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Step back in times past - WWII stories, sites & sacrifice

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    THG Recommended Attractions in Kanchanaburi

    Additional things to do in Kanchanaburi

    The third-largest provincial city in Thailand, Kanchanaburi lies 165 km to the west of Bangkok, bordering Myanmar. The region has an interesting and dark past in Thai history that continues to fascinate visitors who come across remnants of this history still today.

    The Death Railway

    One of the most visited places among Kanchanaburi attractions is the Death Railway with its menacing history. The Death Railway starts at Nong Pladuk, 80km west of Bangkok and travels northwest to Kanchanaburi, over the River Kwai Bridge (otherwise referred to as the Death Railway Bridge) on to Nam Tok. From Nam Tok, the disused trackbed heads on to the infamous Hellfire Pass and through the Three Pagodas Pass into Myanmar. During WWII, the Japanese Army forced labour onto local Thais along with allied prisoners of war (POWs) from the war camp for the railway construction of the railway line to Burma. The line was completed in 1943, and passenger trains still run from Bangkok to Nam Tok. The train station, now known as The Thailand-Burma Railway Centre, set over two floors, has been transformed into the Death railway museum that displays an emotionally rousing depiction of the horrendous events that transpired.

    The Bridge over the River Kwai

    One of Kanchanaburi’s historic places! During World War II, the Japanese forces ordered Allied POWs (prisoners of war) from the allied forces to build a railway from Thailand to Burma for the purpose of transporting ammunition supplies to their army. The Japanese literally worked them to death under gruelling conditions; hence the name, ‘Death Railway.’ The Bridge on the River Kwai film was inspired by true World War II events and made an exact replica of the bridge. The famous Bridge over the River Kwai (or the Death Railway Bridge) is now surrounded on the Kanchanaburi side by a museum, cafes, shops and a couple of ancient steam locomotives on display. You can walk across the River Kwai Yai bridge but do keep in mind that the bridge is still operational so be on the lookout for approaching locomotives sounding their horns!

    The Hellfire Pass

    At the Hellfire Pass, 4 kilometres of the former tracks are currently open to the public and have been established as a memorial to the 13,000 POWs and 80,000 Thai labourers conscripted by the Japanese soldiers and died building the railway. The site features the Hellfire Pass Museum, now called the Hellfire Pass Interpretive Centre which runs an extremely informative movie about the railway and detailed displays. It’s recommended that visitors walk the Memorial Walking Trail for a moving experience through the now peaceful shaded jungle that was once anything but tranquil. It is a comfortable walking distance. This is among the historical must-visit places in Kanchanaburi!

    Jeath War Museum

    The Jeath War Museum houses a collection of documents, paintings, photographs, and appliances used in the construction of the Kanchanaburi-Burma Death Railway during World War 2. This is one of the war museums dedicated as war memorials in Kanchanaburi, like the Hellfire Pass War Museum and the Thai-Burma Railway Centre Museum.

    Wat Ban Tham (Dragon Head Temple)

    Along the Mae Klong River past Kanchanaburi, you will find Wat Ban Tham also known as the Dragons Head Temple. A staircase of colourful steps that lead you up into the mouth of a giant dragon. From there you walk through the body of the beast which is decorated with murals of the temple until you reach the first cave temple. Upon leaving the cave you are met with the most incredible views of the surrounding countryside, a Golden Chedi, prayer bells and several statues of Brahma.

    Kaeng Lawa Cave

    Located nearby Kwai Noi River is the spectacular wonder which is the Kaeng Lawa Cave. The 500-metre long cavern features multiple chambers, phenomenal stalagmites and stalactites along with Buddha statues scattered through. It is also home to the tiniest bat in the world- the Kun Kitti bat with a wingspan of only 10 cm and weighing less than 2 grams.

