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Tuol Sleng, a chilling place to visit in Phnom Penh

If you are going to travel to Cambodia, one of the most essential and at the same time chilling places to visit in Phnom Penh is the old Tuol Sleng prison.


Tuol Sleng (also known as S-21) was the most notorious Khmer Rouge prison in a network of more than 200 prisons across the country. It was previously an institute, but during the Khmer Rouge regime it was the place where thousands of innocents were brutally tortured for days and weeks before being murdered.

They were arrested simply for being students, doctors or foreigners, among many other absurd reasons such as wearing glasses. Once there, they were made to admit, through torture, crimes they had never committed to justify the cause of their subsequent murder. Like for example that they had collaborated with the CIA, with the KGB or that they had stolen. And so, they signed their own death warrants.

It is estimated that between 12,000 and 20,000 people were imprisoned at Tuol Sleng. And there were only 12 survivors. Currently, every day (except Saturdays and Sundays) from 2:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. you can chat with one of the survivors. At the exit of the enclosure, there are always one or two survivors who, in addition to explaining some experience or how their life is now, after going through that hell, they also take the opportunity to try to sell you the book of all the survivors where they narrate everything they went through , what were they thinking during the time they were there etc…

After being tortured in Tuol Sleng, if they had not already died from torture, they were sent to the notorious Killing Fields outside Phnom Penh. There they were systematically murdered.

It is the worst place I have visited in my life. In many of my trips I have known extermination camps, prisons, but Tuol Sleng really makes your hair stand on end.

There are 4 blocks with a garden in the middle, and throughout the tour you will be able to enter the torture cells, the cells where they slept, etc… Throughout this tour I had the feeling that there were people with us. We were alone, but at the same time there was a presence in the environment. I do NOT believe in spirits or anything like that, but even now, remembering the sensations I had in that place, I am filled with tremendous anguish and my hair stands on end.

Still, it is an essential place to see in Phnom Penh. The history of Cambodia is terrible, but it is an important place to get to know it first hand and it is a kind of tribute to all those innocent people who died because of the dictatorship.

One of the blocks has several rooms where you will find photographs of the victims, letters, stories, documentation... Also in the middle of the garden there is a memorial sculpture and some plaques with all the names of the victims.

Admission is US$5 for adults. Children up to 10 years old do not pay anything.



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A hug and see you soon!


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