Bokor National Park

The road up Bokor
The road up Bokor mountain before is was rebuilt.

Perhaps the most interesting sight around Kampot is the old hill station on Bokor Mountain. Originally developed by the French in the 1920s as a place to escape the heat of the city, the small resort village on top of the mountain was abandoned in the 1970s when the Khmer Rouge began their reign of terror. The mountain is now a jungle covered national park, and the hill station is a ghostly echo of Cambodia's colonial past.

The entrance to the park is just a few minute's drive from Kampot town. The road leading up the mountain is rough and narrow. It was paved once, but now it's little more than a stream bed. There is talk of paving the road, and even widening it, but no indication of when it will actually happen.

After what seems like a very long drive, which was actually only about 25 kilometers, you emerge from the thick jungle and enter an area of grass and flowering shrubs that covers the plateau at the top of the mountain. Soon after reaching the plateau you come to the first of the mountain's sights, the ruins of the royal palace.

Driving further up from the palace brings you to a junction marked by a small shrine covering a standing Buddha. Turning right at the junction takes you down a short ways to a highland marsh and the Popokvil waterfall. Turning left at the junction takes you up to the ruins of the abandoned Bokor hill station.

Admission to the park costs US$5 per person. Tours to the park and its sights can be booked at just about every hotel or guest house in Kampot or Kep. Costs will depend on they type of vehicle, and whether you book a private tour or join a group.