Photo: Thailand's most famous bridge?

Things to see and do

Exploring Kanchanaburi by train

The daily local train from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi is not the fastest way to travel but as a change from blue government coaches or cramped Khao San minibuses it’s worth considering, and if you’re not in a hurry it can be a lot of ... Read more about Exploring Kanchanaburi by train .

Death Railway Bridge
Crosses the river at the northern end of Maenam Kwai Rd, Kanchanaburi

Kanchanaburi's signature landmark gets a lot of hype thanks to the 1957 film, Bridge Over the River Kwai, but many are a tad disappointed as it's not really that spectacular. Even so, the history makes it special and it's the symbol of Kanchanaburi: You'll see the bridge's simple dark iron arches painted on walls, samlors and T-shirts all around town. The original iron bridge was brought from ... Read more about Death Railway Bridge .

River Kwai Bridge Festival

In typical Thai style, the River Kwai Bridge Festival serves up a sombre slice of history alongside a large dose of sanuk (fun). The annual event tells the story of the construction of the Death Railway, of which the River Kwai Bridge was a part, and pays tribute to those who lost their lives ... Read more about River Kwai Bridge Festival .

Erawan National Park
65km from Kanchanaburi

The very popular Erawan National Park sprawls over 550 square kilometres of the Salop mountains in rural Kanchanaburi province. While cave enthusiasts, bird watchers and orchid hunters could keep busy here for weeks, most come specifically for Erawan Waterfall, a wondrous multi-tiered set of falls named after a divine three-headed ... Read more about Erawan National Park .

Death Railway Museum
Off Sangchuto Rd, opposite the War Cemetery, Kanchanaburi

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, ... Read more about Death Railway Museum .

Chung-Kai War Cemetery
Around 5km south of Kanchanaburi

Around five kilometres to the south of town on the far bank of the River Kwai at the point where it divides in separate directions, this cemetery occupies the former site of Chung-Kai prisoner of war camp. Some 1,750 POWs are buried here, most of whom died in the hospital. The cemetery is at the original site of the base camp hospital and a church that was built by the POWs. The atmosphere ... Read more about Chung-Kai War Cemetery .

Kanchanaburi War Cemetery
Sangchuto Rd, Kanchanaburi

The Kanchanaburi War Cemetery is home to the remains of 6,982 Allied prisoners of war who died during the construction of the notorious Thai-Burmese Death Railway. Most casualties are from Commonwealth countries, and around 1,800 are Dutch. The railway was built by Commonwealth, Dutch and American prisoners of war, overseen by the Japanese, who had an extensive army in Burma and required ... Read more about Kanchanaburi War Cemetery .

Chinese Cemetery
Sangchuto Rd, Kanchanaburi

Located beside the war cemetery is a large Chinese cemetery. Though it's almost always deserted, it's an interesting contrast to the immaculately kept Allied graveyard next door and makes for a photogenic 15 minute wander if you happen to be in the area. The Chinese graves are built above ground and some have ornate ceramic artwork. A large pagoda sits at the centre of the ... Read more about Chinese Cemetery .

Hellfire Pass
80 km west of Kanchanaburi, off Route 323

Midday heat topped 40 degrees Celsius as we sipped our last drops of water under a scorching sun. We’re not out of shape, but the extreme weather and rugged terrain left us exhausted just 45 minutes into the hike. Only then did we begin to imagine how horrific this place must have been for those who were forced to chisel through solid rock for 18 hours a days. Only then did we begin to ... Read more about Hellfire Pass .

JEATH War Museum
Chaichumphon Rd, Kanchanaburi

The JEATH (Japan, England, Australia, America, Thailand and Holland) museum contains a moving photo and art collection displaying the atrocious conditions under which the prisoners of war existed during the building of the Death Railway. Brief but striking captions accompany each image and help to give a sense for what life was like for the prisoners. Expect to see dramatic depictions of ... Read more about JEATH War Museum .

War Museum and Art Gallery
By the Death Railway Bridge, Kanchanaburi

Navigating the museums in Kanchanburi can be a little confusing -- a sign for this quirky museum located near the bridge says that it's the JEATH museum, but the real JEATH museum is found across town. One building is devoted mainly to the history of the many Thai-Burmese wars that have taken place over the centuries. Here you'll find displays of ancient swords, sculptures of Thai kings and ... Read more about War Museum and Art Gallery .

Sai Yok National Park
95 km northwest of Kanchanaburi

The main attractions are Sai Yok Yai and Sai Yok Lek waterfalls, both of which emerge as streams out of the forest before plummeting eight to 10 metres into the River Kwai. A suspension footbridge has been set up near Sai Yok Yai, which takes you across the river to a viewing point. You'll need to pay a longtail boat 300 baht to take you the half-kilometre down river to see Sai Yok Lek, oddly the ... Read more about Sai Yok National Park .

