Southeast Asia Thailand

33 Amazing things to do in Kanchanaburi, Thailand

Kanchanaburi is a nice weekend getaway from Bangkok if you are tired of big city life and want to chill out a bit in a quiet place it’s a good option for you.  Small, compared to Bangkok, 150 km from the capital Kanchanaburi is one of Thailand hidden gems. Both history lovers and nature wonder seekers will find things to do and to see here. There are really many things to do in Kanchanaburi some of them are quite touristy some more off the beaten track. In this post we arranged places and activities around Kanchanaburi according to the following topics; WWII, cultural experience, outdoor adventures, local food, and relaxation. You can focus on a specific topic or do a little bit of everything. We hope our colorful guide will help you to choose the right activities for you in Kanchanaburi.

If you’d like to explore more of Thailand and have a great time why not to join one of G-Adventures or Intrepid Travel tours to get the most out of your Thai holiday.

Note! In this post, we give transportation options with prices and timetable but we’d suggest confirming the times at the local bus/train station as they often change.

Useful tips for Kanchanaburi and Thailand in general. Almost in all more or less touristy cities, you will find water dispenser machines on the streets. You can refill your 1,5 l water bottle for THB 1. For the same bottle in a shop, you’ll pay from THB 10/$0,3. 9 THB doesn’t sound much but if you multiply it let’s say by 30 days you’ll save THB 270/$8. Good for your budget and for ecology as well. Another option is to bring LifeStraw water filter with to Thailand then you can drink tap water pretty much anywhere. 

There are several options to visit Kanchanaburi with a tour from Bangkok;

Water dispenser machine. Kanchanaburi things to do
Water dispenser machine. Kanchanaburi things to do

Kanchanaburi accommodation

Most tourists stay at Maenamkwai Road, it’s the busiest area with the most hostels, guesthouses and restaurants and close to the river and the bridge. Like in any other more or less touristy place there are hundreds of accommodation options on any budget. Here are some places with the best ratings;

Budget | Baan2rai | Canaan Guesthouse | The Nine Guest HouseP.Y. Guest HouseThai Guesthouse |

Middle priceGood Times Resort | WesToryChez Bure – Bure HomestayMilin Villa |

Luxury | The Glory River Kwai HotelNatee The Riverfront HotelU Inchantree Kanchanaburi  |

Luxury accommodation in Kanchanaburi
U Inchantree Hotel, Kanchanaburi. Photo from booking.com

33 best things to do in Kanchanaburi

Kanchanaburi and WWII

Sites dedicated to WWII are probably one of the main reasons tourists come to Kanchanaburi. All the attractions in the area are related to the Burma Railway or its more popular name the Death Railway.  

#1 Get a ride on the Death Railway

From the original 415 km of the railway that connected Thailand with Burma (Myanmar) nowadays left only 130 km till Nam Tok station, the rest was abandoned and destroyed with the time. There were different projects of rebuilding the entire railway but due to the difficult terrain (mountains, jungle, etc.), they required a lot of money. The railway was built in 1943 to support Japanese forces in the Myanmar campaign of World War II, the construction was done by civilian South East Asian workers and the prisoners of war mainly from Australia, UK, and the Netherlands, they were supervised by Japanese soldiers. The working conditions were terrible prisoners had to build the railway through the jungle, swamp areas, and rocks in the tropical heat and under pouring rain. People died from exhaustion, diseases and bad treatment (beaten to death). All these resulted in thousands of deaths during the construction of the Death Railway, it says there was one dead person for every tie that why the railway got this name.

The detailed explanation on how to get to the Death Railway is two paragraphs down at the Hellfire Pass museum section as all three the railway, the bridge, and the museum can be visited in one trip.

The Death Railway 33 things to do in Kanchanaburi
Ride a train on the Death Railway is one of the main things to do in Kanchanaburi

#2 Cross the bridge over the River Kwai

The famous bridge is not the most beautiful bridge in the world but a quite standard one. It’s the tragic history of the place that makes this bridge special. Works on the bridge started in 1942 right in the midst of World War II. The construction was under Japanese supervision but the builders themselves were prisoners of war from the allied forces, mostly Dutch, British, and Australians. The bridge was a part of the Burma railway between Thailand and Myanmar (ex Burma) that the Japanese planned to use for fast and easy transportation of their army and provision.

A French novel by Pierre Boulle “The Bridge over the River Kwai” and subsequent British-American movie “The Bridge on the River Kwai” were based on the events happened near Kanchanaburi. The movie got 7 Oscars including the Oscar for Best movie. If you have time I’d recommend to watch it to get an idea about the place and its history.

Bridge over the River Kwai. Top WWII things to do in Kanchanaburi
Famous bridge over the River Kwai, Kanchanaburi

#3 Visit Hellfire pass and the Memorial Museum

A part of the Death Railway the pass was one of the most difficult parts of the railway. Prisoners worked day and night cutting tough rock formations, torch lights were used to light the area during the night from far away the lights coming from the pass resembled pictures of hell which explains the name of the pass. For the prisoners who worked here, it was a real hell hundreds of people died from exhaustion, tropical fever, and other diseases or were beaten to death by the guards during the construction. People worked 18 hours a day, it took 6 weeks to complete the stretch. You can walk to the pass and see the remains of the railway and visit the memorial museum where you can get more information about the railway in general and the pass in particular.

