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Bokor Hill Station: The resort that has been abandoned several times

Bojan Ivanov

The Bokor Hill Station was built by the French in 1921 in the Damrei Mountains in Cambodia. It is located roughly 37 km west of the town of Kampot in southern Cambodia.

It was built as a mountain holiday luxury resort and retreat for the French colonial elite. It offered visitors an escape from the humidity and the heat of Phnom Penh. Nine hundred people died during the construction of the resort.

The imposing Bokor Palace Hotel was full of luxury and contained a casino, shops, a post office, a Catholic church, and royal apartments.

Bokor Palace Hotel in 2007. Author: Mat Connolley CC BY 2.5

Bokor Palace Hotel in 2007. Author: Mat Connolley CC BY 2.5

Inside the damaged Bokor casino. Author: nicolas pascarel CC BY 2.0

Inside the damaged Bokor casino. Author: nicolas pascarel CC BY 2.0

The resort was deserted for the first time after the Khmer Issarak uprising against French colonists during the First Indochina War at the end of the 1940s.

In the 1970s, the resort and the whole area were abandoned again when they were occupied by the Khmer Rouge. In 1979, during the Vietnamese invasion, the Khmer Rouge barricaded the buildings of the resort and resisted the attacks of the Vietnamese army for months.

In fact, in the early 1990s, Bokor Hill Station was one of the last garrisons and militia camps held by the Khmer Rouge.

View to the Gulf of Thailand from Bokor. Author: Petr Ruzicka CC BY 2.0

View to the Gulf of Thailand from Bokor. Author: Petr Ruzicka CC BY 2.0

 

The hall in Bokor Palace Hotel. Author: Oobmak CC BY-SA 4.0

The hall in Bokor Palace Hotel. Author: Oobmak CC BY-SA 4.0

 

The abandoned church, Bokor Hill Station, Cambodia. Author: Lutz Maertens CC BY 3.0

The abandoned church, Bokor Hill Station, Cambodia. Author: Lutz Maertens CC BY 3.0

The buildings of the resort are still standing, but in very poor condition. They are often shrouded in mist, which provides the site with quite a ghostly atmosphere. The only buildings in regular use are the ranger base for Bokor National Parka nd a small Buddhist temple.

Nearby, on the north-eastern side, there are the Povokvil Waterfalls. The waterfall dries out during the hot summer and is filled with water during the rainy season. The small, neglected summer palace of King Sihanouk stands about 10 km from the station.

Bokor Hill Station. Author: Oobmak CC BY-SA 4.0

Bokor Hill Station. Author: Oobmak CC BY-SA 4.0

 

The reconstruction of the road, Bokor Hill Station, Cambodia. Author: Trendy64 CC BY 3.0

The reconstruction of the road, Bokor Hill Station, Cambodia. Author: Trendy64 CC BY 3.0

In recent years, there have been attempts to renovate the resort and to return it to its former luxury. Today the site is visited by tourists, but only adventurous ones that are willing to travel 1.5-2 hours along a steep mountain road rising from sea level to about 1000 meters, mostly in bad condition and surrounded by the wilderness.