Nestled along the banks of the Mae Klong River, Kanchanaburi stands as an enchanting blend of rich history and captivating natural beauty. This serene town, a mere stone’s throw away from Bangkok, is a harmonious confluence of cascading waterfalls, dense jungles, majestic rivers, and poignant historical landmarks. Each corner whispers tales of bygone eras while also embracing the serenity of nature.
Delve deeper into the heart of Kanchanaburi with our curated guide:
- Death Railway & The Bridge over the River Kwai: This iconic structure stands as a testament to wartime endurance and the spirit of those who constructed it under immense hardship during World War II.
- Erawan National Park: Wander through this natural wonder, housing the seven-tiered Erawan waterfall, offering azure waters and serene trails.
- JEATH War Museum: Immerse yourself in the somber narratives of World War II, understanding the region’s tumultuous history and its impact.
- Wat Tham Phu Wa: Experience tranquility at this mesmerizing temple, which seamlessly integrates with the caves and limestone cliffs.
- Hellfire Pass: Traverse this cutting that saw numerous POWs suffer during its construction. The walking trail and memorial museum here provide insights into wartime struggles.
- Kanchanaburi War Cemetery: Pay your respects to the soldiers who lost their lives during World War II.
- Elephant World: An ethical sanctuary, it provides a haven for retired and rescued elephants, allowing you to witness their rehabilitation up close.
- Sangkhlaburi: Explore this charming town, home to the iconic Wooden Mon Bridge, offering a glimpse into the region’s diverse cultures.
- Local Markets: Engage in a sensory feast as you wander through Kanchanaburi’s vibrant markets, indulging in delicious local delicacies and handicrafts.
- Boat Tours: Drift down the Mae Klong River, absorbing the town’s stunning landscapes, and maybe even catching a glimpse of a dazzling sunset.
Kanchanaburi, with its soul-stirring stories, vibrant culture, and untouched natural beauty, promises an immersive experience that resonates deeply with every traveler. Whether you’re a history buff, nature lover, or someone seeking tranquillity, Kanchanaburi’s embrace offers a journey of discovery and reflection.
Visit the Bridge over the River Kwai
The Bridge over the River Kwai (or Khwae), is a significant historical landmark and one of the most popular tourist attractions in Kanchanaburi. This iconic bridge has been depicted in various films, books, and other forms of literature. The bridge was built by prisoners of war and civilian labourers who were captured by Japanese occupying forces during World War II. It stands as a poignant reminder of the violence, carnage, and hardships endured by those who lost their lives while constructing it.
During the war, a section of the bridge was destroyed by Allied bombing. The damaged portions have since been preserved at the War Museum. In 1946, the Thai government reconstructed the damaged bridge, and it has since become a popular tourist spot. Along with the bridge, visitors can also take in the breathtaking views of the rugged mountains in the surrounding region.
How to go to the Bridge over the River Kwai: The best and most convenient way to reach the Bridge over the River Kwai is to take a train from Kanchanaburi or River Kwai Bridge station to Nam Tok.
Take a train ride along the Death Railway
The Death Railway, also known as the Thailand-Burma Railway, provides an excellent opportunity to take in the breathtaking views of the river and surrounding landscape. Not only is it a popular tourist attraction in Kanchanaburi, but it is also an essential daily mode of transportation for the local Thai population. This train journey offers a unique perspective on the tragic history of the region, as well as a glimpse into its hopeful future.
Undertaking this train ride is a truly incredible experience that should be added to any traveller’s itinerary. It is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Kanchanaburi. Once you embark on this journey, you will quickly realise why it is such a popular and highly recommended activity
The best way to ride the Thai-Burma train:
Weekend tourist trains depart early on Saturdays and Sundays from Hua Lamphong station. This station will soon be replaced by Bang Sue station, located a few kilometres away on the northern side of Bangkok. The weekend trains make extended stops at Nakhon Pathom to give travellers time to visit Phra Pathom Chedi and twice at Kanchanaburi for visits to the Kanchanaburi Commonwealth War Memorial and the Bridge on the River Kwai. The train then continues to Nam Tok via the Wampo Viaduct.
Ticket Price: 110 THB per person. (One way ticket)
Explore the Death Railway Museum and Research Centre
The Death Railway Museum and Research Centre is an outstanding institution managed by an Australian history expert specialising in the Thailand-Burma railway. It provides a fascinating opportunity to learn about the history of the railway and the prisoners of war who constructed it. The museum is located in the former headquarters of the Japanese Imperial Army, adding to its historical significance.
The museum features an educational exhibition that showcases a wealth of information and photographs related to the planning and construction processes of the railway. Visitors can learn about the living conditions in the POW camps, the summary of deaths, the operation and bombing of the railway, as well as the aftermath of the war. This museum is an excellent resource for anyone interested in learning about the tragic history of the Death Railway.
