Friday, February 5, 2010

Cambodia : Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum

On Day 2 in Phnom Penh, I visited the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum located within the city area itself. Formerly a school, it is also infamously known as S-21 (Security Prison 21) that was used by the Khmer Rouge as a prison, detention and interrogation centre during its 1975-79 regime.

Based on what I've read on Tuol Sleng, I thought I had sufficiently prepared myself mentally before this visit, but it still affected me quite a bit.

The fact that the buildings have been left very much as they were those days made me anxious and going through the rooms and exhibits I could imagine the horror that went on inside.

Main entrance : USD 2 fee.

Read this.

This was used as torture equipment.

They hung the prisoners (even upside down sometimes) and dip them into the water-filled urns.

Pictures of how prisoners were tortured.

Posters to remind you to be respectful. Except for the guides, everyone was talking in hushed tones.

Align Center
There are 4 buildings within the compound : A, B, C and D.

I think this has got to be one of the most commonly taken photograph at Tuol Sleng. The single iron bed in on the ground floor of Building A.

'Empty' halls display pictures and information on the prison and its prisoners.

Apparently the prison kept extensive records, including individual pictures of its 20,000 captives. The bulk of these black and white pictures however remain unidentified.

Lists and lists of names and numbers.

The anthem of the Khmer Rouge.

I remember seeing this picture in a TV documentary. The number tag was pinned to his body directly with a safety pin :(


One of the rooms.

Building C with barbed wires to prevent escapes.

These stains and marks on the wall make you wonder what they did here.

Individual prison 'cells', the prisoner would be shackled inside.

The glass cupboard contains the prisoners' clothes.

More torture equipment.

Display room with skulls.

In the middle of it all I had to take a breather. Just stood at the corridor and looked out to the quiet, serene garden.

View of Block A. From the outside it looks just like an abandoned school building.

It was hard not to feel anything after Tuol Sleng. I even lost my appetite to try out the Bodhi Tree Cafe located across the street.

Despite its depressing history, I think it is still a must-visit place when in Phnom Penh, so one can better understand what this country has gone through over 30 years ago.


  1. I think I spent almost 4 hours there. Forgot abt Bodhi Tree altogether ;(

  2. Goshhh. Shocking. And eerie too. It's quite cynical how they are making money out of all these toture and reckless killings now. But I'd definitely wanna go here if I were to visit Cambodia someday. :-)

  3. Ms CescFab : I was there for about 1.5 hours only. Could not stay longer, it was.. too much for me :(

    Jipp : Yes you must visit the place. In a way it serves as a reminder to the younger Khmer generations.