Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum Description:
The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum is the former site of the Khmer Rouge’s most notorious prison and torture center.
After taking the power in 1975, the Khmer Rouge under Pol Pot converted a high school into the Security Prison 21 (S-21). An estimated 17,000 people, many of them women and children, were imprisoned here during the bloody rule of the Khmer Rouge between 1975 and 1979. Prisoners were kept in unsanitary conditions, forbidden from speaking with one another, and more often than not, tortured so extensively that they named friends and family members, who were then brought to the camp on charges of sedition.
After interrogation, the prisoners were usually kept in the prison for a few short weeks before being transported to the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek for summary execution, usually by bludgeoning, and internment in mass graves. Of the 17,000 people who passed through the doors of S-21, twelve survived.
The Khmer Rouge kept almost obsessive records of their prisoners. Each inmate was photographed, often before and after torture, and the confessions the prisoners were forced to write under duress were often thousands of words in length, detailing nearly every aspect of the prisoners’ lives. The only bit of information missing for the prisoners’ files was often their names; the inmates would only be known by the number they were assigned during processing.
After Pol Pot’s fall from power in 1979, S-21 was closed. It was reopened in 1980 as a memorial to the thousands who spent the last days of their lives here. Their photos, pulled from the very files the Khmer Rouge so painstakingly created, line the walls of the compounds interior as a reminder of the Cambodia’s bloody recent past.
Best Time to Visit Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum:
For the best weather, visit Cambodia during the dry season that grips the land from December to May each year. The monsoons blow through starting in June, and bring high temperatures that last until November. The frequent showers in the mornings and afternoons are a welcome relief from the heat during this time of the year, and the extra precipitation brings Cambodia’s jungles and plains to a vibrant green after the arid months.
How to get to Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum:
The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum is located in Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh. Guests enjoying our luxury tours of Cambodia typically reach the museum in a private vehicle as part of their explorations of the city.
Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum Highlights:
The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum is an important monument to the Cambodia’s conflict filled past. While it can be an arduous excursion, it provides visitors with a needed look into Cambodia’s recent history.
Western-style clothing options are fine, but it’s best to dress modestly out of respect for the dead.