Kanchanaburi, approximately 150km (93mi) west of Bangkok, was catapulted into the spotlight thanks to the novel The Bridge Over the River Kwai (1952). Today, the dark wartime history is brought to life at the many museums dotting the city, such as the Hellfire Pass Interpretive Centre and the Jeath War Museum. Elsewhere, you can explore the cascading Erawan Falls, the Somboon Legacy Foundation (a hands-off elephant sanctuary) and Wat Ban Tham (an ancient temple). Ready for an adventure along the most historic river in Thailand? Read on for our selection of the best hotels and guesthouses in Kanchanaburi, bookable with Culture Trip.
X2 River Kwai Resort is a 15-minute drive south of Kanchanaburi. Here, you can get up close and personal with the River Kwai in your free-to-use kayak, make a splash in the riverside infinity pool or stick to dry land with a bike ride along the dusty backroads. The 22 cabins at the hotel are minimalist, with polished concrete floors, free-standing stone tubs and chipboard bed frames. All enjoy river views, while some even float directly on the water.
The family-friendly and wheelchair-accessible Plakan Resort is ideal for multigenerational trips and group travel. The comfy riverside rooms have polished wood floors and balconies. Relax with a beer in the garden illuminated by string lights, take a dip in the courtyard pool or venture to the nearby Chong Kai Allied War Cemetery and the Jeath War Museum for a sobering glimpse into the wartime history of Kanchanaburi.
With seven storeys, Natee the Riverfront Hotel is a Kanchanaburi high-rise, meaning you’ll get some of the best views of the river. Soak in the panorama from your private jacuzzi bath, or take it all in from the sparkling turquoise-tiled pool. Here for the history? The excellent Death Railway Museum (also known as the Thailand-Burma Railway Centre) is a 10-minute walk away.
U Inchantree is only a five-minute walk from the star attraction in Kanchanaburi, the Bridge on the River Kwai – see it from the riverfront hotel terrace. The breakfast buffet is outstanding and is available whenever and wherever you’d like. Want pancakes by the pool at 9am? No problem. How about some poached eggs in your room after your morning bike ride? Consider it done.
For an indulgent out-of-town escape, book a stay at the Royal River Kwai Resort and Spa. Spend a day lounging by the huge palm-fringed pool, treat yourself to a traditional Thai massage at the spa or, if you’re feeling adventurous, join a stand-up paddleboard tour along the River Kwai. The hotel is a 10-minute drive from the Kanchanaburi tourist centre – daily shuttles are available – and an hour from the seven-tiered spectacle of Erawan Falls.
Woodpeckers, kingfishers and a whole host of migrating birds flit through the garden at the colonial-style Journey House Lifestyle Boutique Hotel. It feels remarkably secluded despite the fact it’s only a five-minute drive from town. Cool off in the pool, admire the local artwork on display in the gallery cafe or ask the friendly staff to arrange a day trip to discover the hidden Kanchanaburi hot springs and waterfalls.
Courtesy of Tubtim Siam River Kwai Resort / Expedia
The pastel-blue-and-white villas at Tubtim Siam River Kwai Resort look like sugar-dusted gingerbread houses; they’re set around an equally pretty riverfront garden dotted with ornate benches, two-seater swings and a pool. Don’t miss a trip to see the giant golden Buddha at Wat Tham Suea (Tiger Cave Temple), a 25-minute drive east. Take a detour on the way to see a fabulous huge rain tree – your driver will know where it is.
The modern, clean rooms at Princess River Kwai have balconies and traditional carved wooden furniture – the best have jetted baths and river views. The hotel is a 10-minute drive from town, but if you’re feeling adventurous, why not hop on a free kayak or bike to make your way there? Prasat Mueang Sing Historical Park, one of the lesser-known sights in the area, is a half-hour drive towards the Myanmar border; here, you’ll find the westernmost ruins of the Khmer Empire.
The standard rooms at Pong Phen Guesthouse are basic, while the slightly pricier rooms are more up to date. However, they both offer great value for money. There’s a palm-fringed free-form pool in the garden, ideal for cooling down on hot afternoons. The guesthouse is a 10-minute walk from the historic Bridge on the River Kwai. Want to explore further afield? Rent a motorbike from your hosts.
Apple’s Retreat is run by Apple and Noi, the same two local women behind Blue Rice Restaurant, which sits just over the road on the south bank of the River Kwai. Rooms are simple, but the welcome is warm. Here, though, it’s all about the food – whether you’re chowing down on the restaurant’s signature massaman curry or picking out fresh chillies with Noi at the local market before a cooking class.