    Kanchanaburi War Cemetery

    Almost 7000 soldiers who worked on the Death Railway are buried in this immaculately maintained war cemetery also known as the Don Rak War Cemetery. There is a register at the entrance for people to look up loved ones.

    Sai Yok National Park

    Go on a hiking trail in Sai Yok National Park which is home to mountains, waterfalls and caves, located in the Western Forest Complex protected area. The two Sai Yok waterfalls are about an hour within the vicinity of each other and the National Park.

    Erawan Falls

    The impressive seven-tier Erawan Waterfall located in Erawan National Park has hundreds of little turquoise pools for a refreshing swim and is among the very popular places to visit in this region. Khao Laem Lake is also a must-see in the park.

    Hill Tribes

    Kanchanaburi is home to several native Thai and former Burmese refugee hill-tribes with the most recognized being the Karen people, where the women dorn thick neck rings similar to some tribes seen in Africa. Stacking the neck rings over the years leads to long, graceful necks which are considered a beauty feature among the Karen people. For visitors interested in learning more about Karen culture, you can opt to stay in some local home-stays within the Karen village of Ban Khao Lek.

    Prasat Muang Singh Historical Park

    Around Kanchanaburi, at Prasat Muang Singh, visitors will discover the ancient ruins of the former Khmer empire which stretched from Cambodia into this region. The Khmer temple complex and a military outpost are situated about 50 kms from Kanchanaburi town. The complex comprises four significant buildings estimated to be at least 800 years old, and an exhibition hall with artefacts and Buddha images.

    Waterfalls

    The waterfalls in Kanchanaburi are best to visit during the wet season so you will see them in their full glory and even swim, as during the dry season they tend to dry up. The waterfalls worth visiting in the region include the Erawan Waterfall, a beautiful waterfall located northwest of Kanchanaburi and Huay Mae Khamin Waterfalls further northwest. Also, you will find Sai Yok Noi Waterfall located 60 km northwest of Kanchanaburi and its sister Sai Yok Yai Waterfall another 40 km further. Like the Erawan Waterfall, both Sai Yok Noi Waterfall and Sai Yok Yai Waterfall are located in national parks and are a must-see for nature lovers. Pra That Cave is also worth seeing with its shard-like stalactites hanging from the ceiling. Waterfall tripping is undeniably one of the fun activities in Kanchanaburi!

    Wat Tham Suea

    It is known for its scenery surrounded by rice fields and enshrined a huge Buddha. Is an ancient temple from ancient times There is a history that can be traced back to the year 1971. The temple consists of buildings and chedi. Thai architecture, Chinese, Japanese, Overlooking the river, mountains and rice fields view from the top of Wat Tham Khao Noi. Visiting this lovely temple should be on your top activities list.

    Giant Rain tree

    Giant Monkey Pod Tree is another interesting tourist spot and not too far from Kanchanaburi town. The giant Chamchuri tree is more than 100 years old, which is now difficult to find such a large tree. Here it has become a landmark of Kanchanaburi city. When arriving within the Monkey Pod tree area there is an area selling souvenirs and local products.

    Mallika R.E 124

    The Mallika City is a retro city of Siamese lifestyle on the Chao Phraya River. In the reign of King Rama V, the way of life of Siamese people in the 1920s era, experience the atmosphere of the city and the people. get to know Siam in old times which is full of traditional roots that are steadily advancing in modernity.

    Kanchanaburi – Overview

    Kanchanaburi Province – A Historical Treasure

    The third-largest provincial city in Thailand, Kanchanaburi lies 165 km to the west of Bangkok, bordering Myanmar. The region has an interesting and sinister past that continues to fascinate visitors who can discover remnants of this history still today.

    Things to do in Kanchanaburi, Thailand

    Sightseeing activities in Kanchanaburi mainly centre around nature and historical sites. No trip to Kanchanaburi is complete without seeing at least one historical monument or visiting at least one of its magnificent national parks as a priority in your list of activities and things to do in Kanchanaburi.


