Kanchanaburi, located just a few hours drive from Bangkok, is a famous province and city in Thailand.
After attending a travel blogger conference and having a wonderful stay at Amari Watergate hotel, GRRL Traveler, Mochileros, Chris Clark, and myself went on a short trip to Kanchanburi which was arranged by Khiri Travel.
Some street dogs in Thailand are mean and annoying, others are fat and lazy, and still others are bizarre looking and walk around looking like they’re half asleep. This was a friendly street dog and he was such a good model.
He’s sort of the mascot of Kanchanaburi, it’s a place that makes you want to just relax with your eyes half closed.
As soon as we arrived in Kanchanaburi town we headed to the Thailand Burma Railway Center Museum, also known as the Death Railroad Museum.
Kanchanburi was a strategic area for the Japanese during World World II when they attempted to build a railroad from Thailand to Burma using mostly labor provided by Prisoners of War.
The horrible conditions, long working hours, meager rations of food and nutrients, rough terrain, and the dangerous tropical diseases all added to make the construction of the railroad a catastrophe. The museum is filled with lots of information if you’re interested in the history of the railroad.
Open from 9 am – 5 pm daily, entrance is 100 THB
Directly across the street from the Railroad Museum is a graveyard where many POWs that worked and died in Kanchanburi are now buried.
This man was taking a nice siesta.
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There are 6,982 POWs buried at Kanchanaburi’s War Cemetery (Don Rak), most of whom perished during the brutal construction of the railroad.
Situated about 4 km from Kanchanaburi town is the River Kwai bridge. The sturdy iron bridge was built under the authority of the Japanese during WWII by POWs.
You can walk across the bridge on foot, or there’s also the option of taking a goofy rainbow colored tram across the bridge and back – but if you can walk, walk.
The bridge has also become well known for the 1957 movie “The Bridge Over the River Kwai,” though I have yet to see it. Have you seen it?
If you ever visit Kanchanaburi, DO NOT eat at the floating restaurant that has a great view of the bridge.
I love just about all Thai food, but let me tell you, this food was horrible. Served buffet style, there were stale French fries located next to mushy kanom jeen noodles next to a horrible excuse for pad preow wan (sweet and sour) next to other unrecognizable Thai dishes.
The som tam was prepared WITHOUT fish sauce, the nam tok moo was nearly all rubbery fat, and the pad see ew tasted like sugary noodles. I was indeed disappointed, but perhaps if I didn’t eat Thai food so frequently, it may have been slightly better?
After lunch we headed off to Hellfire Pass Memorial Museum, a combination of a museum and a small hike. The museum gave a brief history of the war and the railroad construction, but I preferred the outdoor section to check out an area where the mountain was carved to make way for the railroad.
Unless you’re really interested in the Thailand Burma Railroad and its history, it wasn’t the most exciting place to visit, and if you already visit the museum in Kanchanaburi town, there’s not much point to visiting Hellfire Pass.
Open 9 am – 4 pm daily, entrance is free but there’s a donation box
Kanchanaburi has many rivers and waterfalls, Erawan Waterfall being one of the most well known and popular.
Unfortunately it can get rather busy and rowdy with lots of tourists, but there’s always a nice pool of water where you get some peace and quiet. There are 7 layers at Erawan Waterfall, and to hiking to the very top layer takes about 45 minutes to an hour, and it’s very worth it.
Since Erawan Waterfall is a Thailand National Park, the entrance fee is 200 THB per person.
After enjoying a leisurely morning at the Kanchanaburi Erawan Waterfalls, we headed off to the Death Railroad to catch a train for a short distance along the historical railroad.
We got out of the van at Nam Tok station and waited for just a few minutes until the empty train pulled in. I think the last time I had taken a train in Thailand was years ago visiting the Maeklong railroad market.
While some might choose to take the train all the way in to Nong Pla Duk station, we got off just 30 minutes later at Tham Krasae, a strategic point of the railroad in a very beautiful area.
The rain, while boarded with mostly tourists, also picked up some students along the way. It’s still functions for local transportation, but it’s become more of a tourist attraction than anything else.
It would be terrible to ride a train without having something to eat, so we picked up a box of Pad MaMa, stir instant noodles that are a favorite junk food for many Thais.
Tham Kra Sae is a gorgeous station next to a smal cave and above the winding River Kwai. Walking along the rusty railroad track with green covered mountains in the distance and the chocolatey river below was very scenic.
Since Kanchanaburi has plenty of forest there are a number of elephant camps and villages that you can visit. I have never visited one, but at the River Kwai Jungle Rafts where I stayed they brought a couple of elephants to the river each morning to feed and bathe them. Elephants are always fun to watch!
While there are many accommodation options in Kanchanaburi, ranging from budget guest houses in Kanchanaburi town to luxurious floating hotels along the River Kwai, this visit I was sponsored and got a free stay at the River Kwai Jungle Rafts.
Kanchanaburi has a lot of deep and sensitive history, but even if you’re not so much into the history, there’s are many outdoor nature activities to discover. The popular Kanchanaburi Tiger Temple, which I have yet to visit, is also a main draw to Kanchanaburi these days.
The history of the railroad, the gorgeous scenery of the River Kwai, and the surrounding green mountains contribute to Kanchanaburi.
Have you ever visited Kanchanaburi?
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