Visiting Cambodia during the off peak season is a great way to travel for less. Accommodations are often cheaper and popular attractions such as the Angkor Wat complex are far less crowded. However, the one major drawback to visiting at this time of year, is the inevitable monsoon rains. Thankfully, there are are few things which helped me to make the best of my time in Cambodia without allowing the rain to dampen my spirits.
While most visitors would probably plan to take an umbrella, this won't offer much protection from the heavy downpours which fall on a daily basis during the months of May to September. A poncho or raincoat is a much better idea and they're sold almost everywhere in Siem Reap for approximately $1 USD. I got caught in torrential showers twice, and the raincoat prevented me from getting drenched, thus ensuring my continued health.
Travellers should avoid packing too many long jeans or tight fitting pants which can't be rolled up. Streets in Phnom Penh tend to get very muddy, and the splatters from either your shoes or passing vehicles will unerringly find their way on your pants. Also, in the town of Siem Reap, some roads were completely flooded during my visit, forcing me to turn up the legs of my capri shorts. I even had to remove my flip flops and wade through the waters with my bare feet.
If you're planning any outdoor excursions, whether it be snorkelling, a jungle trek or an ATV tour, I recommend booking them for the morning hours. The mornings in Cambodia are usually sunny with clear skies but the thunderstorms blow in during the afternoon hours. Some tours may be cancelled in the event of bad weather, so it's best to avoid disappointment.
While the dry season may be the best time to chill out on sandy beaches and explore the coral reefs, the monsoon season has its own advantages. Nature lovers will adore the lush vegetation which makes hiking tours much more appealing. Rice paddies are filled with water, and all of the waterfalls in South East Asia are flowing at their best.
I suggest travellers to keep all important documents and any valuables such as cash in waterproof sacks or ziplock bags. In the event you are caught out in the rain, regular bags or purses may become soaked and may damage anything made of paper. In this scenario, prevention is absolutely vital.
Cambodia is a lovely country, full of friendly people and some of the most amazing architectural structures on the planet. With proper planning and precautions, this nation can be enjoyed all year round.