Kanchanaburi Province is divided into 13 Amphoes (districts) Mueang Kanchanaburi, Bo Phloi, Dan Makham Tia, Huai Krachao, Lao Khwan, Nong Prue, Phanom Thuan, Sai Yok, Sangkhla Buri, Si Sawat, Tha Maka, Tha Muang and Thong Pha Phum. The Amphoes are divided into sub-districts (Tambon) which are divided into villages (Muban) Most of the province is forested mountains and fertile plains; it covers an area of 19,486 square kilometers. Kanchanaburi town is located around the meeting point of the Kwai Noi and Kwai Yai Rivers, about 130 kilometers west of Bangkok.
Kanchanaburi province is also the country’s third largest province next to Nakhon Ratchasima (Korat) and Chiang Mai. Neighboring provinces are (from north clockwise) Tak, Uthai Thani, Suphan Buri, Nakhon Pathom and Ratchaburi. In the west it borders Kayin State, Mon State and Tanintharyi Division of Myanmar.
The mountainous and river valleys of the province have inspired the development of hydro-electric power. The lake of Khao Laem Dam provides further scenic elements to the provinces natural beauty, and providing opportunities for rustic living aboard raft houses. Kanchanaburi province is one of Thailand’s most beautiful provinces, a popular tourist destination, has much to offer in leisure, rejuvenation and sporting activities.
Amphoe Mueang Kanchanaburi
Amphoe Mueang Kanchanaburi is the center of various businesses and the official site of the government. Major attractions are The Bridge over the River Kwai and The Kanchanaburi War Cemetery. The area has many luxurious hotels a convention center, department store, restaurants and supermarket. Kanchanaburi is mostly visited by tour groups, visiting the various sites along the Death Railway.
Kanchanaburi City Gate located in the heart of the city it was built in 1831 in the reign of King Rama III. The king had the city relocated from its former location in Tambon Lat Ya.
The Bridge over The River Kwai – Death Railway
Immortalized in books and movies, The Bridge over The River Kwai Kanchanaburi is soaked in somber WWII history. Most of the main attractions are associated with the infamous Death Railway. The memorial cemeteries and several museums recount the tragedy of this war time drama which cost the lives of more than 100,000 POWs and laborers.
The immaculately maintained Kanchanaburi War Cemetery (Don Rak) contains the remains of 6,982 Allied POWs who perished during the construction of the Death Railway. Its settings remind visitors of the war and its after effects.
The province is most famous for the Bridge over the River Kwai, which was built next to the town of Kanchanaburi crossing the Mae Klong River. The Death Railway ran all the way from the Kwai river valley up to the Three Pagodas Pass. Today only the lowest part of the railway to Nam Tok is still in use. In Kanchanaburi city, there is a war museum and a large cemetery of prisoners of war who died during construction of the Death Railway.
The strategic railway tracks of Death Railway began from Nong Pla Duk Station in Amphoe Ban Pong, Ratchaburi, and ran via Kanchanaburi across the Kwai Yai River, westbound to the Three Pagodas Pass, to end at Thanbuyuzayat in Burma.
The total distance within the territory of Thailand was 300 kilometers, taking only one year to complete from October 1942 – October 1943. After the war, some part of the tracks was demolished and some submerged under the lake of Khao Laem Dam.
Hell Fire Pass Memorial Museum is located within the Division of Agriculture and Cooperatives, Office of Development, Armed Forces Development Command. Established by the Australian Government, it houses a mini theatre and collection of data, photographs, equipment and utensils used during the construction of the Death Railway.
Attractions – Places of Interest
The War Museum located near the River Kwai Bridge displays a collection of weapons, tools and utensils as well as skeletons of the Allied POWs and wartime photographs. Part of the museum serves as an art gallery displaying collections of postage stamps, old postcards, gems and jewellery. Open daily from 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. Admission is 30 Baht. For further details, Telephone: +66 (0) 34 512 596.
