Siem Reap is a northern Cambodian village – the gateway to the ruins of Angkor that’s been upgraded to a modern town. It is easily accessed from Siem Reap to Angkor Wat and Rural Cambodia, and there are the full spectrum of accommodation options from which to explore this spectacular part of the country. It can be enjoyed all year round, but if you’re planning a trip, read this Siem Reap weather guide to decide when is likely to be best for you.
Siem Reap Weather Overview
Cambodia sits slap bang in the tropics which means that Siem Reap weather is warm to hot all year round and the main difference in the seasons is the amount of rain that falls.
Like the rest of Cambodia, Siem Reap weather is hot and muggy all year round, and its two seasons are differentiated primarily by the amount of rainfall each experiences.
- November to April: dry season means less rain and more comfortable temperatures
- December to February: cooler temperatures make this a popular time to visit
- April/May: temperatures get uncomfortably hot, often topping 38°C (100°F)
- May to October: Monsoon season is characterised by afternoon showers
- June: the rainfall steps up a gear in intensity, but temperatures start to fall
- March and September: the Equinoxes provide the best sunrise photo opportunities
What is the best time to visit Siem Reap?
The best time to visit Siem Reap is from November to March as this period is the direst season of the year with hardly any rain falling in December and January, when day after day of cloudless blues skies is a regular occurrence — very handy for western visitors who need to escape the gloom of winter over that conveniently long Christmas and New Year holiday.
Being north of the equator — although only slightly — means that December and January are also officially winter and the coolest months of the year, bringing much relief to residents and visitors as night time temperatures can plummet to a positively chilly sub-20 degrees Celsius. Occasionally, day time highs won’t break through the 30 degree mark either. This makes it one of the best times of year for cycle rides, walking tours and visiting temples too as the heat is bearable for just that bit longer each day. Some people may disagree, but I would also rather watch the sun rise over Angkor in a clear sky than an overcast one.
If you plan on visiting the floating villages or the stilt villages on the Tonle Sap, or the waterfalls at Kbal Spean or Kulen Mountain, this is also a good time of year as the lake and rivers are still relatively full following the rainy season, and generally speaking the countryside is still lush, and the paddy fields a vibrant shade of green.
Don’t be too worried though if you are about to set for off some winter sun and hear of Cambodia being in the grip of a cold snap as it was when I arrived in Siem Reap for the first time back in 2009. Yes we saw 17C at night and one day the temperature only reached 26C but it was bliss.
Such a pleasant winter climate does have its drawbacks, however. It is very much the high season, meaning hotel rates go up, tuk tuk drivers drive a much harder bargain, it can be difficult to find a decent room, and everywhere you go — from temples to restaurants — can be very crowded. Just make sure you book as much as possible in advance, get off the beaten track and find some of the quieter temples, and read up on anger management techniques for when things don’t go quite as you would wish.
Siem Reap Weather in April – May
From March onwards the mercury rises steadily with temperatures in April and May regularly nudging the 40 degree-mark and often not dropping much below 30 degrees at night. Any kind of physical activity – including temple visits — is best confined to early morning and late afternoon. On the positive side, April and May usually herald the start of the rainy season with spectacular and refreshing afternoon and evening storms that cool down the humans, wash away the dust and cause everything to burst into bloom.
Important note: Such is the popularity of Angkor these days, however, that despite the heat there is no longer a notable drop in visitors in April and May, which can put a strain on the electricity grid as thousands of air conditioning units work overtime. If you do visit Siem Reap at this time of year and aren’t a fan of the heat, be sure to book into a hotel not only with air-con but also with a generator so you don’t end up melting in the dark should there be a power cut.
Siem Reap Weather in June – October
From June onwards the temperature starts to drop but the rains become more frequent. There are rarely days when it rains for more than an hour or two and is very unusual for the sun not to show its face at all. The impressive torrential downpours tend to come in the afternoons leaving much of the day free for visiting the temples and other outdoor activities. The rain can be very intense — Siem Reap receives on average as much rain in August, September and October — and occasionally flash floods do occur. Usually they are not too serious, and certainly not serious enough prevent tuk tuks from ploughing on regardless through the town’ soggy streets.
You do need to be careful walking through flood waters, however, as you can’t see what is lurking beneath — as a friend of mine discovered last rainy season when he tripped into a submerged hole on Pub Street and broke his leg.
As with pretty much anywhere, weather patterns in Siem Reap are not as reliable as they used to be. All you can really be sure of is that it will almost definitely be hot when you visit, and if you come between April and October, you stand a good chance of seeing storms so spectactular that you’ll probably be glad you didn’t follow the crowd and wait until December.