Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S-21)
The museum offers a dark and disturbing window into the atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge. The interrogation rooms have been left as they were in 1977, and photographs of the regime’s victims are on display, along with rusting tools of torture. The museum suggests visitors should be at least 14-years-old as the exhibits are too disturbing for most children. Visitors are expected to behave respectfully during their visit.
Tuol Sleng is a common stop on Phnom Penh city tours, which typically also include the Royal Palace, the National Museum of Cambodia, and Wat Phnom. For a more in-depth look at the horrors perpetrated by the Khmer Rouge, book a Tuol Sleng tour that includes a trip to the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek, south of the city, where S-21’s 17,000 or so victims met their deaths.
Recent reviews from experiences in Phnom Penh
Things to Know Before You Go
The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum is a must for travelers who would like to understand Cambodia’s dark history.
The museum is not suitable for most children.
Please dress respectfully, covering legs and arms, or you may be refused admission.
Tuol Sleng bans visitors from using mobile phones on the premises. Photography is allowed, but this is no place for selfies of any kind.
Tickets are free for Cambodian citizens and travelers who use wheelchairs.
The exterior areas, including torture sites, information boards, and a memorial, are fully wheelchair accessible; upper floors are accessed only by stairs; some ground floor exhibits can be viewed from a wheelchair.
How to Get There
Tuol Sleng sits in the heart of Phnom Penh, just a 1-mile (1.5-kilometer) walk southeast of the Royal Palace. The city has no public transport, so join an organized tour or book a pre-paid private driver if you want to avoid the hassles of negotiating with motorcycle taxis, “cyclo” rickshaws, and tuk-tuks.
When to Get There
The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum is open from early in the morning until late afternoon seven days a week. It’s worth arriving early in the day, during the working week, to beat the crowds and experience the site in peace. Two different documentaries are shown each day: Arrive reasonably early to catch the morning film or in the middle of the afternoon for the second screening.
The Killing Fields of Cambodia
The Khmer Rouge executed most of their victims at a range of different sites known as killing fields. Today, many are preserved as memorial sites, with shrines and disturbing exhibits. The Choeung Ek Killing Fields, outside Phnom Penh, are the best known. Sights include a mountain of 8,000 skulls and a tree where Khmer Rouge fighters bashed babies’ heads in to save the cost of bullets.
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