What’s the weather like in Cambodia? Believe me, it’s hot, you will never shiver in Cambodia! Sitting just north of the equator, the weather in Cambodia is hot and humid. There are three main seasons in the Kingdom of Wonder, March to June being the hottest, while July to November is the wettest and December to February the coolest. The best time to visit is November through to February.

In the hot season, the maximum temperature can exceed 40°c in the afternoon. In cool-season, early mornings can be as low as 15°c. Cool-season is very dry with little to no rain. In peak wet season – October – it rains monsoon style heavy rain for a couple of hours almost every day in the afternoon. Sometimes it rains heavily for several days in a row. Prepare to get soaked – but never cold!

Wet Season Weather in Cambodia – June to November

The wet season in Cambodia is fun. The monsoon rains cool down the oven-like air, dampens down the dust from the road and paint the landscape green again. As June passes July and into August, the rain increases from an hour or two every few days to daily torrential monsoon rain. It normally lasts a few hours. Rarely a weather front moves in and it lasts a couple of days.

For those of you who have never seen monsoon rain then you should really go and experience it, it’s amazing. The rain can lead to some localised flooding in places, but this quickly dissipates. The country and people are used to it and life soon moves on.

The parched countryside begins to grow rich and green. Rivers and lakes fill up, the brown paddy fields are replanted with the next crop and wildlife returns to the countryside. Water flows into the mighty Mekong river and refills the largest lake in south-east Asia – the huge Tonle Sap.

How much rain? If you want facts and figures, then see the graph below.

As we have said before, you will sweat in Cambodia! Everyone does, even the locals. And you know what? It is fine, everyone gets a bit sticky around the edges. That said, there are certain times of the year that are stickier than others. Humidity ramps up significantly during the end of wet season. Well that’s not surprising as all that water is either falling downwards or trying to evaporate back up again. The air is full of water in one form or another. You can see the humidity levels in the next graph. Pick up a kroma (local style scarf), they are extremely useful at all times of year and can, among other things, stop sweat running down your neck.

Up to a few years ago, the rainy season caused some problems with traveling by road. With most main roads now paved with concrete or asphalt, this is no longer so much of a problem. Travelling in rural areas may be a little slower but still possible. Old guidebooks may mention unpassable bridges and the like, rest assured, this is no longer a problem on main routes.

Typhoons in Cambodia in Wet Season

Very occasionally a rogue typhoon veers off the normal path across the Philippines and Vietnam and the tail end clips Cambodia. It means a few days of unsettled rainy windy weather. It is still nice and warm, just wet and windy. By the time it gets to Cambodia any typhoon has normally run out of steam and it is just a storm. Peak typhoon season in the Pacific is mid-October to mid-November. If you are traveling to the islands around this time, check the weather. Sometimes the boats to the islands stop running during storms. I was caught in a storm on Koh Rong Sanloem a few years ago. The boat back to the mainland could not sail until the next day. It was terrible, I had to relax in a hammock with a large gin and tonic and a good book!

The rain brings relief from the high temperatures and by October the weather cools back to a more comfortable low 30s. Even though the temperatures begin to drop, the humidity increases. The weather begins to feel oppressive and muggy. Think about having at least three showers a day. Forget deodorant, it’s pointless!

By October, the rain has done its job of bringing new life and the monsoon begins to wane. The rains die away, and land starts to dry.

The Biggest Party of The Year

As the monsoon slips away, the water in Tonle Sap River reverses direction and the lake begins to once more drain into the Mekong. Water levels drop and this signals the start of the biggest festival in Cambodia – Bon Om Touk – Cambodian Water Festival (Celebration of the Seven-Headed Snake). This three-day event makes Christmas in London look like a kids tea party. Everybody is celebrating. It is a great time to visit anywhere in Cambodia but especially one of the larger towns. However, if big parties and crowds aren’t your thing, why not go glamping at Canvas & Orchids Retreat on the Tatai River in the Cardamom Mountains.

Hot Season Weather in Cambodia – March to June

Hot season in Cambodia lasts from March to June. The hot air and slow breeze suck the remaining moisture out of the land leaving people, plant and animals hot, dusty and thirsty. The rivers and lakes dry out and the lush green landscape becomes golden brown.