Address: 73 Chao Khun Nen Rd, Ban Nuea, Mueang Kanchanaburi District, Kanchanaburi 71000
Timings: Opens Daily from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Admission Fee: 80 THB for Adults and 40 THB for Children
Learn some history at the JEATH War Museum
One of the must-visit activities to do in Kanchanaburi is exploring the JEATH War Museum, which stands for Japan, England, Australia, Thailand, and Holland. This museum offers visitors a chance to delve deeper into the tragic history of the Death Railway. Divided into two sections, the museum features a recreation model of the construction of railway tracks by war prisoners in one section, while the other displays war relics such as weapons, tools, and photographs and paintings. It is a poignant and educational experience that should not be missed.
Location: Wat Chai Chumphon Chana Songkhram, Tambon Ban Tai, Amphoe Mueang, Kanchanaburi
Timings: Opens daily from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM
Admission Fee: 50 THB per person
Relax at the Erawan Waterfall
One of the most breathtaking activities to do in Kanchanaburi is visiting the Erawan National Park and catching a glimpse of the stunning Erawan Waterfall. With seven tiers of crystal clear water surrounded by lush greenery, it is a sight to behold. Take a 30-minute walk around the Erawan nature trail to fully appreciate the beauty of the hill evergreen forest and deciduous forest. For those who want to stay longer, camping sites and tents are available, making it the perfect destination for a nature-filled getaway.Visiting the Erawan waterfall is one of the most rejuvenating things to do in Kanchanaburi.
Location: Tha Kradan, Si Sawat District, Kanchanaburi 71250, Thailand
How to reach: You can drive from Kanchanaburi to Erawan waterfalls. It is about an hour long drive but completely worth the visit.
Entrance Fees: 300 THB for Adults (Non- Thai) and 150 THB for Non-Thai kids (03 to 14 years old)
Timings: Opens daily from 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM
Take a dip in the cool waters of the Sai Yok Noi Waterfall
Sai Yok waterfall is a must-visit destination in Kanchanaburi. The Sai Yok Noi waterfall is an ideal spot to relax and rejuvenate after hiking or strolling through the national park. The waterfall originates from a spring and flows through a forest, cascading over limestone rocks. Take a refreshing dip in the cool waters of the pool formed by the waterfall, which is an invigorating experience.
Entrance Fees: Entry fee to get in the Sai Yok Park is 300 Baht for Adults; 150 THB for kids 3-14 years old. It is 60 THB for Thai adults and 30 THB for Thai children. To see the waterfall you don’t have to pay anything extra.
Best time to visit: The best time of the year to visit is during the rainy season from June/July onwards. The water flow will be less during the dry season but still worth visiting.
Visit the Hellfire Pass Memorial Museum
An essential activity to do in Kanchanaburi is visiting the Hellfire Pass Memorial Museum, which commemorates the harrowing tragedy of the forced labourers who lost their lives while constructing it. Hellfire Pass was carved through the Tenasserim Hills, and the POWs were compelled to use hand drills, picks, and shovels to cut the largest rock to make way for the train. While it is no longer in use, the pass has been transformed into a museum that exhibits tools, photographs, and other artefacts. A visit to this museum is a poignant way to gain insight into the history of the railway and the plight of the prisoners who toiled on it.
Location: 207 Tha Sao, Sai Yok District, Kanchanaburi 71150, Thailand
Timings: Opens daily from 09:00 AM to 04:00 PM [except few public holidays]
Walk through the JJ Night Market
If you’re looking for a shopping and dining experience in Kanchanaburi, be sure to visit the JJ Night Market, also known as the Kanchanaburi Market. Located near the Kanchanaburi Station, this market offers a wide range of products at affordable prices, including trendy clothing, footwear, bags, accessories, and electronic gadgets. Visiting this market is one of the best things to do in Kanchanaburi.
But that’s not all – the real highlight of the JJ Night Market is its extensive food section. With numerous stalls serving up mouth-watering Thai and international dishes such as stuffed pancakes, soups, spring rolls, stir-fried noodles, sushi, and kebabs, you’ll be spoiled for choice. Don’t miss out on this exciting and vibrant market experience during your stay in Kanchanaburi.
Location: Ban Tai, Mueang Kanchanaburi District, Kanchanaburi 71000
Timings: 5:00 PM – 10:00 PM
Prasat Muang Singh Historical Park
The Muang Sing Historical Park spans over an impressive 736,000 sqm of meticulously maintained grounds. Its borders are marked by late-rite walls on three sides, and a river line running from north to south. Historians believe that the park’s main attraction, Prasat Muang Sing (Lion City), and its surrounding structures, were constructed as a Khmer religious temple between 857 and 1157. However, smaller shrines and museums featuring a range of artifacts provide evidence of the area’s earlier settlement, long before the arrival of the Khmer. The park offers visitors a chance to learn about these ancient times, while enjoying the serene natural landscape adorned with trees and flowers. With an authentic, non-commercial atmosphere, wandering around the park is a truly delightful experience.
