I will be in Kanchanaburi in August for three days. On the last day I plan to visit Hellfire Pass museum and trail, then make my way to Nam Tok for the 12:55 train all the way to Bangkok.
Does anyone have any advice on the best way to get to Hellfire and then on to Nam Tok? Money is not so much an issue so would be happy to get taxis if there are taxis waiting at Hellfire Pass, or are there other alternatives?
Also, how reliable is the train in terms of time. Reason I ask is its scheduled to get to Thonburi for around 17:40, I then have to be at Hualamphong Station for the 19:35 overnighter to Chiang Mai.
Thanks in advance.
#1 Lazer has been a member since 10/7/2013. Posts: 5
VERY unrelaible-in fact garanteed to a miss of 2nd train. Another one misled by seat61 propaganda or the eternal belief nightbuses are too bad? you also overlook the tiny prob of how to cross BKk in the nightmare of evening peak traffic.In fact you will not find ANY taxi's like you know them-as normal cars-out of big cities. However,t he Thai have an answer about any potential prob-all those lovely pickups, songhthaews etc. are also for private hire-as long as you can get you message across and come to a deal on a price.
Again normal BUSes from Kan pass near that pass-also minivans, toward Sangklaburi.
#2 captainbkk has been a member since 16/2/2012. Posts: 472
I'd suggest visiting Hellfire pass on the second day of your stay in Kanchanaburi that will then free you up for an earlier departure from Kan for Bangkok and a more comfortable timing for the train north to Chiang Mai.
Cheers for the replies.
I'm visiting Erawan NP on the second day, and thought it may take up most of the day (I intend to make it to the 7th tier) and the travelling times there and back. If you don't need a full day I suppose if I set off early enough I could do Hellfire Pass in the afternoon?
Alternatively I could do Hellfire pass in the morning on my final day before getting a bus back to Bangkok around lunchtime giving me plenty of time to make the overnight train.
I really wanted to ride the death railway though. Do you think this could be done on the day I arrive (by bus, setting off at about 11:30 from Bangkok) by jumping on the train at Kanchanburi and arranging for a taxi/tuk tuk/songthtaew to collect me at Nam Tok?
My other option is to relent and take a day tour that goes to Erawan, Hellfire Pass and Death railway, aswell as rafting etc. Seems like it would be a rushed experience to me.
#4 Lazer has been a member since 10/7/2013. Posts: 5
Hitting Erawan and Hellfire Pass in the same day is pushing it if you really want to do both places justice. If you want to do a fair amount of hiking at both, they're each a solid half-day attraction (could easily do a full day at either, at least if you hike the whole memorial trail at Hellfire), and they're quite far apart. The problem is that they're on different roads. No matter which you hit first, you need to backtrack then hit a connector road and then head a long way north again to either. I went to Hellfire Pass by motorbike, hiked for an hour or so on the memorial trail and stopped at Prasat Muang Singh and Sai Yok Noi waterfall on the way, both of which are right off Route 323, and that was a solid day trip. Kanchanaburi is really a very big, spread out province.
Of course, tour companies can take you to Erawan and Hellfire in the same day, but that doesn't mean they'll allow you to do much hiking. You might take captainbkk's advice and hire a songthaew for the day from the bus station if you're keen on hitting both and doing it your own way. Or perhaps ask a few of the tour companies if they'll do a tailored trip just for you, though that would be pretty expensive. You're right that the typical package tours are a rushed experience - they don't appeal to me.
To answer one of your original questions, there are no taxis at Hellfire Pass at all. It's located right off 323 and there's nothing around it for a few km in either direction - no villages or restaurants or anything. You can catch the local Sangkhlaburi-Thong Pha Phum-Kanchanaburi buses or minibuses as they pass along the main road - obviously requires some patience (and time).
You say three days, but it's not really three days - it's really one full day and two partial days, yeah? In that case, I'd probably take the death railway trip on the first day after arriving. On the second day I'd ask a songthaew to go to Erawan and Hellfire on the same day, and if that's not manageable, I'd go to Hellfire and some of the sites along the way off 323, and just plan to hit a different waterfall up north. And on the third day I'd check out some of the museums in Kanchanaburi in the morning then grab a bus that allows for plenty of time to get to Hualamphong on time.