Kanchanaburi is one of the most beautiful provinces of Thailand,
with a delightful landscape. It is already well known among war
historians and archaeologists for its Neolithic burial grounds.
But the past is not Kanchanaburi's only attraction, the province
also has numerous other places of interest for nature-loving
visitors. Among the sights to head for are the Death Railway
Bridge, War Cemeteries, Prasat Muang Singh Historical Park,
Erawan Falls and the National Park.
Kanchanaburi outside the Town Hall is a bustling area. The river
bank functions like the town's main street, with busy ferry
landings, floating restaurants serving succulent freshwater fish
and as the launching pier for Kanchanaburi's notorious disco
The river at this point broadens up to a width of almost a
kilometer. It is here that the floating disco party special, a
popular local outing, originated. The party venue is on a pair
of big two storey raft-houses floating in tandem, one serving as
restaurant and the other a disco floor with powerful disco noise
boxes. A tugboat tows out the floating party-house pier down or
up river to make merry out in the open waterway.
While in the
city, dining or lunching on the floating restaurants lining the
riverbank is an unforgettable experience for the succulent
freshwater fish and the local scene. Ferries laden with farmers,
their bikes and pickups ply the crossing every few minutes. An
enlivening spectacle for diners is the departure of the disco
party rafts, floating their merry ways down river until
disappearing around the bend with their noisy music still
reverberating over the water.
Kanchanaburi borders with Myanmar (Burma). A rugged mountain
range, the Tennasarim, and almost impregnable jungle separate
the two countries. British engineers surveyed the indomitable
terrain?s in 1905 for a projected rail route and forthwith
declared impossible to build. The Japanese army did it in 17
months in war-time conditions. A grim toll of over 100,000 lives
was sacrificed to the harsh conditions, mostly sickness, through
malnutrition, lack of medicine and medical care, resulting in
epidemics which wiped out entire camps of POW's and laborers by
Every year, on April 25, friends and relatives of the Allied
POW's come to visit their graves. The main cemetery is opposite
Kanchanaburi train station with 6,982 copper-plaque tombstones.
An other is at Chungai district across the River Kwai with 1,750
headstones. The cemeteries are immaculately tended all year
The Bridge Over the River Kwai
The bridge was constructed with dismantled steel spans brought
over from Java. Two of the original spans, with round shape,
were knocked down by Allied bombings to disrupt the death
railway operation. The fallen round spans were then replaced
with angular spans as appear at present.
A unique war-train
museum stands at the foot of the bridge. The significant exhibit
is a rail convoy truck fixed with railway wheels, which bespeaks
of the ingenuity of the engineers of the Japanese Imperial Army.
The Annual Light and Sound Festival: This is held in the first
week of December at the bridge site, re-enacting the bombing of
the bridge for local and foreign tourists.
War Museum: The
museum, located near the River Kwai Bridge, displays the
collection of weapons, tools and utensils of the Allied
prisoners of war and Japanese soldiers during the Second World
War. Jeath Museum: The museum was built by a monk of Wat Chai
Chumpol in the form of a replica of Allied POW's quarters in a
Death Railway detention camp - a long bamboo hut with earthen
floor, like a henhouse. Raised narrow bamboo bunks lining the
two walls, serving as the living space.
JEATH is the acronym of
the nations involved in the Death Railway construction, namely:
Japan, England, America, Australia, Thailand and Holland. On the
walls are enlarged reproductions of photos taken during the
railway construction and also paintings of the atrocities
inflicted on the POW's. There are also collections of World war
II Artifacts found in the area, including the blown-out shell of
the bomb that was supposed to have downed the Bridge Over the
The Death Railway: The Death Railway line
is still in operation. The rail line snakes through scenic and
thrilling natural terrain. The whole train, hugging the
mountainside at a dizzy height over raging river far below,
creeps over the World War II rail line laid on creaking
The Death Railway train ride runs on a regular
schedule. The train leaves Kanchanaburi Station at 10:31, chugs
over the Bridge on the River Kwai at 10.35am., or thereabout, en
route Namtok Station at 12:30. There is a combination tour to
the renowned Saiyoke Waterfall. Picnic on the train is not
Kanchanburi Town Gate: This is the remain of
Kanchanaburi town built in 1833 during the reign of King Rama
III. It is located on Lak Muang Road near the meeting point of
the Kwai Yai and Kwai Noi Rivers.
The Kanchanaburi War Cemetery:
On Saeng Chuto Road, opposite the railway station, it contains
the remains of 6,982 prisoners of war who perished during the
construction of the "Death Railway".
The Chong Kai War Cemetery:
2 km 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.
Wat Tham Mankhon Thong:
Situated 4 km from town on the bank of the Kwai Noi River. It is
well known for the incredible performance of the nun floating in
a deep pool. There is a small museum where a variety of ancient
objects found in the area are on display.
Wat Tham Phu Wa: The
monastery in natural surroundings, famous for meditation, is
15km away from the provincial capital. There is a beautiful cave
with plenty of stalactites.
Somdet Phra Sri Nakarin Park:
Situated in Kanchanaburi?s Agricultural College at Tambon Nong
Ya, 9km from town, it is also known as "the Stone Garden" which
abounds with stones of different sizes and shapes in its large
Wat Tham Sua and Wat Tham Khao Noi: Located at Tambon
Muang Chum, 4km beyond Wachiralongkorn Dam, these two adjacent
temples house very beautiful Thai and Chinese style buildings
and huge Buddha images situated on the mount.
Ban Kao National
Museum: The museum, some 35km from town, was constructed beside
a Neolithic burial site discovered by Dutch prisoners of war
during the construction of the "Death Railway". Specimens of
Neolithic remains are on display. It is open from 09:00 - 16:30
on Wednesday to Sunday and closed on Monday and Tuesday.
Kanchanaburi Cultural Centre: The collection center of human
life styles from the past till the present is displayed at the
Rajpatara Institute of Kanchanaburi, 14km out of town on the
route to Sai Yok.
Wat Pa Lelai: This monastery is 18km away from
the provincial capital. It is located at Tambon Lat Ya which
once was an ancient border town involved in battles between the
Thai and the Burmese during the Ayutthaya period to the early
Bangkok period. Another nearby temple called Wat Khun Phaen
houses a ruined pagoda dating back to the early Ayutthaya.