Though abandoned, the exacting standards to which this airport’s runways and concrete roadways must have been held to are evidenced by the uncracked, weedless surfaces, even all these years later. The strangely intact airport exists as a somber reminder of the atrocities committed under Pol Pot’s rule.
The military airport was the product of forced labor under the horrific governance of the Khmer Rouge, followers of the communist regime that ruled Cambodia from 1975 to 1979. Construction on this military airbase began in 1977, but it was never completed—the project was abandoned in 1979 when Vietnamese forces invaded and occupied Cambodia.
Though never used for any actual aviation, the land holds several abandoned roadways leading to shells of old buildings, water tanks, and the vast airstrips themselves. Adjacent to the runway is a small control tower-type building.
Thousands of workers died while building the airport. They were forced to work in inhumane conditions under the reign of the radical regime. Many of the laborers were members of the military who had been sent to work at the site as a punishment. Their work was overseen by engineers from China, as the Chinese government had a keen interest in helping build the airport.
Know Before You Go
While the roads leading to decaying buildings are easily accessible, there is a guard posted at the runway. They may be unconcerned by your presence, or you may not be allowed to pass. Alternately, some visitors have been required to pay a "fee." Going with someone that speaks Khmer is the least stressful way to access the site. Additionally, it appears locals might be using the control tower and additional buildings for their own purposes, so it is best to maintain a respectful distance .