Our Cambodia Specialist, Chris, spent 8 months living in Cambodia, discovering his own personal hot-spots and Cambodia points of interest which are a little off the beaten track compared to most. Read on for his insider insight into this beautiful country it’s heartbreaking history.
Phnom Penh – S21 / Killing Fields
This is most likely going to your main experience when you visit the capital of Phnom Penh. It’s a tough day, but with the trials of the atrocities still ongoing, it’s incredibly important to help you understand what Cambodia has gone through in recent history. With around 21% of the population losing their lives under devastating circumstances.
It may seem obvious that you need to visit these places. However, there’s an order to give you the best way to see them all. Doing it the other way around can drastically change the perception of your experience, and you won’t have the full history in the best order.
I think it’s important to visit Tuol Sleng / S21 first, a high school in the heart of the city which was once used as a prison but is now a museum. This haunting museum lays out the facts in front of you, helping you understand what happened, and even includes mug shots of every single prisoner throughout the rooms. You can see the pain in their eyes it was a genuinely harrowing and eye opening experience but worth every second.
After this, jump in your tuk-tuk onward to your next stop, the Killing Fields, which has an eerily beautiful, yet haunting atmosphere. You will be given a headset and will listen to first-hand accounts, as you stroll around mass graves near a peaceful lake. If you hadn’t visited the prison already, you might have found it difficult to put the emotional dialogues into context, and you would lose some of the understanding of the stories.