Cambodia is almost completely flat with the exceptions of the south and north east. During the French occupation, the French built a luxury resort town on the very top of one of these mountains called the Bokor Resort.
Work is now underway to build a new upscale resort on the top. The road up to this place used to be incredibly bad: bumping and humping all the way. Those times are over as there is a new and much expanded road up to Bokor Hill.
The views along this road are beautiful. Bokor Mountain is part of the larger Bokor National Park, a thick jungle sprawl of giant ferns and thick vegetation. Tigers are rare (and very shy) but are said to live on the mountain, as well as leopards, Asiatic black bears, and slow lorises and other monkeys, as well as a unique grouping of jungle birds, snakes, crawlies, and even a small population of Asian elephants. To be honest, the only chance you’ll have to see any of the wildlife is by hiking through the national park.
Bokor Hill was not only admired by the French. After they granted independence to Cambodia, King Sihanouk laid eyes on the area and build his own villa a few kilometers from the summit. It’s now only a ruine, called the Black Palace, although it’s really guite a small villa.
The location is beautiful though and while you’re there you can imagine the Royal Family sitting there looking over Bokor Park while sipping a glass of wine.
Next, you’ll pass a small temple and a turn off to a small waterfall. This waterfall is only worth seeing during or immediately after the rainy season, the rest of the year it’s (almost) dry.
Going further up the mountain, you’ll first pass the rangers station on the left with the old French catholic church on the right.
Then, on the summit, there’s the old casino. You’ll have to hurry to see it in its decayed state, as this casino will be part of the new resort complex being built.
The view from the top of Bokor Mountain is fabulous. On a clear day you can see the shore line, but take notice that the top of the mountain is often clouded or misty. Even on a clear day down in Kampot, you’ll be surprised by the weather change once you’re getting up Bokor Mountain. Still, even when misty, the place has a kind of magic, maybe even more when clouds are hanging around the top.
The entrance fee for Bokor Mountain is $5 and the gate is open from dawn to dusk. The whole trip takes half a day. The turnoff to the mountaintop is 8km (5 miles) west from Kampot and 95km (59 miles) northeast from Sihanoukville. Bring provisions as there’s nothing available on the road up or on the top (well, as long as the new resort is not completed).