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Welcome to Kanchanaburi
Kanchanaburi is Thailand's third largest provincial city with an area of 19,480 km2. It is located 130 km west of Bangkok and borders Myanmar to the northwest. Kanchanaburi has 735,000 inhabitants in total, and 54,000 of them live in Kanchanaburi town.
Kanchanaburi town was originally established by King Rama I, the first to defend against the Burmese, by using the old innovation route through Three Pagodas Pass on the Thai-Myanmar border, which crosses River Kwai and is known as The Bridge on the River Kwai.
The province has beautiful scenery with several waterfalls, mountains, caves, national parks, and last but not least River Kwai.
The province is definitely well worth a visit on your trip to Thailand if you are interested in history, culture, and nature.
Kanchanaburi is connected to Bangkok and other neighboring provinces with daily buses and trains. There are plenty of buses departing from Bangkok's southern bus terminal daily with departure every 15 minutes, the first bus leaving at 5 AM and the last at 10 PM. The trip lasts 2-3 hours. It is also possible to take a mini bus from Bangkok’s Khaosan Road, which takes less than 2 hours. http://www.kanchanaburi-info.com/en/bus.html
Trains run twice daily from Bangkok Noi Railway Station (Thonburi Train Station) to Kanchanaburi. http://www.kanchanaburi-info.com/en/train.html
There are many options for getting around in Kanchanaburi, you can for example take a guided tour with a local travel agency or you can explore the province on a rented scooter. The price for 24 hour rental of a scooter is 200 Baht, and for a motorcycle around 500 Baht. Fuel prices are quite low compared to in Europe and there is always the possibility of refueling on the way.
You can also easily hire a motorcycle taxi or rickshaw (bicycle taxi) to get around the city. Remember, it is a good idea to agree on the price with the driver beforehand.
The climate is tropical and very pleasant throughout the year with temperatures ranging between 25-40 degrees Celsius. There are 3 seasons, April being the hottest: The hot season from February to May, the rainy season from late June to October, and the cold season lasts from November to January.
From February to October, the average temperature is usually around 32-40 degrees but from July to September there may be some rain pours. Luckily, they only last a few hours which seems refreshing, and afterwards follows sunshine.
There are many attractions in Kanchanaburi, such as museums, caves, waterfalls, River Kwai, historical park, national parks, temples, and many others.
1) The Bridge on the River Kwai. This 300-meter-long railway bridge is a symbol that represents the efforts of those who toiled under the construction of the bridge. The middle of the bridge was bombed by enemies under World War II in 1945 and was rebuilt after the war. A mini train runs regular trips across the bridge from the nearby train station. Once you have crossed the bridge you can enjoy the cafés and the green areas at the water's edge. Price: Free
2) Allied War Cemetery. On the other side of Kanchanaburi's train station you will find Kanchanaburi War Cemetery, a well-kept cemetery with no less than 100,000 dead who lost their lives during the construction of the railway. Half were British, the rest were mainly Australians and Dutch. Price: Free
3) Thailand-Burma Railway Centre. This museum is dedicated to the history of the Thailand-Burma Railway (The Death Railway) and is located just across from the Allied War Cemetery. The museum describes Kanchanaburi's role in World War II. It tells the story of the railroad, how prisoners were treated, and what happened after the railroad was completed, using video recordings, models, and detailed signs. Price: 100 Baht. Opening hours: 9 AM to 5 PM
Make your trip to Thailand even more exciting! Elephant rides, trips to Thailand's best waterfalls, and bamboo rafting are all easy to book.
More adventurous experiences such as canoeing, and jungle trekking with accommodation can also easily be arranged. Many choose to stay in the villages overnight, thus combining rafting, trekking, and elephant riding. The further north you go in the province, the wilder things get.
Most roads are in good condition while some off-road routes will bring you to rarely visited waterfalls and caves.
The Night Market and food market is definitely worth visiting. The food market is located at the bus station and opens daily at 6 PM. You will find several variations of local Thai specialties and homemade sweets. The selection is large and often surprisingly delicious, it is a must try on your holiday in Thailand.
The Night Market has two different locations: on Mondays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays it is located at the train station, while it is held at the bus station on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
Kanchanaburi is filled with food experiences along Th Mae Nam Khwae where both burgers, pizza, and standard Thai dishes are served in restaurants. If you are looking for more authentic food experiences, the night market should be worth a visit on your trip to Kanchanaburi.
Blue Rice is a Thai restaurant where the chef is doing some culinary twist.
Sri Rung Rueng is a Thai-Western restaurant with standard Thai dishes mixed with inspiration from the West.
The waterfalls in Kanchanaburi province are best to visit during the rainy season (June to November), as this is where the water level is highest. The number of waterfalls worth visiting include the Erawan waterfall located 65 km northwest of Kanchanaburi, and Huay Mae Khamin Waterfalls located 110 km northwest of Kanchanaburi. SaiYokYai Waterfall is located 100 km northwest of Kanchanaburi while SaiYouNoi Waterfall is also located 60 km northwest of Kanchanaburi. All these waterfalls are located in national parks and are a must see. The tours here can be booked through local tour agencies or you can simply take buses there and back.
