From prehistoric hunter gatherers to the great Khmer Empire, French colonialisation to independence and through to the rule of the Khmer Rouge, Historic Sites in Cambodia reveal a diverse story which has shaped this nation.
There’s a host of cultural sites to visit in Cambodia, among the very best of which is the world famous Angkor Wat. We’ve put together an experts guide to Cambodian cultural places and monuments, with our top places to visit as well as a full list of Historic Sites in Cambodia, which shouldn’t be ignored if you have the time.
What are the best Historic Sites in Cambodia?
Angkor Wat is an enormous 12th century temple complex in Cambodia and the best preserved of its kind. Incredibly grand and ornately decorated, Angkor Wat’s sand-coloured buildings rise up to form five towers, representing the home of the Hindu deities. Friezes and sculptures are found throughout, depicting both day-to-day life from the time it was built and religious events.
Today Angkor Wat is one of Cambodia’s most popular tourist sites. There is an incredible amount to see and it’s a good (although relatively expensive) idea to get a licensed tour guide. Angkor Wat has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1992.
The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh in Cambodia was a notorious prison under the Khmer Rouge and which now houses a museum. Whilst most victims of the Khmer Rouge were taken to the Killing Fields to be murdered, the site of the museum also played a central role in the atrocities.
Over 17,000 people were taken to Prison S-21, where they were subjected to forced labour and torture. S-21 was used to hold prisoners before they were to be taken to the Killing Fields, but many died of starvation, disease and torture before they met this fate.
Visitors to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum can view the building in a similar state to that as it was after the fall of the Khmer Rouge, with signs of the torture undertaken visible throughout. The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum displays a moving exhibit of victims’ photographs – taken as they arrived at the prison – as well as many of their stories. Guided tours can be arranged at the site.