Huai Mae Khamin Waterfall

He hiked through thick bamboo forest to majestic falls cascading into pools painted emerald by the calcite deposits. After a long swim with no one else around, he returned to his tent to gaze at a mountain lake and doze to the sound of falling water. We heard this story several years ago, when a friend from Kanchanaburi first told us about the remote Huai Mae Khamin Waterfall. Thanks to a newly ... Read more about Huai Mae Khamin Waterfall .

Elephant's World Kanchanaburi

Many travellers feel that no Thailand adventure would be complete without an elephant trek. The sad fact is that many elephants are overworked, underfed and mistreated at tourist-driven attractions, and their backs are not suited to carrying people for long stretches. In an idyllic slice of Kanchanaburi province, however, Elephant's World is a non-profit elephant refuge that offers a fun and ... Read more about Elephant's World Kanchanaburi .

Prasat Muang Singh
43km from Kanchanaburi

Prasat Muang Singh, or Sanctuary of the City of the Lion, is the westernmost site of the Khmer Empire so far unearthed, and has been dated to the 12th or 13th century. Sitting on the banks of the Kwai Noi River, this complex is believed to have once been a large trading centre and probably also acted as an important garrison town protecting the western frontier of the Khmer kingdom. Though ... Read more about Prasat Muang Singh .

Tham Krasae
30km from Kanchanaburi

While the cave here is nothing amazing, the access along a viaduct of the Death Railway provides spectacular views over the surrounds, with a river sliding by well below you. The train stops here to allow passengers to jump off, take a look around and buy various touristy knick-knacks. But if you visit at any other time, chances are you'll have the cave and viaduct totally to yourself. ... Read more about Tham Krasae .

Sai Yok Noi Waterfall
45km from Kanchanaburi

Not as impressive as Sai Yok Yai waterfall further north and nowhere near as spectacular as Erawan waterfall, Sai Yok Noi is a tourist trap that's so regularly visited only due to its convenience. It's located immediately off Route 323 around 45 kilometres west of Kanchanaburi. It's also a short walk from Nam Tok rail station, which is the final stop on the Death Railway train ride. To be ... Read more about Sai Yok Noi Waterfall .

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. 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 ... Read more about Organised tours .

Cooking classes
Various outlets throughout town

One of the best ways to gain an understanding of Thai culture is through learning about its cuisine, and Kanchanaburi provides a wonderful environment for taking a Thai cooking course. Thai cooking classes have become a bit of a craze in Kanchanaburi, and now almost everyone with a kitchen has put out a sign advertising their classes. The most established course is at Apple's Retreat, where ... Read more about Cooking classes .

Helping the Karen of Burma

It was a frigid winter day in the US state of Vermont when I first met with a recently resettled refugee family back in 2008. The resettlement program had told me they were Burmese, so I was confused when only one 17-year old family member could understand what was written in an English-Burmese phrasebook. I soon learned how they were part of the ethnic Karen minority, displaced by the world's ... Read more about Helping the Karen of Burma .

No pic at the moment -- Sorry!
About 5 km southwest of town in Ko Samrong

The Cave Temple of the Floating Dragon has no floating dragon, but does have a resident floating nun. A string of more than half a dozen floating nuns have served time here -- a few still live here and can be seen walking (not floating) around the compound. Although performed in front of Nikon-wielding devotees in a small round pool, the performance is worth seeing as the nun really does seem ... Read more about Wat Tham Mongkon Thong .

No pic at the moment -- Sorry!
About 6 km southwest of town

This wat is built near eight caves that you can wander through when the monks are not using them as meditation rooms. They feature both stalactites and stalagmites but many have been broken so tourists won't hurt themselves. Various formations in the caves have been said to resemble either a crocodile, an elephant or a tooth. One section of the cave is only reached through a tunnel that you ... Read more about Wat Thum Khao Poon .

The Tiger Temple
38 km west of Kanchanaburi off route 323

Update 2 June 2016: In a high profile move reported around the world, the Thai Department of National Parks raided the Tiger Temple and moved all of the 133 tigers to a government-run wildlife facility. Tiger skins, fangs used for amulets and bottled organs probably used for elixers were discovered along with 40 frozen tiger cub corpses -- strong evidence that the temple was involved in illegal ... Read more about The Tiger Temple .




Where to next?

Where are you planning on heading to after Kanchanaburi? Here are some spots commonly visited from here, or click here to see a full destination list for Thailand.


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