In terms of human lives, the laying of the Death Railway was among the most tragic events of World War II and the Death Railway Museum helps to tell the story.
Up to 200,000 Southeast Asian conscripted labourers and 60,000 Allied prisoners of war worked on the railway; of these around 13,000 POWs and up to 100,000 conscripted labourers -- Javanese, Malayan Tamils of Indian origin, Burmese, Chinese, Thai and other Southeast Asians -- lost their lives during its construction. About 12,000 people are buried around Kanchanaburi in various cemeteries (Americans were repatriated). The recently added Death Railway Museum tells this sad history in greater detail than any other.
The ground floor contains detailed models of the railway complete with a topographic map built precisely to scale, a striking statue of two POWs carrying another stricken with malaria, and several well-put-together information boards explaining the exact history of the railway. The exhibits include personal anecdotes from actual prisoners and provide insights into the struggles they endured.
The upstairs rooms house displays of personal effects from the prisoners, including journals, wallets and chains with holy crosses still dangling. The museum then ends in a coffee shop with excellent views of the War Cemetery. The museum isn't huge, but plan on spending a good hour or two here if wanting to read everything and watch a video on the building of the railway.