the Best time to travel to Cambodia and Vietnam
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The Best Time to Travel to Cambodia and Vietnam

Are you looking for the best time to travel to Cambodia and Vietnam? Both are popular travel destinations with stunning scenery, ancient historical sites, idyllic tropical islands and beautiful beaches. But the weather can be uncomfortably hot all year in both Vietnam and Cambodia.

These neighbouring countries in Southeast Asia have similar climate patterns. Both are located near the equator and have distinct wet and dry seasons. The weather in South Vietnam is similar to Cambodia but Vietnam has different climates in the Central and Northern regions. So when is the best time to visit?

November to March is the best time to travel to Cambodia and Vietnam during the dry season when the weather is a bit cooler. The worst time to go is in April and May when temperatures soar to over 35°C (95°F).

Kep or Kampot
A stunning sunset in Kep Cambodia

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I’ve travelled in Cambodia and Vietnam several times during the high season and the weather was hot, sunny and dry in Phnom Penh. Siem Reap and Ho Chi Minh City in South Vietnam but Hanoi further north was experiencing cool winter weather and it rained for several days in Central Vietnam.

If you’re looking for the best time of year to visit Cambodia and Vietnam, there are a few things to consider. This article looks at the weather in each country, the peak seasons, the costs and other advantages and disadvantages of travelling in different months of the year.   

The Best Time to Visit Cambodia and Vietnam

The best time to travel to Vietnam and Cambodia is from December to March when both countries experience dry weather and low humidity.

Best Time to Visit Cambodia

  • The dry season from November to March is the best time to visit Cambodia when temperatures are cooler. The winter months in Cambodia are very warm with temperatures of over 30°C (86°F).
  • December and January are the coolest months for visiting the ancient temples of Angkor Wat but they are also the busiest months of the year with crowds of tourists visiting during the busy Christmas holiday period.
  • December to April is the best time to visit Cambodia for a beach holiday. Relax and enjoy the lovely scenery in the coastal towns of Sihanoukville, Kep or Kampot, and visit the idyllic tropical islands of Koh Rong or Koh Rong Sanloem.
  • The dry season is the best time to visit Cambodia for jungle treks and elephant camps in Mondulkiri, Ratanakiri and Kratie because the roads are in better condition and travel time is shorter.

TIP: Book your flights, bus, train and ferry tickets with 12Go Asia. It’s easy and convenient. You pay a small booking fee and receive your e-ticket by email.

Best Time to Visit Vietnam

  • The best time to visit Vietnam’s South and Central areas is from December to April. It’s a good time for a beach holiday in Danang and, Hoi An, Nha Trang and Phu Quoc Island.
  • The best time for travel to Hoi An, Hue and Phong Nha-Ke Bang in Central Vietnam is from February to August.
  • In North Vietnam, the best time to travel to Hanoi, Halong Bay and Sapa is March to April or September to November.
  • The spring months from January to March are also good for travel to North Vietnam with cool temperatures, and low rainfall but some mist and fog in coastal areas like Halong Bay.
  • In Sapa, September and early November have the best trekking conditions. December and January can be very cold with freezing conditions and snow in the mountains.
This map was made with Wanderlog, a road trip planner app on iOS and Android

The Worst Time to Visit Cambodia and Vietnam

  • Generally speaking, the worst time to visit Cambodia and Vietnam is during the wet season from June to August.
  • Avoid April and May, the hottest months of the year in Cambodia and South Vietnam with temperatures soaring over 35°C (95°F).
  • Avoid October at the height of the wet season in Cambodia when Siem Reap sometimes floods and accessing the jungle temples at Angkor Wat can be more difficult.
  • Central Vietnam can also flood in September and October and is best avoided at this time.
  • September to November is the worst time to visit Vietnam for a caving expedition. Heavy rain causes seasonal flooding and the Phong Nha caves are closed.

 The Wet Season in Cambodia and Vietnam

The wet season from May to October is not necessarily a bad time to visit Cambodia and Vietnam if you don’t mind some wet weather. The rain often falls in short downpours and brings respite from the heat and humidity and there are fewer tourists.

Prices fall and airfares, accommodation and tours are often cheaper from May to November.  

Mornings are often warm and sunny during the monsoon season with afternoon storms that clear relatively quickly. The countryside is lush and green and there’s no dust.