Hot Season Weather in Cambodia – March to June

Hot season in Cambodia lasts from March to June. The hot air and slow breeze suck the remaining moisture out of the land leaving people, plant and animals hot, dusty and thirsty. The rivers and lakes dry out and the lush green landscape becomes golden brown.

Day times are hot with the afternoons becoming scorching. Often maximum temperatures are in the high 30s and afternoons sometimes tip into the 40s. Sunset brings a little relief as evenings cool to a frosty 30°C. In peak hot season, people dart between shady areas, fans and aircon. Afternoons are made for sitting in a hammock under a fan, relaxing with an iced beverage. It doesn’t rain in the hot season. Check out the rainfall graph. By the time April comes, people are just waiting for the first rain of the year. Any random freak rain is usually a short intense downpour and normally over in an hour or two.

The hot season brings better road conditions, and it is fantastic to road trip down to the coast for some beach time. The sea is always warm, clear and calm. Ideal island and beach weather.

Cool Season Weather in Cambodia – December to February

Soon after the Water Festival (Bon Om Touk), the rains stop and the temperature drops. December marks the start of the cold season. Feeling like a tropical paradise, temperatures hang around the mid-20s with night-time temperatures occasionally dipping into the high teens! You can eventually sleep without aircon or a fan (never sleep with aircon on, it will give you a sore throat for some reason). People are more active and some locals wrap themselves in jackets, hats and gloves. Expats might wear long trousers!

Christmas time in Cambodia is delightful. Cambodians (Khmers) love an excuse for a party and even though they are predominantly Buddhist, celebrating Christmas is becoming more and more popular.

January brings high season for tourists. People flock into the main towns and resorts. Islands start to party hard and Angkor Wat is packed. It is an ideal time to get ‘far from the madding crowd’ and set off on a hike into the deep countryside or even the jungle. If you love getting off-the-beaten-track, how about exploring the Cardamom Mountains, Canvas & Orchids Retreat, have lots of tours and activities you can try during a stay there.

Best Time to Visit Cambodia

The best time to visit Cambodia is in the cool season from December to early March. That said, every season has its pros and cons.

Cool Season – December to February
Pros Cons
Cool enough to walk, trek and visit temples. Main tourist centres are busy.
It is dry, it rarely rains. Prices are at an all-time high.
It is party time. All the bars and restaurants are open, live music and special events are going on. Availability of accommodation may be limited.
Great time to visit the beach and islands.
The landscape is still green and lush from the wet season.

Hot Season – April to October
Pros Cons
It’s hot and dry (but still feels humid). It’s too hot and too dry!
Easy to travel. Travelling is really hot and sticky.
Fewer tourists. Some tourist venues close for the low season.
Cheaper flights and accommodation.
More availability for accommodation.
Perfect beach and island weather

Wet Season – June to November
Pros Cons
Fewer tourists. It is wet!
Low prices. Some places shut for low season.
Lush green countryside. Availability of accommodation may be limited.
Much less dust. Some travel in rural places may be difficult.
More wildlife. Some rural places may have localised flooding.
Great for photography – dust haze is reduced.
Angkor Wat is magnificent in the monsoon rain. Sometimes it is worth getting wet.
It normally only rains for a couple of hours each day.

Hours of Daylight in Cambodia

Cambodia is so close to the equator that there is little seasonal change in daylight hours. There are approximately twelve hours of daylight and twelve hours of night-time all year round. The sun rises around 6 am and sets around 6 pm.

Daytime and Night-time Temperatures in Cambodia

As soon as the sun rises, temperatures soar. Early morning is usually pleasant, by mid-morning physical exertion is a sweaty affair, mid-afternoon is a time for riding on the back of a tuk-tuk or supping an ice-cold beverage until the sun sets around 6 pm. Evening time slowly cools to somewhere around 10°C lower than the afternoon temperature. You will likely sweat at some point during the day. It is also unlikely you will be chilly at night time. The hour before sunrise (around 6 am) is the coolest time. Most Khmer are up and about at sunrise and doing manual tasks. You can see the differences between the maximum and minimum temperatures in the next graph.


Regional Climate Differences in Cambodia

Cambodia is not a huge country and there is little difference in climate between the main destinations. Phnom Penh, Battambang and Siem Reap all share roughly the same temperatures and rainfall. Temperatures are normally a little lower on the coast (Kampot, Kep and Sihanoukville) and up in the mountains (Cardamom and Dangrek).

