Located in western Thailand, Kanchanaburi is a great place for travelers of all kinds; from nature lovers to history buffs. Those who pass by can watch the famous Kwai drift past while they gain an understanding of the tragic history of Thailand during World War II, and there are plenty of other things to do besides this. Check out our list of the 10 things to see and do whilst in the area.
Popping up in movies and literature, the stunning River Kwai is an ideal destination for a relaxing holiday. With luxurious resorts and fine-dining restaurants alike clustered along its banks, providing an amazing array of cuisine and accommodation, visitors can enjoy scenic views aplenty. Adventurous travelers can opt to dine on one of the waterway’s famous floating restaurants, while the eponymous bridge towards the west end of town is a veritable must see.
Every museum documents a story. The Hellfire Pass Memorial documents a particularly gruesome one. Recounting the visceral history of how the Japanese army forced Allied prisoners to build a railway through Burma and western Thailand, the museum is situated at the site where prisoners labored night and day, often with torches that resembled the fires of Hell. The museum is co-sponsored by the Royal Thai Armed Forces Development Command and the Australian government, intended to record the history of the construction of the Thai-Burma Railway and to commemorate the loss of lives that occurred.
Address: Sai Yok District, Kanchanaburi, Thailand
There have been oodles of reports of so-called elephant sanctuaries in Thailand treating animals poorly, separating baby elephants from their moms, using small cages, clubs and piercing bull-hooks for training. However, Elephant’sWorld, a sanctuary where elephants are rescued and freed from inhumane treatment, offers day-long and overnight programs near Kanchanaburi, allowing travelers to closely interact with elephants in an ethical way while enjoying the picturesque scenery of the River Kwai.
Address: Wang Dong, Mueang Kanchanaburi District, Kanchanaburi, Thailand
Seven-tiered, emerald green and magnificent, these waterfalls are not the stuff of fairy tales, but can be found in the Erawan National Park (one of the most famous in all of Thailand), just a short jaunt from Kanchanaburi town. Deciduous forest covers 81 percent of the park, while the remainder is blanketed in evergreens, making the whole area a real haven for nature lovers. What’s more, visitors are invited to swim in several of the plunge pools in the area.
Srinakarin National Park is another perfect choice for nature lovers in Kanchanaburi. It is famed primarily for the spectacular Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall, which crashes down towards the Khwae Yai River and is said to be the most stunning Thailand attraction. Adventurous visitors can also visit caves around the park, while art lovers must not miss Tham Sawan and Tham Phra, where prehistoric paintings rub shoulders with a wondrous Buddha image. Animals like leopards, bats and orioles also patrol the park – so keep your eyes open.
Kanchanaburi attracts huge crowds of tourists interested in learning about the dark histories of Thailand during World War II. The Thai-Burma Railway (also known as the Death railway) was constructed for the Japanese to cross the border with Burma to the north-west. Carriages still go on the tracks and travelers riding the train are taken through vistas of of sugar cane, rice terrace and farmland while paying respect to the victims who died during its construction.
Climbing up staircases under the sun can be exhausting, but a visit to Wat Tham Sua is worth the effort. Translated as “Tiger’s Cave Temple”, visitors can see statues of tigers everywhere here, along with an impressive gigantic golden Buddha right in the complex’s heart. After trying so hard climb the mountain, it is a pity if you only walk around the temple. So, seize the opportunity to take in the panoramas of rice fields, the River Kwai and Kanchanaburi in the distance too.
Delicious Thai cuisine attracts travelers to visit Thailand from right across the globe, which is no doubt why so many opt to take cooking courses in the country, in the hope that they can take the skills and flavors home with them. Joining cookery classes in Kanchanaburi is a perfect option for lovers of Thai food, with many of the schools here taking participants to the local food market to introduce them to different spices and ingredients before hitting the hobs and getting stuck into the cooking.
The superior geographic location of Kanchanaburi makes it a perfect place for boat tours and water sports. A wide range of activities are offered by travel agents in the town, including kayaking, canoeing and scenic river cruises. While hitting the waterways around Kanchanaburi, travelers can expect to spot cavernous Lawa Cave with its minuscule bats, roaring waterfalls, and oodles of mind-blowing flora and fauna.
Restaurants serving famous dishes like pad Thai, sticky mango rice and tom yum are scattered all around Kanchanaburi. But it’s not all about the food, because dining here features much more than just mouthwatering dining options. Surrounded by local Thais, travelers can experience the country’s food culture in full swing; sharing meals and chatting between the aromas of soy and Sang Som rum!