Holidays

Abandoned Places: Ghosts of Vacations Past

by Colleen Clark

Bokor Palace Hotel & Casino, Kampot, Cambodia

Dense fog and creeping vines seem fitting companions for the ghosts that are said to roam this abandoned Cambodian resort. French colonialists built the town in the 1920s as a hilltop retreat from the oppressive heat of the lowlands. But from the beginning, darkness clung to the project: Labor conditions were brutal, and the area behind the grand casino came to be known as the Gamblers' Killing Fields, where those who lost it all purportedly ended it all on the conveniently located cliff. In the 1970s, and again in the 1980s and '90s, the Khmer Rouge fortified itself in the casino, waging brutal battles with Vietnamese troops holed up in the community's church; the bullet scars still remain. Today, the town sits isolated in the middle of national parkland. Wild monkeys and elephants roam the surrounding jungle, and a ruddy moss clinging to the casino facade seems to symbolize the building's bloody past. Day trips can be arranged from the nearby town of Kampot, but be prepared to leave before dark. Even the park rangers refuse to brave the spirits that wander at night.

Bokor Palace Hotel & Casino
Kampot, Cambodia

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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