Let’s talk about the best time to visit Cambodia! We headed there in November, 2022. And if you’ve followed us for awhile, you know we visited SE Asia in early 2020. But unfortunately, Covid thwarted our travel plans. So now we’re finally back and enjoying the sites!
First, let’s talk about the weather in Cambodia, so you can decide the best time for your visit. Then later, I’ll share some festivals you might plan to include in your trip.
The Best Weather Times to Visit Cambodia
Weather is a main factor in when you should visit Cambodia. Its seasons technically fall under these categories: hot, sweltering hot, and knocking on the gates of Hell hot! But that’s just me.
Dry or High Season
The dry season runs from November to May. This time of year sees the fewest rains, but you may still experience an occasional shower. We had short, early evening showers on several days.
The coolest season (weather-wise) only happens between November and February. So, if you’re anything like me, you’ll visit then. But who knows? Maybe you like the 24-hour sauna season? My brother-in-law, Ben, he sure loves his sauna. So maybe he wants to visit Cambodia during the monsoons?
However, most tourists visit Cambodia during November through February to enjoy the mildest temperatures and lower humidity. March through May sees the countryside dry up as the lakes shrink, even while the humidity climbs.
Cambodia’s wet season runs from June to October.
This season in Cambodia falls under the gates-of-Hell kind of hot if you ask me. So, you won’t find me making plans to visit during the monsoons.
Temperatures average in the mid-90 degrees Fahrenheit (mid-30s Celsius). But that’s only part of the story. The humidity makes it miserable outside. Utterly and oppressively miserable. Think I’m being dramatic?
Well then, check out this humidity level chart (and lots of other super-cool weather related charts, too.) Now you can see that even in November I really did sweat my butt off. But the humidity slowly starts coming down then, so it is a good time to go.
The Best Times for Festivals in Cambodia
If you’re looking to visit Cambodia in time for one of its many festivals, then keep reading. We arrived in Phnom Penh the scheduled week of Bon Om Tuk, the famous Water Festival. Unfortunately though, thanks to Covid-19, the festival last made an appearance in 2019.
Hopefully, it’ll come back in 2023. But during our visit there were still two nights of huge firework displays over Phnom Penh’s riverbank. We watched them from our hotel’s 12th floor swimming pool area. So magical!
Here are the festivals and bigger events throughout the year.
- January – March is peak tourist season. New Year’s celebrations reign during this time, as January 1 comes around. Then it’s followed by the Chinese and Vietnamese New Year’s parties. Chaul Chnam Chen (Chinese) & Tet (Vietnamese) celebrations make for dragon dances in the streets!
- April – June are the hottest months, which usher in the monsoon season. The Cambodian New Year, Chaul Chnam Khmer, arrives in April, so expect more parties! Visit Cambodia during this celebration and you may end up in a neighborhood water fight!
- Visakha Puja (Buddha Day) occurs in May or June on the eighth day of the fourth moon. This is the day Buddhists gather to commemorate the life of the Buddha. It acknowledges his birth, enlightenment, and death. Expect to see large processions of monks carrying candles through Angkor Wat at night.
- November arguably hosts the largest Cambodian party: Bon Om Tuk (Water Festival). It celebrates god-king Jayavarman’s victory over the Chams. He booted them from Angkor in 1177, and the country still parties like rock stars every year since.
Book early if you’re planning to visit Cambodia during a festival season. I would love to see Phnom Penh for the Bon Om Tuk, when boat races and parades form a large part of the city’s festivities. And I’m sad to have been there on a “canceled” year.
So When Is the Best Time to Visit Cambodia?
November worked alright for our visit to Cambodia. But December, January, and February certainly have the lowest humidity levels. So I’d likely try visiting then, when the temperatures and humidity come down.
If you’re traveling from an already humid area, you may not be effected as much as I was. But let me just say that exploring Angkor Wat’s temples did me in a couple of days. I literally melted, even though I drank a ton of water.
One nice thing about traveling right now, in 2022, is that crowds are still very small. Well, I guess that’s nice for introverts like me. But several locals told us how Covid’s shutdown financially devastated so many people and businesses. So they are definitely glad for the tourism increase.
For example, our Angkor Wat guide said in 2019 1,000 people gathered daily to watch the sunrise. Now only 300 gather. So if you’re thinking of making the trip, don’t hesitate.
Cambodian people want tourists back. Their desire to earn incomes and support their families was readily apparent. Now is the perfect time to visit Cambodia!