Photo: Thailand's most famous bridge?

Organised tours

Every woman and her dog runs a tour company, or at least acts as a middleman for one in Kanchanaburi, and while zipping around in a songthaew with a dozen others may not be the most exciting way to explore the province, it is the cheapest.

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These trips, as unimaginative as they are, are often excellent value. The only disappointing fact is that in a province with such a great wealth of national parks and attractions, the choice of tours available is limited. Three general-purpose tours are pretty much on offer everywhere; little differentiates the individual operators, so go with a personal recommendation if you have one. It's also possible to do private tours to the attractions of your choice, but expect to pay a hefty price for these.

A typical day-tour runs between 750 and 1,200 baht per person and includes standard stops at Krasae Cave and Sai Yok Noi waterfall along with possibly a short train ride on the death railway. Optional activities might include visits to Hellfire Pass, Erawan waterfall, Hin Tat hot springs and an elephant trek or bamboo rafting trip.

Of these, Erawan is the easiest to do independently, while elephant trekking and bamboo rafting must be done as part of a tour. Hellfire Pass is a bit daunting to reach on your own, but it can be done if you're willing to wait for a bus to take you back to Kanchanaburi or can handle a long motorbike ride, and we feel it's best appreciated without the random strangers and time restraints of a group tour.

Multi-day tours are also available for around 2,500 to 3,500 baht per person, depending on the size of the group, which includes all transport, food and lodging. Expect to see Erawan, Three Pagodas Pass, the Mon village at Sangkhlaburi and the sunken town. Some jungle trekking will typically be offered along with rafting and elephant riding. These trips offer good value if you don't mind the whole package tour experience, though we advise avoiding elephant trekking -- head to Elephant's World instead, a reputable sanctuary.

If wanting a full-on historical tour of the province, the Death Railway Museum runs half- and full-day tours led by experts on the area's war history. Inquire at the museum for more information.

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