    Frequently Asked Questions

    What are the most popular things to do with kids in Kanchanaburi?

    Kanchanaburi has a lot of sights and activities to offer children! Besides a day trip visiting magnificent waterfalls and caves, kids will enjoy visiting the Elephant’s World, an elephant conservation camp that cares for retired elephants who used to work in the tourist industry. Tourists are welcome to volunteer to work in the camp by for instance washing the elephants and gathering food for them. A family activity could also be taking Thai cooking classes together to learn how to make the famous Pad Thai and other Thai delicious dishes.

    What is Kanchanaburi famous for?

    Kanchanaburi province is famous for its nature and historical WWII sites. Notable World War II relics include the bridge on the River Kwai and WWII museums and war cemeteries like the Death Railway Museum or Hellfire Pass Memorial Museum. There are several national parks in the region with cascading waterfalls such as Sai Yok and Erawan National Parks along with Khao Laem Lake. Both have excellent trekking routes. There are so many things to see and activities to do in Kanchanaburi!

    How far is Kanchanaburi from Bangkok?

    Kanchanaburi is about 165km from Bangkok. It will take around 2.5 hours by train or car to get to Kanchanaburi from Bangkok, double that time for a round trip travel estimate.
    By bus from Bangkok Mochit Bus Terminal (or the old Southern Bus Terminal) to Kanchanaburi Bus Terminal that departs once daily everyday for a three and a half-hour trip.

    How do I get to Erawan Falls?

    To get to where the falls are situated, you can take the bus (# 8170) from the Kanchanaburi Bus Station then travel for two hours to the Srinakarind Market stop. From there, it is approximately 1 km to walk to the national park entrance or you can jump in a taxi.

    Where is Erawan National Park?

    Erawan National Park is in Thailand, northwest of Bangkok in the province of Kanchanaburi towards the Myanmar border.

    What can you do in Kanchanaburi for free?

    You can visit the bridge over the River Kwai and its monument, Kanchanaburi War Cemetery, the Kanchanaburi Night Market (also known as the JJ Night Market) to sample local street food and giant tree, an ancient market and the most popular floating market in Thailand for souvenir shopping, Chong Kai war cemetery, Wat Ban Tham, Hellfire Pass Interpretive Centre and Memorial Walking Trail, to name a few.

    Is Kanchanaburi worth visiting?

    Kanchanaburi is surely, certainly, definitely worth a not-so-short visit for you and even with your children! Activities in Kanchanaburi cover the gamut of culture-history-nature. Nothing you can want more!

    Is Kanchanaburi safe?

    Kanchanaburi is generally safe but travel safety protocols should still be applied and common sense to prevail. The city has dimly-lit sections and taking a taxi is advised to newcomers not familiar with the area.
    The latest update as of the first week of August is the extension of restrictions until 31 August.
    Kanchanaburi is among the classified Dark Red zones, meaning only food establishments can stay open until 23:00. Social gatherings are maxed at twenty people and checkpoints have been set up to monitor inter-provincial travel. These regulations are in addition to the prevailing safety protocols in the covid-19 pandemic.
    Citizens of several countries and Thai nationals from those destinations are allowed to enter Thailand without a visa, except for those coming from Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan. These are still banned from entering the country because of concerns over the new covid variants.

    How many days should I spend in Kanchanaburi?

    Two-three days can allow you to do historical activities and visit significant places in Kanchanaburi like the River Kwai Bridge and Burma Railway, the Hellfire Pass Memorial Museum and hiking trail and the Don-Rak cemetery, the final resting place of the deceased POWs of World War II.
    But if you are nature lovers and want to explore the natural attractions among your activities in Kanchanaburi, four to six days would suffice to do these activities conveniently.

    How do I get to Kanchanaburi by train?

