Is it worth visiting Bokor Hill? In short yes it is. The area is beautiful and extremely fascinating. Do not listen to negative expats who will tell you different.
Why is there a question about visiting Bokor Hill?
Essentially in times past Bokor Hill was exclusively old abandoned buildings. Therefore it was cool. The Cambodians though have decided that they actually want to do stuff with the area, so there are some new buildings. This has upset the hipsters who want everything to stay the same.
In fact whilst there is some new buildings here, there is still a lot of stuff to explore and some amazing nature.
What’s the story with Bokor Hill?
Cambodia was formerly a French colony, Cambodia is also hot as hell. Booker Hill is a mountainous, so therefore cooler area. In the 1920’s the French built a resort for soldiers and their families to rest and recuperate.
Everything went swimmingly until the Cambodians kind of decided they did not fancy being colonial stooges of the French. At this point the mountainous area became useful not for its coolness, but its remoteness.
The Khmer Issarak, a forerunner of the Khmer Rouge began attacking the area. Things were never to be the same again. In 1962 the government of Sihanouk opened a casino here and things were briefly looking up.
By 1970 Sihanouk had been removed and by 1972 the Khmer Rouge moved into the area. This would make a great staging point for the eventual Battle of Kampot, which would open a gateway to Phnom Penh and the eventual fall of the country.
To read about the Khmer Isaarak click here
To read about the snacks inspired by the Khmer Rouge click here.
After the fall of the Khmer Rouge they were to stay in Bokor Hill and hold a presence until the early 1990’s, which meant regular attacks on Kampot. I many respects the area was one of the last bastions of the Khmer Rouge.
Recent history of Bokor Hill
The Khmer Rouge were eventually driven to their last holdout in Anlong Veng, before finally disbanding in 1998. And it is from this time that Bokor Hill began to become popular with tourists.
Old colonial buildings obviously made great excuses for Urban Exploration and Dark Tourism, with the rumors of haunted buildings only making things more interesting.
Things began to change in 2008 when the government (who owned it) decided to lease it out. Some of the area has since been developed into high end apartments and a casino. Yes its new build, but it takes very little from the area.
To read about Anlong Veng click here
To read about Dark Tourism click here
What to see and do on Bokor Hill Station?
Former residence of King Sihanouk
One of the first places you visit and directly opposite the statue of Buddha. Really run down and full of graffiti, but super cool to think you are strolling around the home of one the most infamous figures of the 20th century. You can even see the Royal Toilet.
Bokor Hill Catholic Church
Seemingly located in the middle of nowhere, it is in alarmingly good condition when you consider everything. It is though still a very eerie place and not somewhere I would like to be after dark.
Random abandoned buildings on Bokor Hill
In fact there are a lot of abandoned buildings, even the casino looks half abaondoned, but when you get up to The Bokor Place, this is where you can find some real gems.
The Bokor Palace
Allegedly one of the most haunted places in the area it has since had a paint job and been renovated. It is still very much in the 1920’s style, but at $130 a night not exactly ancient prices. Very much worth a look around and if you have the budget the menu looks amazing.
Sunset on Bokor Hill
I have seriously heard expats complain about coming here only to find it was too cloudy for sunset. It is worth coming regardless. If you are lucky though, you may witness a great sunset.
To read about the best sunsets in Kampot click here .
How do you get to Bokor Hil Station?
You’ll need a vehicle. It could easily be done my motorbike, or you can rent a tuk-tuk for the day. Price is around $25 and includes pick up and drop off. It should take around 4 hours to do.
Is it worth visiting Bokor Hill?
Absolutely, go see it for yourself rather than listen to the haters out there!