For months Cambodia’s Bokor Mountain has been officially closed. The public were barred due to reconstruction of the road that winds its way to the top. Finally, I heard that it was open again to the masses, and so took my road bike out on Sunday for a spin to its summit.
It’s around 8 kilometres from nearby Kampot town to the bottom of Bokor. Then it’s a 900 metre climb that runs for 20 kilometres. Finally there’s a 10 kilometre undulating bit on top that rises 100 metres (Route can be found here). And just in case you’re wondering, access to free to Bokor Mountain. A big sign at the entrance says so.
As for the road, this might be one of the best routes I’ve ever seen in Cambodia. The tarmac is sleek and wide, bridges are solidly built, there are road signs which still have their plastic wrapping on. Hair pin bends have solid steel girders to prevent any mishaps. The road is not too steep, allowing for a very even and steady climb.
There were numerous trucks ploughing up and down the hill. It was only when I reached the top that I realised where they were going. First I found a massive Buddha covered in scaffolding. Then I arrived at a gigantic, rude-looking casino. That’s why the road was made so good. So that it can accommodate hundreds of large Lexus 4WDs that want to zip up the mountain to squander away their spare cash.
Towards the end of the road is the old colonial French hill station. There’s the church and the old casino, perched on the edge of sheer cliffs. They say that those who lost their money from gambling would throw themselves over them. The church was presumly for those who wanted to thank divine forces for their fortune.
The mountain is incredibly popular with local tourists. I was passed by many tour minivans as I cycled up. These tours dropped their customers at the top for a picnic with a spectacular ocean view.
I didn’t linger around too much though. It was windy on top and temperatures much lower than down below. And there were far nicer places to eat lunch in Kampot than to indulge on top of Bokor Mountain.