Bokor Mountain: ‘Three seasons in one day’

Located over 1,000 metres above sea level, Bokor offers a cool climate year-round. Bokor Mountain, situated 42 kilometres from Kampot town, holds a rich history and breathtaking scenery.

Hong Raksmey

Hong Raksmey

The Phnom Penh Post


A view of the Gulf of Thailand from the terrace garden of the Le Bokor Palace. PHOTO: THE PHNOM PENH POST

June 12, 2024

PHNOM PENH – Preah Monivong Bokor National Park, commonly known as Bokor, once a summer resort for French colonialists and the royal family, has become a must-visit destination for those seeking a unique atmospheric experience.

According to Puy Kea, president of the Club of Cambodian Journalists (CCJ), one of its most distinct features is the chance to experience three seasons in a single day, something of a rarity in the Kingdom.

“Normally, Cambodia experiences two seasons: the dry and wet seasons. However, on Bokor Mountain, you can experience heat, cold, and rainy or foggy weather all in one day. This is the unique feature of Bokor,” he said.

Kea addressed a group of journalists from approximately 30 media institutions who participated in the “Large-scale dissemination of the potential of the development of Bokor,” a three-day event held from May 28 to 30.

Kea organised the journalists’ trip to encourage them to attract both domestic and international tourists to Bokor Mountain this season, by highlighting its unique climate and scenic beauty.

He described the unparalleled allure of Bokor’s climate, stating that while many people use air conditioning at home, the open air during naturally cool weather is exceptionally refreshing and beneficial for lung health and stress reduction.

Halfway up the mountain is a large statue of Yeay Mao, the spiritual grandmother who guards the oceans. PHOTO: THE PHNOM PENH POST

Visitors or guests staying at accommodation on Bokor Mountain will find that air conditioning is unnecessary, as night time temperatures typically drop below 20 degrees Celsius.

This natural cooling provides a comfortable and refreshing environment, ensuring a pleasant and restful night’s sleep without the need for artificial cooling.

As was demonstrated by the early French colonialists and the summer palaces of previous kings, the cool mountain air, coupled with the peaceful surroundings, creates an ideal retreat for those seeking a peaceful escape from the heat.

Located over 1,000 metres above sea level, Bokor offers a cool climate year-round.

“Alongside Mondulkiri province and Kirirom National Park in Kampong Speu, Bokor also stands out as a premier destination for adventure tourism in Cambodia,” said Kea.

Bokor Mountain, situated 42 kilometres from Kampot town, holds a rich history and breathtaking scenery.

First used as a summer resort by French colonists during King Sisawath’s reign in 1922, it served as a retreat for affluent French nationals. It was later home to the summer palace of King Monivong, for whom the park was later named.

The meditation cave at Veal Sre 500. PHOTO: THE PHNOM PENH POST

Following national unification and the Kingdom’s first general elections, Bokor Mountain was designated Preah Monivong Bokor National Park by a November 1, 1993 Royal Decree.

Towering at 1,075 metres, it provides spectacular views of Kampot Town, Kep Beach, Preah Sihanouk province and the azure waters of the Gulf of Thailand.

Located on the Elephant Mountain Range, it spans 140,000 hectares, extending into Kampong Speu and Sihanoukville provinces.

Rich in exotic plants and home to diverse wildlife and bird species, it was inscribed on the ASEAN Heritage Park list in 2004, becoming one of Cambodia’s two ASEAN Heritage Parks.

Today, Bokor attracts many tourists thanks to its diverse offerings, including eco-tourism, cultural tourism, spiritual tourism and agro-tourism.

The Popokvil Waterfall, the Veal Sre 500 cave, a former summer palace of the royal family, an abandoned Catholic church and a giant statue of Yeay Mao, the spiritual guardian of the seas, are all on the must-see list of visitors to the mountain, along with the fresh air and dense forests, which teem with wildlife.

Thoeun Bunthan, sales manager at the mountaintop’s Thansur Sokha and Le Bokor Palace hotels, recounted the significant developments that have taken place since 2008, when the government granted the Sokha Hotel Group a 99-year lease to develop the national park.

Former prime minister Hun Sen presided over a groundbreaking ceremony in January of that year.

The Black Palace, built in 1936, has been abandoned since King Father Norodam Sihanouk was deposed in 1970. PHOTO: THE PHNOM PENH POST

The project overcame numerous challenges, such as the construction of the 32km “Kiri Techo” road to the summit, as well as the need to navigate difficult terrain and manage harsh weather conditions.

Bunthan explained that their efforts led to the construction of the Thansur Bokor Hotel, designed to resemble a flower, and the installation of essential infrastructure, including water and electrical supplies, as well as paths and roads for tourists’ convenience.

The Thansur Bokor Resort was officially inaugurated by then-prime minister Hun Sen in 2012.

“In addition, the Sokha Hotel Group has been actively involved in renovating and maintaining several historic buildings from the French colonial and Sangkum eras, such as the old town hall and casino,” added Bunthan.

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