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Cambodia holidays

The spiritual heart of Southeast Asia, Cambodia is full of mystery and adventure. This breathtaking country has an alluring charm that seduces everyone who visits. From its incredible temple complexes to its vibrant cities, Cambodia’s culture, landscapes and flavours will invigorate your senses. The captivating natural beauty of areas like Luang Prabang and Tonle contrast with the well-preserved ancient monuments.

But it’s not just for backpackers and gap year travellers. Cambodia is also a luxury travel destination, with all the deluxe features in its hotels that you’d find in any Caribbean or Mediterranean resort.  

Things to do

A landscape filled with temples, shrines and historic buildings, Cambodia is full of fascinating cultural and religious sites. The Khmer belief led to structures like the iconic Angkor Wat. Dating back thousands of years, you’ll find this ancient masterpiece hidden in the jungle surrounded by a 190-metre wide moat. Famed for its spectacular sunrises, set your alarm early and get ready for a truly unforgettable experience. And then, at the splendid Royal Palace, you’ll find the ancient Khmer style of building blended with modern influences.

Its natural wonders are just as beautiful, whether you’re admiring its jungles, mountains, forests, lowlands, rivers or beaches. The dominant feature of the landscape is the huge Tonle Sap or Great Lake in the centre of the country. It’s part of the mighty Mekong River which crosses Cambodia. 

The lakes and rivers flood during the monsoon season and transform the landscape into a world of water. While touring is possible year-round, water levels can affect which parts of the country you can visit. The best time to go is between July and December, when the waters are at a good level. While the stunning temples of Angkor are the obvious draw for most, Cambodia has much more worth exploring. The Battambang Bat Caves and Bamboo Train are a great choice if you’re looking for something different. There are also tropical beaches edged with curved palms that are perfect for sunbathing. Whatever you hope to find on your holiday to Cambodia, you won’t be disappointed.

Map of Cambodia

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20°C - 35°C

Cambodia experiences t-shirt temperatures all year round with two alternating seasons - dry and wet. If you want to avoid those heavy downpours, February sees the lowest rainfall, while September sees the most.

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16- 17 hours

Phnom Penh International Airport (PNH) is Cambodia’s largest airport. You’ll find tuk tuks and taxis ready to take you to your resort, which can take anywhere between 20 - 60 minutes, traffic dependent.

Cambodia is best for...

History buffs: Although harrowing, Cambodia’s past is worth exploring. Learn about the Khmer Rouge, who were responsible for around two million deaths, then pay your respects to the victims with a trip to the Killing Fields, an execution site on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. Or  step back further in time to the Khmer Empire by exploring the magnificent Angkor Wat.

Bargain hunters: Known for its wallet-friendly local markets, test out your bartering skills with everything from clothes, jewellery and household items on sale. Not to mention sweet-smelling food stalls guaranteed to whet your appetite.

Culture vultures: Not as well-trodden as neighbouring Thailand, Cambodia still has an authentic feel from its architecture right down to its small villages. Family, faith and food are an integral part of daily life here, which is evident throughout the country.

Fast facts for Cambodia

Language: The official language in Cambodia is Khmer. Most natives have a good understanding of English, particularly in the touristy areas. However, if you’re planning on visiting the country’s rural spots, it may be worth picking up a couple of basic phrases - the locals will love it!

Currency: The currency in Cambodia is the Cambodian Riel.

Local time: Cambodia is 7 hours ahead of the UK (GMT+7). 

Fly to: Phnom Penh International Airport (PNH) which is around four miles from the capital’s bustling centre. 

Flight time from UK: 16 - 17 hours

Tourist Information: Further tourist information can be found at Cambodia’s tourism website.

Visa / Health: Before you travel, check the latest advice from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office.

 

Cambodia safety and security

For up-to-date advice on travelling to Cambodia, please visit the FCDO website.

Cambodia weather

Cambodia rewards visitors with its year-round warm weather, which means you can bask in  temperatures from 20°C to the low 30s. Seasons are split into the dry, with cooling winds and lower heat, and wet (May to October) with rain and higher temperatures. There’s usually a heavy downpour in the afternoons during the monsoon period which can affect travel and services.

The lakes and rivers fill during this green season and, while touring is possible year-round, water levels can affect what places you can visit. Tonle Sap lake is at its peak during this time, while destinations like the floating villages and riverside temples will be less easy to access. The best time to visit these locations is between November and April when the rain isn't as heavy.

A waterproof coat is a must during the rainy period, but make sure it’s something light and airy, as the heat spikes in the wet season and can catch you out. If you’re travelling during this season, a pair of walking boots designed to survive a soaking is essential. Shorts and light clothing that dries quickly will be your best defence against the downpours. The weather in Cambodia can take you by surprise.

Beware of flooded roads during monsoon season. On rare occasions, these can cause major traffic congestion around Phnom Penh. This means it can take a long time for airport transfers, so make sure you allow additional travel time. For updates on the weather, keep an eye on the Mekong River Commission’s official website. They’ll keep you informed of any flooding and heavy downpours that might affect your journey.

April tends to be the hottest month in Cambodia while December is the coolest, but temperatures can still reach 26°C with eight hours of sunshine. The wettest month is September.

In the dry season, a refreshing cooling breeze usually keeps temperatures down. But it’s still advisable to seek shade from the midday sun. Sites like Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom should be explored in the early morning, when the temperatures are cooler, or the late afternoon when the sun has passed its peak.

The beach areas of Cambodia have more consistent weather and remain unaffected by the rainy season. The same cooling breeze that affects the dry season blesses the coastline all year round, meaning temperatures average around 28°C and the temperature very rarely falls below 20°C.

Wherever you travel to though, you’ll find the Cambodian weather a much more exotic proposition than the UK, so make sure you’re ready for comfortable heat, torrential rain and toasty sun, often all in one day!