Thailand's Center

KANCHANABURI

Global Mark : 16.72    Top Ten : No1

Ratings by criteria : 

Charm Scenery Parks Culture Minor. Market Relax Fiesta 

Cost

AVER.
4 5 2 5 3 3 5 5 4 16.44

Ratings by backpackers :

Surveyed Liked  Comeback  Recommend  Range AVER.
20 100% (20) 95% (19) 100% (20) 11 to 20 17.00


Description :
A small place by the River Kwai, full of history, natural wonders, tourists and backpackers.

Comments : Do not make the mistake to visit the place on a tour from Bangkok as the area' attractions are numerous.

What to do ? Visit the good TAT Office for maps & info about the area / Catch a train to the River Kwae bridge (B2) or up to Namtok (B17) / During WE, do the same on a steam locomotive / Learn why it is called the Death Railway : two museums, a Japanese Memorial and two war cemeteries should convince you / See the bomb which destroyed the bridge / Assist to a sound & lights show during the busy River Kwae Bridge Week (end Nov to beg Dec) / Climb inside an old locomotive outside the north war museum / Splash & swim in one of the nicest waterfall in Asia / Climb to the top of the 7th step / Walk nature trails / See stalactites & mites / See plenty of butterflies, colorful crickets or big lizards / Join the tourists to try to discover the secret of the "Floating Nun" at Wat Tham Mongkon Thong (4km away) / Trek on elephant to a touristy Karen Village (about B800) / Rent a motorcycle and explore the area : waterfalls, caves, temples, museums, historical or national parks,... It would take weeks to see them all !

What you may not like ? The noise from the speed boats all week long / The "music" from the floating (and moving) discos, all WE long (and sometimes on week days as well) / The sufferings from the past / The cost of the steam locomotive's trip / The tourism invasion / Getting dehydrated on the waterfall path if you left your water with the officials / The new outrageous entrance fee to the Falls : B200 while Thai still pay B20 ! 

How long ? Some travelers stay here for weeks but a couple of days should be good enough


Where to stay ? 

Hotels  << Get precise info, book online and save money !

- A bit off the river :

  • Apple GH (512 017), 293 Mae Nam Khwae Rd, 5mn walk straight from the train station / Bungalow style rooms set in a nice garden off the street / Sgl, Dbl or twin w. shower 120, 150 or 200 / Go there if you do not wish to stay by the river & for the nicest rooms at this price / What you may not like : not being by the river & the door-to-door rooms.

- On Rong Hip Awy, next to the river, 10mn walk straight from the train station or 20mn from the bus station :

  • Sam's River Raft House (624231) / Restaurant by the river but rooms in concrete building on the other side of the road / Small & basic Dbl w. shower 150 / Bikes 40 per day
  • Vimol GH (former Rick's Lodge, 514831), just after the above / Original small bungalow on two levels 200 or 250 if on the river / Unfortunately too basic (mattress on the floor) & promiscuous for the price.
  • VN GH (514082), after the above / Raft setting / Room 50(1) or 70(2), Dbl w. shower 150 / Go there for the good relaxing restaurant by the river, the raft setting, the OK sized rooms with good lighting, for watching CNN, for saving money / What you may not like : the basic & not so clean rooms without mosquito net, moving when a boat passes too close or a fellow traveler leaves his room
  • River View GH (512491), after the above / Rooms 50(1), 70(2), w. shower 100 or 150, family bungalows (4 people) on two level 250 or 300 / Nice original setting on old stilts but cheapest rooms very basic with no fan (but mosquito net) and disgusting common showers...
  • J (floating) GH (620307), next to the above and even connected to it as same family / Sgl or Dbl 60 or 80, Sgl or Dbl w. shower 90 to 100 or 120 to 150, all w. mosquito net / Go there for the very nice setting among lotus flowers, the OK clean rooms at good prices or to watch dragonflies / What you may not like : the rather hot rooms during the day, the dim lightning during the night

