Other Parts of Phnom Penh

Choeung Ek (The Killing Field)

After visiting Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, tourists usually continue their visit to this place, should they be interested in knowing more of Pol Pot’s era of brutality. Located outside the city, it can be reached only by your own transportation, such as hired Tuk-tuk or taxi.

Choeung Ek is the place where Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge used to torture before exterminating their prisoners and where they buried all the victims. There are more than 300 killing fields similar to Choeung Ek, mostly smaller, in Cambodia, built by the Pol Pot regime.

Most of the victims executed and buried here were intellectuals, ministers and Cambodian diplomats, including 9 westerners. There were more than 120 mass graves discovered here in 1980. In one mass grave discovered, the officials found 166 human remains without heads.

Location : about 15 kilometers (9 miles) to the south of the Independence Monument
Operating hours : daily, 7:30am-5:30pm
Admission charges : US$ 3
Facilities : guided tour, souvenir shop, food and drinks available
How to get there : about 30 minutes trip by either Tuk-tuk or taxi
Remarks : during the dry season, roads to Choeung Ek can be very dusty. Usually tourists hire a Tuk-tuk for a day trip around the city, including a visit to this Killing Field. More information on transportation in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Mekong River Tour

Another interesting tourism activity that visitors can do, is a Mekong River tour. Prices are negotiable, depending on the type of tour and/or boat operators. As a rough idea, if there are only two tourists travelling together, the trip price will be around US$ 15 per person per hour. While for a short tour around the river and an island nearby, approximately a 3-hour tour, the price will be $ 40.

The tour can include, for instance, a visit to a silk (weaving) village, where visitors can see the production, which is run by the locals. Depending on the size, one “plain” scarf can take between 3 to 5 days to finish, and prices really vary from about US$ 6 to $ 60. However these prices are said to be lower than prices in markets in downtown Phnom Penh. Here on the island, price negotiation is still possible with translation help from the guide.

On the way to this silk village, usually your boat will slowly cruise next to a small nearby “floating village”, where tourists can see locals, mostly Vietnamese, living on their boats. There are floating shops, churches, and even animals.

Shortly after passing the floating village, heading to the north, there are a few big vacation houses on the boat’s starboard side, mostly owned by foreigners who are married to local women.

Tourists will also have a great view of the Royal Palace, as well as the National Museum of Cambodia from Tonle Sap River, just shortly after the boat leaves its dock or before finishing the tour.

Location : the boat dock/port is located along Sisowath Quay
Remarks : there are many signboards placed by boat operators on the ground close to the ferry dock.

Olympic Stadium

Located on the western part of Phnom Penh, the stadium was first constructed under the H.M. King Sihanouk administration in 1963. The area itself was previously used by the French as a race course.

Sometimes the stadium, which has a capacity of 50,000 spectators, is also used for concerts and other non-sport activities. The first major international concert held in this stadium was in May 2007 when an Irish pop star Ronan Keating performed in front of tens of thousands of local fans.

Location : Sihanouk Blvd, just to the west of St. 163
How to get there : about 800 meters (about 900 yards) from Phsar Orussey or about 3.5 kilometers (2.2 miles) west of the Riverfront.

Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum

This museum was once a public high school, called Tuol Svay Prey High School, which was turned into a prison by Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge (“Red Khmer”) regime in April 1975. The Khmer Rouge used this complex to detain and torture their prisoners, including their own high profile officers and their family members. More about Khmer Rouge Cambodia.

The Khmer Rouge named this Tuol Sleng prison S-21, which means Security Office 21, their biggest prison in Cambodia. They imprisoned about 20,000 people from 1975 to 1979. The last 14 prisoners tortured and killed, were Khmer Rouge high rank officers. Their badly damaged bodies were found in a few rooms by the Vietnamese soldiers who were helping the Khmer people to fight against the Khmer Rouge regime. The museum keeps the bed frames where the bodies were found and photos are also displayed in each room.

More than 160 prisons like Tuol Sleng were built in Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge era. The Khmer Rouge applied strict rules and many restrictions to their prisoners, such as no talking to other prisoners, “no question” policy, taking a bath twice a month, and so on.

This ex-school has many classrooms that were converted into small cells, each measuring 1 meter by 2 meters and occupied by two prisoners. No door, nor pillow or mattress, nor mosquito nets were provided and stocks (pillories) were used to lock prisoners.

Khmer Rouge officers and soldiers, who were posted to this prison, often killed prisoners using knives to save bullets. This is because the Khmer Rouge mostly came from a poor community (with lack of funding). For the same reason, prisoners were given minimum meals a day.

The museum opened to the public in 1980. It displays many photos, the equipment used by the Khmer Rouge to torture their prisoners, and other historical evidence. A short movie in English (one hour) is also played twice a day on the third floor, in the morning at 10am and afternoon at 3pm. The movie is about S-21, its survivors and the Khmer Rouge era.

Location : St. 113 between St. 320 and St. 350, approximately 1.4 kilometer (1531 yards) south of the Olympic Stadium, or 1.8 kilometers (1.1 miles) from the Independence Monument
Telephone : +855 23 216045
Email : [email protected]
Operating hours : daily, 7am-5:30pm
Admission charges : US$ 2
Facilities : toilets, tour guides (US$ 6 per visitor for about a 30-minute tour), a few small stalls by the street selling drinks and so on in front of the museum at reasonable prices
How to get there : by Tuk-tuk from the Riverfront area for approximately 15 minutes
Remarks : visitors to read “Attention” signboard at the museum entrance. A small information leaflet is given at the entrance.

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