Finding your next adventure...

When’s the best time to visit Cambodia

A brief rundown on the weather of Cambodia and when we reckon is the ideal time to visit

You’ll possibly only visit Cambodia the once – you’re seeking to optimise your tour – so just when is the best time to visit Cambodia? In our experience, most potential travellers’ primary consideration – and most frequently asked question – when considering booking a tour to the small Southeast Asian nation would be, ‘what’s the weather like?’

While this is important, climate should not be the only criteria and in our opinion there are other, equally important, factors to consider. We’ll explain below but firstly we’d better provide a brief rundown on the climate of Cambodia.

When's the best time to visit Cambodia
The best sunsets and sunrises require a few clouds

Like much of mainland Southeast Asia Cambodia’s weather can be divided into three broad seasons. There’s the cool, (or cooler), dry period from November through to February, the dry, hot season of March and April and the rainy season from June to September. (May and October are somewhat less predictable, intermediate, months.)

The winter season, (Cambodia is still in the northern hemisphere), generally sees clear skies and temperatures averaging in the mid-20s. Rainfall is rare. Come March and April temperatures can increase dramatically with highs in the upper 30s and while a few showers can occasionally arrive come late April, rain is also generally very rare. From May onwards the monsoon arrives, bringing the temperatures down, although increasing humidity, with some 80 percent of the country’s rainfall occurring during these 6 months. It’s hotter during the early monsoon months, cooling off towards September and October although September usually sees the highest rainfall.

Tonle sap lake
Storm over the Tonle Sap; monsoon storms are frequently very localised

So far then, the winter months look like a shoo-in and will be recommended by most travel sites and guide books but, as we said, in terms of the best time to visit Cambodia, there are other significant factors to bear in mind. Next up covers the nature of your trip; what to see in Cambodia, what to do in Cambodia and which destinations you’ll be visiting in Cambodia.

Firstly, it’s not a beach holiday. (Yes, there is a short coastline and a few islands but, much as we love Cambodia, neighbouring Thailand – a short flight away – is hard to beat in terms of beaches, with its myriad islands and resorts catering to all tastes, seasons and budgets.) In our opinion – and we hope our Cambodia tour itineraries reflect this – Cambodia for us is about landscapes; rivers, lakes, forests and yes, atmospheric ruined cities, as well as its vibrant local culture; villages, streetlife, coffee shops, bustling markets and meeting the local people.

With regards the latter, weather isn’t really important, while for landscapes – flora and fauna – and of course your temple visits, the rainy season is best. Also known as the ‘Green Season’, rivers and lakes are full and the scenery lush, while for those of a photographic bent, the skies – sunsets and sunrises – are much more dramatic. Temperatures tend to build up during the day with showers arriving late afternoon or frequently at night times. Rainy season rarely involves non-stop precipitation – patterns usually consist of a short sharp downpour so keep an umbrella handy or we’ll dive into the nearest coffee shop for half an hour. (It’s also common in July and August to see blue skies for several days on end.)

Beng Melea temple during the 'Green Season'
Beng Melea temple during the ‘Green Season’

Another term for the rainy season is, of course, low season, with the cool dry winter months constituting Cambodia’s high season. There are far fewer other visitors around, we’re more likely to obtain our first choice accommodation and, significantly, your flights will be considerably cheaper!

Overall then – our answer to ‘when’s the best time to visit Cambodia’ – would be; avoid the two hottest months of March and April – the landscapes are dry and temperatures uncomfortable; go for the cool dry season if avoiding heat is your priority and you don’t mind paying a bit more to get there while, if you can cope with a bit of humidity and the occasional shower, then the rainy season affords some significant advantages.

You can find more Cambodia climate details at this link but we’ll also point out that, like much of the planet, weather patterns in Cambodia are, unfortunately, increasingly unpredictable.