Video Trip Report: Phnom Penh and the Khmer Rouge Killing Fields
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
This is an installment in my March 2012 Asia Trip Series which includes: A Birthday Present To Myself: Business Class on the World’s Longest Flight for $2.50, Help Me Plan My Asia Trip Starting With Singapore, Flight Review: Singapore Airlines All Business Class Flight From Newark To Singapore, Hotel Review: Intercontinental Singapore, Video Trip Report: Singapore, Hotel Review: Le Meridien Bangkok Avantec Suite, Video Trip Report: Bangkok, Hotel Review: Le Meridien Angkor, Video Trip Report: Siem Reap, Hotel Review: Intercontinental Phnom Penh, Video Trip Report: Phnom Penh and the Khmer Rouge Killing Fields, Hotel Review: W Hong Kong.
As I mentioned in my hotel review of the Intercontinental Phnom Penh yesterday, based on the recommendations of many TPG readers, I decided to extend my stay in Siem Reap and shorten my time in Phnom Penh to just a single night and day. That’s not much time, but then again, there wasn’t anything much in the city itself I wanted to see. Rather, I wanted to spend an afternoon touring two of the country’s most infamous sites, the S-21 prison, which is now a genocide museum, and the Killing Fields where hundreds of thousands of people were put to death during the Khmer Rouge’s reign of terror in the 1970’s.
This is a video I made of my time taking a self-guided audio tour of the Killing Fields and then S-21, which is the Genocide Museum at a former political prison, and some of the disturbing, often unfathomable things I learned while I was there.
The Killing Fields, where hundreds of thousands of Cambodians were murdered–many came from the educated and middle classes whom Pol Pot felt were threats to his iron-fisted rule–are about 30 minutes from town. It’s hard to imagine the atrocities took place here in the not-so-distant past, but learning about what happened is critical to understanding Cambodia.
Twenty minutes from there, back towards town, S-21 had actually been a high school called Tuol Svay Pray before the Khmer Rouge took it over and turned it into a detention and torture center. Of the 14,000 political prisoners who entered, only 7 survived. There are just five buildings, but they form the heart of the compound and have been kept just as they were back in the 1970’s. The walls are covered with photographic portraits of those who were murdered, providing a powerful backdrop to experience this horrific place.
For those of you who have not been to Cambodia, despite the fact that I wasn’t a huge fan of Phnom Penh itself, I would not have skipped my afternoon learning about the darkest period in Cambodia’s modern past for anything. It gave me such a different, deeper perspective of the country than I’d been able to form simply by spending time at Siem Reap and Angkor Wat where the tourism industry is fully developed. Instead, this was a chance to learn something about the lives of ordinary Cambodians, the hardships they suffered, and the tragedy that still defines the country to this day–as well as to remember what happened here in the hope that we can prevent it from happening anywhere else ever again. I would highly recommend coming here as any trip to Cambodia.
WELCOME OFFER: 60,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.