Flowing rivers make travel by riverboat easier and faster in Cambodia and the rainy season is also ideal for visiting the floating villages of the Tonle Sap in a boat.

It’s also a less crowded time to go to Ho Chi Minh City, the Mekong Delta and Angkor Wat.  

May to July is a good time to visit Central Vietnam Danang, Hoi An and Dalat but the rainy season is not a good time for a beach holiday in Sihanoukville, Kep, Phu Quoc or Con Dau Island.

Vietnamese woman in a boat surrounded by melons
Floating market in the Mekong Delta in South Vietnam

Best Things to Do in Vietnam & Cambodia

Highlights of visiting Vietnam

  • Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital with French colonial architecture and the Old Quarter
  • Historic Hoi An and the laneways filled with colourful traditional lanterns
  • Ho Chi Minh City is Vietnam’s largest city with crazy traffic and roads packed with motorbikes. Enjoy bustling markets, delicious street food, museums and historical landmarks like the Cu Chi tunnels.
  • Friendly local people, colourful markets and delicious food
  • Relaxing on idyllic Phu Quoc Island
  • Nha Trang beaches and nightlife
  • Danang stunning beaches, Marble Mountain and the Dragon Bridge that breathes fire
  • Phong Nha caves are the largest caves in the world, UNESCO World Heritage-listed and set amidst beautiful karst scenery.

Highlights of Visiting Cambodia

  • Street food and colourful markets
  • Idyllic tropical islands of Sihanoukville, Koh Rong and Koh Rong Sanloem
  • Friendly local people
Stunning Halong Bay in winter, the worst time to visit Vietnam
Stunning Halong Bay in Vietnam

Cultural Festivals

Cultural Festivals are held throughout the year and they can be the best time to travel to Cambodia and Vietnam to experience the traditional cultural celebrations but they can also be a challenging time to travel. Plan well ahead, book your accommodation in advance and expect crowds.

The Tet Festival in Vietnam celebrates the Lunar New Year in spring and usually falls in late January or early February. The celebrations include traditional food, music and dance. It’s a National holiday with millions of people travelling to see family and friends. Expect banks, shops and government agencies to be closed for Tet.

The Hoi An Lantern Festival in Central Vietnam is held at the full moon every month and it’s the perfect time to experience the historical charm of Hoi An. Atmospheric laneways of the Old Town are filled with colourful traditional lanterns and are at their best after dark.

The Cambodia Water Festival in November is a 3-day celebration at the end of the rainy season that includes boat races, music and fireworks.

Khmer New Year celebrations are held throughout Cambodia in mid-April.  

streets lines with red lanterns in Hoi An, Central Vietnam in January, the best time to visit Vietnam
Lantern-filled lanes of Hoi An in Central Vietnam

The Best time to Avoid the Crowds

The shoulder seasons from May to June and October to November are the best time of year to visit Cambodia and Vietnam to avoid the crowds of tourists.

In the shoulder season, the weather is changing and there’s more likelihood of rain but there are fewer tourists at key attractions like Angkor Wat, Halong Bay and Hoi An.

Times to Avoid

The following months tend to see more tourists and are best avoided if you don’t like crowds.

  • June and July are school holidays in Vietnam and are busy with locals travelling.
  • Avoid the high season for tourists in Vietnam and Cambodia from November to April if you don’t like crowds. The busiest months are December and January, over the Christmas and New Year holidays.
  • July and August also see an increase in international tourists in Vietnam and Cambodia with holidays in the UK, Europe, Australia, and the US.
  • Avoid travelling during Tet, usually held at the end of January or early February. Tet is a National Holiday in Vietnam and the country comes to a standstill for the celebrations. Book travel and accommodation well in advance and expect services such as banks and shops to be closed for the week of Tet.
vietnam in the rain
A Rainy day at the Royal Tombs in Hue Vietnam

My experience in the high season

I travelled to Cambodia and Vietnam in December / January at the height of the peak season. For me, it was the best time to go to Cambodia and Vietnam during the Christmas holidays. At Angkor Wat, the temple grounds were packed with tourists even though I arrived in the dark to see the sunrise.

There was an endless stream of tourists at Angkor Wat, Bayon and the Ta Prohm jungle temple and I found it hard to photograph the temples without having other people in the shot. Crowds killed the mysterious atmosphere at Ta Prohm where the temple ruins are surrounded by the jungle and tree roots grow in and around the ancient stonework.

