Kanchanaburi (Pronounce the K as a G) is a province west of Bangkok and is the third largest province in The Kingdom of Thailand. Kanchanaburi is probably most famous for the River Kwai and for the death railway which was built during the second world war by allied POW's. Both of the River Kwai's real names are actually the River Khwae Noi (Noi - small) and the River Khwae Yai (Yai - large). You can pronounce the real name like this - kwhere. These two rivers join at the centre of Kanchanaburi town to create the River Mae Klong, which empties into the Gulf of Thailand. To the north of the province you have Bilauktaung mountain range which is a sub range of the Tennasserim range.
Kanchanaburi is probably in my top 3 places to go in Thailand, you could easily spend a couple of exploring and road tripping. I would It has amazing activities, thought provoking history, mountains in the north and five beautiful national parks. Speaking of national parks, lets start there!
Kanchanaburi has SEVEN national parks within its borders.
Chaloem Rattanakosin National Park is in the north-east of the province. It has an amazing waterfall called Than Nam Ing Waterfall and a good over-night hike up Khao (Mountain) Kamphaeng.
Erawan National Park is in the centre of the province and is one of the most popular national parks in Thailand due to it's beautiful 7-tiered waterfall.
Sai Yok National Park is also in the centre of the province and has some beautiful waterfalls, a nature hike with the historic Japanese kitchens and some awesome riverside hotels and restaurants along the River Khwae Noi. If you cross the bridge and go to the otherwise of the river, you will find an amazing sand beach where you can chill and swim. It is near the death railway museum and for me is definitely worth a visit.
Khao Laem National Park is in the north of the province and is known for the beautiful Namtok (Waterfall) Khli Ti.
Thong Pha Phum National Park is in the west of the province along the border with Burma. It is well know for its hiking and most notably Khao Chang Phueak (White Elephant Mountain), which is the 3rd highest peak in Kanchanaburi at 1,249 meters.
Sri Nakarin National Park is in the centre of the province on lake It is probably best known for the stunning Huai Mae Khamin Waterfall which is a photographers dream. The park is also near the Srinakarin Dam, some caves and hot springs.
Lam Khlong Ngu National Park is in the west of the province and the cave that the Lam Khlong Ngu flows through has the highest monolithic in the world at 62.5 metres. There are also two awe inspiring waterfalls; Kliti waterfall and Nang Kruan Waterfall.
All the national park entrance fees are about 200baht for kids and 300baht for adults.
Sai Yok Lek Waterfall
2. Sangkhla buri district
Sangkhla Buri district is in the north of Kanchanaburi by the border with Burma. The area is a great mix of Thai, Mon, Burmese and Karen ethnic groups. The Mon bridge or 'Saphan Mon' (Saphan - Bridge in Thai) is a beautiful hand-made wooden bridge that was built in the 1980's. The bridge is the longest wooden bridge in the world at 400metres and it takes you to the Mon village of Wang Kha which gives you a great insight into Mon life and Mon food.
Wat Sam Prasob, commonly known as the Sunken Temple was a temple built by the Mon. After the construction of the Vajiralongkorn Dam, the whole area was flooded including the original Mon village. Wat Sam Prasob is the only structure that remains visible. Although it is only partial visible most of the year, during the dry season the temple becomes accessible by boat. You can hire a local to take you to the temple and give you a small tour of the area for a few hundred bath not including tip.
Wat Wang Wiwekaram is a beautiful Mon temple and was founded by Luangpho Ajahn Tala Uttama ( Thai: หลวงพ่ออุตตมะ, Burmese: ဦးဥတ္တမ) who was revered by both the Burmese and Thai's. He was ethnically Mon and fled Burma in 1948 due to the civil war. He was the personal dharma teacher of King Vajiralongkorn.
3. Wat Tham Pu Wa
4. Death Railway and hellfire pass
This museum is dedicated to remembering and telling the story of the horrific suffering endured by the Allied POW's at the hands of the imperial japanese army in the second world war. They, along with some Southeast Asian's, were used as slave labour in the building of the Thai-Burmese railway line. The actual museum is in Kanchanaburi town centre but there is also the hellfire pass experience which is a great chance to experience the actual conditions along the track. It was a horrific abuse of the Geneva Convention's and many allied POW'S, mainly Australian's and British soldiers, died due to malaria, beatings or sheer exhaustion. Their bravery and strength will never be forgotten. There is also the JEATH War Museum by the River Khwae bridge.
Picture of Hellfire Pass.
5. Riding the train to nam tok
No trip to Kanchanaburi is complete without riding the train over the River Khwae bridge and on to Nam Tok. The journey will take you through rice paddy fields with sporadic mountains, the stunning wooden Tham Krasae Bridge which skirts around the cliffs and then onto Nam Tok station where you can get to Sai Yok National Park. You can actually get this train all the way from Thonburi station in Bangkok.
6. Prasat Mueang Sing Historical Park
Prasat Mueang Sing Historical Park is in the south of Kanchanaburi province and is a Khmer temple built during the reign of King Jayavarman VII (1180 to 1219). Built in the Bayon-style with laterite brick, it is a beautiful example of a Khmer temple with affiliation to the religion of Vishnuite-Shivaite Hinduism. The Khmer empire followed Vishnuite-Shivaite Hinduism but sometime between the 13th and 14th centuries the empire converted to Theravada Buddhism. Many theorise this as being instrumental in the downfall of the Khmer empire as it brought much social and political strife. A really beautiful and calming temple complex which definitely should not be missed.
7. hike khao chang phusek
8. hike IN-KWAEN 'mountain' (hill)
If you are up for a small adventure and getting off the beaten path then In-Kwaen is the place for you. The hike takes you up a small mountain (it's really just a hill but everyone calls it a mountain) and there you will see this beautiful rock precariously balancing on the rock top of the hill. You can park at the local temple and the Pra Lek will show you around but please try and make an offering because not many people come here. I have actually written a review about it here. If you are into your hiking check my top 10 hikes near Bangkok here.