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Kanchanaburi is a fascinating place to visit and offers a wonderful mix of historical sightseeing and natural beauty.
Visit World War II museums and monuments dedicated to the fallen soldiers who lost their lives during the occupation by Japan or explore natural hot springs and picturesque waterfalls.
Easily accessible by car or train from Bangkok, Kanchanaburi lies within easy reach of a number of national parks.
A stay in Kanchanaburi is perfect for those looking to escape the city who want an alternative to the beach.
Accommodation is centred on the banks of the River Kwai where there is a choice of luxurious resorts with fine dining restaurants to boat houses and small homestays.
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Things to do
1. Bridge over the River Kwai
Made famous by the movie The Bridge on the River Kwai the Death Railway Bridge is arguably the most famous landmark in Kanchanaburi.
The original bridge was built by mainly British, Australian and Dutch POWs and was nicknamed the Death Railway because so many men died during its construction. Once built, it was used to help bring supplies to Japanese soldiers.
While not the original, (that was bombed by the Royal Air Force (RAF) in 1945), the bridge is still in use today and helps to connect the two sides of the River Kwai. You can walk along the bridge and take photos, just watch out of the twice daily trains.
2. Death Railway
After you’ve visited the Bridge over the River Kwai, you can take a trip along the Death Railway route. The trip takes around two hours and passes through some incredible scenery and over a wood viaduct that runs along the cliff edge. Catch the train from Tha Kilen Station to Nam Tok.
3. Hellfire Pass Memorial
The Hellfire Pass is a 500 metre section of rock that POWs were made to dig out by hand during the construction of the Death Railway. 700 men lost their lives in the process. Today you can walk along it and there is also a memorial museum to honor those who died. Both moving and fascinating, a must visit for anyone who visits Kanchanaburi.
4. Kanchanaburi War Cemetery & Chung Kai War Cemetery
The Kanchanaburi War Cemetery contains the graves of more than 6,900 POWs who lost their lives during construction of the Death Railway.
Chung Kai War Cemetery houses the graves of 1,740 POWs and is located just 2 kilometres from the centre of Kanchanaburi, the cemetery is easy to reach on foot or by bicycle.
Both cemeteries are beautifully landscaped and maintained.
5. Erawan Waterfalls
Part of the Erawan National Park, Erawan Waterfall is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Thailand.
You can hike to the top of the 7 tiered waterfall network before taking a dip in its beautiful turquoise waters – very refreshing on a hot day.
The falls are located about 50km north of Kanchanaburi and are easily accessible by car, songthaew or motorcycle.
Once you have finished at the falls, you should explore other parts of the Erawan National Park, in particular the Tham Phra That Cave where you can look at the ancient stalagmites and stalactites.
6. Prasat Muang Singh Historical Park
Prasat Muang Singh Historical Park is a Khmer archaeological site located about 45km outside of Kanchanaburi city centre and can be reached by car or songthaew. It is home to ruins and artefacts dating back to the 13th century. The park is large and on a hot day is best explored by bicycle.
7. JEATH War Museum
Located on the grounds of Wat Chai Chumphon, the museum is meant to replicate a prisoner of war camp and depicts what it may have been like for the POWs in World War II. On display are written accounts, photographs and other items from POWs.
8. Rafting and boat trips on the River Kwai
When it comes to activities, head to the river for rafting or a boat ride. Start at River Kwai Noi and take a raft down the river. It’s picturesque and run and the currents are typically fairly calm making it a good opportunity to go for a swim! Alternatively take a long tail boat trip along the river taking in a multitude of scenic views along the way.
Local Reference Websites for Kanchanaburi