Kanchanaburi was made famous by the old war movie ‘Bridge over the River Kwai’ and as the bridge is itself in the town (where the death railway crosses the River Kwai), there are plenty of reminders of its not so happy history dotted around. Kanchan is also not far from the famous and stunning Erawan waterfall so still sees a fair number of travelers pass through and makes for an interesting and potentially educational visit.
Kanchanaburi, what we do…
Floating Market – We make a quick detour on Day 2 en route from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi to stop at the floating market. This is a very cool site to witness and is pretty much as the name suggests, a market on the river comprised of loooads of smallish wooden boats each set up as a floating shop along the sides of the river. We get a boat to ride on and take a short ride up the river through the different stores to get a taste of what it’s like to go shopping at a floating market.
Boat Ride on The River Kwai – After we arrive in Kanchan and get checked in, we head out on a boat ride down the river Kwai and under the bridge (over the River Kwai). This is a famous and historical site and the cruise makes for a pleasant afternoon of site seeing.
Erawan Waterfall – The following day we head to the epic Erawan Waterfall bright and early to avoid the crowds. This natural seven tier waterfall really is a sight to behold and we can spend the day there trekking up to the top level, bathing in the cool pools and playing on the natural rock slides and jumps.
Other Stuff – There is also plenty of time while we are in Kanchanaburi to check out one of the war museums (the JEATH War Museum is one of two there) and memorial to learn a bit about the history of the death railway and World War 2. By night we will check out some of the towns restaurants and backpacker bars including the well know ‘Sugar Member’ Bar which is a favorite with backpackers passing through the town and can get a bit wild when its busy.
Where we stay…
Whilst in Kanchanaburi we stay in a decent guest house with twin private rooms, air conditioning, en suite bathrooms and a pool with nice views of the river. The place also has a bar and restaurant in reception and is right on the main street just a 2 minute walk from all the main shops and bars.
Kanchancburi – Fun Facts
In the 18th century Kanchancburi was established by King Rama 1 as a defensive position to resist possible Burmese attacks.
It is located west of Bangkok where the Khai Noi and Kwai Yai Rivers converge into the Mae Klong, and due to its proximity to a mountain range is usually cooler than other provinces in the region.
During WW2 in 1942 when Kanchanaburi was under Japanese control it was here they forced the allied prisoners of war to build the now famous ‘Death Railway’ which is what the film ‘Bridge over the River Kwai’ is about. You can learn more about this at any of the towns war museums which we recommend visiting while we are there.