Located only 140 km from Bangkok, Kanchanaburi is a great place to visit for those who are looking for a quick trip to escape the concrete walls of Bangkok and be among nature, go hiking, and swim in beautiful waterfalls as well as allow you to learn more about the history of Kanchanaburi. Kanchanaburi is accessible by road or rail, the latter of which includes sightseeing day trips that run on weekends and public holidays. These weekend special trains are reasonably priced and make hassle-free and enjoyable adventures. Even the climate of Kanchanaburi, cooled by the altitude, forest, and Rivers, is a welcome respite from the heat and congestion of the nearby capital city.
Kanchanaburi city, located at the point where the Khwae Noi and Khwae Yai rivers meet and form the Mae Klong River, is a popular resort town. Picturesque and worthy of a visit in its own right, it is frequently visited as a base of operations for exploring the many cultural, natural, and Historical attractions in the surrounding countryside. Located at the confluence of the Kwae Noi and Kwae Yai rivers, Kanchanaburi lies at the source of the Mae Klong River, and these majestic bodies of water are defining characteristics of the town.
Kanchanaburi is one of those places in Thailand that is steeped in history. It was founded by King Rama I as a stronghold for likely Burmese intrusions during the 18th century, and it was moved to its current location during the rule of King Rama III. Kanchanaburi has a pretty dark past and some of its traces are still evident today. It is best known for its World War II history and the key tourist spots associated with it, such as the Death Railway, the River Kwai Bridge (made famous by the movie River Kwai Bridge), and the Allied War Cemetery. recommended places to visit in Kanchanaburi are Srinakarin Dam, Vajiralongkorn Dam, Sai Yok Noi Waterfall, Sai Yok Yai Waterfall, Erawan Waterfall, Mon Bridge, Mueang Sing Historical Park, Three Pagodas Pass, Wat Wang Wiwekaram, Underwater City, the Bridge of the River Kwai, Kanchanaburi War Cemetery, and World War II museum and Art Gallery.
Erawan Falls is one of the most magnificent waterfalls in Thailand. With its stunning layers of cascades, the clear blue water, and over 7 levels for us to explore, it is not hard to see why the people considered it as it is so. Since Erawan Falls is 65 km away from Kanchanaburi City, the drive there with a scooter will take you about 1.5 hours and so I recommend you start your day as early as possible. The road there is pretty straightforward and is not difficult to drive with most of the way on a 4 lanes road. There are 7 waterfalls you can hike in the Erawan Falls area stretching along the 1.5 km trail. The trail from level 1 to level 4 is pretty easy with around 5 minutes walking distance apart.
The route from waterfall 4 and onward will be a little longer and steeper through a thick forest so make sure you have proper shoes if you want to hike to the top. Each level has its own charm and the further you hike, the fewer people you will encounter. At the top, you will be able to see the cliff where the water comes from and if you are there when the water level is high, you might be able to witness the large waterfalls themselves.
Wat Tham Sua is a stunning temple complex consisting of multiple architectural wonders from several towers and pagodas of various architectural styles to the 18-m tall giant Buddha image that dominates Kanchanaburi landscapes. You will have to spend at least an hour or more seeing all the structures inside Wat Tham Sua. You can also climb up the 2 towers, the orange pagoda, and the Chinese tower. If you are looking for the best viewpoint of Wat Tham Sua and the giant Buddha Image from above without a drone, I highly recommend you climb up to the 6th floor of the orange pagoda where you will find a few tiny windows that you can look out from. There, you can see witness the true scale of Wat Tham Sua from above.
River Kwai Bridge The most popular tourist attraction in Kanchanaburi is the Death Railway Bridge or the Bridge on the River Kwai, which is featured in the Academy Award-winning movie “The Bridge on the River Kwai”. It is part of the Thai-Burma Railway built by coercing a hundred thousand British, Dutch, Australians, and American soldier prisoners and Southeast Asian laborers to build the said rail. This was because, after already invading Thailand, the Japanese during World War II also wanted to invade Burma (Myanmar). So, they planned to deliver weapons and soldiers to Burma via a railway connecting Thailand and Burma. The said construction led to a hundred thousand dead, and many of the prisoners of war (POW) are now buried at the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery.
