Frequented by the French colonialists and Cambodian elite, Bokor Hill was abandoned first by the French in the late 1940s during the first Indochina war, then again in 1972 by Cambodians as Khmer Rouge seized the area. During the Vietnamese invasion in 1979, Khmer Rouge entrenched themselves on the mountain and held on tightly for months. Up until the early 90s the area was still a no go area, land mines, poachers and bandits still being a danger.
Today the allure of "wild" Bokor and its ecotourism potential is rapidly disappearing, clearing swathes of nature to be replaced by tasteless casino resort buildings, concrete parking lots, housing estates, golf courses, fast food restaurants and artificial playgrounds. Plans are underway for a complete "City in the Clouds" overhaul.
A new road was completed in early 2012 that was once a 32km bone jarring motorbike ride through the jungle. Now the best quality road in the country can be driven in less than an hour, wide enough to accommodate gambling bus tours from neighbouring Vietnam.
The once centre piece French colonial era Grand Palace Hotel still stands overlooking Kampot bay and the surrounding hills of Bokor national park. But sadly many of the old buildings are being demolished. The site is owned by the government but is under a 99 year lease to the richest man in Cambodia, Mr Sok Kong (Sokimex Sokha company). Sokha’s plans to redevelop the plateaus is said to be completed in 13 years.