October 2012
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Kanchanaburi – a city located at rivers Kwai Noi and Kwai Yai – Part 2

Kanchanaburi is a city located at the confluence of the rivers Kwai Noi and Kwai Yai.

Overview of Kanchanaburi

• The main sight of interest is the Bridge over the River Kwai.
• The start of the infamous World War II Death Railway to Burma (now Myanmar).
• There are many associated museums.
• There is an increasingly thriving backpacker scene taking advantage of the chilled-out riverside vibe.
• Kanchanaburi is also the gateway to the surrounding province.
• It has easily accessible waterfalls and national parks.
• The main road, Saeng Chuto Road, runs through the length of town from north to south connecting the River Kwai Bridge, the train station and the bus station.
• Closer to the river, is Mae Nam Kwae Road.

What is there around Kanchanaburi?

Hellfire Pass
• Only re-located in the 1980s, Konyu Cutting has been reclaimed from the jungle as a profound war memorial funded by the Australian government.
• This is an excellent museum and self-guided walking tour facilities are available.
• This is highly recommended.
• The descent through the jungle down to the Pass is a moving experience.
• Take a moment to reflect at the peace lookout overlooking the beautiful Kwai Noi Valley.
• More challenging walking options are available. Annual Anzac Day Dawn Service is held here.
• 80 km NW from Kanchanaburi.
• For a day trip, consider taking morning train from Kanchanaburi to Nam Tok (2.5 hrs), then saamlor to Memorial (20 min); return by bus (1 hr) or afternoon train.
• Namtok to the Museum is quite a distance.
• It may be that your only option is a bus from the main road.

Tiger Temple
• Wat Pa Luang Ta Bua, popularly known as the Tiger Temple, is the biggest tourist trap of the region.
• Admission starts at 600 baht per person.
• The tigers are lounging in a dusty canyon, surrounded by minders in yellow shirts and overseen by a monk off in the corner.
• The tigers are kept in barren concrete cells.
• It can also pay a 1,000 baht extra for a “special” photo with a tiger.
• Here you can have the head of a semi-unconscious one put in your lap.
• You are NOT allowed to wear bright yellow, pink or orange T-Shirts, or they will not allow you inside.
• You must also sign a release form.
• You MUST bring your own camera, because the trainers do not have any.
• The tiger temple is off the road heading to Sai Yok.
• You can take a bus heading towards Sai Yok or Sangkhlaburi.
• There is a sign about 1 km before the Tiger Temple.
• The temple itself is about 1-2 k down the side road.
• To get back to kanchanburi, you can either try and flag down a bus on the main road going towards kanchanaburi.

Erawan National Park
• The Erawan Falls are contenders for the most beautiful waterfalls in Thailand, and a must see if time and budget allow.
• Entrance fee is 200 baht for foreigners.
• The falls are composed of seven tiers — all of which are picturesque and great for swimming.
• Plan to spend at least two hours hiking plus the time you want to spend swimming in the falls.
• Everyone can do the hike.

How to get to Erawan National Park?

Public Transport:
• Public bus 8170 leaves the Kanchanaburi bus terminal every 50-60 min. between 08:00-17:20.
• The fare is 50 baht and the ride takes ~90 minutes.
• The last bus leaves for Kanchanaburi at 16:00.

Srinakarind National Park
• Another area of beautiful natural scenery is the Srinakarind Reservoir.
• This is located right behind the Srinakarind Dam.
• Unfortunately, there is no public bus service here.
• The beginning of this water way is called Lumnam Jone.
• This is the beginning of the ever famous River Kwai.
• It has some beautiful surroundings and cystal clear water.
• It will take a few hours walk.
• By boat it takes around 5 hr from the ferry pier at Srinakarind Dam.
• Lumnam Jone can only be reached by one tour operator to limit the amount of visitors to the region.
• The trip takes two days and one night and can only be booked for the first weekend of the month.
• Some other interesting sights in the area are the Phra That Cave, the Huay Mae Khamin Waterfalls and the Tham Than Lot Cave.
• The Srinakarind Dam has a nice cafe serving mostly Thai food and is open every day.
• The area has two main ethnic groups, Thais and Karen.
• There are several villages of mostly Karen people in tambon Naasuan of Amphoe Sri Sawat.
• Near the Amphoe is a small Mon village.
• Beyond Ong Sit village and off a side road is a Lao village called Jerot.

Elephant camps
• Kanchanaburi features several elephant camps but one of the largest is Taweechai Elephant Camp.
• This camp is home to nearly 30 elephants.
• Taweechai offers elephant rides, bathing with elephants (suitable for children), bamboo rafting (swimming optional) and special elephant training mahout courses.
• You can also buy photo frames made from real elephant dung.
• The camp itself is well maintained and nicely decorated.
• The elephants are well-treated and fed almost constantly.

