Phnom Penh – the bustling capital of Cambodia still retains considerable charm with plenty to see. It has a peaceful, provincial atmosphere with its French colonial homes, tree-lined boulevards and monumental Angkorian architecture.
Over time, Cambodia capital leaves an unforgettable impression on every visitor’s mind regardless of the season. If you want to plan your visit according to the Phnom Penh weather, find out the month-by-month conditions to know the best time to visit!
Phnom Penh: a capital with two seasons
The capital Phnom Penh is the largest and most populated city in Cambodia, located in its south-central part. It benefits from the confluence of the Tonle Sap and Mekong rivers, which provide clean water and natural resources.
Phnom Penh’s climate is strongly influenced by the monsoons, as in other Southeast Asian countries, with high temperatures and high humidity throughout the year. Average temperatures vary between 25°C and 35°C. Phnom Penh has only two distinct seasons:
Dry season (November to April)
During the dry season, temperatures in Phnom Penh are generally warm with an average of 30°C during the day and 22°C at night. The days are sunny with very little rainfall, making it the ideal time to explore the city and its surroundings.
Rainy season (May to October)
During the rainy season, Phnom Penh often experiences regular showers, although there are also periods of sunshine and clear skies. Temperatures are slightly cooler with an average of 28°C during the day and 24°C at night. The rainfall provides lush vegetation and a different perspective on local life.
Phnom Penh weather by month
The weather in Phnom Penh in January is pleasant, with an average temperature of about 26°C and a slight drop in temperature to about 20°C. This period is ideal for visitors who enjoy cooler weather to explore the city and its surroundings. As a result, Phnom Penh is often busy and crowded in this period. Visitors can explore the famous sites in the city centre, such as the Royal Palace, visit temples and pagodas such as Wat Phnom, the Silver Pagoda or discover the local markets.
February is also a pleasant month with an average temperature similar to January’s 26°C. However, towards the end of the month there are often sudden showers with an average of 11mm of rainfall, so it is important to pay attention to the weather.
If you are passionate about Asian culture and traditions, February is also a great time to experience them. At this time, the country celebrates the Meak Bochea festival, one of the most significant celebrations of the year. Buddhist devotees gather to honour the Buddha and his teachings, taking part in traditional ceremonies in the temples and pagodas of Phnom Penh. The city’s streets come alive with religious parades and processions, offering an authentic cultural experience.
March marks the beginning of the hot and dry sub-season in Phnom Penh, resulting in a gradual increase in temperature compared to the first two months of the year. The average temperature is around 30°C, while the highest temperature is around 34°C. The weather in Phnom Penh in March can make outdoor activities a little uncomfortable at this time.
April is the official hot and dry season in Phnom Penh, with temperatures reaching up to 40°C. Temperatures average 26°C to 36°C during this period.
But this heat does not deter Cambodians from celebrating their biggest event of the year: Chaul Chnam Khmer, the traditional New Year. The celebration is packed with many fascinating activities, including the Bom Chaul Chnam water festival which is an interesting cultural experience of its kind. If you are keen to discover new cultures and traditions, April is the perfect time to immerse yourself in the lively festive atmosphere.
In May, the weather in Phnom Penh remains very hot as in April, with temperatures reaching 40°C. However, showers may occur, indicating the start of the rainy season in Phnom Penh, but they are usually not severe.
Tourist and daily activities continue as normal. May is considered a low tourist season in Phnom Penh, which makes it an economical and less crowded time if you are planning a trip at this time.
From June onwards, the southwest monsoon sets in and marks the start of the rainy season in Phnom Penh. Rainfall varies, with showers or scattered light rain.
Although the weather is not ideal, it is possible to take advantage of certain times of the day to explore the area, as the rains often come in the late afternoon and evening. Thus, mornings and midday are usually good for short visits.
Due to the low tourist season, accommodation and catering costs are also very low.
In July, Phnom Penh is in the middle of the rainy season, with generally high humidity and very heavy rainfall, often accompanied by flooding, making travel and tourist activities difficult. Therefore, it is recommended not to travel to Phnom Penh during this period.
In August, Phnom Penh weather remains in the rainy season, but the amount of rainfall is considerably reduced compared to July. Temperatures are 25°C – 32°C and the average rainfall is 40 mm.
This is a good time for visitors to explore the city in a quieter setting. The rains are often brief and usually occur in the late afternoon, allowing travellers to enjoy the pleasant, sunny weather for the rest of the day.
In September, rainfall is more frequent than in August, with an average of 60 mm. The average temperature is about 29°C. Rainfall is often scattered throughout the day, which can disrupt tourist and leisure activities.
However, if you plan to travel to Cambodia during this period, you will be able to experience a very important festival in Cambodia: Pchum Ben. This is one of the biggest Buddhist events in Cambodia, where people honour their ancestors and pray for the departed spirits.
In October, Phnom Penh is still in the middle of the rainy season, but the city is beginning to take on bright colours. Average temperatures remain pleasant, around 27°C, which is perfect for enjoying outdoor activities. Although there may still be occasional showers, the last rains of the season begin to fade towards the end of the month.
November marks the end of the rainy season in Phnom Penh, offering visitors exceptionally pleasant weather with an average temperature of around 25°C. Average rainfall is considerably reduced compared to previous months, with an average of only 22mm.
In November, Phnom Penh is alive with the Bon Om Touk festival, a celebration of Cambodian culture and tradition marking the change of direction of the Mekong River. During this period, the city offers a variety of leisure activities, but the highlight is the traditional boat races. The city comes alive and attracts many tourists and locals for this fascinating experience not to be missed if you are in Phnom Penh in November.
This time of year Phnom Penh is in peak tourist season with high prices for accommodation, restaurants and attractions. It is therefore important to plan your trip in advance to avoid availability concerns and additional costs.
December marks the beginning of the dry season when rainfall is scarce and the weather is generally pleasant, making it a good time to travel. Temperatures range from 23°C in the morning to 30°C in the afternoon. It is also a busy month with many activities to celebrate Christmas and New Year.
Best places to visit in Phnom Penh
Phnom Penh is a city rich in history and culture, with many historical and cultural sites not to be missed during a visit. The Royal Palace of Phnom Penh is one of these must-see sites. Built in 1866, it now houses the royal residence of the King of Cambodia. The National Museum of Cambodia is another site not to be missed, offering the opportunity to learn more about the country’s history through an impressive collection of Khmer artefacts dating from the prehistoric era to the reign of the Khmer Empire.
If you want to learn more about the Khmer Rouge regime and the impact of the genocide on the Cambodian population, the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and the Choeung Ek Killing Fields are moving but important places to visit.
In addition to these historical and cultural sites, Phnom Penh also offers modern attractions such as the Central Market, the Russian Market and the Phsar Reatrey Night Art Market. Food lovers will not be disappointed with the variety of local cuisines and unique gifts.
If you are looking for religious sites to visit in Phnom Penh, you can head to Wat Phnom, the oldest temple in the city. Wat Langka is a quiet and peaceful temple located near the Royal Palace, which is worth a visit for its architecture and serenity. Finally, the Silver Pagoda, or Temple of the Emerald Buddha, is famous for its silver floor and houses many golden Buddha statues, making it one of the most visited sites in the city.
Our last words
Whatever the time of year, there is always something to discover in Phnom Penh, whether it’s exploring Cambodia’s rich history, sampling the delicious local cuisine or simply enjoying the city’s vibrant atmosphere.