- On the river bank, in the north part, on the way toward the Death Railway Bridge : A busy part of town full of disco, restaurants, food stalls, internet (B2 per mn) or bike rental (B20-30 per day) places. From the bus station : B15-20 by motorcycle or B40-50 by Tuk

  • Jolly Frog Backpacker's GH (514579), Mae Nam Kwae Rd, opposite Jamaica Disco, 100m from Apple GH / Lots of rooms on two floors around a garden above the river / Sgl, Dbl or Trpl 60, 110 or 150, Dbl w. shower 150, Dbl on raft without shower 120 / Go there for the great garden with well maintained grass, coconut trees and lazy long chairs or hammocks and to meet people (lots of them) / What you may not like : being unable to check the rooms as this popular place is often full or meeting too many people
  • Sugar Kane GH (624 520), just after the above / A few bungalows by a tiny garden next to the river / Small Dbl 150, "big" Dbl 250, big on raft B400 / Go there to check the small bungalows / What you may not like : the general lack of size
  • Sam's House (515956), 5mn from the above / Bungalows hidden in vegetation or on stilts. The nicest setting in town / "Wind" or "Lotus" rooms w. shower 150, "Air" 300 / Go there for the nice rooms and to choose your great environment : vegetation & flower (wind) or water & lotus flower (lotus) / What you may not like : paying the same for the more basic "Lotus", not having mosquito net with the "Wind"
  • C&C River Kwai GH (624547), 3mn from the above, just after the bridge / Bungalow in a garden or rooms on a raft / Room 70 (1 or 2), bungalow 100(1) or 120 (2) / Old bike 20 per day / Go there for the nice setting in a big garden and the cheapest correct bungalow in town / What you may not like : the not so clean garden or shower, the basic rooms on the river
  • Mr. Tee GH (625103), 20mn walk from Bridge, 5mn from the above / Lots of rooms on two floors in front of a garden by the river / Rooms upstairs 150, downstairs w. shower 200 / Expensive and apparently not so quiet due to noisy
  • Bamboo House (64470), 10mn from the Death Railway Bridge, 10mn from the above / Nice setting on a well maintained garden by the river or on stilts / Dbl 200, w. shower & bed 300, full bungalow (3 people) 500 / Nice view on the Death Railway Bridge, clean rooms and lots of space but expensive for what you get (mattress of floor)

- On Song Kwae Rd, south part, 15mn walk from Bus Station or the above : this lively night-life street full of discos, restaurants & karaoke obviously does not offer the most peaceful retreat

  • Sam's Place (513971), just below the bridge / Dbl 150, w. AC 300 / Go there for the beautiful setting on stilts with lots of flowers, the big clean rooms, the relative isolation from the street / What you may not like : the traffic on the ugly bridge, the tiny attached bathroom
  • Supakornchai GH, just after the above / Dbl 150 / OK sized room but no setting and no freshness. 
  • Nita Raft GH, a bit south on Pak Phraek Rd, near the JEATH War Museum and 10mn walk only from Bus Station / Sgl 60, Dbl 100, w. shower 150 / The rooms are OK & clean (the nicest cheap Sgl) but the environment is very noisy, compliment of the opposite disco boats and the water rather dirty...


Backpacker's Tips :  Brian, USA (July 05)
I would like to highly recommend the Camelia Resort, they dont have a website yet, we went there via the Travelers Connection near Khao San Road, they dropped us off by 120 b mini van there, and it was great, right on the rtiver, wonderful people, wonderful food, and only 300b per fan room (with bathroom) 500 for aircon (with bathroom), very clean. We loved it. 

Backpacker's Tips : Melissa Au, UK  (June 04)
Apple Guest House is THE best place I have stayed in - food is top notch and CLEAN - you can drink the fresh fruit juice and water. Apple (the lady who runs the place) was extremely helpful! She made a point of talking to all the travellers there - even if they were just stopping to eat at the restaurant. As soon as we sat down to eat she greeted us and informed us that the ice was 'safe' - they comply with the health and safety standards. The food was freshly prepared, and the menu highly informative. The rooms were extremly clean and COOL. ALL the staff were polite and very helpful. I recommend that you stay here if you visit Kanchanaburin!

