Deemed to be one of the most beautiful and serene provinces of Thailand, Kanchanaburi is a paradise for nature lovers. It is said that this town was originally established by “King Ram I” (Alias: Phra Phutthayotfa Chulalok) as a first defense line against the invasion of the Burmese. Kanchanaburi is most remembered for its involvement during the times of World War II. Its war memorials and museums stand proof to those hard times.
A spectacular combination of nature and history, this province is present at the confluence of two rivers, the Kwai Noi and Kwai Yai, and is a place of the source of one of Thailand’s most important rivers- the Mae Klong river. Kanchanaburi is now one of Thailand’s major tourist destinations which attract backpackers and nature lovers from all around the world. Just about 125km from Bangkok, you can come here by Bus or Train. It’s home to some of Thailand’s biggest Dams, waterfalls, virgin jungles, national parks and whatnot.
Tourism is one of its major sources of income in this province. Kanchanaburi is an ideal getaway from the ever-bustling city life of Bangkok. There are straight train and bus services from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi. Though you can visit Kanchanaburi throughout the year, climate-wise it is best if you visit this province between November and February. This is when the temperatures are relatively cooler and nature is at its beautiful best!
It is hard to cover all the Kanchanaburi Attractions unless you are on a long and relaxing vacation. Below are some of our picks which will show you the range of places that Kanchanaburi has to offer.
1. The Death Railway:
The first sightseeing place you will be suggested or read about is about The Bridge on the River Kwai. Associated with the 1958 Oscar-winning movie – The Bridge over River Kwai, this has been one of the most iconic landmarks in history. The current bridge is the renovated version as the original one was bombed during World War II. The Death railway track is considered to be the famous historical sites in Thailand.
This Kanchanaburi attraction is a symbol of struggle the prisoners of war went through at the hands of the Japanese and Korean soldiers. This steel bridge is dubbed as The Death Railways due to how the prisoners were treated during its construction. This bridge is 50 feet above the water and 425 feet long. It took about 60,000 enslaved prisoners, who were tortured and made to endure atrocious living conditions. Amidst a shortage of food, next-to-nill medical facility, humid conditions, and disease-prone environment, and after about 12,000 prisoners’ deaths, the bridge was finally ready.
To commemorate this, River Kwai Memorial Week is held between late November to early December every year. Exhibitions are set up in the area next to the bridge. Along with the day-long celebrations with traditional performances and shopping stalls and street food joints being put-up, a small display of fireworks that reenacts the wartime bombing of the bridge will also be displayed.
Location – Maenam Khwae Road, Mueang Kanchanaburi
Timings – 24 hours
Entry Fee – Free
How to reach – Taxi or Bus from the Kanchanaburi Bus Stand or a train to River Kwai Bridge
2. The Tiger Temple:
Officially called the Wat Pa Luang Ta Bua, this Buddhist temple is world-famous for its services in protecting tigers. Established in 1994, it began like any other Buddhist temple. The first tiger cub was rescued in 1999 by farmers near the temple. Later came many other tigers and currently, the temple has as many as 60 Indochinese Tigers.
One can not only be within close quarters with these majestic beasts but also feed them, bath them, and go on a walk with them. You will get a chance to really know these adorable creatures. And not to forget, loads of pictures!
- Dressing codes are strict and hence one should be careful not to reveal shoulder dresses shorter than the knee
- No tight clothes allowed
- No red, purple or pink clothing
Location – Lum Sum, Sai Yok District, Kanchanaburi 71150
Timings -10am to 4:30pm
Entry Fee – approx 600Baht
How to reach – Buses that run between Kanchanaburi and Sai Yok or a bike taxi
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3. Hellfire Pass:
Aptly named, this railway pass is also connected to World War II’s gruesome acts. Present in the Tenasserim Hills, this was one of the toughest places to cut rocks and build railway lines. However, Japanese troops made the prisoners of war toil and got this herculean task completed in just 2 weeks with 18hrs per day. The conditions they worked in and the tortures infused upon them were no less than any horror story.
This pass was thus named due to the burning torchlights during the night which made it look exactly like hell. The prisoners were made to work under unhygienic conditions, amidst spreading cholera, starvation, and with no proper equipment. Thus leaving a trail of blood in its wake.
