Famous the world over for its Bridge over the River Kwai, Kanchanaburi is a popular tourist destination 200kms east of Bangkok. The town is soaked in sombre WWII history and most of the main attractions are associated with the infamous Death Railway, which was built under the authority the Japanese Imperial Army at a severe cost to human life. Memorial cemeteries and several museums recount the tragedy of this wartime drama which killed more than 100,000 POWs and labourers.
The river itself is still spanned by the bridge that was at the centre of the 1950s Hollywood blockbuster that put this region on the map. Today it is peacefully lined with plush resorts interrupted by weekend disco barges that attract Thais from Bangkok. Kanchanaburi is also popular with the backpacker crowd and presents soft adventure in the form of trekking, elephant riding, temple-raised tigers and daytrips to the fantastic national parks and waterfalls that rate as some of Thailand’s best.
Attractions & Activities
Trace the tragedy of the Death Railway with moving memorial museums or go trekking to some Thailand’s best waterfalls and national parks which offer treehouses and natural attractions…more
Plush riverside resorts, cool backpacker pads and mid-priced guesthouses; take your pick from budget to boutique along the famous River Kwai through our partner Agoda…more
Restaurants & Bars
A low-key party town with a string of bars and budget eateries, or you may prefer the peacefulness of al fresco resort dining by the riverside with a choice of scenic eateries…more
Just two hours by bus from Bangkok, with connections to Ayutthaya and the rest of Thailand, Kanchanaburi is worth dropping by on journeys north or south…more
A good starting point is the Kanchanaburi Allied War Cemetery, located in the northern section of the town, near most of the backpacker guesthouses. Adjacent to this neatly maintained memorial is the excellent Death Railway Museum which tells the full story of the suffering involved in completing this 416km railroad through to Burma. Farther north is the original River Kwai Bridge itself, while several cemeteries are dotted about the area.
The most impressionable site however is Hellfire Pass and its exhaustive information centre. If you’re not particularly interested in history, the Sai Yok and Erawan Falls are two lovely natural spots with national parks an hour’s drive west. Closer to the city is the popular Tiger Temple which raises big cats, and Wat Tham Mangkon Thong (Cave Temple of the Golden Dragon) which has a labyrinthine cave passage.
Kanchanaburi has a well established tourist infrastructure and is mostly visited by tour groups who are bussed about the various sites along the Death Railway, as well as the varied natural attractions amidst the undulating and lush landscape of the Burma border. Numerous riverside guesthouses and lodges, together with an uncrowded atmosphere, make Kanchanaburi a good short tourist trip from Bangkok.