Don’t just go to the beaches of Thailand, the Country has so much more to offer like, Kanchanaburi for example. This area is approximately 3 hours from Bangkok, we arrived there by car, stopping at various sites on the way. You can also get the train but I’ll cover that later. There are beautiful temples, jungles and rivers to visit. However, the dark side of its history involved prisoners of war being used to build a railway to Burma. Here are my top picks of the interesting things to do & see in Kanchanaburi.
Hellfire Pass is probably the main draw for people visiting Kanchanaburi. What a humbling amazing place this is. You can walk along routes chipped and blasted out by prisoners in order to make way for the train tracks. There is a museum to wander around too which is fascinating. You have the ‘iconic’ blasted out section with the tree which is heavily photographed. My favourite part was walking further out, climbing over rocks and ledges of the route the train would have taken. Beware, it gets very hot and can be quite busy but it’s a must-see.
Death Railway Train Ride
Start at Thakilek, purchase your ticket and wait for the train to arrive. This part of the journey is very touristy so make sure you grab a good seat. Either side will give good views, ideally be on the left to have a river view at the Wampo Viaduct. I didn’t tell my husband about this rickety 8m high wooden structure the train would be going over. It creaks and moves and he is scared of heights! I think he enjoyed it after it finished! But a wonderful journey on the existing tracks built by the POW’s. Enjoy the views out of the window of jungle, rivers and temples, sit back and enjoy the ride!
Bridge Over The River Kwai
I’ll be honest, its not the prettiest of bridges, nor is it the original which was bombed during the war. However it’s not really about what it looks like, only about how many lives were lost building it. You can walk over the bridge and also ride a train over it several times a day. There are plenty of restaurants along the river bank. Hilariously the river isn’t even really called the Kwai. Prisoners during that time repeatedly heard the word Kwai by the guards and thought this was the river name. Kwai actually means river, so what we know as the River Kwai we are actually calling River River!
And On the way to Kanchanaburi….
Nakhan Pathan Temple
This golden domned temple is a beautiful stop off approximately 1 hour out of Bangkok. It claims to be one of the oldest Cities Too. The giant temple has the tallest Chedi in the world which glistens in the sunshine. Inside there is a giant gold reclining Buddha. Beautiful trees are planted surrounding the temple and many locals come to give offerings and pray.
Thailand-Burma Railway Museum
Another hour towards the final destination is this museum which is worth a stop. It tells of why the railway was being built and the terrible conditions experienced by those ordered to build it. It is situated right next to the War Cemetery. I suggest a little trip here before you go to see the graves of those who gave their lives. There is a little café at the top of the museum too.
Kanchanaburi War Cemetery
A very well kept and well laid out cemetery for those who gave their lives building this railway. Our guide had looked up the records held there a gentleman with the same surname as us. We actually believe my husband is related to them. This was a lovely touch to our visit and made it even more real. We both enjoyed our stop over here and felt it was important to see this before we went further.
On a separate note, the street lights on the main road outside are quite quirky. They are not bland or dull, they have giant fish on the top of them obviously!
Stay At The Floathouse- Kanchanaburi
The Floathouse, what can I say! Wonderful rooms, wonderful pontoons, wonderful restaurant, service and food, I will let the photos do the talking.
You can don a lifejacket and chuck yourself in one end of the floating hotel. Come to a slow rest a few hundred metres along the bank and then get back in and do it all again! If you are brave enough! I tell you loads more about this amazing hotel in this blog.
There are lots of cave networks to choose from in Kanchanaburi. Behind the Floathouse, a short 10 minute walk will take you to the Lawa Cave which you can enter for a few dollars. I was not prepared for it to be full of bats so that was a bit of a surprise, but it was quite interesting to see a bit of nature. Top tip….take a torch! Again there is more about this cave in this blog!
Take a trip up the river on a Raft or In a Longtail boat
Hire a boat or a raft (and a local to drive it as the river can be fast and dangerous) and take ride along the river. See local villages, people fishing and kids mucking about in the water. Your hotel should be able to arrange this for you, or a local company in the town.
Eat Like A Local On The Train To Bangkok
The train! If you didn’t get the train from Bangkok you must return there on a local train. There is nothing quite like it and it’s very cheap and safe, there is also a loo! Even though he had only just had his breakfast, Mr C couldn’t resist the tempting food brought on to the train by the locals. Green Thai curry for your 2nd breakfast anyone? He said it was delicious! Go on, try it!