Attraction in Thailand : Kanchanaburi

Ang Thong
Bangkok & Neighboring city
Chai Nat
Hua Hin
Lop Buri
Nakorn Nayok
Phetchaburi - Cha Am
Rayong & Chanthaburi
Sing Buri
Suphan Buri

Kanchanaburi is Thailand's third largest province. Kanchanaburi over some 19,485 square (and oftentimes mountainous) kilometers, and borders Myanmar (Burma) to the west of Bangkok.
Kanchanaburi is the site of the world-famous Bridge Over The River Kwai, immortalized in books and movies, and is noted for rugged natural beauty where mountains and river valleys have inspired development of hydro-electric power and where labyrinthine dam reservoirs provide further scenic elements to the province's natural beauty. Beyond the compact provincial capital, some 130 kilometers, and a comfortable two hour drive from Bangkok, where the Kwai Yai and Kwai Noi Rivers unite to form the Mae Klong River, Kanchanaburi unfolds in progressively arresting scenic beauty in a landscape characterized by several waterfalls, caves. Opportunities abound for bucolic living aboard rafts on dazzling rivers and reservoirs, and provide the focal point for memorable holidays for nature lovers who delight in natural surroundings and pleasures without sacrificing basic comforts.

Attractions - in the city

The provincial capital is a relatively new town, dating merely from 1831. Major tourism attractions are inextricably connected with the Second World War, and more specifically, the years 1942 through 1945.

The Bridge over the River Kwai

Internationally famous, thanks to several motion pictures and books, the black iron bridge was brought from Java by the Japanese army and reassembled under Japanese supervision by Allied prisoner of war labor as part of the 'Death Railway' linking Thailand with Burma. Still in use today, the bridge was the target of frequent allied bombing raids during 1945, and was rebuilt after the war ended. The curved spans of the bridge are the original sections. The bridge, which spans the Kwai Yai River some 4 kilometers northeast of the Tourism Authority of Thailand's Kanchanaburi office on Saeng Chuto Road, is the focal point of a riverside area of restaurants, souvenir and jewelry shops. Second World War vintage steam locomotives and a peculiar hybrid road/railcar from the same era comprise a small Railway Museum on the bridge's eastern approach.

Japanese War Memorial

This occupies a small plot of land just south of the bridge.

The Kanchanaburi War Cemetery

On Saeng Chuto Road, opposite the Railway Station, this immaculately maintained enclave contains the remains of 6,982 Allied prisoners-of-war who perished during the construction of the 'Death Railway'. An estimated 16,000-Allied prisoners-of-war and 49,000-forced laborers, died during the construction of the 'Death Railway' and Bridge over the River Kwai.

The Chong-Kai War Cemetery

2 kilometers south of town, on the bank of the Kwai Noi River, this occupies the former site of the Chong-Kai Prisoner-of-War Camp. This second cemetery is more peaceful, attractively landscaped, and contains some 1,750 remains.

The JEATH War Museum

This enclave in the riverside precincts of Wat Chaichumphon has been constructed largely in the form of an allied prisoner of war camp. The name JEATH is derived from Japan, England, America, Australia, Thailand and Holland. The thatched detention hut with cramped, elevated bamboo bunks contains photographic, pictorial and physical memorabilia dating from the Second World War. Several prisoners-of-war who survived appalling conditions have donated items from that time to add to the museum's authenticity.

Wat Tham Khao Pun

1-kilometer southwest of the Chong-Kai War cemetery, this Buddhist temple is locally renowned for a cave containing stalactites and stalagmites, and many beautiful Buddha images.

Attractions - out of the city

Essentially, there are two major land routes for exploring conveniently accessible tourism attractions in provincial Kanchanaburi. The more western Route 323 largely parallels the Kwai Noi River to the Khao Laem Dam reservoir (153 kilometers from the provincial capital). Route 3199 follows the Kwai Yai River to Sri Nagarind Dam (69 kilometers from the provincial capital).

Cultural Center

The center, located at the Rajpatara Institute, some 14 kilometers beyond the provincial capital, houses a permanent exhibition of ancient and modern lifestyles.

Phu Phra Cave

15 kilometers from town, this cave is where a legendary character from Thai literature is said to have studied magic.

Prasat Muang Sing Historical Park

Well-signposts from Route 323, and 43 kilometers from town, this ancient site is located on a steep bank of the Kwai Noi Waterfall, flows directly into the river. Wildlife in Sai Yok's deciduous forests include small mammals such as bats, squirrels and deer, and numerous bird species, including wreathed hornbills and blue-winged pittas. Human presence at Sai Yok is known to date back to the Stone Age, and the Sai Yok Yai waterfall has been repeatedly celebrated in Thai poetry and song. Bungalow accommodation, river rafts and camping facilities are available.

Hin Dat Hot Springs

130 kilometers from town, these occupy a hollow some 3 kilometers northeast of Route 323.

Phra That Waterfall

The three-tiered cascade, 140 kilometers from town, is some 12 kilometers northeast of Route 323, along the same track.