    Bangkok to Kanchanaburi by train (which is actually the best way to travel to Kanchanaburi from Bangkok) takes only 2.5 hours to cover the 135 km distance between them.
    Trains to Kanchanaburi depart from the Thonburi Railway Station, two trips daily, all the way to Nam Tok, from where you can get a taxi to the Hellfire Pass Memorial Museum. At the same time, the train ride also goes to the River Kwai Bridge.

    How do you get around Kanchanaburi?

    Bicycles are good (and healthy activities) ways of getting around Kanchanaburi. The roads are safe and easy to navigate to places you wish to go to. Group activities can be easier in a songthaew (or tuk-tuks) which can be hired for a whole day.

    How do you pronounce Kanchanaburi?

    Kanchanaburi is quite easy to pronounce, almost the way it is spelt – kan-cha-nah-bu-ree.

    Does Kanchanaburi have an airport?

    There is no airport in Kanchanaburi. The nearest airport is Don Muang Airport in Bangkok which is 113.8km away from Kanchanaburi. The Suvarnabhumi Airport, also in Bangkok, is 134.4 km away and the Dawe Airport is 145.4 km away from Kanchanaburi.

    Can you swim in Erawan Falls?

    No swimming activities are allowed in Erawan Falls, as a precaution for visitors safety. On the trails along the way are emerald green ponds visitors are allowed to swim in.

    Why do people visit Kanchanaburi?

    People like to visit Kanchanaburi for its many historical places and attractions, aside from its natural attractions of elephants, hiking trails, amazing parks with equally amazing features and experiences. Visitors have so many activities to do, places to see and experiences to take home as memories.

    Does the bridge over the River Kwai still exist?

    The bridge over the River Kwai, which was built by conscripted Allied prisoners of war (POWs) by the Japanese forces during World War II as part of the Burma Railway, still stands on the edge of the jungle three miles from the town. It was never destroyed.
    The blowing up of the bridge was just a scene in the Hollywood movie “The Bridge on the River Kwai” which was popularized by the superstar cast and still is being re-shown often until now. That movie has helped make the bridge, and the river, among the tourist attractions and popular places and activities in Kanchanaburi.

    Where should I go outside of Bangkok?

    Travel guides and reviews mention ten to fifteen destinations outside of Bangkok and Kanchanaburi is always included in those lists of things to do and activities for nature lovers and travellers with children. Kanchanaburi features, like its national parks and temples, are even listed specifically among some mentions, as interesting activities in Kanchanaburi for families and children. Not to forget the varied accommodation options from budget to mid range hotels.

    What are the national parks in Kanchanaburi?

    Kanchanaburi Thailand is one of the places in the country with a good number of magnificent national parks. With easy hiking trails even for children, nature lovers will not run out of experiences and things to see and activities to do in these parks. Here are some of them.
    Erawan National Park. Located northwest of Bangkok near the Myanmar border. Far less crowded than other national parks. Known for its seven-tiered waterfalls, its star attraction. Additional attractions are the doctor fish foot spa-like treatment and many caves, one of which has two levels. The hiking trails to the falls are great activities for nature lovers, even children will enjoy seeing a lot of wonderful things along the way.
    Sai Yok National Park. Another national park of Kanchanaburi Thailand is located in the Sai Yok District covering 958 square km. Sai Yok National Park is part of the huge Western Forest Complex composed of 19 protected sites in Myanmar and Thailand. Offering mountains, waterfalls and caves, the famous spots in the park are the Khwae Noi River, Sai Yok Lek Waterfall, the Death Railway, Dao Wadung Cave, Khang Khao Cave and Lawa Cave.
    Khuen Srinagarindra National Park. Centre of the Srinagarind Reservoir, this 1,532 sq km park is part of the Western Forest Complex protected area. With many caves, the Tham Phra Prang Cave was used as a hiding place by the Thai soldiers during the 18th century Thai-Burma wars. This cave has a Buddha image inside. The most popular feature of the park is the 7-Level Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall that flows to the Khwae Yai River, along with Pha Sawan and Pha Tat Waterfalls.
    Other spectacular caves are the 490-ft Tham Sawan with prehistoric cave paintings, the dome-like Tham Neramit with beautiful stalactites and stalagmites, Tham Nam Mut and Tham Phra Kho.
    Chaloem Rattanakosin National Park. Another of the Kanchanaburi national parks, and also known as Tham Than Loi National Park, the Chaloem Rattanakosin is also part of the Western Forest Complex protected area.
    The park’s cave systems are astounding and make it popular. The 300-m long Tham Than Lot Noi has large stalactites and stalagmites. The Tham Than Lot Yai also has these geological features and is where artefacts and human remains believed to be from invading Burmese soldiers during the end of the Ayutthaya Period were found. The park’s famous waterfall is the Than Thong with 15 levels, and the “smaller” Than Ngoen with seven levels.

