Bokor Mountain nowadays is easy to get to and has some modern-day attractions mixed in with a snapshot of the mountains colonial past. With the addition of the fantastic views and fresh air, Bokor is an important visit for any traveller to the Kampot area.
Getting to Bokor Mountain
The excellent new road up Bokor means that it can be visited all year round. Bokor is approximately 37 km from Kampot and can be reached on a tour for around $10 per person or a private taxi will cost $40 for the whole trip.
Alternatively, you can rent a moto from one of the many companies offering hire for $5 a day. The route is relatively easy from Kampot town centre, take the new bridge across the river and go straight onto National Road 3 until you reach the checkpoint and park entrance.
It will cost you $0.50 or 2000 riel to enter the park on a moto, you will be given a ticket which you will need to retain for a second checkpoint on the top of the mountain. Make sure you fill up with fuel before you leave Kampot, the total round trip is approximately 135 kilometres and the steep mountain climb and hairpins are sure to drain your tank quicker than normal!
If a rented moto is your favoured mode of transport please beware of reckless drivers, wet sections of road and the pockets of fog that localise on the mountain.
Don’t be deceived if the weather in Kampot town is clear, the summit of the mountain has a completely different and unpredictable climate.
As you climb and near the top of Bokor you will see the statue of Lok Yeay Mao who is the Cambodian deity to protect travellers, and this is the country’s biggest and highest shrine to her.
On the opposite side of the road, there is a small lay-by where you can see the remains of King Norodom Sihanouk’s modest “Black Palace.”
At the top you will be asked to produce your ticket at the second checkpoint. From here there is a roundabout where you can take a right to Popokvil Waterfall and the field of One Hundred Rice Fields.
If you go left at the roundabout it will take you to the newly built casino building, the old Bokor Palace Hotel, the Catholic church and Wat Sampov Pram. The roads are well signposted but a good map can also be obtained from the Thansur Bokor Resort.
Once you reach Popokvil Waterfall you can park up and explore the area on foot. The waterfall is always impressive to visit, however, the best time of year to visit is in the peak of the rainy season when the flow of water is at its highest.
There are no official paths here but the more adventurous traveller can walk up and see some fantastic aspects of this beautiful two-tiered waterfall.
As you come back towards the roundabout from the waterfall you can take a right at a turnoff for a private Japanese Farm, after about 5 kilometres you will see an area called the 100 Rice fields to your left.
There are no signs marking the area but the unusual rock formations with grass growing in-between the straight line crevices make it look like an aerial view of scores of rice fields. If you carry on following this road you will see Wat Sampov Pram and the 500 Rice Fields Meditation Area.
Wat Sampov Pram is named after five (pram in Khmer) rounded rocks that are said to resemble boats (sampov in Khmer) that stand near the path between the Buddha statue and the main temple.
The lower parts of the compound are currently being renovated, but you will always have great views from around the pagoda covered in colourful lichens and down the mountain to the ocean.
If you took a left at the roundabout, you can also get to Wat Sampov Pram by turning right just before the Chinese pagoda after the New Casino and following the road past several rows of new shops/houses.
Further down the left-hand turning off the roundabout, you will find the Old Catholic Church. It is a strikingly beautiful building set amongst fine views of the mountain forests and coast.
The church is no longer used for services and the interior certainly retains an atmospheric if and sometimes eerie charm. To the rear of the church, there is a rocky path which takes you to a fantastic vantage point for views.
A few further kilometres down the same road and you will find the Bokor Palace Hotel which is also known as the old casino building. Here you can walk through the grand halls, winding stairs and long corridors.
With some imagination, you can see what the impressive building would have looked like with chandeliers, massive windows and ornate furniture in. There is a courtyard behind the old hotel with more impressive views leading down the mountain to the sea.
The absolute summit of Bokor Mountain is often windy, foggy and much cooler than the areas below, so definitely take a raincoat and some warmer clothes even if it is not rainy season.