Khao Laem Dam

153 kilometers from town, this imposing structure has a 9-hole golf course, tennis courts, guesthouse and motel accommodation, and a scenic reservoir upon which several private complexes offer opportunities for boat rides, swimming and fishing. Areas beyond Khao Laem Dam meriting visits either edge the extensive reservoir or nestle against the Thai-Myanmar border.

Pilog Mine

60 kilometers west of Amphoe Thong Pha Phum on Route 3272, there was much mining of wolfram and tin in the Tanaosri Mountain range marking the Thai-Burmese borders. A temperate fruit and decorative winter plant orchard, Pilog Hill, 32 kilometers from the amphoe, can be visited en route.

Sangkhla Buri

This petite settlement, some 225 kilometers from Kanchanaburi, edges the northern most extremities of the Khao Laem Dam reservoir. The scenic 75-kilometre route from Khao Laem largely parallels the reservoir, passes several raft complexes, botanical gardens and roadside cascades, and vistas of partly submerged trees crowding the reservoir banks.

Three Pagodas Pass

This even smaller settlement, 241 kilometers from Kanchanaburi, marks the rugged Thai-Myanmar border, and are the site of a small but thriving border market. Visitors are allowed to enter the neighboring Burmese settlement between 6.00 AM and 6.00 PM (when the border is closed). The three miniature pagodas are memorials to what did Burmese River where the waterway narrows and becomes fast flowing favor the traditional invasion route. The 800-year-old city ruins are of considerable archaeological interest, and the principal structure, the Khmer Prasat Muang Sing (Tower of the City of Lions) is believed to have been the westernmost outpost of the Angkor center Khmer Empire. Skeletal remains dating back some 2,000 years have been unearthed, and a wide range of artifacts, including temple carvings, religious statuary, implements and pottery shards indicate the once-thriving city must have been inhabited from approximately the 12th to 14th centuries.

Ban Kao National Museum

8 kilometers from Prasat Muang Sing, and 35 kilometers from town, this also overlooks the Kwai Noi River. The museum was constructed beside a Neolithic burial site discovered by an allied prisoner-of war during the construction of 'Death Railway'. Some 4,000 years ago, Neolithic man lived, roamed and hunted beside the Kwai rivers, sheltering beneath rock overhangs or in nearby caves. The Ban Kao museum houses skeletal remain, pots, axe heads, jewelry made from animal bones, and other artifacts dating from that era.

Sai Yok Noi Waterfall

Also known as Khao Phang Waterfall, 60 kilometers from town on Route 323, this is the first of several waterfalls. The roadside cascade is best visited between July and September when water is most plentiful, and is 2 kilometers northwest of Nam Tok Railway Station, the terminus of the branch line originating in the provincial capital, and which crosses the world-famous bridge.

The Lawa Cave

75 kilometers from town, this largest cave in the area has stalactites and stalagmites in several chambers. Visitors may take boats from the Kwai Noi river Pak Saeng Pier, at Tambon Tha Sao (southwest of Nam Tok Railway Station and Sai Yok Noi Waterfall) to explore this cave, and travel afterwards upstream to the riverine Sai Yok Yai Waterfall, 104 kilometers from town.

Sai Yok Yai Waterfall

This flows directly into the Kwai Noi River, and is the most popular attraction in the 300-square-kilometre Sai Yok National Park. The park contains several interesting caves besides the Lawa. The Daowadueng Cave, which also entails a river trip for visits, is the most popular. South of the Sai Yok Yai Waterfall, another cascade, the Nam Chon soldiers during the Ayutthaya period (1350-1767).

Wat Wang Wiwekaram

This extensive temple on the southern outskirts of Sangkhla Buri edges the Khao Laem reservoir. The complex is constructed in an unusual pastiche of Thai, Indian and Burmese Buddhist architectural styles, and the abbot is highly revered among local people, including tribal folk and Burmese.

Sangkhla Buri Forest Tours

Certain Kanchanaburi travel agents offer one-day elephant trekking and rafting tours in the immediate vicinity of Sangkhla Buri. Visitors are advised to contact either local travel agents or the Kanchanaburi TAT office for current details, since the tours are not always conducted on a daily basis.

Thung Yai Sanctuary Park

Northeast of Sangkhla Buri, this sanctuary occupies a terrain of forested mountains and high plains, and hosts numerous protected wildlife species including tigers, bears, elephants and deer. The area is necessarily rugged, remote, and demands 4-wheel-drive vehicles for exploration. Special permission from the Forestry Department is needed for admission. Visitors interested in entering the area are required to contact the Forestry Department, either in Bangkok or in Kanchanaburi.

Bo Phloi

Some 40 kilometers from Kanchanaburi, and just off Route 3086, this area is famed for locally mined blue sapphires and semiprecious materials such as onyx. A Jewelry Handicraft Center enables visitors to see how these materials are made into finished jewelry creations.

Kanchanaburi Safari Park

This extensive enclave near Bo Phloi is dominated by a man-made hill adorned with decorative pavilions. The enclave hosts numerous African and Asian mammals, including giraffes, zebras, lions, tigers and elephants in carefully landscaped environs.

