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Phnom Penh in Cambodia

Phnom Penh in Cambodia.

Phnom Penh city is not really a big deal. I stayed here for 2 days and I would not recommend anyone to stay longer than that. Then it is better to spend more time in Siem Reap or Sihanoukville. Phnom Penh is the capital of Cambodia. The city is a bit sleazy and it does not feel safe. The tourist attractions in the city can be overcome in 2 days I think.

City Center

The city center can be seen in 1 day. You will find some nice temples and buildings. You can go visit the Royall Palace and National museum. The highlights of a visit to Phnom Penh will be a tour around Tuol Sleng Museum and the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek.

Royal Palace

The highlight besides breathing the city atmosphere in general is the Royal Palace. The Royal Palace of Phnom Penh is worth a visit but if you compare to the Grand Palace in Bangkok this one will disappoint you.

Royal Palace in Phnom Penh.

Royal Palace in Phnom Penh.

Where to stay in Phnom Penh

In Phnom Penh I would really recommend you to stay in the center near the river. If you want to go out for dinner at night and not walk far to get home this is the right place to stay.   Phnom Penh is much more expensive and lower quality than Siem Reap which is another argument not to stay here for too long.

This is where I found my hotel room in Phnom Penh. Try go for a hotel room at the Riverfront.

Hotel rooms in Phnom Penh

Tuol Sleng Museum

This is the more interesting attraction in Phnom Penh and at the same time also the worst. This is the physical manifestation of the horrible genocide committed by Pol Pot’s security forces. 100 victims were killed each day here during the time of Pol Pot’s dictatorship. This place is much worse than seeing concentration camps of the Nazi’s in Europe because this place is still 100% authentic. In Tuol Sleng you can still find blood on the floor and everything is more or less left the same way as it was found.

Tuol Sleng Museum in Phnom Penh

Tuol Sleng prison. It was an old school but inside true horror happened.

Book a tour guide

Try book one of the tour guides here. It is really worth hearing their stories instead of just walking on your own. The price is only a few dollars extra. When you see the places and hear the story told by a human being who lived during the time this place come to life in a very touching way. Many people cannot handle the emotions arising from hearing the stories and will maybe start to cry. When I was there we had to take a break in the middle and one of the girls from the group left because she could not handle listening to the story. So I really think you should go but be prepared for a strong emotional shock wave.

Killing Fields of Choeung Ek

Imagine you are living next to a field with a fence around. Behind the fence you can only hear music and not much else.  In reality the music is set to cover the screams of pain from the people being tortured to death. In reality around 17.000 people where killed here and put into mass graves.

History

Pol Pot believed his victims had to suffer as much as possible because they were traitors. He also believed that if one person betrayed him everyone one around this person had to be killed as well. This includes mother, fathers, brothers, sisters, grand parents; everyone. He made is so horrible that no one would betray him. Unfortunately he was also paranoid and this resulted in 1.7 dead people during the time of Pol Pot. Pol Pot is considered one of the worst dictators in World History and by many considered to be worse than Hitler because of his brutality in which he not just tortured but also killed people.

8000 skulls and massive mass graves

At the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek you will see a monument containing 8000 skulls of people found here. You will see wholes in the ground where the victims where dug out. Some of these mass graves were baby graves of decapitated babies. When you walk around you will notice some of the area looks like a field with not holes. Do not let this fool you. This is an area of graves where the remains are still there. The holes are the result of digging out the 8.000 bodies leaving a hole after.

Killing Fields of Choeung Ek

Killing Fields of Choeung Ek monument. It looks peaceful from a distance. Inside the monument you can see 8.000 skulls. I did not want to photograph the mass graves. Too horrible and I felt it would be wrong.

In this area you will also see some of the methods used to kill this many people. If you go here straight after visiting Tuol Sleng prison of torture you will follow the route of the majority of the people staying in Tuol Sleng because this is where they ended their days.

 

 

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