The Bokor National Park, also called Phnom Bokor National Park, is located around 20 km from Kampot in the South of Cambodia. It is famous for its pure and beautiful nature and the Bokor Mountain. If you visit the area around, I cannot recommend you enough to go see this stunning place for yourself.
If this is your first time visiting Cambodia find our info that you might wanna know beforehand here.
How to get to Bokor?
There are different ways to get to Bokor Mountain and National Park. We collected some of the options for you here.
In Kampot or another city close by you can rent a car. Either you can also book the service of a driver or you drive yourself. The prices depend on the company that you chose and on the size of your group. The best way to find out is by getting information right there. You can find information in most accommodations.
Join a Tour
In many agencies and accommodations around there, you can book a tour to the Bokor Nationalpark. It might be a little bit more expensive than going by yourself. On the positive side though your tour guide does know the route and most probably is able to speak English to answer all of your questions. Just check with your hostel when you are around.
For us, the easiest and cheapest option was to go by motorcycle. We paid 4 Dollars for the rent for 24 hours. The vehicle was in really good quality. (Basically, it was the best one we had in Cambodia and Thailand combined) If you want to enter Bokor by motorcycle you have to pay an entrance fee of 2000 Riel (about 0,40 Euro) at the entrance. The gas for the whole way was 2 Dollars in the end. (Say what?!)
Anyway, we cannot simply recommend going by motorcycle to everyone. Please just rent one if you are an experienced driver. There are a lot of curves and the road can get pretty dangerous at times. We heard of many people that have been falling while driving through Bokor. Even for us, the way became quite an uncomfortable experience. (Read about that later)
What? By bike through the National Park? Yes. It might be not the most suitable option but it is possible. If you wanna go up to the top though and if you are not one super trained person that can just go up the 35 km to the top like that, you might wanna look for another option.
Anyway, if you are interested in just seeing a little bit of the beautiful nature of Bokor and visit one of the waterfalls located nearer the food of the mountain, a bike can also be a nice option for you.
Driving in Bokor
If you have ever been to Cambodia you know how badly the road standards are. In Phnom Bokor, on the other hand, the quality is surprisingly good. There are almost no holes in the road and in general you just cannot compare the quality to the rest of the country. (Another big exception might be Angkor)
If you are not an experienced driver you should consider avoiding to drive yourself. There are just so many curves. Even more problematic is the situation in the raining season. Strong winds and rain make it even harder to drive here.
The best things to see in Bokor National Park
Lok Yeay Mao Statue
On the height of 1075 Meter, you can find the 27 Meters tall Lok Yeay Mao statue. You can hardly overlook it, trust me. This usually is the first stop on your way to the top of the Bokor Nationalpark.
The statue has been built in 2010 and thus is relatively new there. Its aim is to protect the surrounding cities Kampot, Kep and Sihanoukville and is supposed to bring peace to the area.
It is not only an impressive statue but also you have a great view from here even up to the sea.
On the opposite side, you can find a little beaten path that leads you to a little abandoned house. From here you have an amazing view as well.
You see, it is absolutely worth it having a little stopover around here.
In order to reach the Popokvil Waterfall, you should turn right when reaching the first Checkpoint. After around seven Kilometers you can find the entrance on the left-hand side.
The entrance fee is $0,75. But before you leave you can exchange your ticket for either a sugar cane juice or water.
The waterfall became the highlight of our tour through the Bokor Nationalpark.
When we arrived we came by a group of monks playing in the water and taking selfies.
If you keep walking you get to see the upper part of the waterfall. But you can also climb around the rocks in order to have an even better view of the waterfall.
While walking around there we met two Chinese women that absolutely wanted to take some pictures with us. Why not? It wasn’t our first time and wouldn’t be the last time taking pictures with strangers during our travels.
In general, there were not many tourists around though which made our experience more relaxed and tranquil.
Bokor Hill Station
The most popular attraction in the Bokor Nationalpark is the Bokor Hill Station. The facilities of the Bokor Hill Station are located in the height of 1081 Meters, or at least what is left of it. Apparently, you have a great view from up there. Obviously, we didn’t due to the black monsoon clouds covering the whole sky.
Anyway, the entrance is officially forbidden, but you might find a way to get in anyway if you keep reading 😉
The Bokor Hill Station has been built between 1921 and 1924 by French in order to spend their holidays up there. As on top of this mountain is usually is way cooler than down in the cities. The center of these facilities is the Casino which you can still find there.
After the French have been expelled from Cambodia, this area got taken over by the Khmer Rouge, which have been hiding there up to the early 90s.
Another building that you can still find there is the church. You can even go inside. But I read it is not really worth it. Due to the strong rain, we just passed by as we didn’t feel like doing any detour. Anyway, besides standing abandoned on top of a mountain it actually didn’t feel that special to us.
Eduardo was just too curious about the inside of the Casino. Even though we knew it was forbidden to enter he somehow made it past the construction workers. From the outside, I could see him walking around the Casino and taking pictures.
He walked around for like half an hour while I tried to warm myself up with some instant noodle soup I have bought on the other side.
Anyway, even if the construction workers catch you trying to sneak in, we heard that you might just give them a little tip for letting you enter the building. It is definitely worth a try. 😉
We also became completely overwhelmed with driving here at some point… Our personal experience
Although we started with nice sunshine and had to put more sunscreen when arriving at the Popokvil Waterfall, the situation changed completely while leaving the Waterfall again. The suddenly appearing deep black clouds are usually not quite promising.
And while we were already starting to leave it started raining. After seven km in light rain, we came by a little temple and spontaneously decided to stop by until the rain has stopped. But after we hide inside the temple the rain started to get stronger and stronger until pouring monsoon rain went down on us. We’ve been just super lucky that we got inside at exactly that moment still dry more or less.
More and most people already soaking wet joined us until the tiny temple was full of people.
When the rain seemed to ease up a little everyone started going. (Here you have the best example of peer pressure. “Let’s wait until the rain has stopped completely…” “But EVERYONE is going.”) So also we got back on our motorbike. Our goal was the Bokor Hill Station but we looked up a Chinese Temple that was located one km from our current location. Just in case the rain gets stronger again.
And of course. It didn’t only get stronger again but also worse than before. Moreover, suddenly we found ourselves in the middle of a cloud. By now the rain was so strong that it hurt our skin and we just couldn’t see anything anymore.
Due to our GPS, we should be directly in front of the temple but all we could see was fog. What should we do? We drove carefully and super slow around the parking spot we found ourselves on, looking for the huge temple that should be around. Our raincoats couldn’t withstand the rain anymore. So we were already soaked from top to bottom.
But suddenly the wind got stronger blowing away the fog within seconds, giving us a clear view of our surroundings. And for real, the Chinese Temple was directly in front of us. We just couldn’t see it before.
Inside the temple, there were already many locals waiting for the rain to stop. More than an hour did it take in the end until the sky finally cleared up again. The locals seemed to find that quite entertaining though. Secretly they tried to take pictures of us being more than obvious doing so though. Completely soaked by the rain we sat in between them freezing and didn’t quite find the whole thing as entertaining as they did. The locals didn’t care though. For them, it became like a game. Approaching us more and more one after another to sit next to us while another one did pictures of them with us. But the weird point is that they still expected us not to realize that while laughing and making fun really loudly. After half an hour of being photographed non-stop, it got super tiring. But what can you do?
After around one hour we could finally go on with our tour to the top. Obviously, we were absolutely happy to finally being able to leave the temple again.
Did I miss something? Is there anything else you would like to know? Let me know in the comments below.