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Kanchanaburi is one of the most beautiful provinces of Thailand, with a very delightful landscape. It is already well-known among War-historians and movie-buffs as the site of the notorious "Death Railway" and the "Bridge over the River Khwae" and among archaeolegists for its Neolithic burial grounds. Yet, the province also has numerous other places of interest for the nature loving visitor who wants to spend longer time here. Kanchanaburi is about 128 kilometers west of Bangkok approximately 2 1/2 hours ride by car over a good road.
The town of Kanchanaburi is located at the point where two tributaries, the Khwae Noi and Khwae Yai (which have their source in the Ta-Nao-Si Range) meet and form the Mae-Klong River.
The present provincial capital is a relatively new town built by King Rama III in 1833. The old town was 18 kilometers away. On reaching Kanchanaburi, a visitor can first stop at the "TOURISM AUTHORITY OF THAILAND" local office on Saeng-Chuto Road near the Bus Station to collect maps,folders and any other useful information before starting out on a program of sight-seeing.
The Bridge over the River Khwae This famous bridge is located about 4 kilometers from T.A.T office, on the bank of Khwae Yai river. It was brought from Java by the Japanese Army and was assembled at the River Khwae by the war prisoners. Bombed several times in 1945, it was rebuilt after the war again. The curved spans of the bridge are the original sections. An estimated 16,000 war prisoners and 49,000 labourers died during the construction of the bridge and the Death-Railway line that leads to Burma.
Kanchanaburi War Cemetery This cemetery contains the remains of 6,982 war prisoners who lost their lives during in captivity of the Japanese Army that forced them to build the Bridge over the River Khwae and the Death Railway.
The Japanese following their invasion of Thailand during World War II, brought British, Dutch,Australian and American prisoners to Thailand by the Southern route. Impressed labourers were also used to complete the rush construction of the railroad, which is an alternative to the sea route, to Rangoon via Singapore and the Strait of Malacca since the sea route was being closed in by Allied submarines and aircrafts.
Chong-Kai War Cemetery The Chong-Kai Cemetery is smaller but more peaceful than the one in town. It is also neatly arranged with all kinds of beautiful flowers planting,and hedged. It contains the remains of 1,750 prisoners of war.
This place can be reached by boats which are available at the pier in front of the town gate and also from the agent at the Bridge.
Wat Ku Tao is situated in town. The Chedi was built in 1613 A.D. in the shape of five guards of diminishing sizes and beautifully decorated with colored porcelain, representing five lord Buddhas.
Tham Khao Pun This cave is located about 1 kilometer from the Chong-Kai War Cemetery. There is a temple in front of the cave. Inside this cave, house many beautiful Buddha images of different gestures which would make your climbing worthwhile. The stalactites and stalagmites are interesting too.
Jeath War Museum JEATH stands for Japan, England, America, Australia, Thailand and Holland. The museum is a reconstructed p.o.w.s.(The prisoners of war in the second world war during 1942-1943) thatched detention hut. Living quarters inside comprise raised bamboo bunks running the length of the long hut. One can see how each p.o.w. was alloted a scrimping living space on the bunks. On the walls of the huts are posted actual, enlarged photos and illustrations of the "atrocities" against the prisoners, and the severe living conditions of the p.o.w.s. The museum is on the bank of the Mae Klong River inside Wat(Monastery) Chai Chumphon.
To reach the museum, turn left from the first intersection after entering Kanchanaburi town, coming from Bangkok. Turn left again to Pak Phraek Road at the waterfront, and follow the road to the left, until reaching the first big monastery, Wat Chai Chumphon, a monastery on the riverbank. The JEATH War Museum is at the entrance of the monastery.
Ban Kao National Museum Built near the Neolithic burial site, discovered by a Dutch p.o.w., while working on the Death Railway. The museum is 35 kilometers out of town on a branch road off the Asian Highway. On display are specimens of Neolithic remains and utensils.
Prasat Muang Singh Historical Park Beyond the Ban Kao Neolithic Museum about 10 Kms. up north, there is "Prasat Muang Singh" ruin, a historical park being renovated by the Fine Art Department to display the Khmer influenced architecture toward this part of Thailand some 700-800 years ago. The archeologists should never miss this site, as it is so interesting and yield quite perfect atmosphere for your study and relaxation within the green park. The entrance fee is Baht 20 per person.
Kanchanaburi Cultural Centre Built by the Thai Farmers bank, the center offers an impressive collection of handicrafts, artifacts and historical exhibits that set out the significant roles that the province had played in the nation's past. The centre is inside the compound of the Kanchanaburi Teacher's College, just outside the town Kanchanaburi-Saiyok Road at Tambon Nonghua, Amphoe Muang.
Wat Tham Mangkonthong Situated about 4 kilometers from the provincial city on the bank of Mae Klong river. This place was once well known for the incredible performance of the nun floating in the deep pool. Other magnificent is its temple located in the cave high up from the ground, the two sides of the steps leading to the temple were carved in the form of dragon.
Somdet Phra Sri Nakharin Park Situated in Kanchanahuri Agriculture College, Tambon Nongya, about 9 kilometers from the provincial city. Usually well known to people as "Stone Garden" or "Stone Park" since most of its area are scattered with stones fledged from the ground in different size and shaped similar to animals.
Hell Fire Pass Once part of the Death Railway during the World War 11, the pass is located near Kilometer marker 66 on the Sai Yok-Thong Pha Phum Road and now abandoned.
