Kanchanaburi is a wonderful compromise for visitors to Thailand with a modicum of time to explore the fabulous country in Southeast Asia. The province is close to enough to Bangkok to brandish some semblance of civilisation but, as a lush, evergreen hunk of the kingdom on the border of Burma, serves up a discernible wild side as well. Kanchanaburi, after all, is home to Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and several other national parks that occupy pristine morsels of mountain forests.
Kanchanaburi, the small capital of the province, is a popular way station between Bangkok and Chiang Mai not entirely bereft of a few landmarks of some significance. The affable and passive town of just over 30,000 people marks the spot where the Khwae Noi and Khwae Yai rivers converge into the Mae Klong, the waterway that feeds the formidable Umphang Thee Lor Sue Waterfall in Tak Province.
Within Kanchanaburi town and province, visitors can embark on scenic mountain forest treks, commune with exotic fauna and flora in the confines of national parks like Erawan, Sai Yok, Khao Laem, Khaoen Sri Nakarin and Chaloem Rattanakosin and explore mystical and labyrinthine limestone temple caves. Kanchanaburi’s most famous photo-op, of course, was the inspiration for the novel The Bridge over the River Kwai by Pierre Boulle, as well as the subsequent film that took home seven Academy Awards.
Kanchanaburi's Top 10
10. Hellfire Pass marks the most notorious section of the Death Railway and contains a memorial put together jointly by the governments of Australia and Thailand.
5. Wat Tham Khao Pun is one of the best limestone temple caves in Kanchanaburi and a short bicycle ride from town.
9. Si Nakharin National Park is home to the spectacular Huay Mae Khamin waterfall, which flows for more than 2 km.
4. JEATH War Museum is a small but powerful Second World War archive of the POW experience under the Imperial Japanese Army.
8. Wat Tham Mangkon Thong, or the Cave Temple of the Golden Dragon, attracts throngs of pilgrims and tourists.
3. Wat Pa Luangta Bua Yannasampanno is Thailand’s (in)famous forest monastery tiger temple.
7. Chung Kai Allied War Cemetery is a scenic home to over 1,700 fallen soldiers.
2. Death Railway Bridge is a sombre relic of the Asia-Pacific chapter of the Second World War.
6. Thailand-Burma Railway Museum was the brainchild of a former Australian Army Engineer and POW. The interactive facility is a marvel.
1. Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site that envelops ¾ of all large mammals in Southeast Asia, from tigers to elephants.
- Kanchanaburi War Cemetery – This cemetery is dedicated to those who died in Thailand during World War II.
- Bridge over the River Kwai – This world-famous bridge was built in World War II and is one of Kanchanaburi’s main attractions.
- Prasat Muang –These Khmer ruins have many Buddhist relics.
- Pra-cha Angrit Cemetery – Dedicated to the British soldiers who died during World War II.
- Wat Tham Mankhon Thong – This temple exemplifies ancient Thai architecture.
Kanchanaburi Art & Culture
- Hellfire Pass Museum – This museum commemorates the Burma-Siam Railway from World War II.
- Mon Tribal Village – Nightly dance shows are the main attractions of this village.
- Thailand-Burma Railway Centre – This museum focuses on the story of the Thailand-Burma Railway.
- Jeath m – Focuses on the history of war in Kanchanaburi.
- War Museum – Small museum that is located near the bridge over River Kwai.
- Rojjana – Souvenir and dessert shop that is a great place for unique gifts in Kanchanaburi.
- Kanch – This large shopping centre contains many stores for various shopping needs.
- Kanchanaburi Night Market – This is a great place to find unique souvenirs or tasty local snacks.
- Saeng Chuto Road – This road is lined with restaurants that sell many local delicacies.
- Sari Sari – Small store with locally made jewellery and handicrafts.
Gay & Lesbian Kanchanaburi
- Boutique Raft Resort – This gay-friendly resort on the River Kwai offers great views of the historic river.
- Felix Resort – Is a favourite among gay travellers because of its lovely rooms and friendly staff.
- Mida Resort – This resort is gay friendly and attracts a young, trendy crowd.
- Jungle Bar – This gay-friendly bar is a great place to people watch or listen to music.
- MJ’s Bar – The modern décor of this bar in Kanchanaburi makes it a favourite among gay travellers.
- Elephant’s World – This is a great way to learn more about the sacred animal of Thailand.
- Safari Park Open Zoo – A wonderful place to experience the unique wildlife in Kanchanaburi.
- Erawan Falls – Great for those who want to hike, swim or simply enjoy its spectacular views.
- Wangpo Elephant Camp – Visitors can bathe with the gentle giants of Thailand.
- Khao Pun Cave – The cave drawings and shrines at this site are worth the trip.
- Hike on the numerous trails at Sai Yok National Park.
- Catch a football game at Kanchanaburi Stadium.
- Watch the Thai Premire League at a TOT FC football match.
- Play a round of golf at the Raya Buri Resort.
- Enjoy golf at the beautiful River Kwai Golf Club.
Sitting at the edge of a mountain range, Kanchanaburi is located on the banks of the rivers Khwae Noi and Khwae Yai. With shopping, outdoor activities and attractions, this remote city is a popular tourist destination that can be found in central Thailand.
- Tiger Temple
- Death Railway
- Jeath War Museum
- Photograph the Maeklong Dam
- Visit the Bridge on the River Kwai
- Go on an elephant trek in Kanchanaburi
The best time to visit Kanchanaburi is almost any time of the year. However, during the months of March through May, the average temperatures soar from a comfortable 86°F (30°C) to 104°F (40°C).
There are three seasons in the province: the warm season from February to May, the rainy season from June through October, and the cool season from November until January. The cool season has temperatures that drop to only about 77°F (25°C).
Getting There & Around
Getting to Kanchanaburi is simple with its close proximity to Bangkok. Almost all visitors, regardless of where they are travelling from, will pass through Bangkok on their way to Kanchanaburi, Thailand. As there is no airport in the city nor proper long-distance trains running from Bangkok, reaching the city is best done by bus or taxi.
Upon arrival, the popular picturesque city can be traversed on foot, by car or by taxi. Trains and buses can be used as well to access attractions and areas surrounding the city.
The many national parks that dot the Kanchanaburi Province landscape offer innumerable recreational opportunities for the hearty and placid alike.
Hin Dat Hot Springs provide geothermal goodness for sore, over-trekked muscles.
The River Kwai Bridge Festival takes place over two weeks from late November to early December.
Important services take place at Hellfire Pass and the Allied War Cemetery on ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day.
When To Go
Kanchanaburi swelters throughout the year, with high humidity and temperatures between 65°F (18°C) and 101°F (38°C). For the heat averse, the worst period is from March to May.
The wet season kicks off in late May, winds down in early November and features a minimum of fifteen days of rain per month. September alone brings 9 in (219 mm) of precipitation, on average.
As a result, the best time to visit Kanchanaburi, without question, is in the months of December, and January.
More Info On Getting Around
A ride from Bangkok’s Thonburi Train Station to Kanchanaburi takes less than three hours. Buses from the Thai capital’s Southern Terminal typically complete the journey in a little over two hours. Limousine taxis from Suvarnabhumi Airport and central Bangkok provide the most comfortable mode of transport and for relatively affordable rates too.
In town, the usual mix of songthaews, auto rickshaws and motorcycle taxis do the trick. While Kanchanaburi is not easily traversable on foot, a bicycle is handy for visits to proximate points of interest, such as cave temples and the like.
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