The Ultimate Kanchanaburi Travel Guide
In this Kanchanaburi travel guide, you will discover waterfalls and jungle trails, national parks, and loads of interesting World War 2 History.
Kanchanaburi is the third largest province in Thailand after Nakhon Ratchasima, and Chiang Mai, therefore you can expect to discover a few secret destinations about the place. While Kanchanaburi is located just two hours from Bangkok by minivan, it is a place where you can completely forge the city and escape into nature.
Get lost in the jungle, shower under refreshing waterfalls, learn about World War II History, then kick back on a raft house on the River Kwai, enjoying some of Thailand’s scenic landscapes.
This is your ultimate Kanchanaburi travel guide. This guide will introduce you to the popular attractions, however, it will also give you an opportunity to go further, to discover hidden gems, a local culture, and get in touch with the real Thailand.
Waterfalls in Kanchanaburi
There are so many waterfalls throughout the National Parks in Kanchanaburi. While I could list out more than 20 waterfalls, these are the main ones which have water flowing all year round.
Erawan National Park
The Erawan National Park is home to one of the most accessible waterfalls as a one-day trip from Bangkok. The seven-tiered Erawan Waterfall runs through a beautiful green leafy jungle. Jump into the cloudy pool at any one of these levels for a refreshing swim. A great escape from the tropical jungle heat.
The Erawan National Park also has a few caves that not many visitors get to see or even know about. Read my full guide to the Erawan National Park for more information on them, and how to get here.
The Kratengjeng is a beautiful waterfall is hidden deep in the jungle of the Khao Laem National Park. It is quite difficult to get to and sees almost no visitors, evident by the overgrown trail. This really off-the-beaten-track trail is my favorite place to go jungle trekking in Thailand.
Sai Yok National Park
The Sai Yok National Park is located further to the west of the Erawan National Park, along the road heading north to Sangkhlaburi District. This National Park actually lies along the Thai-Myanmar border.
There are another two popular waterfalls here; Sai Yok Yai, and Sai Yok Noi. Both waterfalls are only a single level and reached by a much shorter walk than the Erawan Waterfall.
This is a smaller waterfall located out near the Thai-Myanmar border near the village of Thong Pha Phum. The waterfall is also sometimes spelled as Chokkradin, so don’t get confused with the names. The Jokkradin Waterfall is in the Thong Pha Phum National Park, therefore standard National Park fees apply – 30 THB for Thais, 300 THB for foreigners.
War History in Kanchanaburi
Kanchanaburi has quite a few WW2 History sites. Most of the sites are associated with the construction of the Death Railway, which ran from Yangon to Singapore.
The Death Railway is the 415km long railway line which connected Yangoon to Bangkok during World War 2, used as a supply route by the Japanese Army. The Death Railway consisted of a series of bridges and stone cuttings. The most notable is the Hellfire Pass and the Bridge Over the River Kwai.
Hellfire Pass Memorial
The Hellfire Pass was the most brutal section for the Allied POW in the construction of the Death Railway. This 75-meter-long, 25-meter-deep stone cutting section was excavated almost entirely by hand. Thousands of soldiers died in the construction of this section of the Death Railway.
The Hellfire Pass Memorial is located approximately 60km north-west of Kanchanaburi towards Sai Yok waterfalls.
Hellfire Pass Opening Hours: 7 days per week, 9am to 4pm. Entry is free.
Bridge Over the River Kwai
This piece of War War 2 history was made famous by the self-titled movie “Bridge Over the River Kwai.” The bridge was part of the 415km long Burma Railway which connected Bangkok to Yangon, serving as a supply route for the Japanese Army.
The bridge which stands today is a reconstruction of the original bridge, which during the war was repeatedly bombed.
The Bridge Over the River Kwai is located within walking distance of the town center and is open to visitors all day every day. You can walk across the bridge by foot, just watch out for the train as is comes across.
Allied Forces War Cemetery
The Allied Force War Cemetery is dedicated to those soldiers in the Allied Forces who died as Prisoners of War (POW) after being captured by the Japanese Army. Many of the soldiers died due to slave labor, malaria, and poor living conditions. Over 16,000 soldiers from Australia, New Zealand, and British died in this part of Thailand during the construction of the Death Railway.
Kanchanaburi War Cemetery Opening Hours: 7 days per week, 8am to 5pm. Entry is free.
JEATH War Museum
No, it’s not a spelling mistake, the name JEATH stands for the primary nationalities involved in the construction of the Death Railway, being; Japanese, English, Australia, America, Thai, and Holland. The JEATH War Museum contains relics found from the POW camps used when building the railway.
While the museum contains an interesting collection of artifacts, it is fairly rundown and needs a good refurbishment. A 30 minute here will be sufficient.
JEATH War Museum Opening Hours: 8.30am to 4.30pm. Entry is 40 THB.
Sangkhlaburi (Remote Kanchanaburi)
Sangkhlaburi is the off-the-beaten-track section of this Kanchanaburi travel guide. This remote part of Kanchanaburi is located 200km north-west of Kanchanaburi, towards the Thai-Myanmar border.
Sangkhlaburi has some hidden secrets deep in the jungle like the Kratengjeng Waterfall a beautiful waterfall accessed via a crazy overgrown jungle trail. However, the most iconic attraction in Sangkhlaburi is the Wooden Mon Bridge which crosses Lake Vajiralongkorn, the longest of it’s kind in the world.
Check out my complete guide to Sangkhlaburi for plenty more things to do around town, including; an underwater temple, the Myanmar border market, more hidden waterfalls in the jungle.
Where to Stay in Kanchanaburi
There is no shortage of hotels in Kanchanaburi. While there are lots of budget options in the town, I actually recommend finding a floating raft bungalow further down the river like the Tayan Resort. However, this depends on what type of transport you can arrange.
Hotels in town
There are lots of budget hotels and backpacker’s hostels along Songkwai Road, following the River Kwai Yai.
Budget – For the absolute cheapest accommodation in town check out the Jolly Frog Backpackers where beds go for 100 THB per night.
Mid – For a little more comfort and uniqueness try one of the raft houses like the Nita Raft House. The entrances and signs are along Songkwai Road, however, the actual rooms are down the hill floating on the water.
Sai Yok Raft Houses
One of my favorite places to stay in Kanchanaburi Province is the Sai Yok Raft Houses. I’ve stayed at the Tayan Resort multiple times, and love being able to sit back in a hammock by the river in the afternoon. I wrote up a full review of my weekend in Sai Yok here.
What was your favorite destination in Kanchanaburi? Let me know in the comments below!
Explore Bangkok like a local.
Over 50 destinations in and around town.
(including local secrets)
One HUGE guide!