On Phu Quoc Island in Vietnam, I was unable to hire a taxi on New Year’s Day as the local drivers were having the day off so I spent the day at the beach.

Even though there were some inconveniences travelling at the busiest time of the year it was still worth going to Cambodia and Vietnam in January

Cambodia is a safe destination for female travellers and I had some amazing experiences, even at the busiest time of the year.

TIP: Expect crowds of tourists, higher airfares and accommodation costs during the Christmas holiday period in both Cambodia and Vietnam.

Cheapest time to visit Cambodia and Vietnam

The best time to visit Cambodia and Vietnam to save money is during the off-peak months from May to October. It’s the best time of year to find cheaper prices and deals on flights, hotels and tours.

It’s also the best time of the year to avoid crowds at key attractions like Angkor Wat and have a more rewarding travel experience.

A towering stone gate with the Buddas head carving at Angkor Wat temple entrance
Visiting Angkor Wat Cambodia

Vietnam and Cambodia Weather by Month

January

Cambodia: January is the driest month of the year with average temperatures around 31°C (88°F).  

Vietnam: In January, South Vietnam has the best weather of the year and it’s dry and sunny with highs of 32°C (90°F). It’s rainy in Central Vietnam and cool and dry in the north at Hanoi and Halong Bay with average temperatures of 17°C (63°F) in January.

February

Cambodia: February is dry and sunny with warm temperatures reaching 33°C (91°F).

Vietnam: South Vietnam is hot and dry with highs reaching 36°C (97°F). Central and North Vietnam are cooler and dry with temperatures around 21°C (70°F) in Hanoi.

March

Cambodia: March temperatures are warming up with highs of 34°C (93°F) and the weather is dry.  

Vietnam: It’s the dry season across Vietnam and a good time for a beach holiday. Temperatures range from 23°C (73°F) in the north to 30°C (86°F) in the south.

April

Cambodia: April is the hottest month of the year in Cambodia with temperatures of 35°C (95°F) and over.

Vietnam: It’s hot and dry across Vietnam with temperatures soaring to 37°C (99°F) in the south and 28°C (82°F) in the north.

Solo travel in Vietnam a woman selling fruit from a bicycle in winter, the worst time to visit Vietnam for warm weather in Hanoi
A woman selling fruit from a bicycle in Hanoi Vietnam

May

Cambodia: May brings hot temperatures and some rain. It’s the shoulder season and the weather is more changeable with highs of 33°C (91°F).

Vietnam: Central Vietnam is still hot and dry with highs of 33°C (91°F) but there’s more rain in North and South Vietnam.

June

Cambodia: June brings slightly cooler temperatures around 32°C (90°F), with more rain and humidity.

Vietnam: June is hot and humid in North and South Vietnam with temperatures reaching 34°C (93°F) in Hanoi. Central Vietnam is dry and even hotter.

July

Cambodia: Temperatures are warm in July averaging 31°C (88°F) with rain and humidity to be expected in the wet season.

Vietnam: July is hot, wet and humid across the country with temperatures in North Vietnam reaching 34°C (93°F).

August

Cambodia: The height of the wet season, August is hot, wet and humid with highs of around 31°C (88°F).

Vietnam: August is hot, wet and humid across the country with the highest temperatures in Central Vietnam at 34°C (93°F).

Occheuteal Beach at Sunset in Sihanoukville Cambodia

September

Cambodia: September is wet, hot and humid with temperatures averaging 31°C (88°F).

Vietnam: September is hot, wet and humid across Vietnam with temperatures in north and central areas reaching 32°C (90°F). 

October

Cambodia: October is very wet and humid in Cambodia with temperatures around 31°C (88°F). Siem Reap sometimes floods in October.

Vietnam: In October there’s less rain in Vietnam but temperatures are still hot in the south reaching  31°C (88°F).

November

Cambodia: November has less rain and cooler winter temperatures around 31°C(88°F).  in Cambodia.

Vietnam: In November the weather is dry and temperatures are cooling down in the north but it’s still hot in the south with temperatures of 31°C (88°F). Central Vietnam is warm, wet and humid.

December

Cambodia: December is dry with cooler winter temperatures reaching 30°C. It’s one of the busiest months at Angkor Wat for international tourists.  

