This post was last updated on February 17th, 2020 at 02:21 pm
Kanchanaburi is one of the nicest cities in Thailand at just a 3-hour drive from Bangkok. With its rich wartime past, countless options for easy trips, beautiful nature, and a range of traveler-oriented accommodations, there is plenty of reason to linger here. You might even stay longer than you originally planned!
Kanchanaburi, More Than a Bridge
Kanchanaburi is the capital of Kanchanaburi Province. The city is sandwiched between the rivers Kwai Noi and Kwai Yai. Although it is a city, most people know Kanchanaburi from the famous bridge that you find here. The world famous River Kwai Bridge, or Bridge over the River Kwai (like the movie) is the top attraction here.
Kanchanaburi covers an entire region, but you will find the center of the city around the bus station and along the main road; Thanon Saeng Chuto. This section contains the most war monuments and also the famous River Kwai.
4 Fun Things to Do in Kanchanaburi
There is plenty to do in this region. That immediately explains why travelers only plan here for one or two days and ultimately stay much longer. The region has a nice mix of activities and sights that you can visit. We have listed the best things below.
1. The Bridge Over the River Kwai
The River Kwai is without a doubt the biggest draw of the city. It is a bridge that was formerly used by trains. That railway, the Burma Railway, is also called the “Dead Railway” because of the many people who lost their lives during the construction of the railway.
For many the bridge symbolizes the atrocities of the Japanese during the Second World War. For 10 nights, the River Kwai Bridge Festival is celebrated at the end of November in memory of the first allied bombing of the bridge on November 28, 1944.
Great view of the bridge over the river Kwai
If you are in Kanchanaburi at that time, it certainly doesn’t hurt to book an accommodation in advance.
TIP – Want to know more? Check out our River Kwai page.
2. Spend the Night in One of the Floating hotels
Something that many travelers do is spending the night in Kanchanaburi. This is because many accommodations are on the river(s) with impressive views. You look out over the river and the limestone rocks that lie in the area.
There are few places in Thailand where you can spend the night as attractively as in Kanchanaburi.
Reservations are normally not required in Thailand, but these floating hotels fill up fairly quickly. It is, therefore, wise (especially in the high season) to book in advance if you want to sleep here.
TIP – Check out the Sweet Home Floating House, a beautiful hotel on the water.
3. Go to the Erawan Waterfall
The Erawan Waterfall is located in the Erawan National Park. The park is a popular place for travelers in the Kanchanaburi region and a must-see if you are here. The waterfall owes its name to the fact that many people think the waterfall looks like Erawan, the three-headed elephant from the Hindu faith.
The water falls down through seven plateaus that can all be visited. You have to climb up and you certainly won’t be the only one here, but it is definitely worth it.
The waterfall is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and it is a nice trip from Kanchanaburi. Take your swimming gear with you because at the bottom of the waterfall you can swim in the clear blue water.
TIP – Entrance to the falls is 200 baht (US $6.50) p.p.
4. Visit the Hellfire pass
The Hellfire Pass is also referred to as Konyu Cutting. It is a 600 meter long pass that has been carved out of rocks. This was done by allied prisoners of war during the Second World War.
The name “hellfire pass” comes from the fact that this whole pass has been carved under extreme conditions of heat and physically demanding work. Prisoners worked 16 to 18 hours a day and everyone had to work.
The glow of burning torches ensured an ominous view from which the name Hellfire Pass was derived. The entire walking route is 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) long and you can rent an audio guide.
The walking route ends at a museum that is definitely worth a visit.
How to Get to Kanchanaburi
A big advantage of Kanchanaburi is that it is easy to reach from Bangkok. With the bus you only need 3 to 4 hours because the drive is only around 100 kilometers (62 miles) long. You can also go there by train, something many people do.
The many parks and historic sites in the area are easily accessible from Kanchanaburi. There are several places in Bangkok where buses leave for this region. These are the most important;
- Khao San Road in Bangkok ➜ 120 baht (US $3.90) – 3 hours
- Northern Bus Terminal in Bangkok ➜ 120 baht (US $3.90) – 3 hours
- Southern Bus Terminal Bangkok ➜ 110 baht (US $3.55) – 3 hours
- Chiang Mai ➜ 600 baht (US $19.40) – 12 hours
Booking Tickets Online