The Jeath War Museum or Wat Tai War Museum is located within Wat Chai Chumphon Chana Songkhram (Wat Tai), Tambon Ban Tai, approximately 300 meters from Saeng Chuto Road. The bamboo building of the museum imitates an Allied POW camp during WWII and exhibits a collection of photographs, drawings and articles that reflect the living conditions of the POWs, as well as tools, armaments and bombs from wartime. Open daily during 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. Admission is 30 Baht. For further information, Telephone: +66 (0) 34 511 263.
Chong Kai War Cemetery is another war cemetery, smaller than the one at Don Rak; it’s located near Kanchanaburi Pier on the Kwai Noi River, some 2 kilometers from Kanchanaburi. A former site of a large POW camp, it is accessible by crossing the Somdet Phra Sangkharat Yannasangwon Bridge. It contains the remains of 1,740 Allied POWs who were mostly British soldiers.
Wat Tham Khao Pun is located 2 kilometers beyond Chong Kai War Cemetery and approximately 6 kilometers from Kanchanaburi. This is another former site of a large POW camp during WWII. There is a medium cave within the temple housing a large Buddha image and a hilltop image of Phra Sangkatchai, with a river flowing by behind the temple.
The Thailand – Burma Railway Centre is located near the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery (Don Rak), puts on an exhibition of history of the Thai – Burma railway from the invasion of the Imperial Japanese Army, planning and construction of the railway, its geography, living condition in POW camps, medical aspects, summary of deaths, operation, bombing and end of the railway, as well as aftermath of the war. Open daily from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Admission is 60 Baht for adults and 30 Baht for children under 12. For further information, Telephone: +66 (0) 34 510 067 or visit TBRC online.
Wat Pa Luangta Bua Yanasampanno is commonly referred to as the Tiger Temple is quite a controversial tiger conservation area where various kinds of wild as well as domestic animals live together freely in a scenic nature area and are friendly to the monks and visitors.
The Nine Army War History National Park (Uttayan Haeng Chart Songkram Kao Tab) located at Ladya field, Tambon Chongsadao. It’s around 40 kilometers from Kanchanaburi downtown. This place has provided historical evidence of the nine army war. The nine army war was the war between King Rama I of Thailand and King Padung of Burma. The war ended as a victorious one for Thailand.
The Kirdkao Observatory is situated in Tambon Lum Rang; it is a place to gain knowledge about stars and nature. There is a corner for star watching, and an observatory in the shape of a dome.
Wat Tham Mangkon Thong is located at the foot of a hill some 7 kilometers from the provincial town on the Mae Klong River. The temple was built in 1904 and named Mangkon Thong or Golden Dragon after the dragon staircase of 95 steps leading up to a small cave on top of the hill. There is a large boulder shaped to look like a lion’s face at the mouth of the cave. The temple is famous for the so called, Floating Nun who floats while meditating on the water. Admission (donation) is 10 Baht.
The Giant Rain Tree is on the way to Amphoe Dan Makham Tia at Ban Kasikam, Mu 5 Tambon Ko Samrong, and some 3 kilometers from Wat Tham Mangkon Thong. Enter the Royal Thai Army’s Division of Veterinary and Agriculture 1 via Wat Tham Muni Nat and turn right. The giant rain tree is more than 100 years old with a trunk large enough to be encircled by 10 people.
Tham Maduea cave is located within Wat Tham Maduea Tambon Ban Kao, approximately 40 kilometers from Kanchanaburi. To get there, from Ban Kao Police Post, cross the Kwai Noi River and follow Highway 3445 for 8 kilometers to Sai Yok Camp, enter the camp for some 3 kilometers; contact the temple upon arrival for lighting within the spacious cave.
Suan Somdech Phra Srinagarindra Park is located at Thung Nakkharat Tambon Nong Ya, within the Kanchanaburi Agricultural and Technological College, covering a total area of 600 rai. It is known among the locals as Suan Hin or Rock Garden due to the fact that there are natural rocks of various shapes and sizes around the area. The park is also a natural habitat of various plant species.
