6 Things to Do on a Side Trip to Kanchanaburi, Thailand

Take the road less traveled.

Pay Respects at the War Memorials

After WW2, thousands of allied prisoners of war were buried in Thailand and Myanmar. The Kanchanaburi War Cemetery is the largest of the cemeteries, which you can visit almost straight away as you enter Kanchanaburi. The location is around two to three minutes via vehicle from the train station across Saeng Chuto Road.

Towards the end on Mae Nam Kwai Road, you’ll come across the railway that leads to the Death Railway Bridge over the River Kwai. There’s a lot of history that goes with this crossing, as tens to hundreds of thousands of prisoners of war were transported here, many dying along the way. Try and get here by morning, and you’ll have the place to yourself. Get your breakfast at one of the local restaurants beside it and then take a few snaps of the railway, or the calm and lush River Kwai.

Given the name due to the mass loss of lives here during the WWII period and aftermath whilst building the Thai-Burma railway, Hellfire Pass is now a major attraction in Kanchanaburi. Now an eerie trail to take, you can reach is by bus or bike around 80 kilometers out of Kanchanaburi town. The trail is around six kilometers but there are harsh conditions, steep viewpoints and a place where the sun shines unabatedly most days of the year.

Hellfire Pass has a museum of the same name that commemorates remnants of the dark times. You’ll see how prisoners were forced to work between 12-18 hours digging, building and cleaning whilst dealing with beatings, disease, starvation and other unethical conditions.

Immerse in Nature and Wildlife

The Erawan waterfalls within the Erawan National Park definitely one of the best parts of Kanchanaburi. The refreshing and clear waterfalls will tempt anyone to go for a dip. There are several levels of cascades to explore, and it will take around an hour to pass them all.

If you like fish spas you’re in luck, as the harmless fish might take a nibble off you. Emerald waters are common here, so taking great snaps won’t be difficult. Beware of the cheeky monkeys lurking through the trails, though. They might be a little temperamental when approached.

Although around 70 kilometers away from Kanchanaburi itself, it’s easy to get there via mini bus. Still, if you want things to be a little more exciting, go and rent a motorbike and drive there yourself! You’ll pass through towns, villages and plenty of roadside vendors.

Sai Yok National Park stretches to the Burmese border, and covers nearly 1,000 square kilometers of Thai wilderness. Find waterfalls, campgrounds and offbeat trails here.

Elephant World is a non-profit elephant camp that includes volunteering, washing, playing, feeding and looking after elephants responsibly. Elephant World feels like it’s own village and is a popular destination for wildlife enthusiasts.

Immerse in History and Culture

Wat Ban Tham is a temple that you visit by entering the dragons mouth, a steep stair-filled incline that take you to caves, the collection of chedi, and views of the peaceful river. This is one of the most visited temples in and around Kanchanaburi.

Prasat Muang Singh Khmer Ruins date back to the 13th century and give history enthusiasts a field day. Although a huge part of the ruins are, well, ruins, and it continues to receive continuous damage from the elements over the years, “The Lion City” is a worthwhile stop.

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About the Author

Tommy Walker

Tommy Walker

Tommy Walker originates from Northeast England. He began his journey on the road back in 2012 throughout Asia, Oceania and Latin America. Now, over 4 years in, he is a freelance travel writer and content marketing specialist. Tommy has visited the Philippines twice and especially raves about Banaue. He has attended Sinulog festival, swum with Whalesharks and even DJ’d in Boracay!He was featured in the Business Insider, BBC and Choose Philippines. Tommy goes by his own motto “every new place is a good place.”If you don’t see Tommy focused doing Hot Yoga, trailing through rainforests, ducking into the ocean or eating local street food, you’ll see him at a small bar drinking what the locals drink!