Kanachanburi, 150 miles from Bangkok, offers a fascinating mix of nature, history and adventure. A world away from the hectic pace of the capital, it's a province of startling natural beauty with a rugged landscape of waterfalls, caves, leafy forests and awe-inspiring limestone cliffs - just perfect for a short break.
During the second world war, 13,000 allied prisoners of war and over 80,000 Asian coolies lost their lives building the infamous 415 km Death Railway which runs from Kanchanaburi to the Burmese border. While the bridge, immortalised in the 1950's film "The Bridge over the River Kwai" was replaced by a new structure, the railway still remains.
You can take a tour and ride the railway along part of the original route which travels through places with names like 'Hell Fire Pass', where the track was pounded out through solid rock. All along the route are memorials dedicated to those who lost their lives. The railway teminates at Nam Tok, a lovely waterfall and one of the most beautiful places in the province. It's part of the entrance to a national park and features displays of original photographs showing the construction and subsequent bombing of the railway. A simple but remarkably moving war museum, the Death War Museum, in Kanchanaburi relates the story with original documents, letters and an actual depiction of POW quarters.
While many visitors are interested the province's history, Kanchanaburi is also attracting a growing number of travellers looking for a place to enjoy green forest, a lush landscape and sparkling waterfalls. You can stay for a few days and simply relax in the shade next to the river, or take our River Kwai Jungle Raft/Resotel Tour from Bangkok which includes one nights accommodation, transport and an adventure activity like canoeing, rafting or elephant trekking.
Or why not try a three-day cycling tour to really get a feel for the area. Many tours also visit a local Mon village. The Mons - an ethnic group originally from Burma (about two hours away) settled in Kanachanaburi in the last century and still retain their traditional lifestyle.
Kanachaburi is a lovely place to spend a few days relaxing along the Kwai Yai river, and its sister river the Kwai Noi. Kanchanaburi Hotels include jungle resorts and raft houses ideal for kayaking enthusiasts and nature lovers. Raft houses especially are a fun way to sample river life - an unconventional alternative to hotels on the ground. They vary from a basic hut sitting atop a bamboo raft, to sophisticated floating hotels.
All the above - the River Kwai, the scenery, the adventure, the rustic accommodation - is best seen and experienced with a tour to Kanchanaburi. Available in short one-day excursions, or overnight journeys that take anything up to three days, these take all the stress out of sight-seeing. Guides look after you, and every little logistical detail, from start to finish. You're free to absorb and admire this picturesque province.
How to Get There:
You can drive from Bangkok or go with an arranged tour. The most interesting way is to take a train from Bangkok Noi railway station. Trains run regularly throughout the day. Travelling time (from 2-3 hours) and prices vary according to the seating class and type of train. Most travel agents in Bangkok can organise this for you.
Best Time to Visit:
The best time for a visit is in the rainy season (June to October) when water levels rise and you can swim in the river. For sightseeing and almost all kinds of activities, Kanchanaburi is a year round destination.