One of the first things anyone notices during a visit to Cambodia, is the unbearable heat. Sweltering and oppressive temperatures and humidity beat down on travelers wading through the dense tropical jungles of the Southern region.
Incidentally, when a larger and more aggressive group of travelers, the French military, made their way through the country, they also found the weather brutal and unforgiving. As the unfamiliar temperatures began killing off French troops, the occupying European power needed to create artificial respite. Their answer to the tropical problem was Bokor Hill Station, a small resort town for French soldiers in the region.
Construction finished in the early 1920s, and the result was jungle chic. Instead of building a small outpost to keep soldiers cool and dry, the French opted for opulence, and a small elegant city was born. Bokor Hill was built with the basic amenities of a post office and church. It was also featured the over-the-top Bokor Hill Hotel and Casino, which stands as a monument to French occupation in Cambodia.
When civil war broke out in the 1940s, the French headed back to Paris, leaving the station abandoned and open for use by various military regimes including the Vietnamese and Khmer Rouge. Continuous war throughout the 20th century left the station gutted and eerily decaying in the center of Phnum Bokor National Park. Only one completely ruined road leading to the relic still exists, and is a bumpy ride up more than 3,500 feet to the station.
Recently, a private investment group has outlined a plan to rebuild the road and restore the area, creating a larger Bokor Hill city complete with a casino and golf course, making Bokor once again a stop for invading foreigners in the southern jungles of Cambodia. The project is scheduled to be completed in the next 15 years. We suggest you try and visit before this happens.