Cambodia has a tropical climate with average annual temperatures of 68 to 80ºF (between 20ºC – 30ºC) and a rainy season extending from June to October.
Visitors should carefully consider the timing of their trip to Cambodia. Most tourists choose to go during the cool season as conditions are optimal. Being the most popular time of year, it is also the busiest and most expensive.
On the contrary, heavy rainfall during the wet season may not provide ideal conditions for sight-seeing, but it does give visitors the opportunity to enjoy Cambodia away from the crowds of peak season and to take advantage of lower prices.
How Many Seasons Are There in Cambodia?
Cambodia has three seasons:
- Cool season –November to February
- Hot season – March to May
- Wet season – June to October
The country is always very warm but there are 2 clearly differentiated seasons: dry and rainy (monsoon season). Within those two, one can also experience cool and hot periods.
Regardless of the time of year, tourists in Cambodia can enjoy a number of festivals and the beautiful sights the country has to offer.
Visiting Cambodia in the Cool Season: November to February
Given the favorable weather conditions, the cool season is the most popular time of year for tourism in Cambodia.
Clear skies and comfortable temperatures make this a great time of year for visiting the country. Even at night the temperature rarely drops below 68 ºF (20ºC).
As this is peak season, travelers should expect higher travel and accommodation costs.
Moreover, some of Cambodia’s most well-known sites such as Angkor Wat UNESCO World Heritage Site welcome many thousands of tourists during the cool season and crowds are therefore likely.
Festivals in Cambodia during the cool season
Tourists in Cambodia during the cool season can enjoy some of the most colorful festivities of the year.
Bon Om Touk: The Water and Moon Festival
Bon Om Touk is an important date on the Cambodia calendar and celebrates the end of the rainy season.
The Water and Moon Festival place across 3 days from 2nd to 4th of November. The Water Festival marks the peculiar natural phenomenon of Tonle Sap River changing direction, which it does at the end of the monsoon season in November.
As one of the country’s central events, it is celebrated across Cambodia. The largest events can be found in Phnom Penh.
Carnival-like activities take place across the 3 days with the focus being on boat races, fireworks and evening concerts.
Buddhists burning incense, chanting and praying is another common feature of Bon Om Touk.
Visiting Cambodia in the Hot Season: March to May
The hot season, from March through to May, sees daytime temperatures rising above 85 ºF (29 ºC) and humidity levels in the region of 75%.
Despite the high temperatures, this is the second busiest season in Cambodia and it is therefore still advised to plan ahead.
Loose and light long-sleeved clothing should be worn to provide protection from the heat. Sunscreen and a hat are also essential.
Due to the more conservative dress style, tourists are advised to check the dress code for tourists in Cambodia prior to travel.
Festivals in Cambodia during the hot season
With New Year falling in the hot season, foreign visitors in the country from March to May can experience this bold and lively occasion.
Khmer New Year
Making up over 97% of the population, the Khmer are the largest ethnic group in Cambodia and therefore have a very strong influence on the country’s traditions and customs.
Khmer New Year is a 3-day celebration beginning on 13th or 14th April, in line with the lunar calendar. Each day of the festival is marked by different rituals and traditions:
- Day 1, Maha Sangkran: washing houses, lighting candles, and incense at shrines.
- Day 2, Virak Vanabat: donating to charity and helping the less fortunate.
- Day 3, Vearak Loeng Sak: Washing statues and feasting on local food such as kralan, a steamed rice cake with coconut milk and beans or peas.
Visiting Cambodia in the Wet Season: June to October
From June through to October Cambodia experiences monsoon rainfall. However, this should not deter tourists from visiting the country during the wet season as the rainfall helps to decrease humidity levels and temperatures.
During much of the wet season, the average temperature ranges from 77- 80 ºF (25 ºC – 27 ºC), slightly higher towards the start of the season.
Storms are generally short and usually occur in the early afternoon so visitors can plan their day accordingly.
Tourists should be aware that certain parts of the country are inaccessible during the wet season. Remote areas such as Mondulkiri & Ratanakiri become impossible to reach.
In preparation for the wet weather, visitors should take a waterproof coat and shoes, and an umbrella.
What to do in Cambodia during the wet season
Travelers in Cambodia during the wet season can take advantage of lower visitor numbers and therefore smaller crowds at the most popular tourist sights.
Travel and accommodation are generally less expensive at this time of year.
Heavy rainfall from June to October makes this the ideal time of year for visiting the floating villages Tonle Sap Lake by boat, the lake expands up to 5 times during the wet season.
Applying for a Cambodia Tourist Visa
Foreign nationals planning a trip to Cambodia should check the Cambodia visa requirements prior to travel, most nationalities require a visa to enter the country.
Citizens from over 200 countries are able to apply online for the Cambodia eVisa. The process is quick and easy and, once approved, the visa is emailed directly to the applicant.
Although requests are usually processed within 3 business days, it is recommended that travelers apply for their eVisa at least 4 business days before departure.
The Cambodia online visa allows for stays of up to 30 consecutive days in the country.