Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, Phnom Penh

4.5
#1 of 31 in Museums in Cambodia
A testament to the darkest side of human nature, Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum protects the memory of the victims of the Khmer Rouge that were imprisoned and tortured in the classrooms of this former high school. From 1975 to 1979, the notorious regime detained over 17,000 prisoners here alone--including the former guards who fell from mercy of their superiors and several foreign citizens from the USA, Australia, and New Zealand. Nearly all prisoners who didn't die on spot from the consequences of brutal molestations were later executed in the killing fields. The exhibits include rusty beds, torturing tools, and numerous portraits of victims--sometimes photographed pre and post "treatment." Ask the guide to tell you some of their stories. Watch the documentary featuring interviews with former guards. Note that the displays--especially the photos of the bodies of prisoners who were killed as the Vietnamese liberating army was approaching the city--are extremely graphic and may not be appropriate for all visitors. Before you head to Phnom Penh, plan trip itinerary details with our user-friendly Phnom Penh vacation builder, to make sure you see all that Phnom Penh has to offer, including Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum.
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Reviews
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9,223 reviews
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4.5
TripAdvisor
  • August 18, 2017
    There is a photo of a room of the camp of the Pol Pot era and beds were used. Look so painful, I had retired in the middle.
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  • August 18, 2017
    What to say? A brilliant museum but we weren't prepared for some of the images and artefacts. We visited S21 at around 11am, after we'd been to the Killing Fields. Would definitely recommend doing the...  more »
  • August 17, 2017
    It is a challenging and emotional place not to be missed under any circumstances. The audio guide is very well done and can understand the period of the Khmer Rouge. Some things are really difficult so if you're with children remained close to them and explain to them.
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  • May 25, 2017
    Extraordinary though deeply troubling collection of buildings and artifacts which detail the worst atrocities of the Pol Pot regime. Excellent though aging educational signage. The audio tour headphones are a must and they are well done, with a deeper dive available by tuning in additional tracks - if you've got the time and stomach. The depth of research that's gone into this presentation is impressive. Someone with only a passing knowledge of what transpired in Cambodia in the 70s will emerge with a deep understanding of not only what happened, but why it happened. Yes, portions are gruesome and one may choose to skip some sections (ample warning is given repeatedly, as appropriate), but it's a harrowing historical story and cautionary tale that all world citizens need to know.
  • June 15, 2017
    Excellent audio guide and expansive exhibits and photos on display about the Khmer Rogue regime and S21. Stories were neutral and factual, with numerous eyewitness accounts in the narrative. Very interesting to visit! We easily spent close to two hours there.
  • July 15, 2017
    Respectfully done. I wish all Khmer school children were required to come here to learn more about their past. But maybe that would make them ask their grandparents too many questions...
  • April 18, 2017
    I'm not sure what, exactly, I expected from this museum. It was a humbling experience for sure, but one of importance to truly understand Cambodian history. This is certainly a landmark you will want to experience for yourself. The audio tour or a private guide is recommended. Most days, you may be able to meet one of the few survivors who is willing to share about his experiences during the Khmer reign.
  • May 16, 2017
    The work here is so thorough and the presentation of the history is powerful. They are not kidding when they say you might need to take a break from some of the images presented. Definitely go for the audio tour, the speed of it is perfect, none of the segments are too long, and you can pick and choose which part you want to do and there are even supplemental segments if you want to learn more after your tour.

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Where to stay in Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh offers an impressive selection of accommodations, from budget-friendly guesthouses and economy hotels, to four- and five-star establishments charging steep prices for a blend of traditional hospitality and modern luxury. For most visitors on a limited budget, private guesthouses remain the best option, providing clean and comfortable rooms near the city's major attractions. Many cater specifically to foreign backpackers, featuring rooftop bars and offering nightly entertainment and organized activities.
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