Sihanoukville is a coastal city with weather influenced by a monsoon climate. The city is hot all year round with an average temperature of 29 Degrees Celsius (85 F). The hottest month is May, when temperatures rise to around 34 C (92 F) and the humidity rises to 80 percent. The coldest month is January, when the average temperature is 25 C (72 F).
Sihanoukville has numerous beaches nearby, so you might be wondering about the water temperatures. Fear not, as the seas remain swimmable all year round. The lowest sea temperatures occur in January and are around 26 C (80 F). Seasonal highs are around 31 C (90 F) in May. Many people actually prefer the cooler temperatures of the winter. No wetsuit is required.
Sihanoukville is good for travel at any time of year. This said, there are a few variations in climate and weather, related to the monsoon season, which may affect when you decide to travel.
To many westerners the term ‘monsoon season’ may seem synonymous with ‘do not travel’, but this is far from reality, and in fact some people prefer to travel during the rainy season.
This article should give you some idea of what to expect on the weather-front, so you can start planning your next adventure.
- The high tourist season runs from November through April
- The hottest month is May
- The coldest month is January
- The average sea temperature is comfortable all year round
- Weather in Cambodia is typically divided into a dry season and a rainy (wet) season
The peak season (high season)
Most tourists who end up in Sihanoukville do so between the months of November and April. This is due to the fact that the weather then is comparatively cool and dry. The average daily temperature rests in the mid 20s C (80s F) and humidity is lowest at this time of year.
Even though this is not the warmest time of year, it is generally the most comfortable. Travelers from most western countries still find the high-season weather to be a welcome change from their hometown climates, as the temperatures in Sihanoukville rarely drop below 20 C even at night.
Peak season means more crowds and, in some cases, slightly elevated prices. However, it is something of a myth that traveling during the rainy season can save you big bucks. Careful planning and a knowledgeable guide can save you just as much.
Sihanoukville’s economy relies heavily on tourism, and while some hotels may offer lower rates during the rainy season, you should not expect significant decreases in the cost of food.
June through October, Sihanoukville experiences its rainy season along with the rest of Southeast Asia. June and July experiences most rain, with an average 115 mm per month. September and October usually see between 90 and 100 mm per month. For comparison, the driest month January experiences around 11 mm of rain.
Do not be alarmed, however! The average number of rainy days per month reaches its peak in June at 19 days, which means most of the time it is still dry.
Many expats who live in Sihanoukville say that the rainy season is actually the best time of year, especially for shopping or walking around outdoors. You might have to run for shelter during an afternoon gale; but the frequent but short rains keep the temperatures very comfortable for walking around.
Of course, during monsoon season you can expect fewer days on the beach. Many beaches such as Sokha have covered spaces for rent or purchase, so even a rainy day can be spent on the sand; though you might not make a lot of progress on your tan.
What to do
Ream National Park is 18 km from the city and is home to mangroves, reefs, estuaries, waterfalls, and plentiful wildlife. The park is enjoyable in any season but the waterfalls are more awe-inspiring when they are full of water from the monsoon rains.
You can reach the park in a private car or by hiring a tuk-tuk. While most tuk-tuks are covered, it is recommended that you hire a car if possible, to guarantee you stay dry on your way there.
If you have time to spare after visiting the park, be sure to stop by one of the Buddhist temples near the park entrance. Wat Ream is the most popular. A private driver can take you to both destinations in one day.
Inside the city itself you can beat the afternoon showers by popping into a local café like Dao of Life or Yasmine Café. There are also two cinemas: Top Cat and Galaxy. All four of these venues are conveniently located along Serendipity Road.
Dry season (November through May) can be divided into ‘cool and dry’ and ‘hot and dry’. From the end of November through February, the area experiences low levels of precipitation and cooler temperatures, that stay in the mid- to low-20s C (mid-70s F).
March through May is hotter, with daily averages nearing 30 degrees Celsius (86 F), but precipitation falls to almost zero. While the sun is usually out during these months, the high humidity makes it a bit hazy during the day.
What to do
Getting around during the dry season is relatively problem-free, as you do not have to worry about flooding. This means getting to any one of the numerous nearby beaches is easy, and it’s enjoyable spending a day cooling off in the surf.
The closest beaches to town are Independence Beach and Victory Beach. Independence is closer and generally a little more crowded, but Victory Beach is nearer the former backpacker-hub on Victory Hill.
Sokha beach is a luxury, groomed beach a bit further away, though not as far as Prek Treng or Otres. Prek Treng is generally unused, especially by Westerners. Otres is near a river village and has many activities related to the sea and surf.
Getting out of the water is easy when you know there are many adventures to be had on land as well. There are numerous restaurants and bars near every beach and the city itself has a healthy dining culture.
What to pack
Other than the essentials you do not need much special gear or equipment to enjoy yourself in Sihanoukville. Even the cooler months stay warm enough that a light sweater and rain jacket is usually enough, though a thick pair of socks can be nice on a damp evening.
During rainy season, sandals are essential; but not sandals you are planning to take home with you. The rains lead to flooded streets and flooded streets lead to wet shoes. In short, if you are already heading to the beach, you can wear the same pair of shoes all day.
Also during rainy season an oversized disposable rain poncho or two can come in handy for the times when carrying a full umbrella might be too cumbersome, but you want the security of some protection from rain.
When to catch a beach-side sunset
Sihanoukville averages 11 hours of daylight throughout the year, so you will have plenty of time in the sun, and one thing the region is famous for is its sunsets. Heading out to one of the beaches to watch the sun sink into the sea can be a truly magical experience.
The sun sets earlier in the winter than in the summer, so if you travel during high season keep that in mind. You will want to be on the beach by 17:00 in November and December, as the sun sets at 17:30. By July, the latest sunset will occur just after 18:35, so you will have a little more time to get out there.
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