Wat Tham Phu Wa is a subsidiary of Wat Pak Nam is located at Tambon Nong Ya in a peaceful and shady atmosphere is surrounded by scenic mountains and forests. The temple houses a cave with picturesque stalagmites and stalactites, which also serves as Phra Ubosot or ordination hall and contains a principal Buddha image in the gesture of meditation. The temple is located about 17 kilometers along highway 3229.
Events – Festivals
The Mineral Water and Waterfall Bathing Day is held at Hin Dat Hot Spring, Mu 5. Tambon Hin Dat, Amphoe Thong Pha Phum the beginning of November. In the festival, there are booths of agricultural products and tourism exhibition of Amphoe Thong Pha Phum. Tourists will have a chance to bath in the Hin Dat Hot Spring and enjoy the beautiful view of Namtok Pha Tat.
The Boat and Raft People’s Day is held every year at the beginning of November at Song Kwai Road near the riverside in front of the city of Kanchanaburi. Activities include folk performances, Thai typical music performance, academic exhibition concerning conservation of rivers and canals, water sports such as riding long boats, speed boats and jet-skiing.
River Kwai Bridge Week is held every year around the end of November until the beginning of December to commemorate the significance of the Death Railway and the Bridge over the Kwai River taking place in WWII. Visitors can see the historical and archaeological exhibition, folk performances, and booths of products, entertaining activities, and light and sound show.
National Parks – Kanchanaburi Province
The National Parks of Kanchanaburi Province are rated as some of Thailand’s best, offering many interesting tours, such as, the temple raised tigers. The sporting opportunities and trekking adventures combined with the natural scenic surroundings of the province provide a focal point, for a memorable holiday.
Khaoen Sri Nakharin National Park – Kanchanaburi Province
Khaoen Sri Nakharin National Park is located in the Sai Yok, Sri Sawat and Amphur Thong Pha Phum districts; it covers an area of 1,532 square kilometers. The natural features include waterfalls, hot springs, caves and an island studded reservoir. The Park consists of Limestone Mountains which are covered in evergreen and deciduous forests are the origin of Kwai Yai River.
Chaloem Rattanakosin National Park – Kanchanaburi Province
Chaloem Rattanakosin National Park is the smallest park in Kanchanaburi Province. Its main features are fertile forests, steep limestone mountains, attractive waterfalls and mysterious caves. The park covers an area of 59 square kilometers, the forested; Limestone Mountains of the Park are the watershed of Mae Klong River. The highest peak in the Park is Kam Paeng Mountain about 1,260 meters above sea level.
Khao Laem National Park – Kanchanaburi Province
Khao Laem National Park covers the surrounding fertile forest of Khao Laem Reservoir in Sangkla Buri and Amphur Thong Pha Phum a popular area for tourism and recreation. Khao Laem National Park is one of the five National Parks that was setting to honor the 60th Year Anniversary of King Bhumibhol on the 5th December 1987. The park covers a total area of 1,497 square kilometers. The steep limestone mountain range running on a north-south axis, are the water source of Kwai Noi River and other important rivers.
Lam Klong Ngu National Park – Kanchanaburi Province
Lam Klong Ngu National Park is a fertile forest complex in the Tanaosri Mountain Range. The area has a high diversity of forest habitat and wildlife due to its close proximity to Thung Yai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary and Khao Laem and Khaoen Sri Nakarin National Parks. It is an excellent area for recreation and discovering nature. The large, towering limestone mountains are the watershed for Sri Nakarin Dam and cover an area of 600 square kilometers.
Thong Pha Phum National Park – Kanchanaburi Province
Thong Pha Phum National Park covers a area of 1,120 square kilometers of preparing national park forest, in the Sri Sawat and Thong Pha Phum District. The fertile forest was setting as sustain conservation forest, which has a large biodiversity. The forest connects with Thung Yai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary, Sai Yok National Park, Khao Laem National Park and Myanmar that motive moving and descendant exchanging of wildlife.
