If you are planning to stop off at Kampot for a day or two on a Cambodia tour package, one site that is widely promoted in the local area is a trip to the nearby Bokor Hill Station (approx 37 km from Kampot).
Bokor Hill Station was a high-class French hotel and casino complex that was built in the early 1920s to give the French colonialist everything they needed for a summer retreat and to get a break from the countries intense heat. The hill is at an elevation of nearly 1050 meters and was once a gorgeous mountaintop collection of buildings that included several structures, including a post office, church, royal residence, hotel and cemetery.
The Cambodia Adventure Tour of Bokor Hill Station is quite historical, intriguing and exciting and makes it possible to see these mountaintop buildings that are now in a quite dilapidated state.
Even though there has been the development of a new hotel, casino, and hangar-like convention centre in the local area, this has not had a negative impact on the ghostly ambience that is experienced when visiting the top of the hill and long neglected buildings.
The road that leads from the checkpoint upward is in a very good condition thanks to the new resort development and this curving road makes it really easy to climb to the top of the hill and see the Bokor Hill Station. On reaching the top and cruising through the mist you get to admire the hidden sights (if permitted by the weather).
One place to stop at before reaching the top is Black Palace, which are about two thirds up the road. This was a former summer retreat of King Sihanouk and abandoned decades ago and is now covered in startlingly orange lichen. It is relatively close to a new Buddha statue, as well as a cafe that can offer refreshments before reaching the summit.
The weather on climbing to the top of the hill is best described as temperamental. It can be very chilly in the clouds (but can be a great refresher on a steamy day), so you want to make sure to pack extra layers of clothing. Even if the weather is clear on arrival, the fog can soon appear out of nowhere, which can block most of the views and lead to a sudden downpour. If the skies are clear at Bokor the views can be outstanding.
How to get there
The quickest and most efficient way to reach Bokor on the Cambodia Package Tours is either hiring a moto dop or self-driving a motorbike - the breathtaking vistas and swooping curves give a very rewarding ride. The upward journey can take in the region of 90 minutes to complete, so make sure to have enough fuel in the tank before setting off. Other options include taxis that are easily arranged through guesthouses or for the most determined cyclists; the climb can be attempted using a mountain bike. These are available to hire in several places throughout Kampot town.
Read more: Things to do in Campot