Kanchanaburi, just three hours from Bangkok by car or bus, is a perfect weekend getaway from Bangkok. Kanchanaburi's biggest draw is the Kwai River, which is picturesque and laid back but also rich in World War II history. A visit here will satisfy both those who want to spend time learning about the past and those who just want to enjoy the present.
What to Expect:
The otherwise sleepy rural province of Kanchanaburi in west central Thailand is known to the world because it's home to the Kwai River and infamous Bridge over the River Kwai. The bridge and connected railway between Thailand and Burma were built by the Japanese using forced labor from Southeast Asian workers and Allied POWs. More than 100,000 died during its construction and the railway itself became known as the “Death Railway.”
What to Do:
Kanchanaburi has a number of historical sites connected to the Death Railway, but in addition to the bridge itself, the most important to visit is probably the Thailand-Burma Railway Centre
Where to Stay:
Kanchanaburi has a handful of reliable, inexpensive backpacker guest houses including the ever-popular Apple's Guest House
in the center of the town and the modern railway station.
The Felix River Kwai is an upscale resort just across the river from the bridge.
Getting to Kanchanaburi:
The drive from Bangkok is about three hours on Route 338 and then Route 4.
By bus: There are numerous daily buses from Bangkok's Southern Bus Terminal (3 hours).
By train: You can also take a train from Bangkok Noi station (in Thonburi across from the Old City). The trip takes about 4 hours and trains leave in the morning and early afternoon.
Getting Around Kanchanaburi:
Kanchanaburi is a little too big to get around on food. You can rent a car of motorbike in town, or rely on local song thaew to get you around.