Officials of the Department of Museums under the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts are urging students to visit the National Museum and the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum to better understand the culture and history of Cambodia.

Currently there are 80 to 120 tourists a day who visits these museums, most of them domestic, according to Chhay Visoth, director of the museums department.

Visoth told The Post on July 18 that after the government announced the socio-economic reopening of the country at the end of last year, tourists had been returning to visit the preserved artefacts at the two museums.

“Before July, there were as few as 50 visitors to the National Museum each day. Now, there are as many as 120 – mostly at the weekend,” he added.

Visoth said that due to the government’s opening of the borders, the number of foreign tourists has increased, although they had not reached their pre-pandemic numbers.

There are also a healthy number of students visiting the National Museum. Whether from state of private schools, they come to conduct research and learn about their history and culture, he said.

“More than 10,000 students have visited the National Museum since the beginning of this year, most of them from schools in Phnom Penh,” he said.

He said entry is free of charge for students, monks and the disabled. Cambodian people pay 500 riel to visit the museum. International tourists over the age of 18 pay $10, with 12 to 18 year old paying $5. These fees were set more than 20 years ago, he said.

Visoth said the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum was receiving roughly the same number of tourists, but the museum department was preparing additional programmes to encourage students to visit the museum more.

“Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum is a place of remembrance. A former interrogation and detention centre named S-21 during the Khmer Rouge era, it has been preserved as it was found. This evidence of the tragic events in the history of Cambodia are a valuable resource for the public to study in order to encourage them to become messengers of peace,” he said.

He said that tickets were free for Cambodians while foreigners will be charged $3 for 10 to 18 year olds and $5 for those above 18.

Tickets are only available at the museum ticket booth, he added.

Kong Samneang, deputy director-general of Westline Education Group, said that at the end of each year, his school organised field trips outside of school to enable students to understand their Khmer heritage, through museums and historical sites.

“Recently, we organised an excursion to the Choeung Ek Genocide Centre. We run these kinds of programmes at the end of each year,” he said.

Samneang said that there were currently more than 10,000 students enrolled at Westline Schools. All students have been vaccinated according to government policy, which meant they were able to go on field trips outside of school grounds.

He said that he had noticed a significant increase in study tours to museums as well as historical sites.