Cambodia Weather & Seasons – Everything You Need to Know
Cambodia is a small tropical country surrounded by Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam. The weather can generally be described as hot, muggy, and dusty during the Hot Season. After what feels like an eternity, Rainy Season comes along and wets everything down prepping the country for the small drop in temperature of the Cool Season.
What you really need to know is that the weather and seasons in Cambodia allow you to perpetually wear a t-shirt and shorts. Sometimes you’ll need the added protection of a plastic rain jacket during flash storms but that’s about it.
Click below to jump to the season that interests you or read this whole piece to go on a deep dive into Cambodia’s weather, seasons, holidays, festivals, and celebrations. Of course, accompanied by some quick tips from our experienced tour guides!
Hot Season in Cambodia
Did you know temperatures in the hot season (March – June) can reach into the 40’s°C/104°F? During this time, Cambodia’s humidity levels also rise, eventually leading to the rainy season.
Fun Fact #1: The tropical humidity makes Cambodia feel much hotter than it actually is!
If you want to get the most out of your trip to Cambodia during the hot season, aka summer, which starts right after the cool season in March. Hot season will last until the beginning of rainy season in June.
This time of year is also known as the dry season.
Another tip we have for you adventurous travelers is to bring your swimsuit with you wherever you go. There are pools and lakes everywhere and are one of the best ways to cool off.
A common mistake many people make when traveling to Cambodia is wearing short clothes to beat the heat. Don’t do it! The sun feels unbearable during Cambodian summers and your skin will easily burn! It’s fine to wear less clothing during the cool season as the sun isn’t too strong.
If you want to protect your skin and not suffer the pains of being sunburnt, cover your body! Think loose pants, loose long-sleeves, hats, and sunscreen. You may find this weird but watch how the locals dress. They don’t want to burn to a crisp so they cover their bodies.
Are you wondering how to stay hydrated? Especially when you’re wearing all those clothes.
The last tip to survive Cambodia’s hot season is to copy the locals. Paying attention to how locals act will help you figure out the best ways to beat the heat. Ever notice around 11 o’clock people start laying in hammocks or sitting in the shade. They usually stay in this state of relaxation until 1.
Because this is the hottest time of the day and is also when the sun hits the hardest. We already talked about how locals dress but there is one more thing to copy.
Take frequent cold showers. Many people shower 3 to 4 times a day during the hot season. Just a quick rinse with cold water and sit in the shade while drying off.
Hot Season Activities in Siem Reap
Despite the heat, summertime is busy in Cambodia. You can participate in most activities but you should expect a crowd. The few things you might have a problem doing will be involving water. This is because during hot season Cambodia’s lakes and rivers start drying up.
Want to get out of the city?
Want to stay in the AC?
Hot Season Festivals & Holidays
There are plenty of holidays in Cambodia and hot season is no different. Khmer New Year will be starting on the 14th of April. The celebrations will last for three full days!
Not long after, on April 29th is Visak Bochea Day. Visak Bochea Day is also known as Buddha Day and is celebrated around the world.
In May comes Labour Day, The Royal Ploughing Ceremony, and King Norodom Sihamoni’s Birthday.
Hot Season Quick Tips From Our Guides
- Wake up early
- Be prepared for crowds
- Put on sunblock or sunscreen
- Wear pants and long-sleeves
- Hats look good and protect your skin
- Stay hydrated with water and coconuts
- Always bring a swimming suit
Hot Season To Do List
- Enjoy 3 days of Khmer New Year
- Join locals during Visak Bochea Day
- Drive out of Siem Reap on a quad
- Observe and copy locals
- Go to Phnom Penh for the Royal Ploughing Ceremony
- Go swimming everywhere (lakes, waterfalls, pools)
- Have fun
Move on to Rainy Season
Rainy Season in Cambodia
Cambodia’s rainy season, also known as wet season, is aptly named thanks to the heavy, frequent showers that soak the country. The season can start as early as the month of May (when the country is hot and dusty!) and can last up until November (when the rains stop and the country cools down).
At the start of Cambodia’s wet season, temperatures and humidity levels are still pretty high, which means that even though it rains, it still feels hot and sticky instead of cool and refreshing. It beats the hot and dusty weather of hot season though.
Cruising in the countryside is amazing. Expect to see verdant rice paddies, lush tropical foliage, blossoming flowers, and overgrown jungles.
The heavy rains make this season a great time to travel by boat as lake levels rise and rivers can swell up to twice their size.
There are fewer tourists visiting the Kingdom during rainy season, which is why many businesses call this time of the year low season. For you, that translates to shorter wait times, no tourists in your Angkor Wat shots (maybe), and lower prices!
Ok, so what’s the downside? Why aren’t there that many visitors?
Most travelers come to the Kingdom of Wonder expecting sun, not rainfall which is another reason why there are fewer tourists.
Even though it will likely rain every day, that doesn’t mean you can’t go outside and explore. Downfalls generally occur during the afternoon so morning excursions can be good choices.
