Before you embark on your holidays in Vietnam and Cambodia, it’s essential to know the best time to visit these two countries. Located side by side, Vietnam and Cambodia are often explored together. The weather in the region is influenced by monsoons during the summer months, but each country has its own climate variations throughout the year. By finding the most suitable time to visit, you can ensure a more enjoyable and memorable trip.
Climate in Cambodia
Cambodia has a simple weather system with two distinct seasons: dry and wet. The dry season runs from October to April or early May, characterized by hot winds from the dry northeast monsoon. During this season, the weather is dry, sunny, and relatively cool, with low humidity. November to January are the coolest months, with average temperatures ranging from 24°C to 26°C. This period sees the highest number of tourists visiting Cambodia.
The wet season in Cambodia occurs from May to early October, with the southwest monsoon bringing about 75% of the annual rainfall. Despite the rain, temperatures range from 25°C to 27°C during the day. The wettest months are June, July, and August, while the latter part of the wet season (late July – September) experiences more intense rainfall, particularly along the south coast.
Climate in Vietnam
Vietnam experiences a tropical climate with high temperatures and humidity throughout the year. Given its 3,260 km coastline stretching from north to south, the weather can vary significantly across different regions. Here are the climate characteristics of each region:
The North is characterized by a tropical monsoon climate with four distinct seasons: spring, summer, autumn, and winter. Influenced by the northeast and southeast monsoons, North Vietnam experiences hot and humid summers from May to September, with the highest rainfall during this period. The cool and dry winter lasts from November to January, with average temperatures ranging from 12°C to 20°C. Late September to November offers a pleasant and short fall season.
In the far north regions like Sapa and Ha Giang, winter can be particularly cold with temperatures approaching freezing at night. However, late September to October is the ideal time to visit these areas as the rice fields turn a golden color and are ready for harvest.
Central Vietnam, including cities like Hue, Danang, and Hoi An, experiences hot and dry weather from mid-January to late August, with temperatures reaching around 30°C. Nha Trang, located at the southernmost part of Central Vietnam, has a longer dry season until September, with high temperatures and little rain. The rainy season in this region typically starts in late September and reaches its peak in October and November, sometimes leading to heavy storms and flooding.
South Vietnam has a similar climate to Cambodia, characterized by two simple seasons: wet and dry. The dry season lasts from November to April, while the wet season begins in May and ends in early November. June, July, and August experience the highest rainfall of the year, although it usually comes in the form of short downpours in the mid-afternoon.
The Best Time to Visit Vietnam and Cambodia
Considering the diverse geographical features, such as mountains, highlands, jungles, deltas, beaches, and islands, Vietnam and Cambodia have climates suitable for travel throughout the year. However, the best time to visit both countries is from December to March, during the dry season when there is less rainfall and lower humidity.
During this period, you can enjoy favorable weather conditions in most of the main tourism destinations, except for November, which sees some rain in Central Vietnam. It’s important to note that travel expenses tend to increase during special occasions like Christmas, New Year’s Eve, the Vietnamese Tet Festival, and the Khmer New Year Celebration. To secure your travel services, it’s advised to book in advance.
In spring (January to March), the northern and far northern regions of Vietnam become a blossoming paradise with vibrant flowers and colorful traditional festivals during the New Year period. In January, rainfall is at its lowest level, although a misty fog is not uncommon in coastal areas like Halong Bay.
Central Vietnam returns to its glory days with constant sunshine and blue skies from December to April, offering ideal conditions for swimming and diving in popular destinations like Danang, Hoi An, and Nha Trang. Southern Vietnam and Cambodia experience comfortable conditions with brilliant sunshine and a low chance of rain during November to April. Beach and island lovers will have a hard time choosing between the gorgeous coastlines of Sihanouk Ville, Koh Rong, Koh Rong Samloem in Cambodia, and Phu Quoc and Con Dao in Vietnam.
During the wet season (May to early October), Cambodia sees a decrease in visitor numbers, making it a quieter time to visit. The countryside becomes lush greenery again thanks to downpours, and iconic sites like the Angkor Temples have fewer tourists. In fact, the temples are even more stunning during the wet season, with fully watered moats that provide perfect opportunities for capturing reflections of the temples in the water. This is also the perfect time to visit floating villages in Tonle Sap Lake.
Although remote regions in Cambodia, such as Kratie, Mondulkiri, Ratanakiri, and the southern coast, may be more challenging to reach during this period due to heavy rain and flooding, visitors can venture to Vietnamese beaches like Danang and Hoi An, where they can enjoy sunny and dry days from May to August. Other beach destinations in Central Vietnam, such as Phu Yen, Quy Nhon, Nha Trang, and Mui Ne, offer similar weather conditions and fewer tourists.
In South Vietnam, sightseeing trips to Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong Delta are still possible during the wet season, as rains generally occur briefly in the mid-afternoon. However, if you plan to visit Phu Quoc or Con Dao Island during these months, be prepared for the possibility of rain throughout the day.
North Vietnam experiences hot and humid weather during its summer months of July and August, with frequent rainfall. Halong Bay may have heavy showers during this time but is still an excellent destination for a cruise with outdoor activities like swimming, kayaking, and caving.
In conclusion, the best time to visit Vietnam and Cambodia is from December to March, when both countries experience the dry season with less rainfall and lower humidity. However, depending on your preferences and the activities you plan to engage in, other times of the year can also provide unique experiences and fewer crowds. Consider the diverse climates of different regions and choose a time that suits your interests.
To explore the wonders of Vietnam and Cambodia with ease, consider one of the suggested tour packages offered by Cambodia Travel. From luxury journeys to biking adventures and foodie tours, these itineraries cover the best of both countries and ensure a memorable travel experience.
Remember, the combination trip to Vietnam and Cambodia has become increasingly popular in recent years due to the similarities and differences between the two countries. It provides a broader understanding of Southeast Asia and saves time and travel expenses. If you need assistance in finding the most suitable time to visit Vietnam and Cambodia, contact Cambodia Travel’s travel consultants!