I had been planning on making a trip to Kanchanaburi for some time. My first idea was to do an organized bus trip from Bangkok, a day trip which is offered by many travel agencies. Fortunately an old friend of mine suggested that I take the train from Bangkok and stay a few days. I’m so glad that I took his advice; Kanchanaburi is a charming little town with many things to do and see.
Kanchanaburi is best known for its proximity to the Bridge over the River Kwai and the infamous Thailand–Burma Railway also known as the death railroad. During the World War II Japanese occupation of Thailand and Burma a railway was constructed to connect Bangkok and Rangoon. Approximately 61,000 allied POWs and 250,000 Asian Laborers were involved in the project which started June 1942 and was completed in October 1943. It has been estimated that 16,000 American, Australian, British and Dutch POWs and 90,000 Asian Laborers died during construction. Conditions on the work site were brutal, thousands of men died from malnutrition, disease and exhaustion. Many more were executed or beaten to death by their Japanese and Korean guards.
A fantastic way to learn about the railway and the unfortunate souls who built it is to visit the Thailand – Burma Railway Centre. Located across the road from Kanchanaburi Railway station, this impressive museum overlooks the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery known by the locals as Don Rak. The cemetery is the final resting place for 6,982 POWs who perished building the railroad. It’s an incredibly moving experience to visit these two sites.
Still my list of sites to visit is the Hellfire Pass Memorial, the JEATH War Museum, Khao Pun Caves and Chungkai war cemetery. The area also has a number of beautiful temples and water falls. There really is a lot to do and see in here, a week of sightseeing based from Kanchanaburi is certainly not unreasonable.
I will be here at least three more days before I take a mini bus to Ayutthaya.
Until next time,