The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum is a sobering reminder from the not-so-distant past of what can go incredibly wrong. Tuol Sleng used to be a high school but was transformed into a place of torture and death during the terrifying reign of the Khmer Rouge. Thousands of people were brought here to be interrogated (tortured) by Khmer Rouge. Most were later taken to the nearby killing fields to put be put to death.
You will probably cry here. You'll probably get very upset and angry. To think that a high school is the setting for such evil is almost mind-destroying. You can still see some of the torture devices and traces of blood. There are photographs of the people taken here by the Khmer Rouge set up in the school rooms. You'll learn that many of the people who were tortured and killed were just children, or wives of men suspected of causing trouble for the regime. Also, many of the guards and torturers were just children themselves. It's disarming to gaze into the straight, blank faces of those who would be tortured and killed for no reason. But I believe this experience is necessary so that we won't make these mistakes again and so we can work towards a better, peaceful future.
The museum is supposed to be closed during lunch but when I was inside during the lunch period I wasn't asked to leave. So be sure to buy your ticket in the morning or afternoon. There's a lot to explore inside the school so give yourself over an hour. Photographs are allowed but they ask you to keep your voices to a minimum.
The exhibits are labeled well in English. Still, if you can read about the background of this depressing period then I highly recommend it. The museum also offers a documentary video but it is not shown often (ask at the front desk for the specific times). They also offer you the choice of a paid guide but I felt it was best to experience this sad place on my own. Just be prepared to be overwhelmed with emotion.
Those with children, you should be warned that there are graphic depictions of torture and death. If you choose to take your child or children there, make sure they are well-prepared for the sights they will encounter.
Results 1-8of 8 Reviews
Halifax, Nova Scotia
April 5, 2011
August 30, 2007
From journal Cambodia
March 16, 2007
From journal Siem Reap, Cambodia
Broadbeach Waters, Australia
December 28, 2006
From journal Phnom Penh - Cambodia's frenetic Capital City
January 6, 2006
From journal The World in My Pocket
October 18, 2004
Most people visit the Cheoung Ek killing fields after S-21. This is the place most of the S-21 residents were executed and "buried" - often piled up in shallow graves. One of the largest of the many killing fields located in Cambodia, it is best to engage a guide to navigate you through this "seemingly innocent and peaceful" place but with a sad past.
Note that the ride to the killing fields is very bumpy and there are many flies there. Bring repellent if you are sensitive to flying creatures.
From journal 10 days in Phnom Penh
Stutton, United Kingdom
August 18, 2003
The museum has preserved the prison exactly as it was found when the Khmer Rouge were ousted in 1979. You are free to walk around many of the cells and torture rooms which provides a chilling insight into the crimes commited here. Other rooms show pictures of the victims and paintings, by a former prisoner, of the torures occuring. Finally there is and excellent film to watch about the prison. This is a must see in Phnom Penh.
From journal A few days in Phnom Penh
Hoboken, New Jersey
January 21, 2002
From journal Quick Trip Through Cambodia