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DIY Guide for a day in Bokor Hill National Park by scooter

Bokor Hill National Park

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Are you ready for an adventurous day out and adding some contrast to what you’ve seen so far in Cambodia? A trip to Bokor Hill National Park will show you a side of this country you didn’t think existed. Here’s your in-depth guide for a DIY trip to Bokor Hill by scooter.

When staying in Kampot, in the south of Cambodia, you should definitely plan one full day to go up to Bokor Hill National Park. It’s located around 36 kilometres away from Kampot and can be easily reached by scooter. You will see abandoned houses, mountain lakes, lush forest and a beautiful waterfall. Due to the altitude you can feel a very cool breeze on your skin, maybe the first and only during your time in Cambodia.

Here’s a three weeks itinerary for a backpacking trip through Cambodia!

Renting a scooter, road conditions & gas stations

There are many places in Kampot where you can rent a scooter. We made good experiences with Tree Travel Tours. Our scooter cost $5 per day and was in great condition. The staff was super friendly and we could spontaneously extend the rental by a few days.

The roads in Bokor Hill National Park are in great condition and it’s a doable drive. Overall, it’s always beneficial to have some experience riding a scooter in Southeast Asia though. Especially in Kampot, traffic can get quite busy at times and the rules are a bit different. It’s more like going with the flow instead of fully relying on the road rules. Also the closer you get to Bokor Hill area the curvier the roads get. Most minivan drivers like to cut corners so make sure you don’t drive in the middle of the road.

Bokor Hill National Park
Our scooter for the day
Bokor Hill National Park
Ready for scenic views?

It’s best to fully fuel your scooter in Kampot. There is a big gas station (click & save it to your maps!) at the top of Bokor Hill though in case you run low. We were two people on one bike and didn’t have to refill.

You don’t know where to stay in Kampot? How about Onederz Hostel located right in the heart of the city? I loved my time there!

What to bring

For your trip to Bokor Hill National Park I recommend to bring sunscreen in case it gets super sunny. Definitely bring a jacket both for when it gets cold and to protect you from the sun. Depending on the weather forecast it might be worth it to also bring a raincoat. When we visited Bokor Hill National Park in February 2022 we had pleasant temperatures of 22 degrees up at the hill.

We brought our own lunch, water and a snack from Kampot and had it at a beautiful view point from where we could see the ocean and hear nothing but the jungle noises. There are some restaurants distributed in the area but we preferred to have a little picnic instead.

Make sure to download the offline maps of the area just in case there is no reception up in the National Park. In general the shown routes and roads on Google maps exist and work really well up there.

Popokvil Waterfall

The route

In the map below you can see my suggestion for a loop around Bokor Hill National Park with some great spots. During the day it’s best to follow your gut feeling and just stop wherever you want to! This trip is less about the destinations but the journey itself.

The first leg will lead you along the main road from Kampot for around 6 kilometres towards the entrance of Bokor Hill National Park. There is no entrance fee and you also don’t have to stop at the gate. The officers might ask you to slow down a bit but we weren’t asked to stop or pay any fee.

Up the hill past wild monkeys

From the main road the route becomes very easy as there is basically only one way to go up. What is so nice about it is that the temperature and flora changes. There is also a part where you can see monkeys on the side of the road.

Arriving at Bokor Hill

If you see more and more abandoned buildings and another big gate you have arrived at the Bokor Hill area. It’s a surreal world up there. It partly feels like a ghost town and then on the other side there are lots of new construction sites. Sometimes I felt like I was in a horror movie or looking at Bates Motel.

Bokor Hill National Park
The abandoned church
Bokor Hill National Park
Sunny day up in Bokor Hill

Most of the buildings were built by the French colonists in 1921 to have some kind of resort town. Due to the cooler climate Bokor Hill was their escape from the heat and humidity in the rest of Cambodia. Bokor Hill station was abandoned in 1972 when the Khmer Rouge took over. Today Bokor Hill National Park is a well-known tourist attraction, holiday retreat and soon a huge residential area.

You like travelling by motorbike? Then you should try the Ha Giang loop in Vietnam!

Bokor Hill Station

Bokor Hill Station refers to the abandoned buildings up in Bokor Hill National Park. Part of that are the Bokor Palace hotel and a catholic church. Just behind the church you can find the perfect lunch spot giving stunning views over the jungle and the ocean.

Bokor Hill National Park
One of the abandoned training centres
Bokor Hill National Park
The perfect lunch spot with a view over the ocean

The abandoned warehouse

Another really bizarre stop was an abandoned warehouse located next to a huge apartment block. Some of the apartments were inhabited while others seemed empty. We didn’t really understand who decided to live there. But it definitely gave us spooky vibes.

Bokor Hill National Park
The abandoned warehouse

Stacked stones

A little bit further you can find many stacked stones built on big rocks. It’s like natural art. We also had to stop and build our own stone house and I recommend you do so too.

Bokor Hill National Park
Stacked stone towers everywhere
Bokor Hill National Park
Our little piece of art

Popokvil Waterfall

At Popokvil Waterfall you will probably meet the first travellers. It’s one of the few official tourist attractions up in Bokor Hill National Park. There is an entrance fee of $0.50 which includes a bottle of water. To get the full view of the waterfall have a look for a path down at the right side (looking towards the jungle) of the waterfall. You can reach it by jumping over the stones and then walking towards the jungle. It leads down to two levels where you can see the waterfall from different perspectives.

Have you considered volunteering in Cambodia? Read more about it here!

Popokvil Waterfall
Popokvil Waterfall

Final thoughts

All in all a DIY day out at Bokor Hill National Park is a great adventure! For only around $7 dollars (fuel & scooter) you can see a very different side of Cambodia. The pleasant temperatures are a nice change to the constant heat and humidity.

It’s even more interesting to see the ghost towns and abandoned buildings with your own eyes. While driving around we noticed a lot of construction going on and some billboards showing fancy residential areas. I think some investors have big visions of this area for the future. So the better to enjoy it while it’s still in its abandoned state!

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