    What are the best temples in Kanchanaburi?

    Wat Tham Sua and Wat Tham Khao Noi. Around 15km outside of Kanchanaburi City is the impressive Wat Tham Sua Temple, right next to the Wat Tham Khao Noi, another temple. The Wat Tham Sua was made in pure Thai architectural style on top of a small hill. The main attraction is the 18metre high and 10metre wide seated Buddha (called Chin Prathanporn) covered with gold mosaic, constructed in 1973. You can walk up the 157 steps or ride a small cable car, to the top, from where you get an amazing 360-degree view of the surroundings. The temple is also called Tiger Cave Temple because its cave used to house a tiger family. The caves are now closed to the public.
    Wat Ban Tham (Dragon Head Temple). Just a few kilometres along the Mae Klong River from Kanchanaburi you can find the Wat Ban Tham sometimes called the Dragon’s Head Temple. The most visible thing upon entering the car park is a white sitting Buddha with a jolly expression in the temple front with a golden chedi on top of a mountain from afar. Bright red steps lead you upwards into the mouth of a giant dragon through its body decorated with murals until you reach the first temple cave. There is a Buddha called Luang Por Yai Chinnaraj, beside which is a monk giving blessings.
    Kung Im Chapel.
    On the outskirts of Kanchanaburi is the distinctive Kung Im Temple next to the Bridge over the River Kwai. Its architecture is Chinese-themed, which gives some visitors the impression that it is a Chinese temple. On the temple grounds are sculptures of dragons, animals, gold coins and a massive Chinese Goddess of Mercy.
    The path is painted red and gold and the surroundings are equally colourful – pagodas exquisitely decorated and a huge totem pole decorated with dragons. The temple’s main building roof is done with more dragons and a golden Buddha statue.
    Temple hopping in Kanchanaburi Thailand which has some of the most colourful and lavishly adorned temples anywhere would make you glad it was your tourist destination of choice.

    What is the Hellfire Pass Memorial?

    Hellfire Pass and the Memorial Museum is a must among the important places and historical things to do in Kanchanaburi.
    Hellfire Pass Memorial (also known as Konyu Cutting) is a 4km historic site, one of the most well-known sites in the Thai Burma railway.
    The museum is a memorial to the Allied POWs and Asian labourers who were conscripted from the POW camps by the Japanese forces in World War II. There are artefacts, a model of the Pass and many photographs on display, as well as a short video of the conditions the POWs had to endure. The Memorial Museum was officially opened on April 25, 1998, as a joint venture between the Australian and Thailand governments, and is maintained by the Office of Australian War Graves.
    There are audio players in the museum available at a small refundable deposit, which plays recordings of POWs telling of their experiences at certain points on the trail. If you are doing the hiking trail without your mobile phone, the museum will lend you a two-way radio for safety precautions. From the museum to the Pass you walk down wooden walkways and stairs. Hellfire Pass is part of a commemorative hiking trail and is well maintained. It takes only 10 minutes from the bottom of the stairs into the Pass.

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