Kanchanaburi has been a firm favourite among both backpackers and luxury travellers over the last 15 years. The provinces vast national parks, waterfalls, railway and war museums, and close proximity to Bangkok make it a fantastic family destination. The list of activities are endless in Kanchanaburi but popular attractions are the provinces waterfalls and reservoirs, bridge over the river kwai, and the huge teak bridge and sunken temples in Sangkhlaburi district.
Kanchanaburi’s main town is located just over the provincial border which can be reached within 2 hours from Bangkok. The top attractions here are the bridge over the river Kwai, war museum and death railway, which all relate to the history in the area surrounding the second world war. A short distance away from the bridge is the small traveler hub on Maenam Kwai Road, here you will find guest houses, restaurants, and booking agents. Many of the guest houses back on to a small river, making a relaxing environment and a good base to explore the area.
The main Kanchanaburi traveller hub at Maenam Kwai Road
Within 80 kilometers of Kanchanaburi town, there are many attractions such as the death railway, Erawan Falls National Park, Sai Yok National Park, Elephant Trekking Camps, and River’s with Bamboo rafting and kayaking opportunities. If you only have a few days in Kanchanaburi then the town is a good starting point as you can book tours to the main attractions or make your own way around, Erawan falls are 60 km away and can be reached by motorbike in 1 hour. Sri Nakharin Dam is a further 15 km and the ending point of the huge Sri Sawat reservoir. There are also caves, hot springs and water falls to discover, all within close proximity.
As you travel north, deeper into the province, you begin to see quieter roads with less tourists. There is only one main highway which runs from the main town right up to the border town of Sangkhlaburi, making much of the province remote. The vast open farm lands, mountains, waterfalls, caves, dams, reservoirs, mines, border checkpoints, off road trails, National parks and the unexplored Thung Yai Nature Reserve make Kanchanaburi one of the best locations in Thailand for explorers and off the trail adventures.
Huay Mae Kamin waterfalls in Khuean Srinagarindra National Park
If you have more than a few days in Kanchanaburi, its well worth exploring the province outside the well worn tourist attractions close to the main town. Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall is a great alternative to the popular Erawan and Sai Yok waterfalls, the falls are arguably more beautiful, but the best thing is you are likely to have them to yourselves as is off the tourist trail. There is also a campground with shower facilities, overlooking the huge Si Sawat Reservoir, it really is a great spot. Other notable locations in Kanchanaburi province include the ethnically diverse border town of Sangkhlaburi, Khao Leam National Park, and the undiscovered gem, Thong Pha Phum National Park.
Floating Accommodation on the River Kwai
Fantastic, unique accommodation is available throughout the province alongside the famous Kwai river in the form of floating bamboo huts. There are several floating hotels providing a unique stay in one of the most naturally beautiful places in Thailand.
Floating raft accommodation in Sai Yok Natonal Park
How to get to Kanchanaburi
There is no airport in Kanchanaburi, however it can easily be reached from Bangkok and neighbouring provinces by taxi, train, or bus. Some taxi drivers in Bangkok will be willing to drive to Kanchanaburi, a fixed rate will have to be agreed before setting off. Minivans can also be booked from Bangkoks tourist hub Khaosan Road. Taxis and minivans are the quickest and most direct way of getting there, and depending on the traffic, journey times can be as little as 2 hours.
Buses leave from Bangkok’s Southern Bus Terminal as frequent as every 15 minutes with varying levels of comfort available. Air conditioned VIP Buses are the preferred choice, buses leave throughout the day starting from around 6am until 10pm. Buses take 2-3 hours depending on the type and amount of stops, the cheaper standard of bus can fill up to standing room only, as it stops multiple times to pick up passengers.
Trains depart from Bangkok Noi Train Station (Thonburi Train Station) 2 times per day. The trains are 3rd class only but are relatively comfortable and cheap at around 100 baht per person. Journey times average around 2 and 30 minutes. Kanchanaburi by train is a pleasant way to travel as you get to take in the countryside scenery, and also travel on the famous death railway, the bridge on the river kwai station is 5km further than Kanchanaburi’s main station.
If you are driving to Kanchanaburi yourself, take highway 4 out of Bangkok and head for Nakhom Pathom, then take road 323 which will be signposted and take you straight into Kanchanaburi. Journey time from Bangkok is 2 hours. If you are travelling from any further north than Nakon Sawan on highway 1, then take road 333 just after you pass Nakon Sawan. This will lead to Supanburi, then on to Kanchanaburi without the need to navigate Bangkoks confusing ring roads.
Photo Guide – Kanchanaburi
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