Kanchanaburi is only a two-hour drive west of Bangkok and is easy to get to by highway. This makes it a popular side excursion or tour itinerary destination. It lies a further 100kms from the rugged border of Burma but sees little traffic the other side. Buses and trains are two methods of reaching the area and most visitors arrive from Bangkok, but there is also transport directly from Ayutthaya.
Kanchanaburi bus transportation
Buses to Kanchanaburi leave every 15-30 minutes from the Southern Bus Terminal, across the Chao Praya River in Thon Buri. VIP buses (110 baht) are air–conditioned and take about two hours.
There are also less frequent buses from the Mor Chit Bus Terminal north of Bangkok. Local travel agents, especially on Khao San Road, also advertise private minibuses which might be convenient and not much more expensive, though less frequent.
From Ayutthaya, minibuses depart from Tony’s Place near the old town centre in the morning and afternoon, and also make a return run.
Minibuses covering the return journey to Bangkok or Ayutthaya are widely advertised by guesthouses and travel agents in Kanchanaburi, although out of high season can be as few as two each day going directly from River Kwai Road to Khao San Road.
Kanchanaburi train transportation
Although Kanchanaburi is all about the Death Railway, getting there by rail is less popular than the speedier and more practical buses. But trains do leave from Bangkok Noi Station, west of the Chao Praya River in Thon Buri, at 07:45 and 13:45 and take roughly three hours. The return journey to Bangkok leaves at 07:26 and 14:50. Only third class is provided so it’s not too comfortable; tickets cost 100 baht (much less for Thais).
For the novelty factor, you can catch a train ride from Krae Sai cutting, some 30kms west of Kanchanaburi, travelling over the original trusses, past a riverside cutting and all the way back to Kanchanaburi to cross the famous bridge. Alternatively, you can catch it in the other direction, with several tourist journeys offered daily. Typically this excursion is part of the many tours offered, and is the best way to experience this.