falls on April 11, 12 and 13 – with April 14 being observed as an additional public holiday. Expect Phnom Penh to shut down in eerie 28 Days Later-style as Cambodians head to the provinces to ring in the New Year with their families. Escape the heat with a trip to Kirirom. About 1.5 hours from Phnom Penh, Kirirom is home to sprawling pine forests where the temperature dips a good few degrees lower than in the city. Bliss.

Temperature: 95°F (35°C)

Rainfall: 10mm

Escape the heat in Kirirom’s pines


May’s temperatures may be marginally milder than April but it’s still sweltering hot. May tends to remain relatively dry despite Khmer New Year traditionally welcoming the rains, although they may start to fall towards the end of the month. May is also littered with public holidays, with one day given for International Labour Day, the Royal Ploughing Ceremony and the recently added Day of Remembrance. A three-day holiday is held from May 13 to 15 to mark King Sihamoni’s birthday. For the longer holiday, spots such as Otres in Sihanoukville and Kampot fill up quick with the expat and local exodus. Avoid the crowds and keep cool by heading to the remote province of Mondulkiri. The temperature is also much cooler in this mountainous region, which is famous for its elephants.

Temperature: 84.2°F (29°C)

Rainfall: 20mm

Elephants roam the jungle in Mondulkiri I


By June, the rains should have started, bringing ripples of reprieve across Cambodia as humidity hits up to 70% during the day. While the sun still dominates the sky in between the showers, coastal areas, such as Sihanoukville and Kep, as well as the Cardamom Mountains can suffer from heavy downpours, dampening trips to these places. Despite this, June is a good month to explore Cambodia as visitor numbers are low ahead of the Western school summer holiday rush, the sun is still mostly wearing her hat, low season prices are starting and, if you’re lucky, you’ll catch one of those cracking lightning displays that flash throughout the night.

Temperature: 82.4°F (28°C)

Rainfall: 20mm

Catch a cracking lightning display


By now monsoon season should be in full swing – although climate change has seen Cambodia’s usual clockwork weather play up in recent years, devastating the livelihoods of the country’s swathe of farmers and fishermen. However, fear not because the rain doesn’t usually dog the entire day, comes with plenty of warning, and is a spectacle for those who have never experienced them before. Usually the sky plunges into dark and sharp winds whip up, giving you about 30 minutes to find shelter before the skies open and rain angrily hammers from the sky for about an hour. Quickly after, the skies are once again blue, the sun is shining, and the only evidence is flooding.

Temperature: 80.6°F (27°C)

Rainfall: 40mm

Expect flooding


Rainfall tends to hit its peak in August, although showers are commonly shorter and heavier. While the term “rainy season” can be a turn-off for many, don’t let it put you off. In fact, this time of year can be the best to visit, with temperatures cooling, the countryside is lush and green – nothing beats emerald paddies contrasting against an angry grey sky – while the dust is washed away and the country’s many waterways are brimming and in full flow. Don’t forget to pack a light raincoat as these downpours can occur at any time. However, if you leave it behind, don’t worry because the streets are dotted with stalls selling disposable rain covers for about $1.

Temperature: 78.8°F (26°C)

Rainfall: 40mm

The lush countryside contrasts against the stormy sky


The monsoons continue throughout September, with the results of months of rain now evident across the country. Paddies are flooded and rivers overflowing, making this a great time to explore the countryside. It is also the perfect time to take a trip on the Tonle Sap Lake, which swells to more than five times its size during monsoon season and is home to many floating villages and flooded forests. If you dare to take your chances of getting wet at Angkor Wat, then September is a good time to go as the crowds are at their lowest – besides, capturing iconic Angkor in the midst of a lightning storm is pretty awesome.

Temperature: 78.8°F (26°C)

Rainfall: 60mm

A floating village


With the rains starting to subside as the month progresses and the dry season just around the corner once more, October is another good time to visit the country. The waterfalls of Rattanakiri and Mondulkiri, as well as at Kulen Mountain in Siem Reap province, are gushing, making them great refreshing swimming spots. And the rain has started to wane on the coast, although showers should still be expected. Another major holiday falls in October in the form of Pchum Benh – again dates vary but this year it’s from October 8 to 10. This is a time when Cambodians believe the last seven generations of dead ancestors unable to move onto their next life roam the earth hungry. Many visits to pagodas to give offerings to monks to pass onto the dead take place.

Temperature: 80.6°F (27°C)

Rainfall: 50mm

Tropical waterfall at Phnom Kulen


As dry season starts, high season also begins. Temperatures are starting to fall, humidity levels are low, the rains are well and truly subsiding and the crowds are once again starting to trickle back in. This is a good time to start hitting the coast and islands, with the sun pretty much guaranteed to shine all day. However, make sure you’re in Phnom Penh for Water Festival – or Bon Om Touk. Dates vary, with 2018’s event falling on November 21 to 23. During this three-day event, which marks the start of the fishing season as well as the reversal of the Tonle Sap River, hundreds of colourful dragon boats from across the country race along the river. Millions flock from across Cambodia to watch the spectacle so the capital gets busy.

Temperature: 77°F (25°C)

Rainfall: 40mm

Water Festival in Phnom Penh


In terms of temperature, December is undoubtedly the best time to visit. Rainfall is very rare, humidity is next to nothing and many Cambodians are sporting their winter woollies and jackets, while complaining about the cold. If you’re coming from a cooler climate, then you don’t need to worry about the “cold”, however, it can get a bit nippy at night in the back of a tuk tuk, or if you’re heading to the coast or rural areas, where temperatures can dip so it’s worth bringing a light jumper. On the down side, December is a peak month, so the crowds are heaving, Angkor Wat is choked, and prices are at their highest. While Cambodia is a Buddhist country where Christmas isn’t celebrated, Christmas trees, decorations, festive events and Father Christmas hats dominate December.

Temperature: 77°F (25°C)

Rainfall: 10mm

Christmas in Cambodia

When not to visit Cambodia

April is undoubtedly the month to avoid visiting the Kingdom of Wonder. Hot and sticky define each waking moment, with wading through the muggy air a mission. Air conditioning becomes your new best friend and lazy days around the pool the most energetic activity. On the upside, prices are at their lowest and if you avoid the cities and head to the country or hills, then temperatures become almost bearable.

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