A country with two main seasons, Cambodia will either drench you with water or welcome you with devilishly high temperatures.
While each extreme season has its advantages and disadvantages, knowing them alongside other factors, such as budgeting your trip or learning when to avoid crowds, can help you choose the best time to visit Cambodia.
And our guide might just be able to assist with that. Let us help you pick the optimal time to visit this Asian gem, depending on your travel needs.
Why You Should Visit Cambodia
Although a small country, Cambodia offers a little bit of everything. Given its rich history and culture, stunning nature, iconic national parks, and laid-back islands, the country accommodates every traveler’s needs.
If you’re heading to Southeast Asia, you simply can’t skip Cambodia, and here’s why:
- Rich cultural heritage. Cambodia gives travelers the unique opportunity to witness the distant past of the world-famous Khmer Empire in Siem Reap, the not-so-distant past in the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, and the endless beauty found in major attractions and landmarks throughout the country. Needless to say, Angkor is a must with its stunning temples, including Angkonclur Wat, Angkor Thom, Bayon, and Ta Prohm.
- Charming nature. Away from the cities, nature becomes a true haven for both locals and visitors. For example, the South of the country has a myriad of distinct islands, each one stunning in its own way.
- Don’t forget to visit some of the national parks and enjoy exotic wildlife. Top Cambodian national parks include Ream National Park, Kirirom National Park, and Bokor National Park.
- An exciting jungle experience. Those looking to take their Cambodian adventure to the next level should consider visiting the Cardamom Mountains. Being one of the largest remaining rainforests in this region, the Cardamom Mountains boast intact nature and fantastic species. While the jungle was more or less untouched and unvisited until just recently, a large number of companies have begun providing tours, including cycling, camping, and kayaking there.
- Local hospitality. Cambodians, or Khmer, as they prefer to call themselves, are renowned for their authentic hospitality. Given their witty sense of humor and friendly faces, Cambodians greet visitors with genuine warmth.
- A plethora of family-friendly recreational activities. In Cambodia, you can engage in a different activity each day of your stay and never get bored. Kayaking, cycling, zip lining, quad biking, and scuba diving are some of the fun activities to try out.
- Varied cuisine. One of the perks of visiting such a dynamic country is that it allows you to take advantage of its exciting cuisine too. There’s something for everyone’s dietary preferences (you can read more about this in the FAQ section). Our advice — even if some dishes seem unappetizing, take a leap of faith, as it’s definitely worth it.
Overall Best Time to Visit Cambodia
The best time to visit Cambodia is during the dry season, which runs from November to April.
Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh, sees average temperatures in November, fluctuating between 85.8°F and 72.9°F. November is the coldest month of the year, if we can ever refer to such temperatures as cold at all.
December also has tropical temperatures with an average high of 86.2°F and an average low of 71.1°F. It also has the shortest days of the entire year on average, at around 11 hours.
During the festive period, the prices here are daylight robbery. Christmas and New Year are tourist peak times, especially in places such as Angkor, and top-notch beach resorts are always reserved.
Therefore, make sure to book well in advance if you’re planning on visiting Cambodia during this period. A cool December event taking place in Cambodia is the Angkor Wat International Half Marathon.
Runners can pick between several run options. Like December, January is a hot, dry season month with temperatures varying between 71.4°F and 88.7°F.
February is the month with the least rain in the capital. It sees temperatures ranging between 91°F and 73.4°F. After that, March welcomes visitors with temperatures hovering around 94.8°F on average during the day and 75.4°F at night.
With a relative humidity of around 71%, February and March are the least humid months. March is also one of the hottest Phnom Penh months.
The January–March period is also a busy period festivity-wise. Chinese and Vietnamese New Years’ celebrations mark this period, so places such as Siem Reap, the South Coast, and Phnom Penh see an influx of visitors.
Be ready for some serious crowds, dragon-like street dances, and an unlike-anywhere-else type of festive cheer.
Cheapest Time to Visit Cambodia
If you don’t want to break the bank, go to Cambodia in the April–June period.
Unfortunately, the shoulder season means bad weather (scorching temperatures), hence the lower prices and discounted accommodation deals. April visitors should get ready for temperatures fluctuating between 94.8°F and 77°F.
