Located 10 to 13 degrees north of the Equator, like most of Southeast Asia, Cambodia varies from warm to very hot throughout the whole year. In general, the entire country is subject to the same weather patterns, mainly due to the relatively uniform altitude and latitude throughout Cambodia.
Angkor Wat – the symbol of Cambodia
I. What is the best time to visit Cambodia?
The best time to visit Cambodia depends on whether you’re heading to Phnom Penh, Siem Reap or the coast as all three regions have a slightly different weather system. Cambodia is blessed with one of Asia’s simpler weather systems. The country has two distinct weather seasons, but you can travel in Cambodia all year round.
II. Hot And Dry Seasons in Cambodia
- The dry season in Cambodia runs from October to April, when the dry north-east monsoon arrives, characterized by hot wind blowing across the entire country. This season coincides with Cambodia’s peak tourist season – travelers arrive between November and January to take advantage of the lack of rain. By March, traveling can be uncomfortable and hot. As the country dries out, badly rutted roads get upgraded and trip times improve dramatically. Cambodia’s beach strips at Kep, Sihanoukville and Ko Kong bask in brilliant sunshine with clear calm water. If you’re a beach bum, the dry season is the best choice for you.
Dry season is perfect for enjoying beaches
- The wet season is from May to September, with the heaviest rainfall generally in August & September. Average temperatures range from 24°C in the cooler months of October, November & December to 35°C at the hottest time of the year from March to June. The early months of the wet season (May – July) remain very hot with infrequent rainfall usually in the form of short downpours. In the latter months (late July – September) the rains tend to become more constant and heavy at times, especially in coastal and rural regions.
P/s: Aside from getting drenched, the main disadvantages of traveling in the wet season in Cambodia relate to flooding and degraded road conditions. The bulk of roads in Cambodia are dirt and they turn to heavily rutted and pot-holed mud pits in this time. Traveling in remote corners of the country, such as Mondulkiri & Ratanakiri, is almost impossible due to the state of the roads.
On the upside, traveling in monsoon has some advantages. The dust is gone and the lush greenery of the countryside returns. Angkor Wat, in particular, is stunning in the wet season, with a severe drop in visitor numbers. High rainfall makes it the perfect time of year to visit the flooded forests and floating villages of Tonle Sap Lake by boat, as it swells to more than 5 times its size during the wet season.
III. Popular festivals in Cambodia
If you are a festival-lover, you can come to join these popular and colorful festivals taking place in Cambodia.
1. Chinese New Year
Cambodia’s Chinese population dates back to the 19th-20th century and today the country celebrates Chinese New Year with firework displays, family feasts and street parties in the larger cities.
2. Khmer New Year
Outstanding dance in Khmer New Year festival
Marking the end of the harvest season, the Khmer New Year is a massive holiday in Cambodia, which takes place over three days. Like Thailand, the New Year is celebrated with water-throwing as well as large feasts held.
3. Meak Bochea
This important religious festival is celebrated on the full moon day of the third lunar month by Buddhists across Cambodia, Thailand and Laos. A candle procession is often held in temples in the evening.
4. Royal Ploughing Day
Annually in May, Cambodians mark the beginning of the rainy season with Royal Ploughing Day. Cows and oxen are fed a variety of different crops with predictions made for the year’s forthcoming harvest depending on which crops are eaten by the cattle. People in Phnom Penh visit the Royal Palace in the colorful traditional dress to watch the celebrations.
Are you ready to explore things waiting for you in this great country?