Kanchanaburi is a short 135km away from Bangkok and a popular destination for day trips by train. Riding the train here for a day and walking around the bridge area will surely suffice, however, if you can spare 2 or 3 days it will allow you to see the area’s natural beauty and experience a few unrivaled adventures. Below are 5 activities I enjoyed during my last motorcycle ride to Kanchanaburi, which I’m sure will make your trip one for the photo album.
Bridge Over The River Kwai – The Bridge over the River Kwai was a strategic crossing point for the Japanese during World War II to supply their troops in Southeast Asia. After a heavy bombing by Allied forces during the war, and a reconstruction thereafter, it has since become the basis for a 1957 movie and is now a popular day trip for tourists from Bangkok. A scenic train ride arrives mid-morning and leaves visitors ample time to walk the bridge, take photos and visit the nearby museums and cemetery before heading back in the afternoon. For more about the bridge and how to get there click here.
Erawan Falls – With 7 levels of some of the most beautiful waterfalls in Thailand, Erawan Falls is a perfect place for the ambitious hiker, family on a picnic, Nat-Geo photographer or traveler looking to chill out in nature. Climbing 1,520 meters through the jungle, falls number 1 – 7 offer a little something for everyone. Visitors can take a swim in the bright blue pools while fish nibble at your toes, slide down the waterslides worn into the rocks or sit under the falls for a head and shoulders massage. Climbing to the 7th level rewards those who make it with a beautiful cascading waterfall from the high cliffs above. This waterfall feeds into smaller pools where hikers can cool off from the heat of the climb.
Temple Spotting – While not the number one attraction for heading to Kanchanaburi, temple spotting should not be left off the list. Two main temples, roughly 15km south of town, are like no others around. Wat Ban Tham is the epitome of the term “Enter the Dragon.” Climbing the golden staircase leads directly into the mouth of an enormous dragon. The staircase winds through the muraled body of the dragon to the mountain top for an unparalleled view of the River Kwai and the valley below. Just down the road, perched like a golden city on a hilltop, are Wat Tham Suea & Tham Khao Noi. A mixed Thai-Chinese style, the temple has 2 pagodas and an enormous golden Buddha. Visitors can climb the 6 levels of each pagoda to take in the panoramic views of the fields and town below.
Hell Fire Pass – As World War II raged throughout the Pacific the Japanese were busy building the Burma-Thailand Railway to re-supply their troops in the region. Hell Fire Pass is a monumental section of the railway built through the mountains and thick Thailand jungle by the hands of some 60,000 Allied POW’s. A museum and walkable stretch of railway is located about 80km north of Kanchanaburi. A 2.5km stretch remains open to the public and walking along you can almost hear the chatter of the POW’s, the clanking of their tools against the rocks and the explosions as they dynamited through the mountain. The human endeavor that was required here is nothing short of amazing.
Tiger Temple – The temple is home to 105 Indo-Chinese tigers who have been hand raised by Buddhist Monks and volunteers. Located northwest of Kanchanaburi, the Tiger Temple is likely one of the only places around where you can experience tigers in something closely resembling their natural habitat. An entry fee of 600 Baht ($20.00) gets you into the temple where you can take pictures petting these monstrous creatures. If you’re looking for a little more adventure and an unforgettable experience then join the bathing and exercise program in the afternoon for an extra 1,000 Baht ($30.00). This program along with their late afternoon play session are sure to get your adrenaline pumping and leave you with photos and memories that will last a lifetime. For for more information about the tiger temple click here.