When Is the Best Time to Visit Cambodia?
Published on: January 31st, 2024
Last modified: January 31st, 2024
The best time to visit Cambodia is during the dry season from November to March, which promises clear skies and coolest temperatures of 30°C (86°F). To avoid the peak season crowds opt for the shoulder season months; May or October, or the wet season from June to September if you don’t mind some rain.
Cambodia really is lovely year round, so the best time to go depends on what’s most important to you. We’ve put together this detailed climate guide to explain the hottest, coolest, most humid, least crowded and all-around best times to travel to Cambodia.
Cambodia Month-by-Month Weather Guide
Although it’s relatively warm all year round, Cambodia experiences different weather in each season. Generally speaking, it can be divided into the dry season (November to May) and the wet season (April to October), but every month has specific conditions. To help you know what to expect, we’ve put together a month-by-month climate guide to Cambodia.
Cambodia in January
Best for cool weather
January is one of the driest and coolest months in Cambodia – although here, ‘cool’ means 26ºC (79ºF) on average. The clear weather attracts lots of visitors to popular sites like Angkor Wat, so be prepared to face some crowds. Visit Phnom Penh in early January to catch local Victory Day parties celebrating the 1979 fall of the Khmer Rouge regime.
Cambodia in February
Best for clear skies… and giant puppets
February in Cambodia is a slightly warmer month than January on average, although it tends to stay below 32ºC (90ºF). It’s also a popular time to explore Cambodia’s temples. On the last Saturday of February you can see the Giant Puppet Parade, a whimsical event in which children carry enormous puppets that they’ve created through the streets of Siem Reap.
Cambodia in March
Best for sightseeing
March marks the beginning of Cambodia’s hot season, with temperatures climbing as high as 34ºC (93ºF). It’s a bit warmer and more humid than the preceding months, but still sees little rainfall, making it a popular time for sightseeing. International Women’s Day on 8th March has been declared a public holiday, highlighting the country’s ongoing work towards gender equality.
Cambodia in April
Best for small-town celebrations
April in Cambodia is both the start of the rainy season and the month of the Khmer New Year. The rainfall is not too heavy yet so April is a good month for exploring all the usual destinations; just make sure to prepare for the heat – up to 35ºC (95ºF) – and stay hydrated.
To celebrate New Year in mid-April, lots of locals leave the big cities to spend time with family. This means you might get to experience local celebrations in more remote villages.
Cambodia in May
Best time to see the Royal Ploughing Ceremony
May in Cambodia is a month of mixed weather; warm temperatures, with some showers. The rain is sporadic and not too disruptive. May can feel very hot, with temperatures of around 34°C (93.2°F) which results in fewer visitors during the peaceful, shoulder season month of May.
The Royal Ploughing Ceremony in mid-May heralds the start of the rice-growing season. Two oxen predict the next seasons conditions, based on what they eat or drink during the ceremony.
Cambodia in June
Best time to get a temple all to yourself
June is when heavy rain starts to fall in Cambodia, turning the landscape a brilliant green. Many travellers avoid the wet season, which means that temples and other attractions are often less crowded. If you’re willing to risk getting caught in a downpour, you might even be lucky enough to get a whole site to yourself. Luckily, the rain tends to come in quick bursts with sun in between.
Cambodia in July and August
Best for the low-season lull
July and August are right in the middle of monsoon season, so expect high humidity and heavy rainfall. The showers can bring down the temperature slightly to around 30ºC (86ºF), so if you prefer rain to heat, you’re in luck. July and August in Cambodia are typically delightfully quiet as crowds disperse to miss the rain.
July and August also boast lush scenery and abundant wildlife, making this one of the best times to go to Cambodia for nature lovers and photographers.
Cambodia in September
Best if you want to brave the rain
Travelling to Cambodia in September is only for travellers who truly don’t mind rain. September is the wettest month of the year with cooler temperatures of around 31°C (87.8°F) across most of the country; Phnom Penh and Siem Reap for example.
It could be the best time to visit Cambodia for quiet temples, however heavy rain can make it harder to reach more remote destinations, making it tricky to get off the beaten track.
Cambodia in October
Best for experiencing Ancestor’s Day
October in Cambodia falls right between the wet season and the dry season, which means it offers a good balance of smaller crowds and relatively nice weather – although it’s still extremely humid. Temperatures stay close to 30ºC (86ºF) and the rain starts to taper off as November approaches.
