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Kanchanaburi Information

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 Kanchanaburi
Introduction
Kanchanaburi
is Thailand’s third largest province. It covers an area of 19,486 square
kilometres, most of which is forested mountains. There are fertile plains
around the meeting point of the Kwai Noi and Kwai Yai Rivers where the
town is located. To the west, Kanchanaburi shares a border with Myanmar
and has the Tanaowasi Range as its borderline.
Beyond
the compact provincial capital, some 130 kilometres from Bangkok, Kanchanaburi
unfolds in progressively arresting scenic beauty in a landscape characterised
by several waterfalls, caves once inhabited by Neolithic man, national
parks, and tranquil riverside and reservoir settings. Many of its major
attractions are also connected with the Second World War, and more specifically
the years 1942 to 1945.
Kanchanaburi is now composed
of 13 districts (Amphoes): Muang Kanchanaburi, Tha Muang, Tha Maka,
Phanom Thuan, Bo Phloi, Lao Khwan, Sai yoi, Thong Pha Phum, Si Sawat,
Sankhla Buri, Dan Makham Tia, Nong Pru, and Huai Krachao.
Attractions
The Bridge over
the River Kwai
Internationally famous, thanks to several motion
pictures and books, the black iron bridge was brought from Java by the
Japanese Army and reassembled under Japanese supervision by Allied prisoners
of war labour as part of the ‘Death Railway‘ linking
Thailand with Myanmar. Still in use today, the bridge was the target
of frequent Allied bombing raids during 1945, and was rebuilt after
the war ended. The curved spans of the bridge are the original sections.
War Museum This museum,
located near the River Kwai Bridge, displays the collection of weapons,
tools and utensils of the Allied prisoners of war and Japanese soldiers
during the Second World War.

The JEATH War Museum This
enclave in the riverside precincts of Wat Chaichumphon has been constructed
largely in the form of an Allied prisoners of war camp. The name JEATH
is derived from Japan, England, America, Australia, Thailand, and Holland.
The thatched detention hut with cramped, elevated bamboo bunks contains
photographic, pictorial, and physical memorabilia dating from the Second
World War. The museum is open daily from 8.30 a.m. to 6.00 p.m.

Kanchanaburi Town Gate
This is located on Lak Muang Road near the meeting point of the Kwai
Yai and Kwai Noi Rivers. It is built in 1833 during the reign of King
Rama III after the town was moved from the original site at Tambon Latya,
18 kms. away.

Kanchanaburi War Cemetery On Saeng Chuto Road, opposite the Railway
Station, it contains the remains of 6,982 prisoners of war who perished
during the construction of the ‘Death Railway’.

Chong Kai War Cemetery
2 kilometres south of town, on the bank of the Kwai Noi River, this
occupies the former site of the Chong Kai prisoner of war camp. This
second cemetery is more peaceful, attractively landscaped ,and contains
some 1,750 remains.

Wat Tham Mangkon Thong
Situated 4 kilometres from town on the bank of the Kwai Noi River, it
is well known for the incredible performance of the nun floating in
a pool. There is a small museum where a variety of ancient objects are
on display.

Wat Tham Phu Wa The monastery
in natural surroundings, famous for meditation, is 15 kilometres away
from the provincial capital. There is a beautiful cave with plenty of
stalactites.

Somdet Phra Sri Nakarin Park
Situated in Kanchanaburi’s Agricultural College at Tambon Nong Ya, 9
kilometres from town, it is also known as “the Stone Garden”
which abounds with stones of different sizes and shapes in its large
area.

Wat Tham Sua and Wat Tham Khao
Noi
Located at Tambon Muang Chum, 4 kilometres beyond Wachiralongkorn
Dam, these two adjacent temples house very beautiful Thai and Chinese
style buildings and a huge Buddha image situated on the mount.

Wat Pa Lelai This ancient
temple is 18 kilometres away from the provincial capital. It is located
at Tambon Lat Ya, which once was an ancient border town involved in
battles between the Thai and the Burmese during the Ayutthaya period
to the early Bangkok period. Another nearby temple called Wat Khun Phaen
houses a ruined pagoda dating back to the early Ayutthaya period.

Kanchanaburi Cultural Centre
The collection centre of human lifestyles from the past till the present
is displayed at the Rajpatara Institute of Kanchanaburi, 14 kilometres
out of town on the route to Sai Yok.

Ban Kao National Museum
The museum, some 35 kilometres from town, was constructed beside a Neolithic
burial site discovered by Dutch prisoners of war during the construction
of the ‘Death Railway’. Specimens of Neolithic remains are on display.
It is open daily from 9.00 a.m.- 4.00 p.m.

Prasat Muang Sing Historical Park
This ancient site is 43 kilometres out of Kanchanaburi on the bank of
the Kwai Noi River. The principal structure, the Khmer Prasat Muang
Sing (Tower of the City of Lions), is believed to have been the westernmost
outpost of the Angkor-centred Khmer empire. A wide range of artefacts
including temple carvings, religious statues, implements, and pottery
shards indicate the once-thriving city must have been inhabited from
approximately the 12th to 14th centuries.

