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Best things to do in Kanchanaburi, Thailand

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Kanchanaburi in Thailand is best known for the “Bridge over the River Kwai” from the film of the same name, over which the famous Burma Railway runs. The railroad line during construction killed more than 100,000 people, including 3,000 Dutch. Many people visit Kanchanaburi from Bangkok to catch a glimpse of this famous bridge and the railroad line that runs across it. But there is much more to do in Kanchanaburi. Read all our tips for the best Kanchanaburi sights here.

Station Kanchanaburi

Kanchanaburi itself, as a city, does not offer much for you. You will find some cheap guesthouses, luxury resorts along the river and a street full of restaurants. In the evening you can have a few drinks, but don’t assume you can party late into the night. To Kanchanaburi you travel mainly for the scenery and the terrible history. You will see this reflected everywhere in the city and its surroundings.

All Kanchanaburi sights that are included in this article can be found in the map below:

Thailand-Burma Railway Centre Museum

One of the museums in Kanchanaburi that is definitely worth a visit, The Thailand-Burma Railway Centre Museum. This museum tells the story of the atrocities that took place in Thailand from the year 1941. The museum is also called the Death Railway Museum. The year Japan begins its advance to conquer Southeast Asia. In order to establish a supply route between Thailand and Burma (Myanmar), the Japanese had a 400 kilometer long railroad line built, the Burma Railway, starting in 1942. However, the Japanese did not build this death railroad themselves. They used more than 60,000 Britons, Australians, Asians and Dutch. These were used as slaves and are also called POWs (Prisoners of war). After a period of about a year and a half, more than 100,000 people had to pay for this hard work with their lives through malnutrition and mistreatment.

In the Thailand-Burma Railway Centre Museum you will be taken back to this time and see terrible pictures. There are also several objects in the museum that belonged to the prisoners. An impressive museum where we had to recover from another day. The entrance fee is 120 baht per person. For this you can drink coffee or tea, so you can recover from all the impressions.

  • Address Thailand-Burma Railway Centre Museum in Kanchanaburi: 73 Th Jaokannum, Mueang Kanchanaburi District, Kanchanaburi, Thailand
Treinreis Kanchanaburi
Treinstation Kanchanaburi

Don Rak Cemetery

Directly across from the Thailand-Burma Railway Centre Museum, you’ll find another place you can’t avoid that will make you immediately stop and think about the horrific history. Here you will find the Don Rak war cemetery where 5,000 war victims are buried, including 1,800 Dutch. The cemetery is still well maintained and it is a strange idea to see all kinds of Dutch names passing by so far away from home. Names of Dutch people who were all killed during the building of the Bridge over the River Kwai. Also called the Death Railway.

Begraafplaats Don Rak
Begraafplaats Don Rak

Hellfire Pass

During the Second World War not only The Bridge over the River Kwai was built by prisoners of war, also the Hellfire Pass, a passage in the rocks, was done by them. With a small chisel, POWs made a passage through the rock through which the railroad later passed. Because of the heat and the terrible conditions, a great many people died here in particular. In memory of all these victims, a monument and museum were made at Hellfire Pass. This part of the railroad is currently no longer in use. A beautiful piece of Thailand, in a truly beautiful setting, which brings back so many bad memories. A double feeling, a visit to the Hellfire Pass, but definitely worth it.

The Hellfire Pass is located about 80 kilometers north of Kanchanaburi and can be reached by bus. A bus ticket costs 100 baht per person and the trip takes about an hour and a half. Keep in mind that after this you still have to walk for at least forty minutes to get to the actual Hellfire Pass. It is important to wear good shoes, because especially in the heat it can be quite heavy. If you want to walk further, you can choose from several hiking trails.

Station Kanchanaburi

Bridge over the River Kwai

Besides that you are everywhere in Kanchanaburi and the surrounding area reminded of the terrible period when the Burma Railway was built, you can also visit the bridge itself. Do not assume that you have the bridge for you alone, because it is very touristy. Several times a day a train still runs over the track. In addition, there is a daily market where you can buy local food and souvenirs.

Bridge over the river Kwai
Bridge over the river Kwai
Bridge over the river Kwai

Erawan waterfalls

One of the most famous waterfalls of Thailand can be found sixty kilometers from Kanchanaburi. Every day buses leave from the bus station. A ticket for the bus costs 50 baht per person and the journey takes about one and a half hours. Keep in mind that it is often very crowded and there is a chance that you will have to stand in the bus for these 90 minutes. The Erawan Falls are part of the Erawan National Park with an area of 550 km². The waterfall consists of seven different levels, and gets more beautiful the higher you go. The entrance fee to the park is quite pricey at 300 baht per person, but is – during the wet season – worth it.

Delicious food on the Kanchanaburi Walking Street

Like every other Thai city, you can visit the Kanchanaburi Walking Street every evening. This street is near the train station and is the place to eat deliciously in Kanchanaburi. You will find delicious street food, but also souvenirs and it is the place to get in touch with other travelers

Traveling from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi

Kanchanaburi is located in central Thailand, about 130 kilometers north-west of the capital, Bangkok. After spending a few days in the always chaotic Bangkok, it is a relief to arrive in Kanchanaburi. We traveled from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi by train in the summer of 2016, paying 100 baht per person. The train from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi leaves from Thonburi Train Station and takes about three hours. You do not need to purchase a ticket in advance. Another option is to travel from the Independence monument (near Khao San Road) by minivan. A local bus leaves every hour from the North bus station – Moh Chit – for 110 baht per person and takes about two hours.

Tickets for travel by bus or train in Thailand can be purchased online at 12Go.Asia. Here you can also find information about travel times and routes

Sleeping in Kachanaburi

In Kanchanaburi you can find several guesthouses, hotels and luxury resorts. Most are located along the river and some even allow you to sleep on the river. Below you can find the two guesthouses where we stayed in Kanchanaburi, of which Tamarind Guesthouse is our absolute favorite! Looking for something more luxurious? Then book a room in the crazy Natee The Riverfront Hotel Kanchanaburi.

Overnachten in Kanchanaburi

What do you think are the best things to do in Kanchanaburi?