Kanchanaburi is known throughout the world for its tragic history with the Kwai River Bridge, but it is also an attractive city crossed by the Kwai River, highly appreciated by tourists.
- It is a pleasant small town along the Kwai River, 130 km from Bangkok and has a population of 52,000.
Many of its restaurants, concert bars, and guest houses are located on barges on the Kwai River.
History of the Kwai River Bridge
In 1941 the Japanese army invaded Thailand with the primary aim of invading Malaysia.
In 1942 the Japanese Imperial Army ordered the construction of a railway line to link Thailand to Burma.
30,000 Western prisoners and 100,000 Asian workers were used to building 415 km of railway track.
Then the Japanese decided to invade India using this route, they then accelerated the work, and the pace of work became infernal.
Forced labor and malaria caused thousands of deaths.
In the last months, the Japanese military was also forced to participate in the work to meet the deadlines.
During this period the bridge was bombed about ten times by the Allies.
After the war, the Thai government decided to restore this line to attract tourists, and they did not hesitate to ask Japanese banks to participate!
A monument and two museums have been built to commemorate this tragic history:
the Thailand-Burma Railway Museum (inaugurated in March 2003) and the Jeath War Museum about the bridge itself.
There is also the Death Railway and an Allied cemetery from the Second World War.
What to do in Kanchanaburi
Open from 08h00 to 16h00 every day.
The Kwai River Bridge
It is located 3 km north of the city.
Kanchanaburi Military Cemetery
Located on Saeng Chuto Street, opposite the station, this perfectly maintained enclave contains the remains of 6,982 Allied prisoners of war who perished during the construction of the Railway of Death”.
It is estimated that 16,000 Allied prisoners of war and 49,000 forced laborers died during the construction of the Death Railway and the Khwai River Bridge.
The JEATH War Museum
The name JEATH is derived from the initials of Japan, England, America, Australia, Thailand, and Holland.
The thatched detention hut with its cramped and high bamboo beds contains photographic, graphic, and physical souvenirs of the Second World War.
Several prisoners of war who survived appalling conditions donated objects from that period to bring more authenticity to the museum.
Address: Thanon Pak Phraek (Adjacent to Wat Chaichumphon Temple 1 km south of the city center).
Open from: 08h30 to 18h.
Admission fee: 20 baht
Chongkai War Cemetery
It is a small, well-kept cemetery 2 km from the city along the road to Wat Thaopoom, the last resting place of the Dutch and British forces.
Wat Tham Khao Pun
Located 1 kilometer southeast of the Chong Kai War Cemetery, this Buddhist temple is locally known for a cave containing stalactites and stalagmites as well as many magnificent reproductions of the Buddha.
Festivals and concerts
Every year in late November and early December the River Kwai Bridge Festival is celebrated.
The entrance to the compound is about 20 to 30 baht depending on the day.
A sound and light show featuring this story takes place every evening of the festival, for about 100 baht per person.
There is also a rave party and concerts.
But above all, it is an opportunity for many merchants in the region to boost their sales by exposing their displays to the huge crowd at the festival: insect frying, popcorn, hot dogs and clothing are the main goods sold.
Kanchanaburi is the closest city to the Tiger Temple (now closed) and the Erawan National Park with its magnificent waterfalls.
Find a hotel in Kanchanaburi
You will have no trouble finding hotel places, but if you come between November and February, the high season in Thailand, it is better to book in advance.
Kanchanaburi enjoys a generally cooler temperature than central Thailand due to its geographical location.
Kanchanaburi is located in the valley of the Kwai River and lined with mountainous terrain.
The average temperature is around 30 degrees Celsius, with winter being felt mainly from January 1 to 15, while remaining pleasant.
Kanchanaburi’s climate can be divided into two six-month periods: a wet period where it rains every afternoon until mid-December and is subjected to violent storms (the monsoon), then an arid period until mid-June.
Transport to – from Kanchanaburi
You can get an idea of the prices of transportation to other places in Thailand and Asia or book your bus, train, boat, plane tickets with our partner 12go.asia
From Bangkok (it takes 3 hours to get there):
– By the southern bus station Sai Tai Mai: departure from 5:30 am to about 10:30 pm and every 30 minutes (about 80 baht)
– From the north station of Mo Chit departure between 5 am and 3.30 pm (130 baht approx.)
From Thonburi station (Bangkok): departure at 7:35 am, and arrival at 10:30 am or 1:45 pm and arrival at 4:30 pm.
From Kanchanaburi: the train leaves at 7:19 am to arrive at 10 am or at 2:44 pm to arrive at 5:03 pm.
From Bangkok follow road No. 4 (Phetkasem) via Nakhon Chaisi, Nakhon Pathom, Ban Pong, Tha Maka, Tha Muang, the journey takes about 2 hours…
Video on Kanchanaburi
A nice little video that presents the city and the main attractions in less than 3 minutes (in English but gives a good overview of the things to see and the atmosphere):
Maps of Kanchanaburi city and province
Map of Kanchanaburi city
Map of Kanchanaburi province
Photos: Bridge over the Kwai River: Tsavop; Kanchanaburi Second World War Cemeteries: Rdsmith4; Kanchanaburi Railway Station: yeowatzup; Kwai River Bridge 2: Aekkapuncs