to most historians, the ancient town of Kanchanaburi was located
near Ban Lat Ya, a small village situated approximately 16
kilometers north of the present town. The site was repeatedly
recorded in Thai history as an invasion route which the Burmese used
to enter Thai Kingdoms.
Kanchanaburi, which has mostly mountainous terrain, covers an area
of approximately 19,473 square kilometers and is the third largest
province in Thailand after Chiang Mai and Nakhon Ratchasima.
Situated approximately 129 kilometres west of Bangkok, Kanchanaburi
shares a border with Myanmar to the west, Tak and Uthai Thani
Provinces to the north, Suphan Buri and Nakhon Pathom Provinces to
the east, and Ratchaburi Province to the south.
north and west Kanchanaburi, the terrain is comprised mainly of
mountains and high plains, with the Thanon Thongchai Range acting as
a natural border between Thailand and Myanmar. The range is the
source of Kanchanaburi's two most important rivers Maenam Khwae Noi
and Maenam Khwae Yai, which form the famous Maenam Mae Klong. As a
result, several of Thailand's largest Namtok (waterfalls) and most
extensive wildlife sanctuaries are found in this area.
The magnificent landscape and charming beauty of Kanchanaburi have
resulted in major tourist attractions including several well-known
waterfalls, caves which were once inhabited by Neolithic man,
pristine national parks, tranquil rivers, virgin forests, and
reservoir. Together, they offer an intriguing experience for
first-time or repeat visitors. Whether its fishing, rafting,
canoeing, mountain biking, bird-watching, star-gazing, golfing,
elephant and jungle trekking, or even living in bamboo rafts,
Kanchanaburi takes pride in offering them all.
city of Kanchanaburi is located at the point where two tributaries,
the Khwae Noi and Khwae Yai meet and form the Maenam Mae Klong. This
is the location of the notorious Death Railway and the Bridge on the
River Khwae one of the worlds famous World War II sites which have
been immortalized in print and film.
In economic terms, Kanchanaburi has been doing well on a national
scale, with over 10 per cent growth annually. Important industries
include sugar, agricultural products and jewelry. Tourism is also a
main source of income for the locals as the provinces high tourism
potential has made Kanchanaburi number one among the west provinces
in having the highest number of visitors each year.
Residents of Kanchanaburi are engaged in agricultural activities.
Most of the locals are of Thai ancestry with notable Mon and Karen
minorities. Rural dwellers enjoy living simply and respecting
nature. Moreover folk music and dances dating back at least 500
years are still performed today.
Distances from Amphoe Muang (Town) to
Neighboring Districts :
Tha Muang 12 kms.
Phanom Thuan 24 kms.
Tha Maka 30 kms.
Dan Makham Tia 30 kms.
Sai Yok 50 kms.
Thong Pha Phum 145 kms.
Sangkhla Buri 230 kms.
Si Sawat 102 kms.
Bo Phloi 40 kms.
Nong Prue 75 kms.
Huai Krachao 60 kms.
Lao Khwan 97 kms.
The Bridge on the River Khwae (the
Death Railway Bridge)
Thanks to several films and books, the Bridge on the River Khwae has
become notoriously famous and attracted both Thais and foreigners to
the site. If an ordinary black iron bridge can tell a story, you can
be sure it's a dramatic one.
The bridge spans across Maenam Khwae Yai which is a branch of Maenam
Mae Klong. During the Japanese occupation of Thailand in World War
II, the Japanese Imperial Army brought the iron bridge from Java. It
was then resembled by Allied Prisoners of War (POW) under Japanese
supervision. The bridge was part of a strategic railway route to
Myanmar in which the Japanese aimed to secure supplies with which to
conquer other western Asian countries. It was 415 kilometers long
(about 303 kilometers in Thailand and about 112 kilometers in Burma)
and passed through the Three Pagoda Pass in Sangkhlaburi District,
the northern most part of Kanchanaburi province.
Construction started on September 16, 1942 at Nong Pladuk, and was
completed on 25 December 1943. It is estimated that over 16,000 POWs
from England, Australia, Holland and America died while building the
bridge which was a target of bombing raids in 1945. In addition to
this, approximate 90,000 laborers from Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia
and Indonesia died during its construction.
Rebuilt after WWII, the bridge is still in use today with the curved
portions of the bridge being that of the original. An attraction of
note is the annual light and sound event at the bridge to
commemorate the Allied attack in 1945.
The railway currently ends at Ban Tha Sao or Namtok Station, a
distance of some 77 km. from Kanchanaburi Station. A special train
running from Bangkok to Namtok Station is available on weekends and
national holidays. For further details, please contact the State
Railway of Thailand, Tel. 0 1690, 0 2220 4334 or www.railway.co.th.