Rainfall is also higher in these areas. You can see from the map below that the coast is the fairly wet, the central lowlands are very dry and the hillier eastern provinces are a little wetter. Most of this rain falls wet season. It is common to have no rain for weeks on end in dry season in Siem Reap (Angkor Wat) and surrounding areas.

Best Time for Photography and Wildlife Spotting in Cambodia

The wet season is arguably the best time of year to visit Cambodia. The rains have cleared the dust haze, the light is considered better for photography and there are fewer tourists. The rivers and lakes are filling with water and provide an abundance of wildlife. Travel to the remoter regions such as the Cardamom Mountains, where you can stay at Canvas & Orchids Retreat, can be more difficult at this time, but worth it for the stunning photos.

Sea Temperature in Cambodia

The sea is always nice and warm in Cambodia. You have no fear of numb fingers and toes. The Sea temperature remains fairly constant between 28 – 30°C all year round. There is little variation between locations.

Health Warning – Sunscreen Needed, Water and Mosquitoes

There are no real climate-related health warnings in Cambodia. The climate is hot. You should be careful of the sun, heatstroke and mosquitoes.

Burn time on the beach in hot season can be as short as 20 minutes. For those with fair skin, be sure to cover up or wear factor 50 sunblock. Stay out of the midday and afternoon sun. The best place to be is in a hammock or shady pool. Bad sunburn can really ruin a holiday and make trying to sleep painful! If you have to go out in the sun then consider factor 50, a sun hat and loose light clothing.

You might not notice dehydration till it is too late. Make a conscious effort to take in liquids. Consider taking a filter water bottle to reduce plastic waste. This lets you refill from any tap (or stream or river). Most hotels provide filtered water on request. You will find rehydration solution powder called “Royal – D” in most shops and pharmacies. It is used frequently by locals and ex-pats to regain minerals lost in perspiration. Coconuts are sold on almost every street (approx. $1). They are full of delicious, sweet water and packed with precious minerals. Coconuts are natures rehydration solution.

There is little malaria in Cambodia but there are other a few less common mosquito-related illnesses. Protect yourself with local insect repellent (much cheaper and more effective than those sourced in the west). Cover up with long sleeves, trousers and socks around sunset and sunrise. Mosquitos breed in water so there will be more around during wet season or in places near water. Just remember to spray or cover up in the evening and you will be fine.

What to Pack for Cambodia

Pack for the heat. You might need to change outfits more than once per day so bring enough clothes to allow for this. Saying that, there are fast (24 hours), cheap, efficient laundry facilities in every hotel and guesthouse and every town and village.

Clothes should be loose and light coloured. There is no need to splash out on a new wardrobe that makes you look like Bear Grylls (unless you are trekking for days in the rainforests). Just pack your lightest summer outfits. If you need to buy suitable clothing, then I recommend Rohan. They are designed for traveling but look normal. Cambodia is somewhat conservative and local ladies like to keep their shoulders and knees covered.

Remember that you need to be dressed respectfully at temples and religious site. Cover knees and shoulders.

Most people wear flip flops in Asia, but you also might want a pair of light trainers for temples and trekking Flip flops are most practical in the wet season. Plastic ponchos are available in most stores for less than $1. You won’t wear a waterproof coat as it is too hot. You get just as wet with sweat as with the rain. Better to just get wet and then dry off later. Bring a zip lock bag for phone, money, and passport in case you get caught in a storm.

Sunscreen – factor 50 (having a suntan is not fashionable in Asia). Pack a light jumper as it can be cold in air-conditioned rooms, planes, and busses etc. A small pocket umbrella is useful in the rainy season and doubles as shade in the hot season. Pick up a traditional Cambodian scarf (krama) as soon as you see one, they have many uses.

The Weather in Cambodia is Amazing!

The tropical heat warms you to the centre of your bones and melts away the stress and aches of everyday life. Even though there are three main seasons in Cambodia, you will never be cold. If you get caught in the rain, it is warm and refreshing and you will soon dry out.

Each season has its advantages and offers a different experience for visitors. If you’re thinking of visiting Cambodia which time of year would you prefer?

Categories: Blogs

by valentin