Going to Siem Reap War Museum? Get all the info you need to visit the only War Museum in Cambodia, learn about Khmer Rouge and see or handle old war machines.
While we were in Cambodia, Thomas wanted to visit the Siem Reap War Museum. To be honest, I wasn’t exactly psyched to go, but I went there with an open mind. The War Museum – not to be confused with the Landmine Museum – is on the outskirts of the city. We simply took a tuk-tuk for a few dollars.
If you’re interested in Cambodian war history or simply want to know more about the country, the war museum is a good place to start. Here’s all you need to know to plan a trip there.
Read next: 12 things to do in Siem Reap
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What to expect inside Siem Reap War Museum
Once you reach Siem Reap War Museum, you’ll pay for entrance and be assigned a tour guide if you want. They’re not just ordinary guides. Each one has experienced the war first hand as a soldier, so he’ll also tell you his personal history and experience during the Khmer Rouge regime.
Inside the war museum, you’ll find a unique collection of war machines and a minor gallery with rare photos of landmines victims and the war.
A soldier’s story: The Cambodian genocide
At first impression, Siem Reap War Museum didn’t look like much.
The military equipment was damaged and in poor shape. There were no visitors. And the guides didn’t seem that interested. It wasn’t until we came to the landmine section that our guide gave us a personal perspective of Cambodia’s tragic war history.
That changed the whole experience for me.
Our guide was a former soldier who lost his leg in the conflict. He had experienced first hand what the Khmer Rouge had done to his country, and he had the battle scars to prove it: a missing leg, several gun shot wounds and a bullet still inside his chest. He told his story and that of Cambodia with dignity and emotion, but never expressed anger or resentment.
Listening to the history of the wars and atrocities in Cambodia over the last three decades of the 20th century touched me deeply.
A unique collection of war machines
We walked around the outdoor museum after that. Although Siem Reap War Museum is spread out on a relatively small area, there are still many things to see. In the center there are rows with heavy armour including T-54 tanks, a helicopter Mil Mi-8, the jet fighter aircraft MiG-19, and the field artillery gun 85-mm divisional gun D-44. You will also see artillery pieces, anti-aircraft guns, rocket launchers and piles of disarmed mines, bombs and shells.
The weaponry and artillery are displayed under the canopies of fruit trees.
Aside from the weathered collection of weapons, tanks, and gear, there is also a deep pit – the site of a former mass grave from the Cambodian civil war.
Gallery of Khmer Rouge victims
At the museum, we also saw war photographs of landmine victims, skulls and armed children. Every photo was a reminder of the horrible Khmer Rouge regime and Cambodia’s dark past, where millions of innocent people were killed under Pol Pot’s leadership.
Why you should visit War Museum Siem Reap
Visiting Siem Reap War Museum can definitely be a learning experience if you manage your expectations. This isn’t the place to get in-depths knowledge of the history of Khmer Rouge and specific war facts. But on a personal level, it provides lessons we must never forget. I can only speak for myself, but listening to the personal stories of a former soldier was the draw for me and it’s the main reason to visit.
As they state on their website, the purpose of the museum is to keep the memory and history of Cambodia alive and to preserve the unique collection for posterity.
Important info about the War Museum
If you want to know more about Siem Reap War Museum, check out the local website.
- Opening hours: 8 AM – 5.30 PM
- Entrance fee: $5
- Free tour guide but donations are appreciated
- Tour duration: 1 hour