Visiting the Killing Fields and S-21 Prison

This is a dark story. It's hard to imagine what took place thirty years ago. If you're in Phnom Penh, this is an absolute must if you want to learn more about the history of the country. 

For a little background story, you need to understand that the Khmer Rouge was a communist group led by Pol Pot. He was responsible for the deaths of over 2 million Cambodian people. He created killing fields and prisons all over Cambodia, where civilians were tortured and executed. If anyone was from the government, intellectuals, artists, minority, foreigners or religious, they were targeted. Many people who were taken to either the prison or killing fields never made it out. There were only a handful of survivors. 

If you want to visit, the best way to get there is to take a tuk tuk. We booked one from our hostel for $16 USD/tuk tuk, which took us to the Choeung Ek Killing Fields and the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. 

The Choeung Ek Killing Fields 

There's an entrance fee of $6 USD which includes the audio tour. You really need the audio tour, or you'll be missing out on the whole story. It's very informative and also includes stories from survivors. The memorial stupa is the last stop on the tour, so just head to station two to start. 

All of the buildings weren't maintained, so there will be a sign instead of the original building. During the tour, you'll learn more about Pol Pot, the executioners as well as the major landmarks at the field. You'll see the infamous Killing Tree and learn why they killed babies and their mothers. You'll learn how executioners killed people and see the mass graves where they threw the bodies. Finally, at the last stop, you'll see the Memorial Stupa which is filled with 17 levels of skulls. 

Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum

This was previously known as S-21 Prison. It was originally a high school, but modified into a prison once Pol Pot became leader. There is an entrance fee of $3 or $6 USD if you want the audio tour. The audio tour is definitely worth it, or it'll be hard to understand what you're looking at. 

The museum has four buildings: A, B, C and D. Going through the tour, you visit each building and learn the history behind it. Building A has the rooms where prisoners were tortured and pictures of the bodies of the last prisoner. However, the most eerie, was going through the prison cells in Building C. The audio tour will provide more information of the rooms you walk through as well as survivor stories. 

Please be respectful!