Now a memorial, this is a must-visit Kanchanaburi Attraction that tells a tale of brutality and suffering. This is marked by the Anzac Day Hellfire Pass Memorial, which is held yearly on April 25thl. This day is dedicated to the Australian and New Zealand Prisoners of War and also other laborers who were falsely promised good waged employment, instead ended up in Hellfire.
There are also audio recordings of the surviving prisoners which is available in the War Museum close by.
Location – Highway 323, between Sai Yok and Thong Pha Phum Districts
Timings – 9 am to 4 pm every day
Entry Fee – Free
How to reach – Take a bus the goes from Kanchanaburi to Thong Pha Phum
4. Underwater City:
The Muang Badan, literally translating into- The Underwater City is one of the most famous Kanchanaburi attractions which looks like a place right out of an adventure novel. You can find a whole submerged city with houses and a Buddhist temple below water. The Wat Wang Wirekaram Kao which is locally called the Sunken Temple was an extremely revered temple that was built in the 1950s. Situated at the Thai-Myanmar border, it was the heart of a city that was resided by one of the earliest Southeast Asian settlements, the Mon and Karen tribes.
The construction of the Khao Laem Dam, also known as the Vajiralongkorn Dam during 1984 led to the flooding and the consecutive submerging of the whole city. The best period to visit this place is between March and April as this is the dry season and the water levels will reduce and you will be able to see the temple and the ruins clearly else during the rainy seasons you will only be able to reach this palace by boat and only the top of the temple will be visible. However, the sunset at this place is one of the plus points during this season which definitely should not be missed.
Another one of the places not to be missed in this place is its wooden bridge, the Mon bridge or Saphan Mon. This is the longest bridge in the whole of Thailand and the second-longest in the world. It has been built to connect the former submerged settlement and the current settlement along the river Songkalia with the most beautiful and scenic backdrop possible.
Location – Sangkhla Buri, Kanchanaburi
Timings – approx 8 am to 6 pm
Entry Fee – approx 250 Baht
How to reach – by road till Kanchanaburi-Thongpoom-Sangklaburi Highway 323 and then take a boat
5. War Cemetery:
One can see the extent of cruelness and inhumane acts of World War II, at this War Cemetery which is where over 7000 prisoners of war who were enslaved to work on the construction of the Death Railways, are buried. Except for the prisoners of America (sent to their homeland), people of other nationalities (Asians, Australia, British and Dutch) have all been buried here through allied agreement.
Maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, this memoir is maintained very well and with dignity.
Location – Saeng Chuto Road, opposite train station
Timings – 8 am to 5 pm every day
Entry Fee – Free
How to reach – You can get here by taxi or even a songthaew
6. LaWa Cave:
The most mysterious and astonishing treat of nature present right at the heart of the city. This magnificent cave is one of the main Kanchanaburi attractions which is flooded with tourists from all over the world. Just about 75 km from Kanchanaburi, it is situated in the district called Sai Yok.
It can be reached through both lands and by water. As they say, don’t judge the book by its cover, the entrance to this cave is misleadingly narrow but once you enter you are definitely in for a surprising reveal. The biggest cave in Kanchanaburi province, this 500 meters of spectacle has been divided into 5 chambers. However, one thing that is common in all these 5 chambers is the pretty stalagmites and stalactite formations.
The main attractions of this trip are-
- The Khun Kitti bats
- The Music Chamber
- The Throne Chamber
- The Buddha Statues and
- The Scenic Boat Ride to the caves
Location – Kaeng lawa Cake, Pak Saeng Pier
Timings – 9 am to 4 pm
Entry Fee – approx 200 Baht
How to reach – by boat (from Pak Saeng Pier) or taxi
7. Wat Tham Phu Wa:
Away from the hustle of daily life, this serene cave temple is a welcoming invitation for all who love to meditate. This sacred cave was formed due to the dissolution of the limestone cavity due to rainwater. This is one of the most intriguing cave temples with naturally formed stalactites and stalagmites inside the cave, giving it a perfect cave temple picture. Hence making this one of the topmost contenders of the Kanchanaburi attractions list.
This meditation retreat showcases some of the best architectural skills of the artists and where most of the style is of Khmer and Lopburi style. There is a reclining and a sitting Buddha status here. This place also has a facility of camps, training and meeting rooms which can accommodate 100s of people in one sitting.
