Dark Tourism in Cambodia Receives Boost

Dark Tourism

Dark Tourism in Cambodia, particularly around Anlong Veng, thanks to the NGO the Cambodian Documentation Centre. According to CAM-DC this will include the renovation of the grave of Pol Pot, as well as numerous other sites, some of which have already been achieved.

On our most recent dark tourism visit this included the bunker of Pol Pot, from where one can now reach by road, rather than precariously via off-road dirt bikes.

CAM-DC, or the Cambodian Documentation Centre are a Cambodian NGO that focus on preserving and dealing the brutal history of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge. Their work, particularly with regards to tourism has at times proved controversial, with the government of the Cambodian Peoples Party preferring to concentrate on more sunny aspects of tourism, such as Angkor Wat.

Dark Tourism in Cambodia – What is being done?

CAM-DC actually look after 11 sites throughout Cambodia, although not all related to Democratic Kampuchea and Communist Party of Kampuchea.

Main sites such as S-21, Choeung Ek Killing Fields and Booker Hill to name but a few still fall under the auspices of Cambodian tourism.

In Anlong Veng they particularly look after the grave of Pol Pot, the houses of Ta Mok, Pol Pot’s bunker and the peace observatory. The eerie grave of Son Sen does not apparently fall under their remit.

So, what changes can we expect for dark tourists in Cambodia?

The Grave of Pol Pot

When it comes to Dark Tourism in Cambodia the grave of Pol Pot is the epicenter. Currently it is looked after by some elderly caretakers and is in about the same state as when he died. According to said caretakers and confirmed by the documentation centre this would receive a cover, as well as be turned into an actual tourist attraction.

Do not worry though, this will not be something to rival Lenin or Mao et all, but rather as a sombre reminder to the atrocities of Saloth Sar.

Pol Pot’s bunker in Anlong Veng

With regards to the Pol Pot and indeed Khieu Samphan bunker in Anlong Veng the changes were already being seen. Where previously the only way to reach these jungle getaways had been hiking and then dirt bikes, now there is a road that leads directly from the Thai border, and indeed the grave of Pol Pot to his jungle hideaway.

This has in part been achieved by renovating the previously underwhelming Peace Observatory and one of the homes of Ta Mok and building a road directly there.

Now one drives merely 15 minutes to the jungle hideaway, with there even being another road meaning you can come out pretty much win a circle.

What does this mean for Anlong Veng and Dark Tourism in Cambodia?

The sites in question have been ignored to such a degree that all lay in complete disrepair. This in turn does not attract tourists to the area. This is as opposed to both S-21 and the Killing Fields, which both get government support to some degree.

Lack of support has come in part from the government wanting to sweep the whole Khmer Rouge era under the carpet. This though is a huge mistake and something CAM-DC are taking great lengths to avoid. After all while the era of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge should not be remembered fondly, lack of education about the era increases the chances of the next generation not only forgetting, but worse still making the same mistakes all over again.

And perhaps most importantly it helps reintegrate Anlong Veng and its Khmer Rouge descendants into not just the Cambodian, but global community, even if it is through promoting Dark Tourism in Cambodia.