Combining war history with nature and an escape from Bangkok, Kanchanaburi, about two and a half hours west of the capital, has it all. The (in)famous Death Railway was built here and still stands today, reminding onlookers about the horrors of World War 2. Surrounding the war monument is some spectacular natural scenery, and head out just a little bit further for even more breathtaking ones.
First, the war bit. There’s of course the Death Railway, also known as the Bridge over the River Kwai, popularized through the novel written by Pierre Boulle in 1952 and the subsequent film, released in 1957. The bridge was built by the Japanese, using prisoners of war under atrocious conditions in 1942-1943, at the expense of 16,000 POW’s and about 90,000 Asian laborers. Most died from disease, maltreatment and construction accidents. The railroad is active, so a ride on it is a possibility.
There are also several other sites around town directly related to World War 2. The JEATH War Museum is a site solely dedicated to the railway, founded in 1977. True to the word dedicated, the initials stand for Japan, England, Australia, America, Thailand and Holland, the primary nationalities involved in the bridge’s construction. Other sites include the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery, the Thailand-Burma Railway Center and the World War 2 Museum and Art Gallery.
The Hellfire Pass is the result of laborers who cut and blasted through rock by hand to clear way for the Death Railway. The descent through the jungle down into the pass is a moving experience, quite literally and figuratively.
If war history is not your thing, or if it just depresses you, then no worries. Kanchanaburi is a nature haven. After all, the bridge is over the Kwai River. The area just northwest of Kancahnaburi is renowned for its spectacular scenery. If waterfalls amaze you, then you’re in for a treat. Erawan Falls is certainly beautiful and grand. You’ll want to come prepared, because the turquoise blue pools in all sever tiers will tempt you into a swim. The area is also great for trekking. Sai Yok Noi Falls and Sai Yok Yai Falls are located further ahead, with hot springs and limestone caves in the immediate vicinity.
Live all these fine destinations with our Kanchanaburi Tour. Also included in this experience is a stop at Tha Kha floating market, a bamboo raft cruise and a ride on an elephant. If you want to extend your stay, you can easily connect this with our Thailand tours for a truly unforgettable time in the kingdom.
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