Don’t count on umbrellas keeping you dry as monsoons bring heavy winds to accompany the rain. Keep your clothes dry by investing in the cheap plastic ponchos available everywhere, usually for less than a dollar.
Pro Tip: Don’t wear socks and shoes when you’re out and about. When the rain stops and the sun comes back out, your feet will stay soaked. Prolonged wet feet can lead to all kinds of trouble. Wear flip-flops and sandals instead so your feet can dry easily.
Rainy Season Activities in Siem Reap
Rainy season is one of the best times to capture the Kingdom of Wonder, when the countries greenery is lush and vibrant.
As we said earlier the temples are extremely gorgeous this time of year. It’s not hard to imagine what it must have looked like hundreds of years ago.
Rainy Season Festivals & Holidays
There aren’t as many holidays during rainy season as there are during the hot and cool seasons. Make sure to read up on them anyway if you’re planning on a visit:
- Pchum Benh
- Commemoration Day of Kings Father
- King Coronation Day
- Constitutional Day
- Paris Peace Agreements
Rainy Season Quick Tips From Our Guides
- Be prepared for rain
- Take a rain poncho with you
- Wear sandals to keep your shoes dry
- Pay attention to the roads in the rain
Rainy Season To Do List
- Explore the green countryside
- Go boating on the Tonle Sap
- Learn and participate in Pchum Ben
- Take amazing photos
- Get a birds-eye view of the countryside and temples
Cool Season in Cambodia
Cambodian winters start in November and end in February. However, the word ‘winter’ probably doesn’t hold the same meaning for you as it does for Khmer people. There is no snow, no ice, and no frost. January, the coldest month of the year, has an average low temperature of 21°C or 70°F! This refreshing season comes right after rainy season and is one of the most popular times to travel through our beautiful country.
Temperatures are lower than any other time of year and when it does get hot there seems to always be a nice breeze rolling through the country. Don’t think that you’re the only traveler wanting to take advantage of this lovely weather. Unsurprisingly, November also marks the beginning of high season.
High season is when the majority of tourists travel to Cambodia. As a result, many hotels and restaurants are already fully booked, attractions are filled with large crowds, and if you don’t plan ahead you run the risk of experiencing a mediocre holiday.
Cool season can be a strange time. Both unexpected rains and overwhelming heatwaves can happen. That’s why we recommend you to keep both a rain jacket and a swimsuit on hand. Rain jackets can be found pretty much everywhere at a low price.
If you do find yourself feeling too hot, you don’t need to rush to your hotel room and blast the AC. Pay a few dollars and you can cool down and relax in the hundreds of pools throughout Siem Reap.
Cool Season Activities in Siem Reap
This time of year holds the coolest weather in Cambodia and the heavy rainfalls from rainy season have filled the rivers and lakes. These are some of the reasons that winter is a great time to visit Siem Reap attractions, even though it’s practically impossible to avoid the hordes of eager tourists this time of year.
If you’re headed to Angkor Wat, the most popular attraction, our tour guides recommend that you choose the short, sunrise tour ( Angkor Wat => Ta Phrom => Bayon) if you’re wanting to avoid the largest crowds.
Want to get out on the water?
Taking a trip to see Kompong Phluk, a floating village on the Tonle Sap Lake is a good idea this time of year. You can also sail through the Flooded Forest.
If you’re feeling adventurous, a trek up Kulen Mountain will be highly rewarding. Cool weather, a leafy trail, and many things to explore await! The best part is that if you get too hot you can always go for a quick swim in the Kulen Mountain waterfall!
Do you want to get away from the city for a bit?
Our guides recommend heading out of town to see Koh Ker & Beng Mealea temples. They are located at least an hour’s drive outside of Siem Reap. If you’re lucky they may be a bit less crowded than Angkor Wat but just as impressive.
Head out on the country roads to explore five beautiful temples. Check out the amazing temples of Pre Rup, Banteay Srei, East Mebon, Ta Som, and Preah Khan.
Cool Season Festivals & Holidays
Cambodians love to party and it shows during our festivals. Unfortunately, there are only three major festivals during cool season; Bon Om Touk aka The Water Festival, International New Year, and the Chinese New Year.
Cambodian Independence Day and the Angkor Photo Festival also occur during this time but don’t have huge gatherings like the Water Festival and the Chinese New Year.
Even two western holidays, Halloween and Christmas, are becoming increasingly celebrated in Cambodia.
Cool Season Quick Tips From Our Guides
- Be prepared for crowds
- Book in advance: Tours, hotels, transport, and activities
- Higher prices than the rest of the year
- Keep a rain jacket
- Bring a jacket or sweater for sunrise and sunset trips
- Keep a swimsuit on hand
- Stay hydrated with water and coconuts
- Have fun
Cool Season To Do List
- Celebrate the Water Festival
- Check out the Angkor Photo Festival
- Enjoy Chinese New Year
- Experience Angkor Wat
- Travel to the Koh Ker & Beng Mealea temples
- Hike up Kulen Mountain
- Sail on the Tonle Sap Lake