In addition, we went on the C&C tour of the area. Really good value for money (500 Bt) - particularly if you only have 1/2 days here. We went canoeing, visited the Erawan Falls (swam in the fresh water pools - crazy nibbling fish - mind you feet!!) - although you have to pay entrance fee of 200 Bt on top of tour cost, Elephant ride through the jungle, visited the Tiger Caves (underground, many Staligmites (sic?) and big spiders....only if you're lucky!) and the Tiger Sanctury - lots of wild animals (including hyperactive monkeys, moody wild boar and shy deer) loose in the huge park. Amazing experience to touch and be so close to the tigers too!! Really well kept park, run by people who genuinely care about the animals' well-being. TIP: We were told by the other travellers in our small group of 5 that the local tour guides don't always stick to the Itinery...they tend to do what is easiest for them...or what they fell like doing. So keep pestering them and questioning what/where you are going next. We kept saying "Tigers? Tigers?" and, unlike the other travellers, managed to fit everything into the day that we had paid for (they had to stay for another night to see the tigers!)

Backpacker's Tips : Ebbe Petersen, Denmark / Australia (Dec 01)
 I tried VN Guest house, I stayed in one double room, on land, brick walls, with aircond. Not so clean, but not too bad. I was offered this room at 300B (no TV) but after I asked a reduction in price the cost came down to 250B. Later I did not find any towels, toilet paper or soap. I then asked for this but they could only provide me with a towel and Toilet Paper. Too expensive for the quality, no view only to the back of the floating section.
Next day I moved into MK Hotel. Location is across from River Kwai Hotel in the middle of town. After some negotiations, I got a double room with air and TV and clean for 300 B /day ( 4 days) 
Internet : I have tried two internet places : MM internet was 20 B /hour and the second very close to the same at 15 B /hour


Where to eat ?
Plenty of food stalls & small restaurants along Mae Nam Kwae Rd or Song Kwae Rd. Also around the markets & bus station. You won't starve !

Internet ? Two places on the way to the Market from Wat Neua have computers for B35 per hour. Internet & Ice cream (next to Park Praek Soi 6) is the best as the rate remains the same if using a short time only and you even get a free glass of water ! Other places in town around the GH charge B2 per mn (sometimes down to B1 after a period of time)

Bikes ? At a lot of places, from B20 to B40 per day.


The Erawan Falls ? 

One of the nicest falls seen in Asia, it is certainly worth the 1.5 hours trip from Kanchanaburi. The falls are spread over 2km and are divided into 7 steps, the last two being a bit wilder to reach and the first two being very popular with locals who comes here to picnic and get wet (toilets & snacks available)

At step 2, you are required to separate from your food & drinks, a strange (unsuccessful) attempt to avoid rubbish spots along the beautiful path. They however do not go as far as checking your bags so you can still carry some water & snacks if you are discreet, a very good idea considering you may sweat a lot to reach the top of the falls... 

It takes 4 hours from the parking to the top and back at a leisurely pace but if you wish to test all the great swimming areas, plan to spend the whole day there. Two "interpretative nature trails" (incl. a long one well off the falls) would also require a few hours. 

The entrance fee has recently (July 00) been increased from B20 to B200, along with all National Parks ! And to add insult to injury, the government introduced a dual pricing system : Thai people still pay B20.  An excellent reason not to visit ? Let's hope that the money earned from the foreigners will be used to clean up the rubbish thrown away by the local people...

The park is open from 8 to 16:30. Free maps on request at the info center. Buses back to Kanchanaburi (B25, 1.5 hrs), leave at 5:45, 6:30, 7:45, 8:45, 10,11:45, 13:45, 14:45 & 16. The scenery along the way is very nice, in particular on the left side if coming from Kanchanaburi. There is no need to go to the bus station as the special bus follow the main Saengchuto Road and can stop anywhere. 

Accommodations are available inside the park : Busy dorm without fan B10 or bungalows B250 (4 people) to B1000 (15 people). You can reserve at 5795734 but, on week day, it should be no problem to find a place.

