Carbon Neutral 100%
Top destinations of the moment in Asia
  • Explore travel ideas
Trip Types
  • Travel Style
  • Interests and Activities
  • Tour Ideas by Month
  • Continents and Regions
An update from Evaneos

The killing fields and the history of the Khmer Rouge.

In the capital and its region there are numerous memorials, museums and prisons which encourage you to remember or to think more deeply about the history of the genocide and understand the sheer scale of the drama. The war and the occupation are still at the forefront of everyone's memories and this period of history is still a challenge to the country's development.  

Phnom Penh, a journey of remembering

The best place to go if you want to understand Khmer history is Tuol Sleng prison, also known as S-21, which was the main detention centre of Pol Pot, the dictator and leader of the Khmer Rouge movement. Nowadays it's a museum, but nothing has been changed since the day when the jailers and the Khmer Rouge left it, in 1979.

When you visit it you feel really uncomfortable, it feels very real and some of the pictures are difficult to look at. The killing fields, outside the town, are where people were executed. You really should have a guided visit because that way you will have more details about the period of Pol Pot's reign, from 1975 to 1979. It's a very difficult and shocking visit but should be done by those who want to travel differently by trying to really understand the country. 

If you are passionate about history you can also have a meeting with specialists on Cambodia of yesterday and today. 

The hopes of the young people after the Khmer Rouge

A whole country is marked 

Nowadays, even though the history of the Khmer Rouge is more or less absent from school books, locals try to compensate for this "national amnesia". You can watch several films by Rithy Panh, one of Cambodia's best known directors. In 2002 he directed a film about the Khmer Rouge, and his last full-length film made in 2013 called "The Missing Picture" tells the story of the period's atrocities in cartoon form. 

There have also been several exhibitions for tourists and locals to raise awareness of this difficult period: for example, in 2010 there was an exhibition about the Khmer Rouge tribunal in Phnom Penh. 

Finally, every town in Cambodia has a monument to those killed in the genocide and there are temples dedicated to their memory, so that people will not forget what happened in the country. You will see them throughout your trip across Cambodia.

Bettina Zourli
125 contributions
Updated 5 August 2015
Experience added!
You can add more experiences to your trip itinerary before sending it to a local agency
View my trip itinerary