A pair of Phnom Penh's most striking museums gives you a look at both the country's brilliant heritage and some of its darkest days. The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum tells the story of atrocities under the Khmer Rouge regime, while the National Museum takes you back to the heyday of the Angkor kings.
A ride from your hotel brings you to the museum of Tuol Sleng, a former high school that the Khmer Rouge transformed into the infamous concentration camp known as S-21. Here, your guide shows you classrooms converted into crude prison cells, as well as implements of torture used to extract confessions. You can see photos of some of the 17,000 victims who perished in the prison, along with grim scenes of torture painted by one of its few survivors.
From there, your guide takes you to the grounds just outside Cambodia's royal palace, where a beautifully sculpted courtyard welcomes you to the National Museum. Restored after the fall of the Khmer Rouge, the museum shows you one of the world's largest collections of Cambodian relics in a spectacular complex inspired by traditional temple architecture. Take some time to browse the exhibits filled with sculptures, ceramics, and bronze works that date all the way back to prehistory before the tour wraps up with a ride back to your hotel.