How to get there
Travelling to Kanchanaburi
Route 1: a 2-hour drive along Highway No.4 (Phetkasem) via Nakhon Chaisi
Province, Nakhon Pathom Province, Ban Pong, Tha Maka and Tha Muang (of
Ratchaburi Province) to Kanchanaburi.
Route 2:drive along Highway No. 338 from Bangkok to Nakhon Chaisi Province then
switch to Highway No.4 to Kanchanaburi.
Non air-conditioned buses leave Bangkoks Southern Bus Terminal daily every 15
minutes from 4 a.m. until 8 p.m. The trip takes about 3 hours. Call 02 434
5557-8 for more information.
First class air-conditioned buses (blue color) leave Bangkoks Southern Bus
Terminal daily every 25 minutes Call 02 435 5012, 0 2435 1199 or 02 884 6249 or
visit www.transport.co.th for more information.
There are also buses leaving frequently daily for Kanchanaburi from Nakhon
Pathom. The journey takes up to 1.5 hours. From Ratchaburi and Suphan Buri Bus
Stations, there are several buses leaving directly to Kanchanaburi. The trip
takes some 2.5 - 3 hours.
Ordinary trains leave Bangkoks Thon Buri Railway Station (Bangkok Noi Station)
daily. Only 3rd class seats are available. The journey takes approximately 3
hours. For more information, call Thon Buri Railway Station at tel. 02 411 3102
or Kanchanaburi Railway Station at tel. 034 511285.
The weekend special train leaves Bangkok Railway Station (Hua Lamphong) at 6.30
a.m., returning at 7.55 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and on public holidays. The
trip usually includes several stop-overs at Phra Pathom Chedi (Nakhon Pathom),
Death Railway Bridge, and a transfer (by minibus) to Phrasat Mueang Singh
Historical Park, etc.
There are also special steam trains operating between Kanchanaburi and Wang Pho.
For more information, call the State Railway of Thailand at tel. 1690, or 02 223
7010, 02 223 7020 or visit www.railway.co.th.
Travelling around Kanchanaburi
Although the city of Kanchanaburi is possibly accessible on foot, it requires
strenuous efforts in completing such a trip. Normally, bicycles, motorcycles and
cars are common means of transportation. Bicycles and motorcycles can be rented
from shops, guesthouses and hotels located along Maenam Khwae Road. Visitors can
capture the citys atmosphere along their way to see the Bridge over the River
Khwae, the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery, the waterfront Song Khwae Road area, and
the JEATH War Museum. For visitors who enjoy driving themselves, cars can be
rented on a daily or weekly basis at several outlets on Saeng Chuto Road and
around the Song Khwae Road area.
The two major routes used to explore Kanchanaburis attractions are Highway No.
323 and Highway No. 3199. Highway No. 323 runs parallel to Maenam Khwae Noi to
Sangkhla Buri District (approximately 230 kilometers from the city) via Sai Yok,
Thong Pha Phum, and Vajiralongkorn Dam while Highway No. 3199 follows the Khwae
Yai River to Sri Nakharin Dam (69 kilometers away from the city).
Travelling Between Districts
Transportation between the districts is also conveniently arranged by regular
buses. Major destinations include Bo Phloi, Tham Than Lot (Than Lot Cave),
Namtok Erawan, Namtok Sai Yok Yai, Thong Pha Phum, Sangkhla Buri, the Bridge
over River Khwae and the War Cemetery. They are mostly non-air conditioned buses
which leave every 20 minutes up to 2 hours. Others have their own fixed
itineraries. Check for details at 0 3451 1182, Kanchanaburi Bus Station.
Traveling around Kanchanaburi by train is also popular. It is inexpensive,
reliable and offers a more panoramic view of the area. The route from
Kanchanaburi to Namtok Station near Namtok Sai Yok Noi Waterfall is recommended
for visitors wishing to explore the notorious historic railway. Trains leave
Kanchanaburi Railway Station 3 times daily and stops at the Bridge over the
River Khwae, Tha Kilen (near Phrasat Mueang Singh Historical Park), Tham Krasae,
Wang Pho and ends at Namtok Railway Station. For more information, call
Kanchanaburi Railway Station at tel. 0 3451 1 285.
Alternate trips to out-of-town attractions
There are ferry services across Maenam Mae Klong that costs 5 baht per person.
You can bring your motorcycle or bicycle on board in order to explore the other
side of the town. Also in operation are boat services to several interesting
From the Pak Saeng Pier in Tambon Tha Sao, visitors can hire a boat (carrying
capacity of 10-12 persons) to visit the Lawa Cave and Namtok Sai Yok Yai. The
1-hour boat ride to Namtok Huay Maekhamin starts from the Tha Kradan Pier, 12
kilometers from Sri Nakharin Dam.
Visitors are advised to check with the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT)
Office at 034 511 200 and 034 512 500 or email email@example.com for details on
arranged transportation during public holidays and weekends.