Situated approximately 129 kilometers west of Bangkok, Kanchanaburi is separated from its western neighbor, Myanmar, by the Thanon Thongchai Range, which is the source of Kanchanaburi’s two most important rivers, Mae Nam Khwae Noi and Mae Nam Khwae Yai. Famous for its mountainous, natural setting, Kanchanaburi is home to many of Thailand’s largest waterfalls, caves which were once inhabited by Neolithic man, pristine national parks, tranquil rivers and virgin forests. The province is also the location of the notorious Death Railway and the Bridge on the River Kwai (the famed World War II site), which has been immortalized in print and film.
Sai Yok National Park & Waterfall
The park has dense forests, including majestic teak trees and an abundance of small mammals such as squirrels, bats and deer, as well as numerous bird species. The park is 104 kilometers from Kanchanaburi via Highway No. 323 and can also be reached by chartered boat from the Pak Saeng Pier.
Bungalow accommodations, river rafts, camping facilities, and a daytime food market are available. Sai Yok Yai Waterfall (Namtok Sai Yok Yai), which is located 104 kilometers from the town, flows directly into Khwae Noi River. Its idyllic beauty has been repeatedly celebrated in Thai poetry and songs.
A rope bridge enables people to cross the river to view the waterfall. Rafts are available for a river trip along the riverbank but advance booking is recommended. Lawa Cave and Daowadung Cave are two caves, which house numerous stalactites and stalagmites.
Erawan National Park
The national park is 65 kilometers from Kanchanaburi along Route 3199. The park, covering 550-square-kilometers, is the site of the seven-tiered Erawan waterfall, one of Thailand’s loveliest waterfalls.
The second tier has a pool, which is ideal for swimming and is particularly picturesque. However, the most popular activity in the park is trekking. Bungalow accommodations and camping facilities and a daytime food market are available. Shelters and camping are available for tourists in the park.
However, the most popular activity in the park is trekking. Bungalow accommodations and camping facilities and a daytime food market are available. Shelters and camping are available for tourists in the park.
Tiger Temple, or Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua, is a Theravada Buddhist Temple in western Thailand that was founded in 1994 as a forest temple and sanctuary for wild animals, among them several tigers, the majority of which are Indochinese tigers. The tiger temple is located in the Saiyok district of Thailand's Kanchanaburi province, not far from the border with Burma, some 38 km (24 mi) northwest of Kanchanaburi along the 323 highway. The temple was cleared of allegations of animal mistreatment in a 2015 investigation conducted by wildlife officials and a raid by Thai soldiers. Charges were pressed for unlicensed possession of 38 protected birds found on the temple grounds.
The Bridge of the River Kwai (the Death Railway Bridge)
The bridge spans across Maenam Khwae Yai which is a branch of Maenam Mae Klong. During the Japanese occupation of Thailand in World War II, the Japanese Imperial Army brought the iron bridge from Java. It was then resembled by Allied Prisoners of War (POW) under Japanese supervision. Construction started on September 16, 1942, at Nong Pladuk, and was completed on 25 December 1943. It is estimated that over 16,000 POWs from England, Australia, Holland and America died while building the bridge which was a target of bombing raids in 1945.
In addition to this, approximate 90,000 laborers from Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia and Indonesia died during its construction. Rebuilt after WWII, the bridge is still in use today with the curved portions of the bridge being that of the original. The railway currently ends at Ban Tha Sao or Namtok Station, a distance of some 77 km from Kanchanaburi Station. A special train running from Bangkok to Namtok Station is available on weekends and national holidays. An annual event, there is a seven-day festival commemorating the destruction of the bridge over the River Kwai. Thousands of visitors are drawn to the festival to see a pyrotechnic show that recreates the bridge’s final days. Part of the Death Railway, the bridge was constructed by primarily Australian Prisoners of War held by the Japanese during World War 2 and thousands of visitors come to the town during the period of the festival. It can actually get a bit difficult to find accommodation so it might be best to stay in Bangkok a two-hour drive away and come down for the day. Takes place late November running into December.
Kanchanaburi War Cemeteries
Chung Kai Allied War Memorial contains the graves of 1,740 Australian, New Zealand, British, French and Dutch Prisoners of War in neat, well-kept grounds. Each grave has a headstone with plaque stating names and epitaphs for the fallen.
This cemetery is the smaller of the two and receives fewer visitors. A visit here is none the less a moving experience, particularly for those with relatives who fought during the war.
Chung Kai Allied War Memorial is open daily and although there is no admission fee Kanchanaburi Allied War Cemetery contains the graves of 7,000 predominantly British and Australian prisoners. The site is supported by the Commonwealth War Graves commission and as a result it is exquisitely kept with wonderful green lawns and colorful flowers. This is a very moving place whatever nationality you are its likely to have a very emotional impact on you. Like Chung Kai Allied War Memorial, Kanchanaburi Allied War Cemetery is open daily.