Location – Nong Ya Mueang, Kanchanaburi 71000
Timings – 8am to 5pm
Entry Fee – Free
How to reach – Taxi is the best option as it is 20km from the main city
8. Sai Yok Yai Falls:
The jewel of the Sai Yok National Park, this mesmerizing waterfall has that special extra which makes it stand out from the rest of the lot. Unlike the others, the source of this waterfall is a stream that drops from a height of 10mts of a limestone cliff and joins the river- Kwae Noi River. Also called by the name of Khao Phang Waterfall, this is one among the most chosen Kanchanaburi attractions by the locals and foreigners alike.
Being the epicenter of the national park, one can really enjoy rendezvous of the surrounding plush and dense evergreen and deciduous forest. This waterfall was where once upon a time King Rama V swan for recreation and on which there is a glorified poem written in commemoration of this sweet incident.
Though this waterfall is attractive throughout the year, the season of rain is the best to visit given the water levels will be higher making it seem like a watercolor scenery.
People not only come here for a picnic but also to experience heart-pumping adventurous water sports activities. This is a hotspot for all the whitewater rafting enthusiasts.
PS: Though the safety is given at most priority, it is always advised to be more careful with oneself as the force of the waterfall is usually high.
Location – Sai Yok, Sai Yok District, Kanchanaburi 71150
Timings – 6am to 6pm
Entry Fee – approx 300Baht for adults and 200 Baht for kids
How to reach – Busses to Sangkhlaburi stops by at Sai Yok Noi Waterfall or you could hire a taxi
9. HinDad Hot Spring:
A natural hot water jacuzzi at the foot of the Tenasserim range which borders Myanmar is one of the best natural hot springs to visit in Kanchanaburi, Thailand. Preferred By both Thai and foreigners this spring is filled with minerals and hence it is considered that some time spent in this natural pool will reap benefits such as,
- Lessening muscular pains
- Regulate blood circulation
- Relaxes body
- Cleanses skin and brightens it and many more
This spring is hard to miss and it is very close to the main road. It also flows adjacent to the cool spring which flows from the Pha Tad Waterfall. Also known as the Kuimang Hot Spring, it was actually accidentally discovered by the Japanese soldiers during the construction of the Death Railways.
The surface temperature of this spring is about 45 to 50 degrees celsius. And this hot water pool is divided into 3 depending on who can use it and the temperature of the water surface one for adults, one for children(least hot of all), and one for the monks. There are massage parlors, foot massage parlors.
Location – Wang Khanai, Tha Muang District, Kanchanaburi 71110
Timings – 6am to 10pm
Entry Fee – approx 50Baht for adults and 30Bhat for children
How to reach – hiring a taxi is the best option or a bus to Thong Pha Phum town
10. Erawan National Park:
Last but not least, The great Erawan National park. This National park is a home for some of nature’s most beautiful attractions. among them, there is one hotspot which is not only a Kanchanaburi attraction but also one of the most famous destinations in the itinerary of a Thailand vacation. Considered to be the most beautiful waterfall in Thailand this cascading beauty is a real treasure.
Named after the mythical, three-headed elephant of the Hindu Religion, this 7 storied cascading waterfall is the epitome of splendor. Though the waterfalls operate all through the year, the rainy season is the best shop. There is a possibility to climb and hike along the waterfalls. However, one should be extremely careful while doing so.
While there you will also be able to see some wildlife around. Erawan Falls in Erawan National Park is one of the best waterfalls in Thailand.
There are many things to do in the Erawan National Park. among them, most people prefer hiking and cave exploration.
Location – Tha Kradan, Si Sawat District, Kanchanaburi 71250
Timings – 8am to 4:30pm
Entry Fee – approx 300Baht
How to reach – Kanchanaburi busses or if you prefer a more relaxed and secluded drive, choose private taxis
A treasure trove of destinations, Kanchanabiru is a tourist hotspot with a multitude of itineraries. It is really a daunting task to come up with a few selected places to be visited when all the places this province offers are off-the-chart amazing.
However, we have tried our best to shortlist and provide you with a list of the cream of the lot, which is never to be missed on your vacation to Kanchanaburi.