Together with March, April is one of the hottest months. May is another hot month, with temperatures ranging between 93.7°F and 77.5°F. Finally, June sees temperatures varying between 77°F and 92.3°F.
It’s also the month with the longest days — there are around over 12 hours of daylight. While the temperatures may be boiling, the plethora of events available during that period can help you freshen up.
For the mid-April period, we recommend the Chaul Chnam Khmer event, the famous three-day celebration of Chaul Chnam Khmer (Cambodian New Year). Locals clean their homes and exchange presents.
The Chat Preah Nengkal, or the Royal Ploughing Ceremony, is a fantastic event as well. Led by the Cambodian royal family members, the Chat Preah Nengkal is an ancient agricultural celebration that marks the start of the rice-growing season.
In short, the ritual is as follows: it is believed that royal oxen predict the farming conditions for the upcoming year when presented with feed.
Finally, if you happen to be in Cambodia in May or June (the festival takes place on the eighth day of the fourth moon), you have to join the celebration of Buddha’s birth.
This is known as Buddha Day, or Visakha Puja. By paying homage to Buddha, travelers get to experience a tradition different from theirs and explore how distinct cultures pay their respects to notable individuals.
Least Busy Time to Visit Cambodia
For a crowd-free experience, consider visiting Cambodia in September or October. School season is on for the majority of places in the world, so families would have ended their visits by the end of August.
Those like you looking for a way to beat the crowds, though, should take advantage of these two months. However, there’s one caveat: fewer tourists visit Cambodia in September and October because these two months are — hands down — the rainiest.
Downpours are more substantial, and roads can be heavily impacted, which makes flooding a strong possibility. In September, the temperatures range between 90.1°F and 75.5°F.
It’s also the month with the least sunshine, with approximately 4.3 hours. October, although another tropical fall month, is the month with the heaviest rainfall (there’s rain for 24 days on average).
With a relative humidity of around 84%, these two months are the most humid months. However, festivals such as the Pchum Ben (the Festival of the Dead) make everything better.
This festival, in particular, is very similar to how the Christian’s All Souls’ Day is celebrated. Pchum Ben lasts for a few days and is known for a lot of chanting, ceremonies, and lively local temples.
Another notable November is the Bon Om Tuk, or the Water Festival, which celebrates King Jayavarman VII’s victory over the Chams.
This is a very lively time in Cambodia — from boat races and riverside parties to fireworks, ceremonies, and moon salutations, this large festival is full of surprises. Note that the Bon Om Tuk sometimes takes place in October.
Worst Time to Visit Cambodia
Being a year-round destination means you can always go to Cambodia and find suitable activities and attractions that correspond to the current season.
That said, if we really had to choose when not to go, we’d stick with the country’s southwest monsoon period, which lasts from mid-May through early October.
The rain can impact your itinerary in many ways. For instance, if you’re traveling between cities such as Siem Reap, Battambang, Phnom Penh, or other villages, flooding is more than common, so you may need to change your travel plans on the spot.
What’s more, tourism numbers surge, as July and August are a period of annual school holidays for the majority of US and European families.
Younger backpackers are also quite frequent, thanks to their university holidays. We already covered most months in terms of temperatures, so you know what to expect.
We’ll just add that July has hot temperatures fluctuating between 90.5°F and 76.5°F, and then August sees temperatures varying between 90.5°F and 76.3°F. While the monsoon season may be unpleasant if you can’t stand wet weather, it has its perks too.
The scenery is iconic, and the countryside is stunningly green and abundant. Throughout the day, there are windows of sunlight and clear skies, so going during this period can still be worth it.
Sightseeing is possible in between rainy sessions, and this is one of the best times to visit important landmarks such as the Angkor Wat or Phnom Penh’s Royal Palace.
One look at these magnificent landmarks, and all the Cambodian rain will lose its relevance and power over you.
Things to Consider
While visiting Cambodia is safe overall, you can ensure that your trip is even safer and smoother by taking into account the following pieces of information:
- While Cambodia is generally a calm country, occasional disputes and/or political rallies may occur and have the potential to turn violent. Just to be on the safe side, follow the local media’s advice and avoid crowds and demonstrations.