Erawan National Park – Kanchanaburi Province
The limestone hills of Erawan National Park rise from a 165 to 996 meters above sea level. Many important streams flow from these hills. On the eastern side of the park, Mong Lai stream and Omtala stream join together above Erawan waterfall.
The Sadae stream flows through the north side of the park to the Si Nakharindra Dam. In the west, Nong Kop stream joins Sai Yok River, and these waters then flow through Sai Yok waterfall. Many small streams flow through the southern part of the park, including the Khao Phang stream which boosts the beautiful Khao Phang waterfall, also known as little Sai Yok waterfall.
Sai Yok National Park – Kanchanaburi Province
Sai Yok National Park is 98 kilometers from Kanchanaburi, located in Amphur Thong Pha Phum and Sai Yok; it covers an area of 500 square kilometers. The park is mostly Limestone Mountains, running on a north-south axis. The area is covered by mixed deciduous and dry evergreen forest with a bamboo forest, and a teak forest along the Kwai river side, and the habitat of much wildlife.
National Parks of Thailand
Getting to Kanchanaburi
The journey by car or mini bus from Bangkok, takes approximately 2 hours to Kanchanaburi.
First class air-conditioned buses (blue colour) depart from the Southern Bus Terminal Bangkok every 20 minutes daily from 5.00 a.m. – 10.30 p.m running on the Borommaratchachonnani Road – Nakhon Chai Si route. The journey takes just over 2 hours.
thai transport-air-conditioned bus
Ordinary trains leave Thon Buri Railway Station (Bangkok Noi Station) daily to Kanchanaburi. Only 3rd class seats are available, the journey takes approximately 3 hours.
Alternately there are many excellent one two or three day minibus tours available from many tour companies in Thailand to Kanchanaburi. Parties of four or more people people, you might want to consider renting a mini bus and driver for a couple of days.
Getting around Kanchanburi, songthaews are generally the most popular form of public transport in the provincial town and rural areas. The cycle samlors are a popular form of transport within the town for visitors going to and from each of the sight seeing attractions.
Air Rail and Bus Time Tables
Shopping – Eating Out – Nightlife
Shopping in Kanchanburi, around the town there are many shop houses selling various items plus convenient stores. The Night Market is located near Kanchanaburi Railway Station selling the likes of clothes, shoes, bags, collectables, souvenirs, DVDs etc. Kan Superstore in Kanchanaburi Town Centre is just a normal department store with a supermarket. Tesco Lotus Superstore is on Sang Chuto Road Kanchanaburi.
Kanchanburi province is famous for its freshwater fish. The most popular dining areas are the Song Kwai Road waterfront area and the riverside restaurants in the vicinity of the River Kwai Bridge. There are also several restaurants in the town, many of the hotels serve international cuisine, in Tesco Lotus there is a food court and western fast food outlets, such as KFC and MacDonald’s.
Kanchanburi has many Disco Rafts which sail up and down parts of the River Kwai all night long, playing the latest in disco music. In the town there is a couple of Discos, live Thai Music Pubs playing Thai folk music, Karaoke clubs can be found in many of the hotels, Thai style restaurants which play music and serve alcohol. The majority of river guesthouses sale alcohol and play music, there is also several beer bars along the river bank.
Leisure – Sporting Activities
Kanchanaburi has much to offer in leisure and sporting activities, the luxury resorts, hotels and country clubs have fitness centers, tennis courts and excellent golf courses in scenic locations which are popular venues due to their close vicinity to Bangkok and natural scenery.
The many jungle camps in the national parks of the province, provide much in sporting activities, such as elephant trekking, canoeing, rafting expeditions, mountain biking, rock climbing and white white water rafting along various routes of the Kwai Noi River, Kwai Yai River and Song Ka Lia River. The Lake of the Khao Lam Dam offers many water sports and good fishing.
Hotels – Accommodation
Kanchanaburi province has accommodation to suit all tastes and budgets from luxury spa hotels and country clubs providing the best in leisure and sporting activities to riverside guesthouses and bungalows. The two story raft houses on the lake of Khao Laem Dam are great for groups and families.