Ever heard of Kanchanaburi? Neither had we, but it turned out to be one of our favorite destinations in Thailand. We share what to do in Kanchanaburi, Thailand, and why you should visit.
In our travels, we often find ourselves in places, that before traveling to the location we had never heard of, the destination was never somewhere we dreamed of, nor is it on any top destinations list, but it is often what we refer back to when we felt submerged in the culture we were exploring.
Thailand is hardly off the beaten path these days.
In Thailand, we found several places that were not Koh Samui, Bangkok, Koh Tao, Koh Phi Phi, Phuket, Koh Phangan, Pai, Chiang Mai, or Koh Lipe. Of course, we love the road well traveled, as twenty-somethings it’s hard to ignore a Full Moon Party on Koh Phangan. However, it’s not those experiences that we often refer back to, for me it was driving a motorbike through the Kanchanaburi countryside. The town has a growing backpacker community due to it’s easy riverside vibe, affordability, history, and access to the beautiful province of the same name. It’s a place I highly recommend, and it’s a different place to visit in Thailand. So why visit Kanchanaburi? Let me tell you…
Okay, so this one would be justifiable to be the only reason you should visit Kanchanaburi, the town provides great access to plenty of the region’s waterfalls. The most famous waterfall being the Erawan Falls, and are very likely the most beautiful waterfalls in Thailand. The Erawan waterfalls are composed of seven tiers of turquoise colored water surrounded by lush forest. No need to pay for those tanks where people stick their dirty feet in and let the fish eat the dead skin, the fish fill the waterfall pools here and will give the unsuspecting a surprise. So come to Kanchanaburi, and bask in the beautiful falls, trust me it’s worth it.
The Death Railway
The infamous Death Railway was built through Kanchanaburi and all the way into Burma. The 258-mile long track was constructed by the Japanese Empire using POWs and poor civilians from the surrounding area, work conditions were appalling and nearly 90,000 people died building the railroad. The bridge over the river Kwai is in the middle of town and a walk across the tracks is good for a quick visit.
Hellfire Pass Museum
The Hellfire Pass Museum is situated near a stretch of the railroad that particularly brutal costing many laborers lives, giving its name. The museum was donated and built by Australia and is world class, it’s somber, beautiful, and informative.
As with pretty much anywhere in Thailand street food is a thing. Food prices are low and geared towards the locals. The night market is just off the main road and was our primary source of food while in town. There is also Ban Peek Mai, a restaurant with an awesome laid back vibe, cheap beer, a mix locals and tourists, and great food.
The Elephant is the national symbol of Thailand, however, it is becoming increasingly known that many of the nation’s prized animals are subjected to inhumane conditions. They are exploited for tourism and are treated terribly for the amusement of someone on a quick jaunt to Thailand. There are places like Elephants World, a sanctuary built for Elephants. Elephants World is a non-profit made to care for old, sick, and rescued elephants. They offer visitors a chance to care for and interact closely with the animals, offering single day visits, and overnight visits lasting up to a month. If you’re passionate about animals and are fascinated by elephants this is the place to visit, and worth the journey to Kanchanaburi.
Tham Krasae Cave & Trestle Bridge
The cave isn’t the best in the area, but it is easily accessible and offers a tourist market in the area. The real site near the cave is the trestle bridge built by the POWs. It’s still in operation and you can catch a train running across the tracks if you time your visit right, or ride the tourist train yourself.
The province is littered with caves, some big, some small, and some massive. This site gives a good rundown of some of the caves in the area, and how to get to them. We marked a number on our real paper maps with info about each one before heading out for the day on our $5 a day moped. You can also stop in the tourism office and ask for them to mark a few on your map to travel to.
Thai massage parlors are abundant throughout all of Thailand, but due to the cheaper prices we found in Kanchanaburi it allows for more room in the budget, for say a Chang beer or a massage, or both. And, maybe both everyday for a week.
Looking for a good place to stay in Kanchanaburi?
We found a great last minute deal on Agoda, and can’t recommend this place enough! Read more about backpacking Thailand after Kanchanaburi!