Other attractions in the area (Sri Sawat) includes Pra That Cave (10km north of Erawan) which contains monumental stalactites, the Memorial Park within Sri Nakharin Dam and Chalerm Rattana-Kosin National Park which contains more caves & waterfalls. 

The War Museums ? There are two JEATH (Japan, England, America, Australia, Thailand & Holland) war museums and they both cost B30 to visit. The southern one (8:30 to 18 daily), next to a temple and managed by monks, is the most visited. It somehow recreate a thatched detention camp. Most of the documents here are striking photos of POW working on the 415 km long railway as well as articles about the cruel way it was built in a crazy 16 months (engineers had said it would take 5 years) & other relics. More than 50% of the 230,000 workers died...

Riding the Death Railway ? A steam locomotive goes from Kanchanaburi to Wang Pho every WE & PH for B100 one way or B150 return. The same trip would however cost B13 one way only on the regular two trains which ply the road daily from Thonburi (Bangkok) to Namtok. The scenery along the way is the same. On regular trains, fares from Kanchanaburi are B17 to Namtok, B15 to Nakhon Pathom & B25 to Thonburi.

Other areas' attractions ? Too numerous to check them all. If you have got the time, get infos from the TAT Office & explore the area. 

In Sri Sawat area, beside the Erawan Waterfall (65km) are the Sri Nakarin Dam (3km away) and its Memorial Park and Pra That Cave with huge stalactites (10km away) plus other waterfalls and caves within Kosin National Park.

The road toward Sangkhlaburi is also rich of sights : 
- Sai Yok area (60km, bus No8203 or train at 6:11, 11:01 and 16:37) : Prasat Muang Sing Historical Park (turn at km 15, 7 km away), Sai Yok Noi waterfall (2km from Nam Tok train station, best from July to Oct), Lawa Cave, Hellfire Pass Memorial Museum,...
- Thong Pha Phum area (159km) : Kao Leam National Park, Hin Dat Hot Springs, waterfallls,... A few GH in the 120-150 bracket.
- Sanghlaburi (230km) : Three Pagodas Pass for a glimpse at Burma, waterfalls, Wat Wang Wiwekaram, the longest wooden bridge in Thailand,... A few GH here as well. The three pagoda are however usually a disappointment. Note that it was reported not possible to get a new fresh 30 days Thai visa by going to Myanmar and back at this border. Any confirmation ?


Backpacker's Tips : Christine, USA (Oct 04)
 
 I'd recommend Kamonpon massage for a great thai massage located along the main road with all the other massage places, cafe's, gh's, etc.
The 10:30AM train to Namtok is now 100B. It's still 17B if you want to go early morning around 6AM or late afternoon around 4:30PM.

Backpacker's Tips : Flemming Boetker, Denmark (July 02)
 A good place to rent motorbikes would be at "Harris Motorbike for Rent" at the street next to Sugar Cane guesthouse. Prices are very reasonable 200 Baht for 24 hours. They speak very good English and the services are excellent.

 << Discover the two major sights

 

