The Killing Fields in Cambodia are – along with Angkor Wat – the most visited place in the country. The Khmer Rouge regime of Pol Pot is known as one of the greatest mass murders in history. Execution places, the Killing Fields, are now monuments and provide insights into the terrible tragedy that took place in Cambodia. Whoever wants to have a better understanding of Cambodia must delve (a little bit) into this civil war. And a visit to the Killing Fields in Cambodia is necessary for this.
Visiting this place is enormously sad and at the same time very impressive.
“Pol Pot became leader of Cambodia on April 17, 1975. During his leadership, he established agrarian socialism, forcing city dwellers to move to the countryside in order to work on collective farms and provide forced labour. The combined effects of forced labour, malnutrition, poor medical care, and executions resulted in the death of about 21% of the Cambodian population. Two to four million people are estimated to have died in total under his leadership.”
Killing Fields in Cambodia
The Killing Fields close to Choeung Ek are the best known and largest of all killing fields in Cambodia. Here alone, some 20,000 citizens were murdered in a horrible manner. The people did not lose their lives with bullets but were beaten to death with bamboo sticks or succumbed to forced labour in combination with malnutrition.
A monument of 8,000 skulls of people who lost their lives because of the regime has been set up. There are several mass graves, showcases with clothing and teeth of the victims. There are still bones being found. A very painful thought is that people could still be laying in the ground that you walk on. All that you can do is become very quiet when you visit this place.
Audio tour Killing Fields Cambodia
Next to the entrance to the Killing Fields, you can rent a Dutch audio tour. This is the best audio tour I have ever heard in my life! It consists of impressive sound fragments, in which survivors narrate their stories. While you walk under the sun through the beautiful orchard, it is difficult to fathom that not even 40 years ago such a great drama took place here. One sound fragment in particular left an impression on me: loud Cambodian music and the sound of generators. This sound reverberated 24 hours a day over the Killing Fields through the large speakers. This was to mask the screams of the victims.
How do you get here and what does it cost?
The Killing Fields are located about 15 minutes outside of Phnom Penh and are easily reached. The admission fee is $6, including an extensive audio tour. I chose to rent a taxi (scooter) for a couple dollars. You do not need a guide due to the perfect audio tour.
Many guesthouses offer tours of the Killing Fields and the S21 prison. You pay about $14 per person for this tour.
Hotel Phnom Penh
A great place to stay is the Okay Boutique Hotel. The staff is kind and helpful, great buffet breakfast and the rooms are big. It’s really good value for the money. The location is perfect, just across the street from National Museum and Royal Palace complex. The rooftop pool is good and looks over the city, and that’s where the restaurant is as well.
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