Hellfire pass is a much-acclaimed museum dedicated to the event where the Japanese forced the Allied prisoners of war and Asian laborers to cut through this treacherous section of the Pass resulting in heavy loss of life. The museum is beautifully designed with excellent displays of information, presentations, and videos that help guide you through the gruesome history of what went down at the Hellfire Pass. After a 30-minute stroll around the museum, you will have the option to choose between 2 nature walks at the end. The shorter one goes to the monument through sections of the pass which takes about 15 minutes to walk and another 2.5 km trail which takes 3 hours to complete.
Get Off The Train At Tham Krasae Bridge The train journey stops at this station on its route and allows all of the passengers off the train to take a look around and buy their souvenirs. The reason the train stops is that the view from the station is staggering, you can take a wander and go to the restaurant here for lunch, the food is average but the views are what you really came for. There is also a cave a couple more minutes up the road which is said to have been the home of the Japanese soldiers whilst the railway was being constructed. If you decide to take a walk along the railway tracks you need to remember that in certain parts there is nowhere to go if a train happens to come along at the same time.
Where to stay:
If you're visiting Kanchanaburi for the first time and want to see the top attractions, the most picturesque, peaceful, and popular place to stay is along the River Kwai, near the famous Bridge on the River Kwai.
Cross River Kwai Cross River Kwai is located beside the most beautiful stretch of the Kwai Noi River, with a spectacular backdrop of mountain ranges and blue sky. Every room offers uninterrupted panoramic river views over the idyllic countryside, while the modern design meshes seamlessly with the natural surroundings to satisfy the spirit. Cross River Kwai offers a unique design that blends modern elements with the vintage train station style that is a famous destination in Thailand with a 180-degree river view.
The resort is located on the banks of the River Kwai in Kanchanaburi province and is easily accessible from Bangkok. The train ride from Bangkok along the famous railway to Kanchanaburi is famously scenic and the resort can organize transfers. Kanchanaburi is the largest province in western Thailand and has a storied history. The province is home to the famous Bridge over the River Kwai as well as many natural attractions such as forests, mountains, caves, and the renowned Erawan National Park.
How To Reach Kanchanaburi, Thailand
Kanchanaburi is around 140 km away from Bangkok and there are several ways you can get to this historical city.
By Bus/Van: From Bangkok, the easiest way to get to Kanchanaburi is to take a van from the Mini-Bus stand across the road from the Morchit Bus Terminal. You can reach Morchit Terminal from almost anywhere in Bangkok via either MRT station Kamphaeng Phet station or BTS Morchit station and then from there, you can take a taxi to Morchit Bus Terminal. The taxi should cost no more than 50 THB. Once you arrive at the Morchit bus terminal, cross the road to the mini-bus stand with the footbridge and go to Building D to buy your ticket at either kiosk #8 or #11. Once you arrive at Building D, you can also ask around and they will direct you to the right kiosk. The mini-bus and vans from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi leave every hour from 5 AM to 8 PM every day. The journey will take around 3 hours and the ticket will cost about 120 THB. When you buy your ticket, they will ask you where you want to get dropped off.
By Train: You can also travel from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi by Train and vice versa but things to note is that you will only be crossing the River Kwai Bridge but not the mountainside section of the Death Railway unless you go beyond Kanchanaburi to Tham Krasae Station. A better way to see both is to take the train back instead. I would recommend you take the 1:35 PM train back from Tham Krasae Station to Thonburi (Bangkok) so that you will be able to witness both sections. You will also get to see more of the treacherous terrain along the Death Railway this way. There are 2 trains leaving from Tham Krasae at 5:57 AM and 1:35 PM so basically only one is a viable option for a normal human being here. The train from Tham Krasae to Thonburi (Bangkok) will cost 100 THB for foreigners and 39 THB for Thais, takes about 5 - 6 hours, and when you arrive in Thonburi, you can take the MRT Bang Khun Non-Station to where ever you are staying in Bangkok. If you still want to take a train from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi despite it not going through much of the Death Railway, there are 2 trains from Thonburi Train Station in Bangkok to Saphan Kwae Yai Station at 7:50 AM and 1:55 PM where it will take you directly to the River Kwai bridge.