Beachmeter

Cambodia Destination Guide

Infographic of Cambodia's Islands and beaches including tourism information, price index, best beaches, travel seasons, and Unique Selling Points for Cambodia.

* International arrival numbers are from 2016. The “Most popular among” category represents annual arrivals to Cambodia by country divided by that country’s total population. As such we get an understanding of where Cambodia is most popular per capita. Only countries falling within the top 30 total arrivals are considered here, and we have omitted the neighbouring countries of Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand.

 

Cambodia Weather – When to Go

The Cambodian weather and sea temperature is warm all year round. However, the most pleasant time to visit the country is from November to February, where the temperature is slightly lower and where there are limited rainy days each month. These months are also the most popular among foreign tourists, so it’s a good idea to book accommodation in advance if you have specific wishes. The seas during the rainy season between May and October can get a bit rough and conditions are not ideal for diving. However, you will find better deals and generally more ample space on the beaches during these months.

If you ask us, the “sweet spot” months are November, February, and March.

Cambodia Annual Weather Chart

Annual weather chart for Cambodia incl. temperature, daily sun hours, rainfall, number of rainy days, and sea temperature. From Beachmeter.com.

Please note that the weather chart shows the average temperature of a 24 hour span. This means that temperatures are likely to be slightly higher during daytime and lower during the night.

Cambodia – An Emerging Beach Destination

Historically, Cambodia’s tourism industry has been hampered by the aftermath of Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge regime, unexploded landmines placed during three decades by different governments and revolutionary groups, and an undeveloped infrastructure. However, the last 20 years has seen the country move from a pirate’s paradise to a grown up tourism destination that no longer needs to be merely an add-on itinerary to its neighbours.

The biggest attraction in Cambodia is without a doubt Angkor Wat and the myriad of stunning temples that take visitors into a world of adventure and wonder. Cambodia has great museums that commemorate the horrors of the Khmer Rouge and you will also find colourful markets. Today, the beaches and islands of the country are quickly emerging on the tourism map.

The Gulf of Thailand is home to Cambodia’s islands and beaches, and as such they share traits with some of Thailand’s celebrated islands such as Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, and Koh Chang. Cambodia offers beautiful tropical islands with white sand beaches, and most of them are relatively easily accessible. Sihanoukville is the main hub for beach holidays. The coastal city has a long shoreline with popular beaches and ferry services to many islands in the gulf. Alternatively, you can enjoy the beaches near Kep, Kampot, or Koh Kong (city).

Actually, a large number of islands in Cambodia do not have accommodation options, and are therefore best visited on day trips. Most of the islands that do offer accommodation are not as touristy as the Thai islands, and many of them have only recently begun to develop tourist facilities. So if you like to go back to the basics and still experience the simple, beautiful island life, Cambodia is a superb choice.

Cambodian cuisine is not as worldwide famous as Vietnamese and Thai food. That could be because the country has not had the same volume of tourism exposure. In fact, a lot of the dishes found in Vietnam and Thailand, are shared by Cambodia. Compared to Thailand, Cambodian food is less spicy and with less coconut milk, but ingredients like lemongrass, kaffir lime, and long beans are widely used.

Rice is central in Cambodian cooking, but there is also French influences from the colonial days, such as num pang pâté, a type of baguette sandwich with meat and pickled vegetables. Despite not being a famous kitchen, Khmer cuisine will surprise you with delicious food from street vendors to restaurants.

Accommodation options and facilities remain rather rustic on most beach destinations in the country, although the number of luxury retreats is on the rise. The most exclusive resort is without a doubt the Song Saa Private Island Resort. In Sihanoukville you will find everything from backpacker dorms to a handful of 4-star hotels. On the islands, you will mostly find smaller establishments and an atmosphere appealing to those who long for the good old backpacker days in Thailand.

A dorm bed can be booked for as little as 4 USD, while a simple private room for two people usually starts at 8 USD. If you want own bathroom, hot water, and fan, the price will increase. Prices also tend to be a bit higher on the islands, so a simple private bungalow hut will cost around 20 USD per night.

With good and ever emerging options on the Cambodian islands, you can now combine the magnificent Khmer temples with a city break in Phnom Penh, and a relaxing beach holiday. Cambodia is now a stand alone destination in itself, and no more merely an add on to Vietnam or Thailand.