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Kanchanaburi

Getting there and away

Train

The main Kanchanaburi train station is located off Sangchuto Road, an easy walk from the main traveller strip on Maenam Kwai Road. Rather than leaving from Bangkok's Hualamphong station, the two daily trains depart from Thonburi station on the west side of the Chao Phraya river. Probably the best way to get there is to take the Chao Phraya express boat to Wang Lang pier, from where you can walk the one kilometre (take a right behind Siriraj Hospital then your next left), or take a taxi or tuk tuk for around 40 baht. Be sure to tell the driver you want the train to Kanchanaburi or they may think you want to go to Krung Thonburi BTS station.

Trains depart at 07:45 and 13:55 and the ride takes around three hours. The price for foreigners has jumped to a steep 100 baht for an uncomfortable third class seat with no air-con (all carriages are the same). Thais pay under 20 baht for the early train and ride free on the later one, so the train is best avoided if you don't want to support a particularly flagrant double pricing system.

On weekends and holidays, you can also take a special excursion train from Bangkok's Hua Lamphong station -- the ticket also costs 100 baht and the train departs at 06:30. All trains make stops at Nakhon Pathom and many other small towns along the way.

From Kanchanaburi, trains return to Bangkok at 07:20 and 14:45.

There is also a small train station opposite the Death Railway bridge in Kanchanaburi. Primarily a tourist train, it takes you over the bridge, up into the mountains and past spectacular riverside scenery. Take a seat on the lefthand side of the car (leaving from Kanchanaburi) for the best views. Trains depart at 06:05, 11:00 and 14:30 and the ticket costs 100 baht no matter how far you go. Nam Tok is the end of the line, and the station there is walking distance from Sai Yok Noi waterfall. The train also stops near Krasae cave (alight at Tham Krasae) and Prasat Muang Singh (alight at Tha Kilen). Trains return from Nam Tok at 05:10, 12:55 and 15:15, from Tham Krasae at 06:00, 13:35 and 16:10, and from Tha Kilen at 06:15, 13:50 and 16:30. Simply board the train and pay directly to the ticket collector.

    Bus

    Buses from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi depart from both Sai Tai Mai (southern) and Morchit (northern) bus terminals in Bangkok. Buses leave from Sai Tai Mai roughly every 30 minutes minutes between 05:00 to 22:00 and cost 95 baht. Buses leave from Morchit hourly from 06:00 to 18:00, take an extra half hour and cost 120 baht. All of these buses make a fair number of stops along the way, including at Nakhon Pathom, so the trip typically takes more than three hours even if you manage to get out of Bangkok with minimal traffic. Buses from both terminals arrive at the only bus station in Kanchanaburi off Sangchuto Road near the corner of U-Thong Road, from where it's a 60 baht motorbike taxi or 20 baht per person songthaew ride to the traveller strip of Maenam Kwai. Many guesthouses offer free pick-up service if you reserve ahead.

    Sample destinations from Kanchanaburi include:

    Bangkok: (Sai Tai Mai): Depart every 30 minutes from 06:00 to 20:00, costs 95 baht and takes anywhere from 3 to 5 hours. Note that Sai Tai Mai station is rather far from virtually anything in Bangkok so be prepared to pay for a 100-200 baht taxi to get from there into the city.
    Bangkok: (Morchit) Depart hourly from 04:00 to 18:00, costs 120 baht and takes anywhere from 3 to 5 hours.
    Erawan National Park: Depart hourly from 08:00 to 15:00, cost 50 baht and take 1.5 hours. Note that the last bus from the park back to Kanchanaburi departs at 16:00.
    Nakhon Pathom: Depart every 30 minutes from 04:00 to 20:00, costs 55 baht and takes around 2 hours.
    Ratchaburi: Depart every 30 minutes from 06:00 to 17:00, costs 50 baht and takes around 2 hours.
    Sangkhlaburi: Air-con buses depart hourly from 07:30 to 16:30, cost 146 baht and take around 5 hours. Red local buses depart at 06:00, 08:40, 10:20 and 12:00, cost 100 baht and take more than 5 hours. Sangkhlaburi bound buses also service Thong Pha Phum, and they can drop you at Hellfire Pass and Sai Yok National Park.
    Suphanburi: Depart every 30 minutes from 04:00 to 17:00, costs 50 baht and takes around 1.5 hours.