Elephants and Friends Conservation Camp
• You can get there by (rented) motorbike or arrange a pick-up from Lat Ya or Kanchanaburi.
• For your day out, check out Hellfire Pass and the museum, 80 km from Kachanaburi.
• Erewan waterfall is too far away for this trip but well worth a look.
• On the road down to Wang Pho, the driver should veer off to the left near the bottom of the winding road leading towards the River Kwai.
• There are millions of wild monkeys or at least an awful lot of them.
• Enjoy yourself feeding them peanuts or bananas – they are not aggressive.
• Go to Tam Grasae – a cave a couple of kilometres distant where the railway crosses a trestle bridge.
• The River Kwai is immediately below you, and the trestle hugs the side of the cliff in skirting it.
• The cave itself is well worth a look.
• There is a tourist market here also.

Best time to visit / climate

• Thailand is largely tropical.
• It’s hot and humid all year around with temperatures in the 28-35°C range (82-95°F).
• From November to the end of February, it doesn’t rain much and temperatures are at their lowest.
• From March to June, Thailand swelters in temperatures as high as 40°C (104°F).
• From July to October, although it only really gets underway in September, tropical monsoons hit most of the country.

Location on Google Maps

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How to get there?

1. By Bus
– BKS public buses (line 81) leave from Bangkok’s Southern Bus Terminal which is located far west in the suburb Thonburi.
– In Kanchanaburi, there are two separate but nearby bus terminals, with 1st class buses departing from an office off Thanon Saengchuto, and 2nd class buses from the larger terminal one block east.
– 1st class buses should leave Bangkok every 15 minutes from 05:00-22:30, take about 2 hours, and cost 99 baht, including a bottle of water.
– 2nd class buses (new route) leave Bangkok every 20 minutes from 03:30-19:00 and take about 2 hours. Cost 95 Baht.
– 2nd class buses (old route) leave Bangkok every 15-30 minutes from 04:00-18:00 and take about 3 hours.
– There are also tourist minibuses directly to/from Khao San Road, departing Kanchanaburi at 13:30 and 18:30.

From Sangkhlaburi to Kanchanaburi:
– Air-con VIP buses leave at 08:45, 10:45 and 14:30 and take 4 hours.
– Air-con minibuses leave at 06:30, 07:30, 11:30, 13:00, 15:30 and take 3.5 hours.
– Standard buses leave at 06:45, 08:15, 10:15, 13:15 and take 5 hours.

2. By Train
– Trains leave Bangkok’s Thonburi Train Station at 07:45 and arrive at Kanchanaburi at 10:20, also at 13:45 and arriving at 16:35.
– You may be interested in buying a ticket all the way to the River Kwai Bridge, since these two trains are the only ones which cross the bridge each day.
– The fare is 100 baht for foreigners.
– The best way is probably to take the passenger boat from Phra Arthit Pier and connect to a cross-river ferry that reaches the Thonburi Railway pier, then walk or take the open minibus from there.
– You can also walk a bit away from Khao San Road and find a metered taxi that will not rip you off.
– The fare should be about 70 or 80 baht from Khao San on the meter.
– Return trains leave at 07:25 and 14:48 from the main railway station; from the River Kwai Bridge they leave 6 minutes earlier.
– Riding 3rd class is an adventure in itself, and definitely recommended.

3. By Car
– Kanchanaburi is about 3 hours drive from Bangkok, along the highway no.4 (Phet Kasem) from Bangkok until it hooks up with Highway 323, this will take you all the way to Kanchanaburi.
– You can catch a taxi to Kanchanaburi, return to Bangkok for the day for around 2,000 baht.
– This should include stopping at the Bridge over River Kwai and museum, Kanchanaburi Township, the local dam and the cemetery for the prisoners of war.
– You may need to pay a bit extra to visit Erawan Falls which is about an hour out of the town center and the Tiger Temple.

4. By Minibus
– For shorter travel – day trips from Bangkok are commonly sold at Bangkok travel agencies.
– Typically these include Toyota minibus transport from one’s hotel to Kanchanaburi and back

Some Travel Books about Thailand

Lonely Planet Discover Thailand Thailand PhotoMazing Thailand

Places to stay (hotels / restaurants along with website / contact numbers)

Hotels at wikitravel.org
Hotels at tourismthailand.org
Hotels at gothailand.com

Blogs / Sites about Thailand – kanchanaburi

Blogs at wikipedia.org
Blogs at travelblog.org
Blogs at travbuddy.com
Blogs and reviews at lonelyplanet.com

Images and photos of Thailand – kanchanaburi

Images at google.com
Images at tripadvisor.in
Images at flickr.com
Images at trekearth.com

Videos of Thailand – kanchanaburi

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