Nam Tok Sai Yok A classic Thai song gained immortality by the way it eulogizes the idylic beauty of Sai Yok Falls. Now a part of the National park, the falls are 104 kilometers from Kanchanaburi on the Asian Highway, which runs north from Kanchanaburi to its northern most district Sangkhla on the Thai-Burmese border. At Km 104 is the left-hand entrance to the Sai Yok National Park on the bank of Khwae Noi River. The Sai Yok Waterfalls are on the same side of the river, to the left. To get the full visual impact of the waterfalls, a new high-tensile wire-rope suspension bridge has been strung across just late last year for tourists to cross over for a view of the falls from the opposite side. Accommodation in the form of raft houses by this bridge is provided for the tourists. Over on the other side is a sand bank, from where Sai Yok Falls could be seen full face, and appreciated.
Nam Tok Khao Phang or Sai Yok Noi This waterfall is about 2 kilometers from the present end of the "Death Railway" line which is called Nam-Tok Station. It is about 77 Kms. from Kanchanaburi town. The trip to this place would be interesting for those who like to try on the notorious "Death Railway" route once. The countryside and the landscape are among one of the most beautiful places in Thailand too.
However, during the dry season (September-April) there is not much water so you may not enjoy your swimming at the waterfall. Therefore, the best period for playing around in this waterfall should be within the rainy season.
There is local bus service from town to this place every half an hour from 6.45 a.m.- 6.00 p.m. daily trip takes about 2 hours : Riding on the bus to this place is a good sight-seeing for those visitors who have enough time.
A boat ride to Tham Kaeng Lawa and Nam Tok Sai Yok This trip will give you a very pleasant and adventurous experience that could hardly be forgotten. Along this part of the Khwae Noi is so rich with scenic beauties and wild animals in the forest as well as near by the river bank. Kaeng Lawa Cave is one of your interesting spots to visit. It is the biggest cave of the area and the stalactites and stalagmites are so wonderful and peculiar by nature creation. After this visit, you can start on again to the Sai Yok Yai waterfall which is very enchanting for everyone. If your time allow, it is a must too.
You can hire a boat from Pak Saeng Pier at Tam-Bon Tha Sao. A round trip will cost 1,000-1,200 bath per boat. One boat could carry 10-12 persons. It takes about 2 1/2 hours upstream to Sai Yok and 1 1/2 hours downstream (return-trip).
Erawan National Park Erawan National Park, 65 kilometres from Kanchanaburi along Route 3199, is the site of the 7-tiered Erawan waterfall, widely regarded as being one of Thailand's loveliest cascades. The 550-square-kilometre national park enjoys a mountainside forest setting. Dense bamboo groves support numerous bird species. The park's other major attraction is the spectacular Phrathat Cave which contains monumental stalagmites. Bungalow accommodation and camping facilities are available.
One can get to this place by a local bus departing from the bus terminal in Kanchanburi near T.A.T. office every 50 minutes from 8.00 a.m.- 4.00 p.m. The trip will take about 1 1/2 hours.
Si Nakharin Dam Five kilometers firmer up the same road to Erawan Falls lies the Si Nakharin Dam, an impressive major hydro-electric power plant project. At the dam-site, a sizable community of superbly planned complex of project buildings, personnel housing, recreation centers and guest residences blend incongruously into the high rocky hillsides supporting the 300 feet high concrete dam.
Nam Tok Huai Khamin From the Si Nakharin Dam, a two hour's boat trip on the vast reservoir brings the visitors to the picturesque Huai Khamin waterfall in the Si Nakharin National Park.
The water cascades down ochre limestone rockface, inside the tree-lined hank, on the eerily quiet shore of the reservoir. So remote part of jungle, so far away from civilization that it seems the jungle would close back over the waterfalls, once the tour boat departs out of sight.
Tham Than Lot National Park or ChalermRattanakosin National Park Tham Than Lot is located 97 kilometers from Kanchanaburi. There is regular bus service between Kanchanaburi and Ban Nong Pru, from where a mine-bus can be hired to the park. The park has beautiful caves: Tham Than Lot Noi, Tham Than Lot Yai and mighty waterfalls such as NamTok Than Ngoen and Nam Tok Than Thong. For tourists who want to stay overnight at the park can make reservation by tel.579 0529, 579 4842.
Khao Laem Dam This hydro-electric dam is situated on Khwae Noi river, 6 kilometers,north of Amphoe Thong Pha Phum and about 147 kilometers north of the provincial city on highway no 323. With its length and height of 1019 and 92 meters respectively, the dam forms a great reservoir which placed many resorts in the form of raft-houses.
Sangkhla Buri some 225 kilometers from Kanchanaburi, edges the northern most extremities of the reservoir. The scenic 70 ilometres route from Khao Laem largely parallels the reservoir, passes several raft complexes, roadside cascades, and vistas of partly-submerged trees crowding the reservoir banks.
Three Pagodas Pass The Three Pagodas Pass, line between Thailand and Myanmar as border at the northernmost in Amphoe Sangkhla Buri and about 18 kilometers from Amphoe Thong Pha Phum. This sacred place was built for remembrance as the important routing of the troop during the war time. Nearby the Pass on the other side of the border is the small community and market of the Mon people which goods selling here often attracted many tourists.
Wat Wang Wiwegaram Situated on the hill side in Amphoe Sangkhla Buri. By looking down from this place is the wonderful scenery of the lake formed by joining of the three rivers. Wat Wang Wivegaram is well known and respected not only by the Thai people but also by many local tribal people such as Mons, Karens and Burmeses. Its Pagoda was built in the style similar to Phara Phuttha Khaya in India and its temple is housed with huge Buddha Image made of marble.