Vietnam: December is cool and dry in the north with temperatures reaching a pleasant 22°C (72°F). Central areas are still wet and humid and South Vietnam is hot with high temperatures of 31°C (88°F).

colourful flowers on a motorbike
Hanoi in Vietnam

Itineraries for Cambodia and Vietnam

An overland trip beginning in Ho Chi Minh City, the Mekong Delta, and Phu Quoc Island in South Vietnam can easily be combined with Cambodia’s stunning Angkor Wat temples, the royal capital Phnom Penh and the west coast islands and beaches of Kep, Kampot and Sihanoukville.

Here are some itinerary suggestions for Cambodia and Vietnam:

Combine this 10-day Cambodia itinerary with 10 days in South Vietnam for a 3-week trip to Cambodia and Vietnam.

Or spend 2 weeks in North Vietnam and fly from Hanoi to Siem Reap in Cambodia to see the ancient UNESCO World Heritage Angkor Wat.

With 5 or 6 weeks you can travel the length of Vietnam in 3 weeks and see the Best of Cambodia in 18 days.

Border crossings

There are border crossings between Vietnam and Cambodia at Moc Bai, Chau Doc and Ha Tien in the Mekong Delta.

It’s also an option to fly from airports in Ho Chi Minh City, Phu Quoc Island, Hanoi and Danang in Vietnam to Siem Reap, Phnom Penh or Sihanoukville in Cambodia.

Final Thoughts: The best time to go to Vietnam and Cambodia

Generally speaking, the best time to visit Vietnam and Cambodia is from November to March when temperatures are cooler and the weather is dryer. In these months there is the best chance of good weather in both countries.

If you plan to visit Angkor Wat, Phnom Penh in Cambodia and Hanoi, Hoi An and Halong Bay in Vietnam you’ll have the best chance of good weather from November to March.

But, in my experience, it’s sweltering hot in South Vietnam and Cambodia, even in the coolest months of December and January with temperatures consistently over 30°C (86°F).

At this time in Central Vietnam, I experienced warm weather and heavy rain for a few days. In North Vietnam, Hanoi and Halong Bay were dry and quite cool and misty, enjoying early spring weather.

But overall, December and January were good months to visit North and South Vietnam and Cambodia, even though it’s the busiest and most expensive time of the year to travel.

Both countries are year-round destinations so perhaps the best time to travel to Vietnam and Cambodia is whenever you can.

The best time to travel to Cambodia and Vietnam
Tuk-tuks and motors bikes on the busy treelined streets of Phnom Penh in Cambodia

FAQ’s

What are the best and worst months to visit Vietnam?

November to March is the best time to visit Vietnam with the best chance of good weather across the country in the north, south and central areas. April is the hottest month and South Vietnam is best avoided as temperatures soar to 37°C (99°F).

What is the best month to visit Cambodia?

November to March are the best months to visit Cambodia. The weather is dry and it’s the coolest time of the year with temperatures reaching 30°C (86°F).

How many days are enough for Vietnam and Cambodia?

3 weeks or 21 days are enough to visit Vietnam and Cambodia and experience the highlights of each country.

What months are hot in Cambodia?

In Cambodia, the weather gets hotter from Feb to April with April the hottest month of the year and temperatures soaring over 35°C (95°F). In May, June and July there’s more rain and higher humidity and the warm weather feels even hotter.

What is the best season to visit Angkor Wat in Cambodia?

The dry season from November to March is the best time to visit Angkor Wat when temperatures are cooler and there’s less rainfall.

Do you need a Visa for Vietnam?

Yes, Australian and US citizens need a visa to visit Vietnam but some European countries are exempt and can visit Vietnam without a visa. Make sure you have a passport that’s valid for at least 6 months from your arrival date with an empty page for entry & exit stamps.

You might also enjoy

The Perfect 10-Day Cambodia Itinerary

Is Cambodia Safe for Female Travellers

Visiting Angkor Wat Cambodia for the First Time

Is Sihanoukville Worth Visiting in Cambodia?

The Best of Cambodia in 18 Fascinating Days

Kep or Kampot? Which Coastal Town is Best

Solo Travel in Cambodia – What You Need to Know

Is Phnom Penh Worth Visiting?

How to Visit Charming Battambang in Cambodia

Is January a Good Time to go to Bali?

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