As we approach the end of the year, when Christmas and New Year are about to light up the world with their festivities, South East Asia presents itself as an irresistible option for a memorable holiday. Have you ever considered spending this magical time in this exotic region?
If you’re looking for an enchanting destination, consider Cambodia. In December, this country reveals all its charm with an ideal climate and magnificent landscapes, including the impressive temples of Angkor. Join us as we explore this new destination to add to your end-of-year holiday list.
1. Weather in Cambodia in December
In December, Cambodia enjoys an exceptionally cool climate across the country, with temperatures averaging between 26 and 29 degrees Celsius. The weather is characterised by moderate sunshine, and showers are rare.
December is the dry season in Cambodia, which means there are no storms, floods or heavy rains to worry about. The days are sunny and dry. Winds from the north-east blow gently, making the climate extremely pleasant for travellers.
2. Reasons to visit Cambodia in December
Cambodia in December offers exceptionally pleasant weather. Here, you won’t have to endure the bitter cold of home, or the intense heat that characterises other seasons in Asia. If you’re looking for a sunny holiday, Cambodia is a great choice.
Cambodia offers much more than you might imagine. Nicknamed the ‘Land of the Sacred Temples’, it is world famous for its majestic Angkor temples – a UNESCO World Heritage Site that fascinates travellers from all over the world. But that’s not all. Cambodia is packed with architectural treasures, historic cities and a vibrant culture that will immerse you in its fascinating past.
In addition to its temples, Cambodia boasts magnificent dream beaches lining the Gulf of Thailand, offering an unforgettable seaside experience. It’s also a region renowned for its unspoilt beaches, exotic islands, lush national parks, and let’s not forget the floating villages of the Tonle Sap, nestling in the heart of the Mekong region in central Cambodia.
What’s more, travel costs in Southeast Asia, such as Cambodia, are considerably more affordable than in Europe or other regions. With a reasonable budget, you can envisage a stay of at least a week without sacrificing the quality of your experience.
In short, if you’re already familiar with the Christmas atmosphere, try once to discover how the end of the year is celebrated in Asian countries steeped in Buddhist culture. Cambodia with its captivating mix of traditions, festivities and natural beauty, is a destination of choice for those seeking a memorable end-of-year experience in a warm and exotic setting.
3. What to see and do?
Siem Reap and the monumental Angkor complex
Visiting Siem Reap and discovering the Angkor temple complex in December is an extremely wise choice in terms of weather. In December, the mild weather is perfect for exploring the temples for hours on end without suffering from excessive heat or fatigue.
The temples of Angkor form one of the largest temple complexes in the world and also contain thousands of fascinating cultural and historical facts to discover. Have you ever wondered how, thousands of years ago, people were able to build such a magnificent architectural complex? Come here once and explore the seemingly impossible, a wonder of the world built in the 12th century and preserved to this day.
As well as its majestic and sacred temples, Siem Reap is a lively town offering a wide range of cultural and entertainment activities. Siem Reap’s night markets are a must, combining Cambodian culture with souvenir shopping and warm Cambodian hospitality.
Don’t miss the traditional Khmer dance performances, including the Apsara Dance show, featuring classical Khmer dance performed by dancers dressed in beautiful traditional costumes.
Cambodia’s Mekong region (Tonlé Sap)
In Cambodia’s Mekong region, the majestic Mekong River flows through the country, offering an abundance of natural resources and a unique way of life. The floating villages of the Tonle Sap are a fascinating testament to life here.
Discovering how life is lived in these villages is an incomparable experience. Come and explore them for yourself and experience the richness of this region in a unique way. You can also take boat trips to observe the flora and fauna, sample delicious local cuisine, and interact with the friendly locals to learn more about their unique way of life.
The capital Phnom Penh
To discover Phnom Penh – the capital of Cambodia, is to immerse yourself in Khmer history and architecture. A must-see is Wat Phnom, a temple built in 1372 by Penh, the city’s founder. Its 27-metre-high stupa offers a panoramic view of the city.
The Royal Palace, residence of the royal family since 1866, is an architectural marvel, with its picturesque gardens, gilded buildings and throne room bearing witness to Cambodian royalty.
To discover local handicrafts, head to the silk island of Koh Dach, 15 kilometres from Phnom Penh. Here you’ll find traditional silk textiles hand-woven by local craftsmen for generations.