- The country is at a high risk of Zika virus transmission and mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue fever.
- Get informed about the potential dress code before you visit specific places. For example, you mustn’t wear shorts or skirts above the knee or blouses/tops that are shoulder-revealing when you visit Angkor Wat.
- While there are no laws that prevent LGBT sexual activities, public opinions may be somewhat mixed.
- Caves, waterfalls, and lakes are especially prone to flooding during the country’s rainy season.
- With a plethora of active landmines scattered across the country to this day, sticking to the main routes instead of wandering is more than advisable.
- The country has good internet in general, but mobile coverage and Wi-Fi may be problematic on some islands or more remote areas. Keep this in mind and let others know about your plans so that they know you’re safe in case you’re out of contact for some time.
- While most trips turn out to be trouble-free, crime does occur. Drink spiking, bag snatching, potential sexual assault, or fraud are some of the potential crime-related incidents. Take sensible precautions such as not carrying valuables with you, ensuring bag straps are over your shoulder, taking extra care in more isolated areas and during the night, never leaving your drinks unattended in bars, and so on.
- Not all ATMs accept all foreign cards, so do your research before you travel (we suggest checking with your banks for more accurate information).
- Get travel insurance, but make sure you know what it covers at all times. This means getting acquainted with some local laws and regulations. For example, if you’re riding a motorcycle but aren’t wearing a helmet, this may invalidate your insurance in case of an incident. Not to mention you may end up with a fine too.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it expensive to go to Cambodia?
On average, the cost of living in Cambodia is 40.1% lower than in the US. Costs related to rent are even 71.0% lower. So, a trip to Cambodia is unlikely to break the bank. That said, people have different travel styles.
And, as such, they anticipate different amounts of expenses for their trips. We hope the following figures will help you plan your Cambodian journey much more effectively money-wise.
- The average price of a three-day weekend trip to Phnom Penh costs:
- $292 for a solo traveler;
- $497 for a couple;
- $643 for a family of four.
- Hotel prices in the center range between $44 and $109; Airbnb apartments cost $14 per night for the whole apartment.
- You’ll need around $39 per person per day for restaurant and transportation expenses.
Lastly, keep in mind that the above-mentioned figures are approximations and are subject to change.
What are five interesting facts about Cambodia?
Here are five interesting facts about Cambodia:
- With 1,626,000 square meters (or approximately 400 acres), Angkor Wat is said to be the largest religious structure on the entire planet.
- Not only is Tonle Sap Lake, one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world but also the largest freshwater lake in the whole Southeastern Asian region.
- The Cambodian flag is the only flag in the world with a building on it (it features a photo of Angkor Wat in the center).
- Cambodia is one of the rare countries in the world that has no Mcdonald’s whatsoever. Interestingly enough, the country does have Burger King.
- The country has adopted the US dollar as one of its national currencies. Cambodia has its own currency, the Riel, which is also used daily, but because of its low value and ongoing dropping rate, the country has embraced the US dollar.
What is Cambodia’s famous food?
Cambodian cuisine features elements of Chinese, Indian, and even French cuisine. It also shares a vast number of similarities with its neighboring cuisines, such as Vietnamese, Thai, and Lao.
Specific dishes you simply have to try during your stay include:
- Samlor korkor, often referred to as the true national dish of the country;
- Nohm banh chok, otherwise Khmer noodles;
- Kari Saraman, or beef saraman curry
- Kha sach ko, or beef stewed in palm sugar;
- Plea sach ko: Lime-marinated beef salad;
- Amok, traditionally made with snails or fish, but nowadays, adding chicken or vegetarian ingredients is also common;
- Kari sach moan, or in understandable language, chicken red curry;
- Nhoam krauch thlong, or pomelo salad;
- Bai sach chrouk, or pork and rice;
- Kha trei svay kchai, or caramelized fish with green mango;
- Tuek kroeung, one of the country’s most appreciated food creations, a dipping sauce made from fermented fish and river fish, accompanied by herbs and seasonal vegetables;
- Sngor chruak sach trei, or sour fish soup;
- Kangkep baob, or stuffed frogs (probably only for the bravest of visitors);
- Prahok ktis, creamy prahok dip, made out of obviously prahok, the most important ingredient in the country’s cuisine (of course, after rice).