Chaloem Rattanakosin National Park or Tham Than Lot

97 kilometers from Kanchanaburi, and north of Bo Phloi, along Route 3086, this 54-square-kilometre park encompasses

Special Interests

National Parks

Kanchanaburi's aforementioned parks offer opportunities either camping, and/ or fishing, or trekking along nature trails. Camping facilities, which customarily provide cold running water and simple toilet facilities, are available at Chaloem Rattanakosin, Sai Yok and Erawan national parks. Trekking along either well-defined waterfall trails, or nature trails, to visit caves or appreciate local flora and fauna is a popular activity at all national parks.


This is popular on both Kwai Rivers, and the Khao Laem and Sri Nagarind reservoirs. Several raft resorts offer hired rods. Edible and popular fish include the Giant Gourami, the Transverse Bellbarb, the Giant Snakehead Fish and the Striped Tiger Nandid. Each is delicious when freshly cooked, either simply fried or in Thai culinary styles.

Rafting & Canoeing

Trips are available from the provincial capital and several holiday resorts. Raft trips leaving from the famous bridge, or the waterfront Song Kwai Road area, cost between 2,000 and 4,500 baht for 10-15 persons, depending on durations and destinations. Trips may entail 7-10 hour return journeys, or include an overnight stay on either the Kwai Yai or Kwai Noi Rivers.

Rail Trips

Railway enthusiasts may travel along one of Southeast Asia's most historical tracks, namely the surviving stretch of the 'Death Railway', from the provincial capital to the Nam Tok Railway Station near the Sai Yok Noi Waterfall. The winding track crosses the world-famous bridge and provides a clear indication of how difficult constructing the original track (long since repaired and restored) must have been. One particularly exhilarating stretch sees the line parallel the curving Kwai Noi on a wooden viaduct towering above the river and hugging a steep, cave-ridden cliff.


Golf has become very popular in recent years and can be enjoyed at the courses listed below. Most offer clubhouse, pro shop and caddy facilities, and have rental equipment; Green fees vary widely, weekends generally being more expensive. Unless otherwise specified, courses listed below are each 18-hole, par 72.

Green World Hot Spring

Peaceful forests, waterfalls and several caves. The 300-metre-long Than Lot Cave near the park headquarters is the most popular attraction. Bungalow accommodation and camping facilities are available.

Erawan National Park

65 kilometers from Kanchanaburi along Route 3199, this 550-square-kilometre national park is the site of the 7-tiered Erawan Waterfall, widely regarded as being one of Thailand's loveliest cascades. A mountainside forest setting includes dense bamboo groves, which support numerous bird species. The park's other major attraction is the spectacular Pra That Cave, which contains monumental stalagmites. Bungalow accommodation and camping facilities are available.

Sri Nakharin Dam

69 kilometers from Kanchanaburi, and just 4 kilometers north of the Erawan National Park, this massive structure marks the southernmost extremity of an extensive reservoir, which is part of yet another National Park.

Sri Nakharin National Park

This park covers 1,532 square kilometers. Park headquarters are 105 kilometers from Kanchanaburi. Major park attractions include the lovely 7-tiered Huai Khamin Waterfall, boat trips on the scenic reservoir, and encroaching deciduous forests and bamboo groves where kingfishers, parrots, bee-eaters, hornbills, thrushes, woodpeckers, babblers and numerous other bird species are readily seen. Larger, more elusive animals within the park's remoter areas include deer, elephants and tigers. Phra and Niramit Caves near the park headquarters comprise other attractions. Bungalow accommodation is available. The park's relative inaccessibility necessitates either a punishing 40-kilometre drive along a dry weather track, and negotiable only by motorcycle, pick-up trucks or 4- wheel-drive vehicles, or a 45-75 minute boat ride from the Ta Kradan Pier 24 kilometers north of the Sri Nagarind Dam.

Major Events

Boat & Raft Day

Local longboat teams race boats with great gusto at the waterfront area of the provincial Kwai Yai River to celebrate 'Boat & Raft Day', generally during October.

River Kwai Bridge Week

Each year, late November and/or early December, the world-famous bridge becomes the focal point of celebrations. Highlights include exhibitions and historical and archaeological displays, a carnival featuring sideshows, roundabouts, folk entertainment and cultural performances, rides on trains hauled by World War Iivintage steam locomotives, and a nightly light & sound presentation re-enacting the bridge's Second World War history, including an Allied bombing raid.


Major souvenir shops are concentrated around the eastern approaches, and riverine environment, of the world-famous bridge. Almost every handicraft produced in Thailand can be purchased there. Browsing to compare quality, and good-humored but determined bargaining, will ensure favorable prices for readymade leisurewear and other apparel, and popular souvenirs such as bamboo musical instruments, palm leaf mobiles, ceramic decorations, lacquer-ware and bronze-ware receptacles, paper parasols, and Thai silk and cotton lengths. Kanchanaburi is a major source of high-quality Thai blue sapphires. These are mined at Bo Phloi, as are onyx and topaz. Purchasers of finished jewelry creations can be made at Bo Phloi's Jewelry Handicraft Center, and other satellite outlets.