Namtok Sai Yok Noi Also
known as Namtok Khao Phang, some 60 kilometres from town, this roadside
cascade is best visited between July and September when water is most
plentiful. Travelling by train from Kanchanaburi to Nam Tok Station
is recommended for visitors wishing to experience trips on the historic
railway, and then they can continue by local transport to the waterfall,
which is only 2 kilometres away.

Hell Fire Pass This is
a part of the Death Railway, constructed during the Second World War
and now abandoned. The site is located in a thick forest near km. 66
of Sai Yok-Thong Pha Phum Road. A long passage made through the stone
mountain by the Allied prisoners indicates the extreme difficulty in
constructing the Death Railway.

 

Sai Yok National Park This
park encompasses the famous Kwai Noi River and contains some waterfalls
and caves on the river bank. Namtok Sai Yok Yai, 104 kms. from the town,
flows directly into the river near the park office. Its idyllic beauty
has been repeatedly celebrated in Thai poetry and song. Tham Lawa and
Tham Daowadung are the two caves which house numerous stalactites and
stalagmites. The smallest mammal in the world, Kitti’s Hog-nosed Bat weighing
just two grams, is found in the park area.

From
the Pak Saeng Pier in Tambon Tha Sao, visitors can hire a boat with
a carrying capacity of 10-12 persons to visit the Lawa Cave and Sai
Yok Yai Waterfall. It takes around 4 hours for the return trip.

Thong Pha Phum is 159
kilometres north of the provincial capital. Besides limestone waterfalls,
which are the major attractions in the area, there is the following:

Khao Laem Dam This hydro-electric
dam is situated on the Kwai Noi River, 6 kilometres north of Thong Pha
Phum or 165 kilometres north of Kanchanaburi. The dam, 1,019 metres
long and 92 metres high, forms a scenic reservoir extending to the north
towards Sangkhla Buri district. An overnight stay in comfortable resorts
or raft-houses also offer a relaxing holiday for visitors.

Namtok Kroeng Krawia This
roadside waterfall, 32 kms. north of Thong Pha Phum, is often visited
by passers-by. The water cascades down a limestone rock face under shady
trees. It is most beautiful during the rainy season.

Namtok Dai Chong Thong
Travel 2 kms. beyond Namtok Kroeng Krawia, then turn left and go on
for 6 kms. It is rather a large waterfall which cascades down towards
Khao Laem Dam.

Namtok Pha Tat This huge
waterfall in the area of the national park is easily accessible. Visitors
can travel north of Thong Pha Phum along Route 323 and turn right at
km.105, then go on for 12 kms. to the waterfall.

Hin Dat Hot Spring This
hot spring with a pond for bathing is at km. 107 of Route 323 or 2 kms.
beyond the entrance to Pha Tat Waterfall. It was discovered beside the
stream by a Japanese soldier during the Second World War.

Pilok Some 70 kilometres
west of Thong Pha Phum on Route 3272, there was once a lot of mining
of wolfram and tin in the Tanaowasi Mountains marking the Thailand-Myanmar
border. Nowadays, temperate fruit and decorative winter plants can be
seen and bought at Pilok and the villages en route. Visitors are advised
to take four-wheeled drive vehicles for travelling along this route.

Sangkhla Buri This small
settlement, some 225 kilometres from Kanchanburi, edges on the northernmost
extremities of Khao Laem Dam. The scenic 75-kilometre route from Khao
Laem largely parallels the reservoir passing several raft complexes
and roadside cascades.

Wat Wang Wiwekaram This
extensive temple on the southern outskirts of Sangkhla Buri edges on
Khao Laem Dam. The complex is constructed in an unusual mix of Thai,
Indian, and Burmese Buddhist architectural styles, and the abbot ‘Luang
Pho Uttama’ is highly revered among local people, including tribal folk
and Burmese.

Mon Village This Mon community
is linked with the district by a long wooden bridge. Mon is an ethnic
minority whose origin is in Myanmar. Here, they live peacefully and
their tradition has been continually practised.

Three Pagodas Pass 22
kilometres from Sangkhla Buri, this is a group of three similar pagodas
which has been constructed as a memorial for an important trooping route
during the wartime of the Ayutthaya period. It also marks the rugged
Thailand-Myanmar border and is the site of a small thriving border market.
Visitors are allowed to enter the neighbouring Burmese settlement.

Elephant Trekking Elephants
in Sangkhla Buri are raised by Karen hilltribes for working purposes.
When not working, they are available to tourists to ride. Some travel
agents offer one-day elephant trekking in combination with rafting tours
in the vicinity of Thong Pha Phum and Sangkhla Buri.

Namtok Erawan This is
a 7-tiered waterfall, widely regarded as one of Thailand’s loveliest
cascades. It is in the area of the Erawan National Park, 65 kilometres
from Kanchanaburi along Route 3199.

