Things to do in Kanchanaburi

Things to do in Kanchanaburi

Kanchanaburi is one of the most beautiful places we visited during our trip around Thailand. Most people overlook Kanchanaburi for places like Phuket but it shouldn’t be missed! Kanchanaburi offers so much; waterfalls, culture, temples and so much more. 

In this post, you will find our favorite things to do and plenty of tips for your trip to Kanchanaburi. We stayed for 3 days in Kanchanaburi but would have stayed longer if we had the time.  

How to get there 

We got there by bus from Bangkok which took around 3 hours. 
 
You can also get there by train or taxi from Bangkok and other places in Thailand. If you don’t mind paying a bit extra, you can also travel by hiring a private car and driver for the day. This is the most comfortable and quickest way to travel.  

Where to stay 

We stayed at the A&S Residence. For such a cheap price, it’s a good place to stay and enjoy the quiet environment. There are a lot of local markets and restaurants in the area. 

The Bridge Over The River Kwai

During the Second World War, both Thailand and Burma (Myanmar) were invaded by Japan, and the occupiers wanted to build a railway to transport supplies and troops between the two countries. The proposed railway passed through mountains and jungle and crossed several rivers, so was considered nearly impossible to build. However, they build it, with the enforced labor of many allied prisoners of war and recruited South East, Asian laborers. 

The railway is known as the Death Railway, because of the number of deaths during its construction. Many construction camps were set up along the railway’s route and conditions were harsh. It was hot and humid, there was not enough food, diseases widespread and the workers were badly treated by the guards. Around 12 000 prisoners of war died building the railway. 

The most famous section of the Death Railway is Bridge 277, The Bridge Over the River Kwai. 

Today you can take a walk across the bridge or even cross it by train. The ride takes just 20 minutes and costs 120 THB per person. The last departure is around 2 pm.

You can get to The Bridge Over The River Kwai by tuk-tuk or on foot depending on where you stay in the city. 

Thailand – Burma Railway Research Centre

The Thailand-Burma Railway Centre is an interactive museum, research, and information centre dedicated to presenting the story of the Thailand-Burma Railway built during the Second World War. 

The 145-kilometer train track between Bang Pong in Thailand and Thanbuyuzayat in Myanmar was built by prisoners of war during the invasion of the Imperial Japanese Army. This educational exhibition displays information and photographs about the planning and construction processes of the railway, the living conditions in the camps, the medical aspects, the deaths, the aftermath of the war, and the end of the railway.

The Thailand-Burma Railway Centre is open every day from 9 am – 5 pm and the entrance fee is 80 THB.  You can get there by tuk-tuk from Kanchanaburi’s city center or on foot depending on where you are staying.  

Kanchanaburi War Cemetery 

Just across the road from the Thailand – Burma Railway Research Centre is the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery. This is the main prisoner of war cemetery for victims of Japanese imprisonment while building the Death Railway. 

The cemetery is well kept, and walking among the graves of those who lost their lives is sobering. 

Riding a train on the Death Railway

We took a train from Kanchanaburi to the end of the line ‘Nam Tok’. Which took around 3 hours. The train passed over the Wang Pho Viaduct, a wooden bridge that clings to the side of a cliff. Traveling across the viaduct, with the river below was really amazing! 

You can get to the station by tuk-tuk from Kanchanaburi’s city center or on foot depending on where you are staying. The price for a ticket is 100 THB one way. You can check the train timetable here

Hellfire Pass 

Past Nam Tok, the railway passed through mountainous areas which required the construction of rock cuttings. Holes were made in the rock faces so explosives could be put in to blow up the sections. This was known as ‘hammer and tap’ and work went on day and night. Lit by candles, hot and noisy, this led to the name Hellfire Pass to describe the hell-like conditions for those working there. 

The railway going through Hellfire Pass doesn’t exist anymore but is a visitors center now. Inside the building, there are interesting displays on the Death Railway and Hellfire Pass. You get an audio tour that takes you around. After this, you can go outside and down to the Pass itself. The cutting is high (17 meters) and as we walked through it was hard to imagine how they had built it by hand. You can see holes in the rock from the ‘hammer and tap’, and memorials to those who died. 

You can do several walking routes through the jungle. We only did the shortest one because we had limited time. 

The Hellfire Pass is open every day from 9 am – 4 pm and there is no entrance fee.  You can get there by tuk-tuk from the Nam Tok train station or by bus from Kanchanaburi. 

Wat Tham Sua and Wat Tham Khao Noi

Located about 12 kilometers from Kanchanaburi’s city center and standing high upon a hill both temples, which stand side by side, can be seen from far away. 

The entrance to both temples can be reached by walking up the stairs or by a cable car ride (10 THB). We took the stairs. 

At the top, you can either head left to Wat Tham Khao Noi which is a Chinese-style temple, or turn right towards Wat Tham Sua with its giant 18 meters high Buddha statue. The Buddha which is named Chin Prathanporn was built in 1973 and is often the first stop for people wishing to pay their respects. From here you have a beautiful view over the surrounding area and rice fields. 

The temple complex is also known as the tiger cave temple because, in the past, the cave was home to a family of tigers. 

The temples are open from 7.30 am – 4.30 pm from Monday to Friday and from 7 am – 5.30 pm on Saturday and Sunday. There is no entrance fee but you can give a small donation. You can get there by tuk-tuk from Kanchanaburi’s city center. 

Wat Ban Tham

Wat Ban Tham is another cave temple. The cave is located halfway up a mountain, and the entrance is reached by climbing through the mouth and insides of a huge dragon statue. 

You will see one stalactite inside the cave which looks like a women’s body. At the top, you will have some beautiful views over the surrounding area. 

Wat Ban Tham is open from 8 am – 5 pm every day and there is no entrance fee. You can get there from Kanchanaburi’s city center by tuk-tuk.

Erawan National Park 

With seven tiers of beautiful cascading waterfalls, emerald green pools, and adventurous trails through the jungle, a visit to the Erawan National Park is a must when you are visiting Kanchanaburi. 

Visiting the Erawan waterfalls was definitely one of the highlights of our trip to Thailand. Read more about it here

You can get to the Park by bus from Kanchanaburi’s main bus station. The Erawan National Park is open from 8 am – 4.30 pm daily. The access to waterfalls above the 4th level closes at 4 pm. 
 
The entrance fee is 300 THB for foreigners and 100 TBH for locals. If you go in your own vehicle, you will have to pay extra for a parking spot; 20 THB for a motorcycle, and 30 THB for a car. 

Night Market 

No town in Thailand is complete without a Night Market where you can eat delicious local food. Don’t be scared to try some new things! You will find the Night Market near to the main train station with all the food you can eat, as well as clothing and so on. We loved to hang out here in the evening. 

You can get to the Night Market by tuk-tuk or on foot depending on where you are staying. 

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