    Onward travel by regular bus without returning to Bangkok
    If you want to continue on elsewhere without returning to Bangkok or using the tourist buses mentioned below, there are a few options. For destinations south, like Phetburi, Hua Hin, Chumphon and Phuket, catch a bus to Ratchaburi and change there. For Ayutthaya, Lopburi, Phitsanulok, Chiang Mai and other northern destinations, catch the bus to Suphanburi and change there.

    Tourist bus
    A number of tourist buses also depart daily from Kanchanaburi, and those to the islands also include a ferry transfer. If you take these, be sure to keep valuables on your person as theft from stowed luggage can be a problem. Also keep in mind that the seriously long distances (and especially cross border buses) are gruelling and will most likely include several transfers, taking far longer than many agents claim -- we generally wouldn't recommend them. Sample destinations include:

    Chiang Mai: Departs at 13:30, costs 550 baht and takes around 12 hours.
    Ko Chang: Departs 06:15, costs 850 baht and takes around 9 hours including the boat trip.
    Ko Samui: Departs at 13:30, costs 780 baht and takes around 15 hours including the boat ride. You can also get to Ko Tao or Ko Pha Ngan this way.
    Nong Khai (Laos border): Departs at 13:30, costs 750 baht and takes around 14 hours.
    Pattaya: Departs at 14:30, costs 650 baht and takes around 5 hours.
    Phuket: Departs at 13:30, costs 880 baht and takes around 13 hours. This bus can also get you to Khao Lak and Ko Phi Phi.

    Minibus
    Minibuses (vans) are faster than regular buses but are quite cramped so aren't a good idea if you have a lot of luggage. These serve both tourists and locals and can be a convenient way to travel, especially considering the ones to Bangkok depart from, and drop passengers at BTS stations or Khao San Road. Most minibuses depart hourly from 06:00 to 18:00 in either direction, although some start as early as 04:00 and finish as late as 20:00. In Kanchanaburi, many of these can be caught at the bus station or can pick you up directly from your guesthouse for an extra fee. From Bangkok, a number of minibuses depart daily for Kanchanaburi from the stations immediately below Victory Monument BTS station. Sample destinations from Kanchanaburi include:

    Ayutthaya: These are generally for tourists and will pick up at your guesthouse for 380 baht. The trip takes around 3 hours.
    Bangkok (Morchit): Depart from either the bus station or a pick-up point immediately in front of River Kwai Hotel, cost 120 baht and take around 2.5 hours. For pick-up at a guesthouse the price is 180 baht.
    Bangkok (Victory Monument): Depart from the bus station, cost 120 baht and take around 2.5 hours. For pick-up at a guesthouse the price is 180 baht.
    Bangkok (Khao San Road): Depart from the bus station, cost 110 baht and take around 2 hours. For pick-up at a guesthouse the price is 140 baht.
    Hua Hin: Also mainly for tourists and will pick up at your guesthouse for 420 baht, taking around 4 hours.
    Sangkhlaburi: Depart from the bus station between 07:30 and 16:30 only, cost 180 baht and take less than 5 hours.

      Getting Around

      Although a few Bangkok-style tuk tuks and pedal-powered rickshaws can be spotted in Kanchanaburi, most rely on motorbike taxis to get around. These often have sidecars that can fit up to three people if they're willing to squeeze. Most will ask for 100 baht for a trip from Maenam Kwai Road to the bus station -- expect to get away with 60 baht.

      Orange public songthaews run in a loop that goes south along Sangchuto road from the bus station to Tesco Lotus, back north via Maenam Kwai Road to the Death Railway Bridge and back down to the bus station via Sangchuto. The flat fare is 10 baht.

      Perhaps the best way to get around town is by hiring a bicycle for 40 or 50 baht a day. Many guesthouses now offer bikes (as well as motorbikes), but there's no shortage of rental shops along Maenam Kwai Road. Given that Kanchanaburi is spread out for five kilometres along the river, it's a fine way to see the town. Traffic isn't a problem if you avoid Sangchuto Road and stick close to the river.

      Motorbikes are also rented out all over town for between 200 and 300 baht a day. Several new shops have opened along Maenam Kwai Road with shiny new motorbikes, but Yanee, located just up from Blue Star guesthouse, is an old standby with a good reputation for honesty. They also have a huge selection of push bikes to choose from.


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