Bokor National Park Cambodia
Preah Monivong, also known as Bokor National Park, located just outside of Kampot town is a beautiful natural park with a rich with history and culture. Although it is possible to hike through the national park itself, most visitors are keen to explore the many treasures of Bokor National Park. An easy day trip from Kampot, Bokor National Park Cambodia is easily one of the best Kampot attractions.
- 1 Bokor National Park Cambodia
- 2 Bokor Mountain History
- 3 Things to do in Bokor National Park Cambodia
- 3.1 Ride one of the best roads in Cambodia
- 3.2 Admire Povokvil Waterfall
- 3.3 Get spiritual at Sampov Pram Pagoda
- 3.4 Love the views at Bokor Church
- 3.5 Explore Bokor Palace Hotel’s abandoned ruins
- 3.6 Wander through the Black Palace, Bokor National Park Cambodia
- 3.7 See the Lok Yeay Mao Monument
- 3.8 See how Kings lived at Damnak Preah Bath Monivong
- 4 Bokor National Park map
- 5 How to get to Bokor National Park Cambodia
- 6 Bokor National Park Entrance Fee
- 7 Bokor National Park Tours
- 8 Accomodation in Bokor National Park Cambodia
Bokor Mountain History
Bokor Mountain was once a small town, boasting a luxury resort, The Bokor Palace Hotel, a church and post office.
Originally opening in 1925, the ‘Bokor Hill Station’ took around nine months to build and cost close to a 1000 lives, as the rugged terrain of the mountainous jungle proved a difficult place to build. Europe’s elite would vacation at the Palace Hotel, hence the church. When Cambodia won it’s independence from France, the Europeans stopped coming, and Cambodia’s elite were it’s guests.
In 1972 however it was abandoned again due to the Khmer Rouge infiltrating the area, and eventually taking root in the Bokor Palace Hotel, a stronghold they would maintain for quite some time.
Bokor Mountain has also been the residence and getaway of King Monivong and King Sihanouk.
These days, development has taken over as new hotels are opening up on Bokor Mountain.
Things to do in Bokor National Park Cambodia
Ride one of the best roads in Cambodia
If you’re into riding motorbikes, you can’t pass up the opportunity to ride the beautiful mountain road NR32. The increased development has lead to the building of a perfectly sealed road from start to finish. Spectacular views and gorgeous luscious scenery passes by as you weave up the mountain.
Like the Hai Van Pass of Vietnam, the roads through Bokor National Park Cambodia are worth the trip.
Admire Povokvil Waterfall
A two tiered waterfall with a fairly large, flat rock pool in between, the Povokvil waterfall is beautiful during rainy season when its flowing strongly, but will be fairly dry throughout the dry season. We managed to catch it right at the end of rainy season and it was pretty, even though it wasn’t flowing as much as the pictures you see online. For more information on how the seasons affect your travel and sites, read: Dry season in Cambodia: Is it the best time to travel?
The highlight however were the monks who had climbed down to the flat rock pool between the two tiers to take selfies.
We were pleasantly surprised to see that the area is well taken care of and there was almost no rubbish around the waterfall.
You’ll need to buy a ticket to see the waterfall. Tickets are 2000 riel per person, (about 0.50 cents USD) but you can swap your ticket for a bottle of water at the restaurant near the waterfall. There are fairly limited food options but what there is tasted pretty good.
Get spiritual at Sampov Pram Pagoda
A temple on top of a mountain is not that uncommon, but Wat Sampov Pram, or the 5 boats pagoda, is one you can’t miss. Built by King Monivong in 1924 it is the highest Buddhist Pagoda in Cambodia, at over 1km up, and as such has spectacular views – on a clear day. On a foggy overcast day all you can see are clouds but that doesn’t seem to make it any less spectacular.
Look out for 5 large rocks located next to the shrines as the temple is named after them. Those 5 rocks are said to be shaped like boats… hence 5 boats pagoda. We didn’t see it, but who are we to argue?
Love the views at Bokor Church
Bokor Church was part of the original French Colonial Bokor Hill Station, built in the early to mid 1920’s. Having not been used for decades, the church is a hollow shell, but it is absolutely beautiful. Bright orange lichen has taken over the outside of the buildings, contrasting against the dark, aged bricks.
The hidden gem at the church however, is the path that leads up behind the church and to the left, which takes you to a beautiful look out. Not unlike the foggy view at Wat Sampov Pram, the clouds and fog fill the valley below.
