Built in the early 20th century for the rich French elite, the village atop Phnom Bokor once contained a casino hotel, nightclubs, and villas. It fell into disuse just after Cambodia’s independence from France in 1954, and King Sihanouk attempted to revitalise the town soon afterwards. The town was abandoned again in the early 1970s when the Khmer Rouge were fighting to overrun the Lon Nol government.
From 1976 until 1978, the Khmer Rouge used the old casino as a prison, and the commander of the district lived in the old Catholic church. The site has been occupied only by park rangers since 1978.
The entire hill was recently purchased by a large conglomerate, and they have plans to build a 12-storey 5-star monstrosity just down the road from where the remnants of the French colonial buildings stand.
Fortunately (and surprisingly), the old buildings will be preserved.