Selected additional info from Sams Guesthouses (Sept 02)
 The province, Thailand's third largest boasts six national parks covering a total of 6,700 square kilometers of some of the best natural scenery in the country. Bordering onto Burma in the west, Kanchanaburi has a host of waterfalls, caves, sapphire mines, a Neolithic museum, and the ruins of an important 13th century Khmer outpost. Kanchanaburi was established by Rama III as first line of defense against the Burmese coming through nearby Three Pagoda Pass, still an important smuggling post between the two countries. The Bridge over the River Kwae, made famous by the Movie of the same name, actually spans a tributary of the Mae Klong River a little north of the town and the railway it was built for still operates. An estimated 16,000 POWs and 100,000 forced labourers from Thailand, Burma, Malaysia and Indonesia died building the bridge and railway line, which ran 415 kilometers to south of Three Pagoda Pass. A railway museum is in front of the bridge, with engines used during World War II on display.
Some 50 kilometers north of Kanchanaburi are the open-pit Bor-Ploy Sapphire Mines, with its gems considered amongst the best in the world. Waterfalls and caves doffing the province have contributed to its place as a favoured picnic destination for Bangkokians and locals alike. Of the fails, the best known is the Erawan Waterfalls in a 550 square kilometers national park in the Kuwait Yai valley some 70 kilometers from Kanchanaburi. Sai Vok Foils, about 100 kilometers north-west of town are well known for overnight raft trips along the Khwae Noi River. Fishing, swimming, jungle trekking and wildlife make the trip well worthwhile. We can recommend you the "GoodTime Travel Service" in Kanchanaburi for doing a day tour.
Also upriver some 40 kilometers from Kanchanaburi is the Prasat Muang Singh Historical Park, the restored Jernains of an important 13th century Khmer outpost of the Angkor empire called Muang Singha - Lion City. Covering some 73.6 hectares, the town encompassed four groups of ruins of which two have been excavated revealing well preserved shrines depicting deities and stucco decorations that establish the site as a Mahayana Buddhist Centre.
About 7 kilometers east at Baan Kaw (Old Town) is a major Neolithic burial site dating back as far as 10,000 years, A small museum, open from 9am to 4.30pm Wednesday to Sunday, has been established to display artifacts from the excavation site, including pottery and human skeletons.
Kanchanaburi's six national parks are Erawan, 550 square kilometers, Chalerm Rattanakosin, 59 square kilometers, Sai Yok 500 square kilometers, Sri Nakharin, 1,534 square kilometers, Salak Phra, 858 square kilometers and Thung Yai Naresuan, all of which are noted for their abundance of wildlife, flora and scenery. Human habitation in these area dates back to the Paleolithic or Old Stone Age.


Bus Schedules : 

To Price Class Duration Time Nb Freq.
Erawan Falls 25 fan 2 8 to 16:30 a few 50mn
Suphanburi 30 fan 2 5 to 18 a lot 20mn
Pha Phum 46 fan 3 6:45 to 18:30 a lot 35mn
Sangkhlaburi 67 fan 5 6,8:40,10:20,12,14:05 5 na
Sangkhlaburi 121 vip 4  7:30, 9:30 to 16:30 a few hour
Ratchaburi 31 fan 2 5:10 to 18:20 a lot 20mn
Bangkok 41 fan 3 3:30,4,4:30, 5 to 18:30 a lot 15mn

Notes : Connect to Lopburi from Suphanburi / To Bangkok via Nakhon Pathom (B25, 1.5 hrs)

The trip to Ayuthaya : SS / L / B30+B30 / 2.5 + 1.5 hrs / Fan
The first step was to board a bus to Suphanburi. We left empty 10 mn late from the written schedule to U Thong street, 300 meters away, where we waited 20mn for passengers to show up. Really makes you wonder what the schedules are written for... The hour trip toward U thong was quite nice among paddy fields but then we stopped for 20mn again to let the passengers complete their breakfast with snacks. The final 30mn trip to Suphanburi Bus station was quite ugly but a huge dragon fountain on the left woke me up just as we entered Suphanburi.
Off the bus, I realized that there were no buses to Ayuthaya leaving from the bus station. Those yellow No703 depart one km away in the south and the best way to get there is to remain on your No411 bus for a few minutes more. 
The trip toward Ayuthaya was quite slow as the bus was rather empty. The scenery nice but nothing special, except of course when arriving : if sitting on the left, you can spot some of the nice ruins for which the former capital is renowned. 

The trip to Lopburi : This was my initial plan but I eventually decided to visit it as a day trip from Ayuthaya (not such a good move actually). Going there from Kanchanaburi is a bit annoying as you apparently need to change bus quite a few times (people at the bus station were a bit confused on the best way to go there) : first to Suphanburi (B30, 2.5 hrs), then to Singburi (B25, every 25mn, 2 hrs) and then to Lopburi (B13, 1 hour)

See also the trip from Nakhon Pathom

 

Kanchanaburi-info.com - all
information about Kanchanaburi province incl. Sangkhlaburi - photos,
opening hours and entrance fees - bus and train timetable - background
information - etc.