Tham Phra That This cave
is 10 kilometres north of Namtok Erawan. It contains monumental stalagmites
and stalactites.

Sri Nakarin Dam 69 kilometres
from Kanchanaburi, and just 4 kilometres north of the Erawan National
Park, this massive structure marks the southernmost extremity of an
extensive reservoir, which is part of yet another national park.

Namtok Huai Mae Khamin
This waterfall with many beautiful cascades is located by the Sri Nakarin
Dam, some 108 kilometres from Kanchanaburi. The 1-hour boat ride to
the waterfall starts from the Tha Kradan Pier, 12 kilometres from Sri
Nakarin Dam. Many resorts in the form of raft houses are available at
Ban Tha Kradan.

Chaloem Rattanakosin National Park
– Tham Than Lot
97 kilometres from Kanchanaburi, and north
of Bo Phloi, along Route 3086, this 54-square kilometre park encompasses
peaceful forests, waterfalls, and several caves. There is a 2.5-kilometre
hiking trail along the stream which is laced with several small cascades.
The stream flows through Than Lot Yai and Than Lot Noi Caves which house
beautiful stalactites and stalagmites.

Huai Ongkhot Royal Project
This is a site for the royal project which is planned to develop the
infertile area around the Ongkhot basin. It is located at Tambon Somdet
Charoen, Nong Phru district, 130 kilometres from Kanchanaburi. The area
also houses a Royal Residence and the excavation of Neolithic remains.

Special
Interests
National ParksKanchanaburi’s aforementioned parks offer opportunities for either camping,
and/ or fishing, or trekking along nature trails.

Camping facilities, which customarily provide cold running water and
simple toilet facilities, are available at Chaloem Rattanakosin, Sai
Yok and Erawan national parks. Trekking along either well-defined waterfall
trails, or nature trails, to visit caves

or appreciate local flora and fauna, is a popular activity at all national
parks.

Fishing

This is popular on both Kwai rivers, and the Khao Laem and Sri Nagarind
reservoirs. Several raft resorts offer hired rods. Edible

and popular fish include the Giant Gourami, the Transverse Bellbarb,
the Giant Snakehead Fish and the Striped Tiger Nandid.

Each is delicious when freshly cooked, either simply fried or in Thai
culinary styles.

Rafting & Canoeing

Trips are available from the provincial capital and several holiday
resorts. Raft trips leaving from the famous bridge , or the waterfront
Song Kwai Road area, cost between 2,000 and 4,500 baht for 10-15 persons,
depending on durations and

destinations. Trips may entail 7-10 hour return journeys, or include
an overnight stay on either the Kwai Yai or Kwai Noi

rivers.

Rail Trips

Railway enthusiasts may travel along one of Southeast Asia’s most historical
tracks, namely the surviving stretch of the ‘Death

Railway’, from the provincial capital to the Nam Tok Railway Station
near the Sai Yok Noi Waterfall. The winding track crosses

the world-famous bridge and provides a clear indication of how difficult
constructing the original track (long since repaired and restored) must
have been. One particularly exhilarating stretch sees the line parallel
the curving Kwai Noi on a wooden viaduct towering above the river and
hugging a steep, cave-ridden cliff.

Shopping
Major souvenir shops are concentrated
around the eastern approaches, and riverine environment, of the world-famous
bridge. Almost every handicraft produced in Thailand can be purchased
there. Browsing to compare quality, and good-humoured
but determined bargaining, will ensure favourable prices for readymade
leisurewear and other apparel, and popular

souvenirs such as bambo musical instruments, palm leaf mobiles, ceramic
decorations, lacquerware and bronzeware

receptacles, paper parasols,and Thai silk and cotton lengths. Kanchanaburi
is a major source of highquality Thai blue sapphires. These are mined
at Bo Phloi, as are onyx and topaz. Purchasers of finished jewellery creations
can be made at Bo Phloi’s Jewellery Handicraft Centre, and other satellite
outlets.

How
to get there
Kanchanaburi
is connected by daily road and rail services with Bangkok and other
neighbouring provinces.
Airconditioned and regular coaches leave Bangkok’s Southern Bus Terminal
throughout the day for the 2 to 3-hour journey.

Trains leave the Bangkok Noi Railway Station
daily for Kanchanaburi.

Festivals
Boat & Raft
Day
Local long-boat teams race boats with great gusto at the waterfront
area of the provincial Kwai Yai river to celebrate ‘Boat

& Raft Day’, generally during October.

River Kwai Bridge Week

Each year, late November and/or early December, the world famous
bridge becomes the focal point of celebrations. Highlights include exhibitions
and historical and archaeological displays; a carnival featuring sideshows,
roundabouts, folk entertainment and cultural performances; rides on
trains hauled by World War II vintage steam locomotives; and a nightly
light and sound presentation re-enacting the bridge’s Second World War
history, including an Allied bombing raid.

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