So don’t be shy food-wise, and go on a Cambodian cuisine adventure no matter how weird you may find some of these combinations!
Is seven days enough in Cambodia?
Spending a week in Cambodia is the ideal amount of time to see some of the main regions and attractions in the country.
While most visitors head to Angkor Wat as their main itinerary attraction, you’ll have enough time to see the capital city as well as the Sihanoukville beaches.
How many languages are spoken in Cambodia?
Based on the 2013 Census of Cambodia, it seems that 12 major languages are spoken in the country, with Khmer being the most widely used one.
Other more popular include Vietnamese, Chinese, Lao, Thai, and English, to name a few. This extensive language list reflects cross-border migration from neighboring countries, as well as migration from other international countries.
What natural disasters happen in Cambodia?
Cambodia is prone to several natural disasters, including floods, droughts, storms, and sea-level rise. Its poor infrastructure, limited capacity, and underdeveloped institutions worsen the country’s vulnerability to such hazards.
Flooding is said to be one of the main drivers of poverty in the country. In fact, approximately 80% of the country’s population is said to live by the Mekong River, which undergoes large fluctuations during the rainy season.
Certain provinces are also heavily affected, such as Prey Veng, Stung Treng, Kandal, Kampong Cham, Svay Rieng, Takeo, and Kratie.
What form of public transport is used in Cambodia?
Cambodia has several forms of public transport, including buses, trains, tuk-tuks, taxis, and mobile-phone ride-hailing apps.
The bus system runs in Phnom Penh and covers 11 lines: Chbar Ampov (East), Ta Khmao (South), Prek Pnov (North), as well as the Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone (West).
The train service allows people to travel to and from Phnom Penh to other provinces and the Phnom Penh International Airport, the country’s main airport.
Loved by locals and tourists alike, tuk-tuks are popular due to their unique appearance — a two-wheeled carriage that fits up to four persons.
Plus, they’re cheaper than regular taxis and, at the same time, relatively safer than motorcycles. That said, many tourists do rely on taxis to reach the different areas of the city.
Finally, the numerous e-hailing smartphone apps are popular because they inform both parties of the fare amount, and accessing them is easy. Current apps include ExNet, PassApp, and Grab.
Is it safe to drive in Cambodia?
With one of the highest rates of traffic accidents in the entire region, Cambodia isn’t the safest when it comes to driving, thanks to poor driving standards and a lack of suitable vehicle maintenance.
Driving by night increases the possibility of an accident even more so. In any case, if you feel like driving, note you’ll need to obtain a Cambodian driving license. This applies not only to cars but all types of vehicles, including motorcycles.
This is alongside your International Driving Permit. If you can’t be bothered with this, there are certain travel agencies who can help for a fee.
So, When Should You Visit Cambodia?
Since we covered a lot of information in this guide, it’s best to wrap things up by sharing the most relevant details yet again:
- On the whole, the best time to visit Cambodia is during the dry season, that is, anytime from November to April. The weather allows for a plethora of activities, but prices can quickly soar, especially if you go during the festive period.
- Those seeking the best deals and attractive discounts should consider going in in the April–June period. That said, affordable accommodation and airfare deals go hand in hand with boiling temperatures. Still, there are so many interesting events, festivals, and activities at that time that the weather will be the last thing on your mind.
- If getting away from throngs of people is your main holiday criterion, visit Cambodia in September or October. And while avoiding crowds is more than probable in this period, avoiding consistent rainfall is impossible.
- Lastly, the worst time to visit Cambodia is during the country’s southwest monsoon period, which lasts from mid-May through early October. Flooding can surprise you in many different ways, from blocked roads to canceled trips, and the June–August period sees an influx of tourists taking advantage of the school holidays.
Ultimately, here’s the thing: it’s not about the weather, the budget (ok, maybe up to a point), or the crowds — it’s what you make of your stay.
So make it your best one yet!