Stars still twinkling in an early morning sky, we walked to the wooden bridge that spans the northern tip of Vijaralongkorn Lake in Sangkhlaburi. Similar to Chiew Lan Lake down in Khao Sok National Park, Vijaralongkorn was created when a 1980s-built dam flooded a huge swathe of the northern Kwai River valley to form a reservoir. It may not be a natural lake, but the scenery here is some of the ... Read more about Sunrise boat trip to Sangkhlaburi's sunken town .
Route 323 meanders for some 225 kilometres from Kanchanaburi town to Sangkhlaburi (see map). With numerous blue signs pointing to dozens of attractions, a drive down the road can feel like checking out a menu of things to see and do. The best approach is to keep it slow, put on your explorer cap and stop often to climb a mountain, swim beneath a waterfall and sample the local food. The drive ... Read more about The road to Sangkhlaburi .
The village has been formed by Mon refugees fleeing oppression in Burma, and these good-natured people have now become a vital part of the Sangkhlaburi community. There's not much happening here, but you'll likely receive smiles as you wander through the stilted houses and souvenir stands where you can score something cheap and unusual, like Burmese hairbrushes and traditional Mon sarongs. ... Read more about Mon village (Wang Kha) and the floating rafts .
Update: In mid 2013, part of the wooden bridge collapsed due to an unusually powerful current and high water level in the lake. As a temporary replacement, residents tied together an almost equally impressive floating bamboo bridge. At 442 metres long, it's one of Sangkhlaburi's signature sites and is, aesthetically at least, far more interesting than that bridge over in Kanchanaburi. It's not ... Read more about Bridge to the Mon Village .
The chedi looks almost unreal in the early morning, when it shimmers in the rising sunlight over the often misty lake. It was built in 1982, and when viewed close up it's not quite as spectacular, although it does have hundreds of small metal Buddha images placed amid the corn-cob exterior. Much of the construction was done in concrete and the golden hue is actually from a gold paint, messy ... Read more about Wat Wang Wiwekaram and Buddhakaya Chedi .
During the dry season, when the waters drop sufficiently, it is possible to view some of the ruins that remain standing -- primarily a couple of buildings belonging to Wat Samprasob, including the naga staircase, bell tower, ubosot and wiharn. Elsewhere in the immediate area there are a collection of other remains, but in very poor condition. When the water level is very low, you can see the ... Read more about Explore the Lake .
They run an orphanage, school, animal care centre (mainly for stray dogs), organic farm and crafts centre designed to bring an honest income to displaced single mothers who have ended up in the area after fleeing problems across the border. Baan Unrak has also expanded to provide some medical care, install solar panels and build wells for remote villages. Volunteers are accepted for a wide ... Read more about Baan Unrak .
At the end of the road you'll find three small, not so spectacular stupas on a lawn that's flanked by a souvenir market with Burmese goods on one side and the Thai and Burmese immigration checkpoints on the other. The three pagodas themselves are not even the originals (these were submerged in the lake further south), and overall one can hardly call this an attraction. But there is something ... Read more about Three Pagodas Pass .
The main attraction near the visitor centre is a waterfall that cascades over 15 metres into a pool suitable for swimming. At time of writing, a raised walkway was being constructed to make reaching the waterfall easier. If passing by, this is a fine place to stop for a refreshing dip and there is rarely more than a few people here, especially on weekdays. Further afield are some hiking trails ... Read more about Khao Laem National Park .