As Cambodians don’t have much need for a church, the government have recently agreed to hand it back to the Catholic Church.
Explore Bokor Palace Hotel’s abandoned ruins
Inaugurated in 1925, Bokor Palace Hotel was the epicenter of the little town built on Bokor Mountain. The hotel was first abandoned in the late 1940’s during the Indochina War. It was reopened in the early 60’s, only to be abandoned again in 1972 when the Khmer Rouge took over the area,
You can wander through the hotel and explore the lofty open rooms, enormous ballroom and beautiful view. Get a feel for how the wealthy in and around Cambodia lived nearly 100 years ago.
Wander through the Black Palace, Bokor National Park Cambodia
The Black Palace, located about half way up to the top of Bokor Mountain was King Sihanouk’s residence, and was built in 1936.
There is very little information regarding the residence, but all that remains are three structures. The first is beside the road and is fairly small and symmetrical. The second can be found by following a path to the left of the first structure. Almost forgotten amongst the unkept landscape is a third small structure.
You can make out what was once a bathroom, or a kitchen etc. but for obvious reasons (Khmer rouge) there has been no effort to maintain the residence. Unlike the summer palace of say, Bao Dai, the last Emperor of Vietnam, the Black Palace is a shell.
One thing that won’t degrade is the view. With a phenomenal view of the Gulf of Thailand, you can see why the structures are built in the spot that they are. The views are breathtaking.
See the Lok Yeay Mao Monument
Lok Yeay Mao, the goddess and protector of the mountains and sea, or Coastal Cambodia. She can be found about half way up the mountain, opposite the Black Palace. In fact, you’ll see her before you even notice the Black Palace. Construction of Lok Yeay Mao was completed in 2012. The statue is 29 meters high and 8 meters wide making it hard to miss as you go drive past.
Locals come to the statue to pray and ask for protection so it’s a working spiritual site.
See how Kings lived at Damnak Preah Bath Monivong
Built around 1925, Damnak Preah Bath Monivong was King Monivong’s retreat. Again, these days its just a shell with beautiful views, but it is worth seeing.
Bokor National Park map
There is limited information online about the National Park, or Bokor Mountain, however as you arrive at the top of Bokor Mountain, there is a large map created by one of the hotels that displays the things to do in the area. It is just beside what looks like a security checkpoint.
How to get to Bokor National Park Cambodia
The entrance to Bokor National Park is a fairly easy 20 minutes or so from Kampot center. It’ll take another half hour or so to get to the top of the mountain.
Bokor National Park Entrance Fee
This is where things get a bit tricky, everything you read online says that it is free for people to enter, however motorbikes have to pay 2000 Riel. The obvious pay booths at the entrance to the national park were unmanned, and quite clearly abandoned, so we were on the lookout for a place to pay, when we saw an official sign that very clearly said that it is FREE to go up the mountain.
There is a security checkpoint at the top, beside the map of the area, but they don’t check anything. We stopped beside it for a few minutes to view the map and the security did nothing but chat to each other as everyone went past.
We were asked to pay $3.00 USD per person to go and see the 500 year old rice fields. There are a few sites, the 500 year old rice fields included, that are down a separate road, that was blocked by a chain, and two rather unofficial looking men. I have no idea whether this is a legit fee, but it seemed incredibly steep for Cambodia.
Having seen the rocks of the 100 year old rice fields, which are free, I’m glad we didn’t pay $6 USD to see the older rocks.
Bokor National Park Tours
While it is possible to get a tuk tuk up the mountain, we did see one, it’s not the best way to go. It’s steep and long. We’d recommend hiring a motorbike yourself, if you know how to ride.
Tours can be booked from any number of tour operators in Kampot, or as day trips from Kep or Sihanoukville.
Accomodation in Bokor National Park Cambodia
Thansur Sokha Hotel
Located at the top of Bokor Mountain in the Bokor National Park Cambodia, the Thansur Sokha Hotel is a 5 star luxury resort amongst an endless number of things to do on Bokor mountain.
There is a restaurant and bar on site, outdoor areas and access to the beautiful national park.
If you’re exploring the area round Kampot, don’t miss the Kampot Caves, beautiful caves located in Karst Limestone mountains on the outskirts of the city.
If you love national parks, Kep National Park is a great place to visit and the only place in Cambodia where you can hike without a guide.
Love it? Pin it!