Another reason to visit Cambodia in October is to experience Ancestor’s Day (sometimes falling in September). During the festival Cambodians honour their deceased family members with elaborate rituals and offerings.
Cambodia in November
Best time to witness the Water Festival
By the time November rolls around, the monsoon season is officially over in Cambodia. Conditions are dry and cool, with temperatures not typically exceeding 30ºC (86ºF).
This seasonal change is celebrated with the Water Festival (which sometimes falls in October instead), a celebration marking the annual reversal of the water flow between the Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers.
Cambodia in December
Best for a balmy winter holiday
Cambodia’s weather in December is beautiful; clear, sunny and dry. Temperatures are manageable and not too hot at around 30ºC (86ºF). For this reason, December is one of the busiest months in Cambodia. Our travel designers recommend booking early to find the best exclusive, authentic and luxurious experiences and accommodations.
When Is Cambodia’s Monsoon Season?
Cambodia’s monsoon season runs from May to October, bringing intense showers and incredibly high humidity. The wettest months are usually August and September, with heavy rainfall on most days. The rainy season in Cambodia is also known as the green season, thanks to the lush green landscapes that bloom amidst the monsoons.
The Best Things to Do in Cambodia by Season
When it comes to choosing when to travel to Cambodia, it’s important to consider what you’re planning on doing. Certain activities are best enjoyed during specific months or broader seasons, and the weather can play a significant role in planning. With this in mind, we’ve compiled a list of the best things to do in Cambodia according to the time of year.
Explore Angkor Wat
October to February is the dry season in Cambodia and is generally considered the best time to see Angkor Wat in all its glory. Of course clearer weather is ideal for outdoor sightseeing – although keep in mind that this is also the most crowded time of year at the iconic temple complex. However, if your main motivation for travelling to Cambodia is to see its legendary temples, this is still the best time to visit Siem Reap and its surroundings.
Discover Lesser-Known Temples
June through August are Cambodia's rainy months and are the low season in terms of tourism. These months can be the best time to visit Cambodia’s ancient temples which are now virtually empty. As long as you’re prepared for the possibility of being drenched by a sudden downpour, June through August can be the perfect time to explore sites like Banteay Srei, Ta Prohm and Beng Mealea.
Visit Phnom Penh
Visiting the capital city of Phnom Penh is one of the best things to do in Cambodia beyond Angkor Wat. The dry season (October to April) is the best time to visit Phnom Penh for sightseeing; walking around the city, doing street food tours and wandering through the grand gardens of the Royal Palace.
Even if the weather isn’t cooperating, there’s still plenty to do here; stay inside at one of the city’s fascinating museums, take a cooking class or hole up in one of its many marvellous restaurants. The combination of traditional and fusion cuisine paints a delicious picture of the country’s cultural influences, identity and evolution.
Escape to an Island Paradise
Few places on earth are as idyllic as the islands of Song Saa. As you might imagine, they’re best enjoyed when the weather is nice and clear. So, we suggest that the best time to visit Cambodia for beaches and islands is from November to April when rain is least likely.
We recommend staying at the gorgeous Song Saa Private Island Resort, which works to protect habitats and empower local communities through the Song Saa Foundation.
Spot Rare Species in Wild Cambodia
December to March is the best time to visit Cambodia for wildlife spotting. In southwestern Cambodia between Phnom Penh and the coast, you’ll find the pristine expanse of wilderness known as wild Cambodia where you can spot brilliant butterflies, tropical birdlife, elegant orchids and maybe even – if you’re lucky – a rare wild elephant.
Although there are fewer than 600 wild elephants in Cambodia, about half of them live here in the Cardamom Mountains. We suggest staying at Shinta Mani Wild to fully appreciate this extraordinary environment, whether you want to venture out into the wilderness or simply sit back and take it all in.
Glide Across Tonle Sap Lake
The best time to visit Tonle Sap Lake is during the monsoon season. From June to September the heavy rainfall causes the water level to rise significantly, making it a much more impressive sight than it is during the dry season.
Kayaking, boating or stand-up paddleboarding around the lake will allow you to observe this thriving freshwater ecosystem without disturbing the wildlife. You’ll also get a close-up view of local life in the lake’s floating villages and fishing communities, whose structures are built on bamboo rafts and stilts.