Erawan National Park
Erawan National Park is Thailand's 12th largest national park with an area of 550 km2 with high mountains and valleys. The national park is located 65 km northwest of Kanchanaburi.
The main attraction is the Erawan Waterfall – this famous 7-story waterfall is surrounded by raw jungle and is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Asia. There is a rich plant and animal life in the park, and if you are lucky you may catch a glimpse of an elephant, a gibbon, flying squirrel, king cobra, or python snakes.
In this park the PraThat Cave is also worth seeing with its peculiar shapes of stalactites hanging from the ceiling.
Price: Adults 200 Baht. Children 100 Baht.
Sri Nakarin National Park
The park is located 110 km northwest of Kanchanaburi and offers beautiful nature in the form of waterfalls, hot springs, and caves. The mountains of the park is covered in green and deciduous forest with abundant wildlife such as leopards, loris (lazy monkeys), bats, civets (small bloodsucking mammals), and many kinds of birds.
Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall is also located in this national park which meets all the needs of true nature lovers. Additionally, two hot springs are to be found in the park.
Price: Adults 200 Baht. Children 100 Baht.
Elephant’s World is an elephant conservation camp established by Dr. Samart Prasitphol in 2008.
Elephant World takes care of the elephants that are too old to work in the tourist industry, and provide them with a place they can enjoy their last days without work.
Tourists are welcome to volunteer to work in the camp by for instance washing the elephants and gathering food for them. Tourists can even stay for 2-3 days in the Elephant’s World on their trip to Thailand.
Opening hours: 8 AM to 6 PM
Price: 650 Baht (half day) / 1350 Baht (whole day)
Accommodation: 200 Baht-2000 Baht.
The temple is located 40 km outside of Kanchanaburi. The Tiger Temple started as a rescue center for wild tigers.
Warning: Quite recently the volunteers have reported that tigers are abused by staff, therefore it is not recommended for tourists to visit this temple and thus support this. Many Danish travel agencies have therefore boycotted the Tiger Temple.
Price: 600 Baht.
By Jeff Studebaker, Demand Media
A province of Thailand, Kanchanaburi lies two to three hours by land from the capital of Bangkok. A mountainous region irrigated by the Kwai River and bordering Burma, Kanchanaburi has been home to several Southeast Asian cultures, stretching back to Neolithic times. Modern Kanchanaburi town, capital of the province, provides visitors with a base for adventure, history and contact with traditional Thai and Burmese hill-tribe cultures.
The Hill Tribes of Kanchanaburi
Many different hill-tribe cultures, both native Thai and refugees from Burma, call Kanchanaburi home. The Karen people, recognized by the stacks of neck rings their women wear to give the appearance of long, graceful necks, are among the most accessible of Thailand's traditional hill-tribe people. Visitors who want to immerse themselves in Karen culture can live among them in the home-stay village of Ban Khao Lek.
Bridge Over the River Kwai
The film "Bridge Over the River Kwai" immortalized Kanchanaburi's sinister history. During World War II, the Japanese forced allied prisoners of war to build a railway through the mountains. Today the infamous "Death Railway" still operates and visitors can take tours all the way to the site of the River Kwai bridge. In Kanchanaburi town, history buffs can visit the Allied War Cemetery and the Thailand Burma Railway Centre, a museum dedicated to World War II POWs.
Kanchanaburi features one of Thailand's most significant cultural highways high in the Thanon Thongchai Mountain Range. Thought to be the gateway by which Buddhism first came to Thailand in the third century, Three Pagodas Pass also provided an overland trade route from India through Burma. Today the pass is still a major gateway between Burma and Thailand. On the Thai side, several Burmese hill-tribes now live as nation-less people in refugee communities. To visit the Burmese side, travelers can obtain a one-day visa to cross the border, where the locals operate small tourist markets.
Although Kanchanaburi lies on the opposite side of Thailand from Cambodia, that country's ancient Khmer empire once stretched all the way to Burma. Ruins of an ancient Khmer temple complex and military outpost lie some 30 miles from Kanchanaburi town at Prasat Muang Singh Historical Park. The site comprises four significant buildings that are at least 800 years old, and an exhibition hall with artifacts and Buddha images found within the ruins.
Where to Stay
Kanchanaburi offers visitors a wide range of accommodations. The provincial capital of Kanchanaburi provides a civilized base for forays into the area's wilder regions, with several hotels including the Pongsuda Chalet Kanchanaburi, Luxury Hotel and Khao Tong View Hotel, all rated at three stars. Perhaps the most original place to stay, however, would be in the jungle hills on the Kwai River itself, at one of several nature resorts that float mid-river on bamboo rafts.
How to Get There
Third-class trains travel to Kanchanaburi from Bangkok, leaving the capital's Thonburi Railway Station daily. The journey takes upwards of three hours. Special weekend trains leave in the morning and return in the evening, allowing quick day-trips that include a stop at the Death Railway Bridge. Public buses and minivan tours from Bangkok reach Kanchanaburi town in about two hours by car or van, or three hours by public bus.