Around Bangkok: Kanchanaburi
Bangkok Attractions | Attractions around Bangkok
Kanchanaburi is well known for the Bridge of the Rive Kwai. Many people it is the only reason they visit Kanchanaburi. However the bridge is not the only reason to visit Kanchanaburi the surrounding countryside is great for exploring on a motorbike or a bicycle. Kanchanaburi has a very relaxed atmosphere. The quiet guesthouses are great for idle relaxing as a nice change from the hectic atmosphere of Bangkok. There are many scenic sights to see near Kanchanaburi, including the waterfalls, the temples, or one of the many different scenic boat trips.
From Bangkok, Kanchanburi is about a three-hour bus ride, which is great if all you want to see the Bridge of the River Kwai and a few other attractions. If you have the time you may want to spend the night in Kanchanburi in order to give you time to visit the Allied War Cemetery, the JEATH War Museum, and the WWII museum. These museums are all within close proximity to the Bridge over the River Kwai. These attractions are an excellent way to learn more about the history of Kanchanburi's famous bridge.
The Bridge over the River Kwai was made famous by the movie of the same name back in 1957 starring Sir Alec Guinness. The bridge has become one of the main attractions of Kanchanburi. The wooden bridge made in 1943 by the POWs while under the command of the occupying Japanese has long since been replace by the steel bridge you see today. At the time the Japanese were resolute in pushing a rail link through to the Three Pagodas Pass and into the British held Burma. Less than six months after it was built it was bombed by the Allies, which destroyed the bridge.
The Imperial army was resolute in making sure the bridge was completed in 18 months which engineers told them would take 5 years coupled with the mountainous terrain it is not surprising to discovery an estimated 100,000 people were killed during the construction of the bridge, which measures 415 kilometers. The construction of the bridge required deep mountain cutting and hand digging. Almost nothing of the original structure remains. The visitors wishing to pay their respects to the American POWs who lost their life due to starvation and disease go to the Allied War Cemetery.
From the bridge at Kanchanaburi if you travel inland you will find some impressive temples, which are most definitely worth the time it takes to visit. One of these striking temples is Wat Tham Seua, or the tiger temple, is remarkable. You will have the opportunity to mingle and touch live tigers. These domesticated pets simply were too large for the owners to keep any longer and turning them back into the wild is not an option, the tigers would not survive.
From Kanchanaburi you can take a day trip to the waterfalls. The multi-level Erawan waterfall is only 65 kilometers from Kanchanaburi, and there is the Sai Yok Noi Waterfall, which is not as spectacular during the dry season.
If you prefer not to accompany an organized tour, bicycle can be rented enabling to make the trek on your own.
Kanchanaburi does not have a spectacular nightlife. It does however have some good restaurants and some bars. The restaurants down by the river are numerous and inexpensive. These restaurants serve a variety of Thai and western dishes. Some of the restaurants on the river are floating restaurants. You might want to visit the night market in Kanchanaburi, which is good place to find bargains, but you can also sample some of the food in the stalls there in the market.
If you want entertainment after dinner, there are many floating discos, which play the Thai-style techno music. These discos are different, but you can enjoy yourself. If you prefer staying on land you can go to the disco at the upmarket River or the Apache Saloon, which features live music nightly and is located on the main road through Kanchanaburi near the train station..
To reach Kanchanaburi you can take a bus, take the train or rent a car, which ever you prefer. Any method you choose you will get the opportunity to see some of the countryside along the way.