Address: Tambon Singh, Amphoe Sai Yok, ChangWat Kanchanaburi
Timings: Opens daily from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Entrance Fee: 100 THB per person (Adult and Child)
Explore the Khao Laem National Park
Prepare to be mesmerised by the awe-inspiring natural beauty of Khao Laem National Park, as soon as you arrive. Spread over a vast area, this park is home to mixed deciduous, hill evergreen and dry evergreen forests, providing diverse habitats to a plethora of wildlife including tigers, elephants, bears, wild boars, deers, and an array of birds. The stunning Khao Laem lake, which spans from Sangkhlaburi district to the northern region of the park, is a major highlight. Tourists can relax and soak in the serene atmosphere at the park’s camping sites. Additionally, visitors can embark on a trek to the top of Khao Laem Mountain to enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of the entire park. Don’t miss out on this enchanting experience.
Location: 4 339 Prang Phe, Sangkhla Buri District, Kanchanaburi 71240, Thailand
Timings: 09:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Admission Fee: Adults – 200 THB and Children – 100 THB [for foreigners]
Thai Adults- 40 THB and Children – 20 THB
Visit the Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall
Nature lovers and those looking for some peace favour it over the other heavily commercialised tourist spots in Thailand. The waterfall is fed by the mountain streams located high on the eastern side of the National Park. The surrounding cover of thick bamboo forests and banyan trees make it a magical area quite unlike any other. The water descends 1.8 kilometres through seven distinct levels until it flows into River Kwai Yai. There are rocky shelves encountered along the way with numerous small pools formed in between. Visitors are permitted to swim in the water barring level four where it falls steeply.
Timings: Opens daily from 9:00 AM to 8:00 PM
Entry Fee: Foreigner Adults is 200 THB, Children is 100 THB
Camping fee is 600 THB per night.
Wat Ban Tham or the Dragon Head Temple
Make your way to Wat Ban Tham, also known as the Dragon Head Cave Temple, situated on the riverbank just outside the town. The temple is named so because of its entrance resembling the mouth of a dragon, adding to the allure of the site. The view from the hilltop is breathtaking, but be prepared to climb 900 steps to reach the top, which can be a bit strenuous for toddlers and the elderly. However, the stunning views and photo opportunities make it all worthwhile.
Inside, the mountain caves contain a fascinating collection of religious artefacts, including statues, murals, and colourful ribbons. Don’t miss the chance to visit the shrine dedicated to the legendary hermit Ruesi. Also, be sure to check out the cavernous Luang Por Yai Chinnaraj shrine, where a local monk offers blessings to visitors. The entire experience is truly magical, and you won’t regret making the climb up to this hidden gem.
Location: Khao Noi, Tha Muang District, Kanchanaburi 71110, Thailand
Timings: Opens Daily from 7.30 am to 5 pm
Take a trip to the Hin Dat Hot Spring
Indulging in a natural hot spring bath at Hin Dat Hot Springs is a must-do activity when in Kanchanaburi. Immerse yourself in the warm waters that carry an abundance of salts and minerals, leaving your body feeling rejuvenated and relaxed. This attraction caters to both locals and foreign visitors looking for a therapeutic experience. The hot springs feature three different pools with varying heat levels.
There’s a hot spring with high temperature, a medium temperature pool, and a smaller pool with lower heat levels for young children. Additionally, there’s a special pool reserved exclusively for monks. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to unwind and refresh in the natural springs of Hin Dat. It is truly one of the refreshing things to do in Kanchanaburi.
Address: Tambon Hin Dat, Amphoe Thong Pha Phum, ChangWat Kanchanaburi 71180, Thailand
Timings: 6:00 AM to 10:00 PM
Admission fee: 10 THB per person.
Capture the views of iconic Three Pagodas Pass
The Three Pagodas Pass is a fascinating border crossing between Thailand and Myanmar that offers a glimpse into the area’s historical and cultural significance. The pass was once used by Burmese invaders to attack Siam during the Burmese-Siam War, but it was also utilised by Siam to defend against the Burmese army. Nowadays, the pass has transformed into a popular tourist destination where visitors can obtain a one-day visa from the Thai side to explore Payathonzu on the Burmese side. The Burmese side of the pass offers an array of attractions, including beautiful wooden furniture, intricate jade carvings, and colourful textiles. Keep in mind that this border checkpoint is temporary and only allows for day trips between the two countries.
Location: Phra Chedi Sam Ong, Tenasserim Hills
Timings: 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Explore the Ban Kao National Museum
Immerse yourself in Thai history and take a journey back in time to the Neolithic period at the Ban Kao National Museum, situated on the banks of the Kwai Noi River. This captivating museum, built on the site of a Neolithic burial centre discovered by an Allied prisoner of war, showcases a remarkable collection of artefacts, including several skeletons, bone jewellery, shell ornaments, tripod pots, axes, and other articles excavated from the area. With its significant prehistoric archaeological finds, Ban Kao National Museum is a must-visit destination for those interested in Thailand’s rich and ancient past.
Location: Ban Kao, Mueang Kanchanaburi District, Kanchanaburi 71000, Thailand
Timings: Wednesday to Sunday from 9:00 Am to 4:00 PM
Entry Fee: 30 THB