The Killing Fields in Phnom Phenn are a stark reminder of the brutality and horror Cambodians went through at the hands of the Khmer Rouge from 1975 to 1979.

17,000 people were slaughtered  in Choeung Ek alone. More than a million elsewhere in Cambodia. Bodies lay heaped in mass graves, the stench covered by chemical substances. Scraps of clothes lay in tatters, covered in blood. Women were raped, whipped and tortured.

During the visit you’ll pay your respects at Memorial Stupa, listen to survivor stories and notice fragments of bone lying in the soil. Inside, a huge glass tower displays thousands of skulls piled up high.

Perhaps the most disturbing site is the mass grave for women and children. Standing alongside it is the Killing Tree, where is it said babies and small children were bludgeoned to death and thrown mercilessly into a pitt.

Hanging on the tree and around the graves, tourists have left woven bracelets, flowers and money. Incence sticks burn in the breeze and a stillness hangs in the air.

It’s hard to imagine The Killing Fields really existed. And that a tragedy like this could have happened in our life time. It’s important to see it, to experience the odd serenity that enshrouds the site, and to pay your respects to the thousands of innocents who lost their lives.

How to get there

The Killing Fields are located approx 20 minutes from the city centre and you can get there early by taxi or tuk tuk. Prices vary but usually cost approx $9-12 U.S return.

Tickets are $6 per person and this includes audio equipment so you can enjoy commentary as you walk around. We highly recommend this option and English-speaking guides are few and far between!

On the way back, stop off at S-21 prison to see where prisoners were kept before being executed.