And for a cultural experience, take in the Kok Thlok shadow theatre. This show features hand-carved and hand-painted leather puppets telling stories from Cambodian mythology and the Hindu epic Ramayana, accompanied by live music, offering a total immersion in traditional Cambodian art.
Southern Cambodia, a region of islands and beaches
If you’re looking for a seaside holiday at the end of the year, the southern region of Cambodia is the place to be. Nestling in the Gulf of Thailand (Gulf of Siam), Cambodia offers beautiful islands and beaches with white sands and crystal clear waters.
The islands and beaches of Sihanoukville are perfect for a lively seaside holiday, with a host of activities including scuba diving, windsurfing and fishing. If you prefer to be closer to nature, the beaches and islands of Koh Rong are the perfect choice for you, offering scenic walks, kayaking and a tranquil getaway in unspoilt landscapes.
Mondulkiri and Ratanakiri: the best places for hiking
Mondulkiri, known as the ‘land of hills’, offers breathtaking scenery, perfect for hiking and trekking. You can observe a wide variety of wildlife, take part in well-preserved safaris and discover the unique culture of the local ethnic minorities, notably the Phnong tribe, by visiting their traditional mountain villages.
As for Ratanakiri on the border between Laos and Vietnam, it will appeal to trekking enthusiasts with its majestic mountains and lush tropical forests. Mondulkiri and Ratanakiri are popular destinations for travellers seeking unspoilt nature and outdoor activities. Local guides are often required to explore these areas.
Angkor Half Marathon
If you’re planning a trip to Cambodia in early December, you can take part in the Angkor Half Marathon, a charity race set against the incredible backdrop of the temples of the ancient Khmer empire.
Runners from all over the world participate to support a ban on the manufacture and inhumane use of anti-personnel mines. Entry fees and additional financial support foster independence among landmine victims by helping provide prosthetic limbs, social reintegration programs, and supporting other relevant and needed programs such as education and prevention of any serious new diseases in Cambodia . Another important part of charity also goes to the support Poor Children in hospitals such as Angkor Children Hospital and Kantha Bopha Children Hospital.
Why not spend Christmas in Cambodia?
Who hasn’t wanted to leave the cold of winter and the stress of the approaching festive season behind and relax in the sun? Try it this year and spend Christmas in Cambodia!
The Cambodian population is predominantly Buddhist, so Christmas is not celebrated to the same extent as in Europe. There are, however, Christian minorities in the country.
If you wish, you can attend midnight mass in Phnom Penh or Siem Reap at Christmas. From Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh to Siem Reap and other major tourist towns such as Sihanoukville, you’ll also find a hint of the festive season in the shopping centres.
You may be surprised to see Santas, fake Christmas trees, reindeer and snowmen in the windows of tourist shops. Some restaurants are also adapting their menus for Christmas Day, and even offering dinner shows to celebrate the event.
So you can spend 25 December enjoying a good dinner and the magic of Christmas, with the added warmth and exoticism. It’s a trip and an experience you should make at least once in your life.
4. Combined with Southeast Asian itineraries
If you’re planning to visit Cambodia in December, you can combine your trip with other Southeast Asian itineraries. Cambodia shares borders with Vietnam, Thailand and Laos, making it easy to combine trips by land or air.
At this time of year, the climate is also pleasant in Vietnam, Thailand and Laos, offering rich landscapes to discover.
From Cambodia, you can easily travel to Vietnam by land in the south of the country or by air to explore iconic places such as the breathtaking rice paddies in the north, the UNESCO World Heritage site of Halong Bay, as well as cities such as Hoi An with its lantern lights and Ho Chi Minh City, rich in monuments from the colonial era.
Laos is renowned for its tranquillity and authenticity, escaping the crowds of tourists. It’s very affordable to explore, so you can tour the country without worrying about your budget. Thailand, meanwhile, is famous for its golden temples, warm welcome and world-famous islands and beaches.
For a truly memorable experience in Southeast Asia, consider opting for combined tours that will allow you to discover a captivating diversity.
5. Practical tips for travelling
December is one of the best times to visit Cambodia because of the very pleasant weather. However, it is important to note that this is also the peak tourist season. So it’s essential to plan your trip well in advance to avoid unforeseen problems. Book your hotels and tickets in advance to save money and make sure you check all the details to ensure your trip is a success.
In conclusion, travelling Cambodia in December is one of the best itineraries in Southeast Asia for an end-of-year. With affordable prices, rich landscapes and culture, as well as unique features in Asian culture, it deserves to be discovered at least once. Make the most of your end-of-year holidays in this authentic country.