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Despite having other destinations emerging nowadays, Bokor Mountain remains one of the most attractive places for Cambodians and international travelers visiting Kampot. Bokor Mountain or Bokor Mountain National Park is popular for its captivating scenery of landscape. And, the Bokor Hill Station, known as a legacy of the French colonialism era. Additionally, it is a destination for the royals for a summer vacation.
There are various reasons to visit Bokor Mountain, Kampot, including a beautiful mountain view, fresh air, a fantastic road trip, and an extraordinary adventure experience. It takes only 37 kilometers to climb up 1,101 meters from national road 3, nearby Kampot. You will see the Bokor Mountain Hill Station at the top of Bokor Mountain in its National Park.
Bokor Mountain History
Bokor Hill Station can be translated in Khmer as ស្ថានីយភ្នំបូកគោ (Sathany Phnom Bokor) or in French: Station d’altitude de Bokor). It is a combination of legacy buildings from the French colony. This temple-like fancy resort was retreated for the French residents in the early 1920s at the top of Bokor Mountain.
Since then, it has been abandoned for decades and has just been emerging due to the modernization of the infrastructure near the location. Moreover, Bokor mountain was the setting for the last confrontation in City of Ghosts (2002) and R-Point (2004). Additionally, if you travel to the northeast, you will see the waterfalls at Povokvil.
How To Learn The History by Damrei Mountains
The Damrei Mountains can help us understand the history of Bokor mountain. The Cambodians have traditionally regarded the Damrei Mountains as a holy or sacred place. The French colonial settlers also constructed the hill station as a getaway for their troops. They consistently seek some relief from the repressive heat that is typical of the Bokor Mountain weather in Kampot. Thus, Bokor Hill, a tiny vacation town, was constructed specifically for the occupying French troops in the early 1920s.
The Development History
The Bokor Hill was initially left out by the French roughly when the First Indochina War emerged in the late 1940s due to the local uprisings of the Khmer Issarak. The uprisings continued until 1962 when the “Cité du Bokor” reopened, which resulted in the construction of another casino and two other hotels such as Kiri and Hotels Sangkum.
In addition to these hotels, the mayor’s office, annex palace, and parasol have also been constructed. Eventually, it was left out again during the Khmer Rouge era in 1972. Moreover, during the invasion by the Vietnamese in 1979, the Khmer Rouge dug in and held on for months. Therefore, in 1990s, Bokor Hill was remembered as the last stronghold of the Khmer Rouge.
How To Get to Bokor Mountain
Bokor Mountain is known for its height as it is approximately 3,540 feet or 1,079 meters high. Thanks to the developed infrastructure, tourists and travelers can now easily access or travel to the mountain from National Highway 3 near Kampot province. The road infrastructure is carefully constructed to avoid landslides and is unique as it utilizes the damaged slopes and drainage system.
You will get the opportunity to enjoy the scenery along the freshly built road. Then, you can go to the mountain from the town, in which riding a motorbike is a superb option as there is not much traffic or cars there in ordinary days (the traffic will be busy on holidays). The trip from the start to the end of the Bokor Mountains will take you around an hour and a half. Additionally, you can rent the motorbike in the city center or ask your hotel service to find one for you. Moreover, the motorbike costs between $5 and $20, depending on the model. Also, it is recommended to have a full tank of petrol; you do not want your motorbike to stay supplied with fuel halfway through.
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Why Should You Visit Bokor?
If you find yourself on Bokor Mountain, several attractions are worth checking out.
Damnak Sla Khmao
One of the destinations is Damnak Sla Khmao, or Black Palace. It was the palace of the late King Norodom Sihanouk. Also, it was constructed in 1936 and built out of black wood and brick. The home is still in fair condition despite losing all the doors and windows. You may enjoy a breathtaking view of the cliff behind you and a stunning sunset in the late afternoon.
Le Bokor Palace
Le Bokor Palace is a magnificent colonial structure constructed by French colonial architects and opened in 1925. Up until 1972, the hotel had practically constant usage and everyday operations. The hotel served as a relaxing place from the intense summer heat of the area. To provide visitors a chance to experience the hotel’s former magnificence and majesty, the structure is now undergoing repair and restoration to its previous condition. Moreover, the facility will house Cambodia’s first museum featuring colonial architecture.
Wat Sampov Pram
The name “Wat Sampov Pram” or “5 Boats Wat” was derived from five irregularly carved rocks nearby that resembled boats. To learn more about the history of all these destinations, our knowledgeable guide to Bokor Mountain Tour will definitely make you intrigued with the legendary boat tale. King Monivong constructed this legacy in 1924. Also, you will be astounded by the breathtaking scenery of the emerald-green forest and the sparkling blue sea behind the temple.
Lok Yeay Mao Statue
The enormous Lok Yeay Mao monument, which stands 29 meters tall and is oriented toward the shore, was built in 2010. Lok Yeay Mao is known as the guardian spirit of travelers, fishers, and hunters, which the beliefs have passed down for generations. Thus, travelers never skip Lok Yeay Mao to stop praying and ask for happiness or any wishes in Kampot.
Old Catholic Church
Early in the 1920s, the French constructed the Old Catholic Church as part of the French village on top of Bokor Mountain. Surprisingly, the church’s interior is well-maintained. You can sightsee the stunning and enchanting sunsets from the cliff behind the church.
You may take a 15-minutes ride from the hill station to the famous Popokvil, which stands for Swirling Clouds Waterfall. It will take you across the abandoned and deteriorating grass huts where the Khmer Rouge families formerly resided. From the parking lot, you can walk 20 minutes down a dirt path to the first and easier-to-reach tier of the waterfall. But it is worth the work to move up to the second level. Additionally, you may learn the meaning and reason behind the falls’ names with our guides. It is well-known for its delicate mist clouds that float above the falls, which create lovely scenery.
You may choose from a few picturesque paths that will allow you to spend an hour or more appreciating the mountain views. You will be astounded by Bokor Mountain’s beautiful and astonishing view by traveling these roads. An unforgettable memory will be made when you enter the magnificent atmosphere. The hill station structures, including a Catholic church and an old hotel, are both stunning and menacing, with a deep history behind them.