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Kanchanaburi is located about 130 kilometers from the Thai capital Bangkok and has some attractions to offer. Although the town gained fame through its sad history, it is definitely worth a visit.

Tips and sights in Kanchanaburi

In addition to the famous bridge on the River Kwai and the nearby Erawan National Park, you can discover a lot more. The feeling between the bars and restaurants along the river reminds me more of places on small islands, but perhaps this very atmosphere makes it so special.

Slowly, more and more tourists and backpackers are going to Kanchanaburi, but also for the inhabitants of Bangkok, Kanchanaburi is a popular “resort” to come out on weekends or public holidays. It’s just completely something else than the big city. In this article we would like to introduce you to 7 things to do for a great trip to Kanchanaburi.

How to get to Kanchanaburi

Accommodation in Kanchanaburi – our hotel tip

Kanchanaburi: Tours and tickets

1. Walk & train ride over the River Kwai Bridge

Nowadays a tourist attraction and the destination of most visitors in Kanchanaburi, as well as many day trips from Bangkok, the bridge over the River Kwai actually has a sad history. Many may know the story from the Hollywood movie “The Bridge on the River Kwai”.

Bridge over the River Kwai, Kanchanaburi

The bridge was built during the World War II by prisoners of the Japanese occupation in Thailand. The railway line was to establish an important logistical link between Thailand and Burma (Myanmar). During the construction almost 100,000 Asian and 16,000 Western prisoners died. This has brought the railway line the name Death Railway.

A train on the River Kwai Bridge, Kanchanaburi

Today you can take a walk across the bridge or even cross it by train (especially for visitors). The ride takes just 20 minutes and costs 120 baht (3 euros) per person. After crossing the bridge, you will continue through the landscape of Kanchanaburi for a while, before the train turns and heads back. Last departure is around 2.00 P.M.

Monk in a train over the River Kwai, Kanchanaburi

Note: When you’re in Kanchanaburi, never say River Kwai. Kwai means buffalo and the river’s name really is Kwae Yai. While most Thais understand it anyway, they are all the more pleased if you pronounce the name correctly.

2. Chinese temple at the River Kwai Bridge

Just across the River Kwai, as you go over the bridge, there is a Chinese temple. The beautiful temple complex can be seen from afar and has a very special atmosphere. All the time, calming Chinese music is playing on site, captivating you into the temple.

Furthermore, you also have a fantastic view of the bridge and Kanchanaburi from the temple. The admission is free and we can only recommend a visit.

The Chinese temple at the River Kwai

Chinese temple in Kanchanaburi at the River Kwai

3. River Kwai Bridge Festival

Every year in late November/early December, the River Kwai Bridge Festival takes place in Kanchanaburi to commemorate the construction of the notorious Death Railway. The event will last for three days and there will be plenty of historical exhibitions, folklore shows, souvenir and food stalls, as well as the Light & Sound Show every night.

A theater play is performed on site, which takes a while. It will show you all about the construction of the bridge, the liberation of the war prisoners and the blowing up of the bridge. A very impressive spectacular light show follows the play.

If you want to get an impression of the festival, take a look at Vimeo, where we found a great video from 2012 of the River Kwai Bridge Festival.

River Kwai Bridge Festival in Kanchanaburi

4. Erawan National Park

The famous 7-tier waterfall in the Erawan National Park is situated just 1 1/2 hours from Kanchanaburi and is a very popular destination. We can definitely recommend a day trip from Bangkok or Kanchanaburi to the Erawan National Park.

Keep in mind that you shouldn’t forget your bathing suit or shorts. It’s very refreshing to go for a swim in the beautiful turquoise natural pools of the waterfall. More information about the trip and the national park can be found in our article about the Erawan National Park.

Waterfall in the Erawan National Park

5. Don Rak War Cemetery

If you are interested in history – and Kanchanaburi has a lot of it – then you should visit the World War II Cemetery. In the cemetery you can find many graves of war prisoners who gave their life during the construction of the Death Railway in the war.

Cemetery for the fallen prisoners during World War II, Kanchanaburi

Next to the Don Rak War Cemetery there is the Thai-Burmese Railway Center. An interactive museum that deals with the history of the construction of the Death Railway. It is open daily from 9.00 A.M. to 5.00 P.M. with an entrance fee of 100 baht.

6. Kanchanaburi night market

Every night, not far from the cemetery just mentioned, the night market takes place in Kanchanaburi. It can be seen from afar right along the main road.

The market itself isn’t that big, but you can shop some accessories, clothes or buy a souvenir. More importantly, as on every Thai night market, you can try many dishes of Thai cuisine. Tasty and cheap, an unbeatable combination.

Kanchanaburi night market

7. Stay in a floating house

Last but not least, we have a tip for great accommodation in Kanchanaburi. Of course you can find lots of hotels und guesthouses in Kanchanaburi, as almost everywhere in Thailand, but here we can recommend something else.

We are talking about the floating houses, often referred to as raft houses. You can have an accommodation right on the water and when the boats are passing by, it wobbles a bit. A great experience and a little different type of accommodation.

Floating house in Kanchanaburi

If are on a budget, then we can recommend the VN Guesthouse . The rooms are simply furnished and offer no luxury, but they are perfectly adequate for 2-3 days in Kanchanaburi.

Do you want a little bit more comfort? Then the The Best Riverside Guesthouse might be the thing for you. Both accommodations are located directly on the river and especially at sunset it is really nice.

Sunset at the River Kwai

Have you ever been to Kanchanaburi? How did you like it? Did we forget something that should not be missed in Kanchanaburi? Leave us a comment!