Between 1975 and 1979 the Khmer Rouge, lead by the notorious Pol Pot, ruled the once peaceful country of Cambodia. Today, its regime is remembered for inhumane acts of torture, mass killings, and the orchestration of a national genocide. While the country has made serious strides towards rebuilding and repair, a difficult past is not forgotten. Visitors to Phnom Penh can spend a day—or even a few—traveling to memorial sites, mass graves and abandoned prisons, paying homage to the lives lost and a time in history that will hopefully never be repeated.
Choeung Ek Killing Field
Made famous in a movie by the same name, this mass grave on the outskirts of Phnom Penh’s city center is the final resting place for more than some 17,000 killed by the Khmer Rouge.
Explore the grounds of the Royal Palace. Here, visitors can get a real sense of Khmer culture and history wander through the Silver Pagoda, Chan Chhaya Pavilion and the Khemarin Palace.
Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum
The Khmer Rouge transformed this former high school into a prison in 1975. One of the regime’s more than 150 death factories, some 17,000 Cambodians were tortured and killed on the grounds here.
The National Museum may not land on the traditional list of Khmer sites, but this impressive museum houses one of the world’s largest collections of Khmer art in the world. It offers a different look at the history of the Pol Pot rule.