    • Opened; daily from 9am to 4pm
  • Admission fee; free but you can make a donation

Getting here; from Bangkok – the easiest and the most popular way of visiting the Death Railway, the Bridge and the Hellfire pass museum is to take a train from Thonburi station in Bangkok to Nam Tok station. It leaves twice a day at 7.45am and 1.35pm, the journey takes about 4h30min., price THB100/US$3 pp. From Nam Tok station take a bus to the Hellfire pass, it takes about 25min. to drive there. From Kanchanaburi by bus (#8203) from Kanchanaburi bus station, buses start running between 7am and 7.30am, every hour or so. Make sure to tell the driver where you want to get off. By train from Kanchanaburi to Nam Tok where you switch for a bus or song teow (open taxi). Both ways take about 1h30min. to get there.  

On the way; if you catch an early train or bus to Nam Tok you can combine the visit to WWII sights with the visit to Sai Yok National park (waterfalls) which is close to Nam Tok station.

If you’d like to stay in the area longer to have more time to explore the railway and the waterfalls you can stay at Nam Tok for a day or two instead of going back to Kanchanaburi or Bangkok.

Accommodation near Nam Tok station

| Binlha Raft | Yayee Homestay | The Float House River Kwai |

The Float House River Kwai. Best places to visit near Kanchanaburi
The Float House River Kwai, Nam Tok, Kanchanaburi. Photo from booking.com

#4 Learn more at the Thai Burma Railway center

After visiting the Death Railway and its most memorable sights you can get more information related to the area, the railway construction, living conditions of the prisoners, geographical location at this center. There is a souvenir shop where you can buy books related to the Death Railway and WWII and local hand-made souvenirs. 

    • Opened; daily from 9am to 5pm
  • Admission fee; THB150/US$4,5  – adults, THB70/US$2 – children.

Getting here; from Bangkok Thonburi train station there are two daily trains to Kanchanaburi that leave at 7.45am and 1.35pm, the journey takes 3 hours, price THB100/US$3 pp. By bus from Bangkok Southern bus terminal, buses leave every 30-40min., price THB100/US$3, takes 2 hours.

#5 Honor the memory at Kanchanaburi War cemetery 

The cemetery was established in 1957 in honor of the prisoners of war who died during the construction of the Death Railway. In total 7 000 people found their final resting place here. The cemetery is well maintained, all graves have similar headstones with name, age, type of corps. Most of the prisoners buried here were between 20-25 years old, mainly Australians, British and Dutch. Any cemetery is about tragedy and loss but to see so many young lives taken because of someone’s ambitions is more than just sad!

    • Opened; daily from 8am to 5pm
  • Admission fee; free
Kanchanaburi War cemetery (Don Rak).
Kanchanaburi War cemetery (Don Rak).

Cultural experience in Kanchanaburi

Like anywhere in Thailand there are many temples and pagodas around Kanchanaburi some of them deserve a visit even if you’ve already seen quite a few temples in Thailand. Besides religious buildings, there are several interesting historical places to visit in the vicinity.

#6 Stroll through the Pak Prak Heritage street

This historical street in the heart of the city boasts 20 heritage buildings. The street starts at the Old City gate and 500m later ends at Wat Thewasangkaram. The name comes from the Chinese words Pak Phek which means “crossroads”. The street has a unique architecture style a mixture of European, Chinese and Thai styles. Pak Prak community is the oldest community in Kanchanaburi. Over the weekends the street turns into a night food market.

Getting here; the street is located in the city center you can walk here from your hotel or take a tuk-tuk if it’s a bit far.

#7 Chill at Kuang Im Chapel 

A Buddhist temple located across the famous bridge on the other side of the River Kwai. It’s difficult not to notice it if you’re at the bridge. To be honest from far we thought it was some kind of a local amusement park; funny colorful sculptures of dragons, pink, blue and green fountains and statues, buildings decorated with all sorts of real and fantastic animals, etc.

The temple doesn’t seem to be very popular, we didn’t see other tourists here. The surrounding park is not big but nice for walking, you can sit on a bench and enjoy the view over the river Kwai and the bridge. Inside the main temple, you can find Smiling Buddha, a very friendly looking guy sitting in the middle of the temple.

    • Opened; daily from 8am to 6pm
    • Admission; free
  • Getting here; it’s just outside the city on the opposite side of the bridge over the river Kwai you can walk here from your hotel.
Kuang Im Chapel. One of the things to do in Kanchanaburi
Kuang Im Chapel, Kanchanaburi

#8 Wander in Muang Singh Historical Park

Muang Singh or the Lion City is an interesting place with several temples and buildings dating back to the period of prosperity of the Khmer Kingdom, between 857 and 1157 but the main temple (in the center of the complex, the best preserved one) was built later between the 13th and 14th centuries. The ruins are not nearly as impressive as Angkor Wat or some other complexes in South East Asia but it’s worth of visit, it’s a nice green area at the river with not many tourists.

    • Opened; daily from 8am – 4.30pm
  • Admission; THB100/US$3.

Getting here; from Kanchanaburi take a train to Tha Kilen station, trains leave daily at 6.11am, 11pm, and 4.37pm, the journey takes about 1 hour, price THB100/US$3. From the station it’s 1,5km to the museum, you can walk or take local transport. From Bangkok Thonburi station take a train to Tha Kilen (the same train that goes to Kanchanaburi and Nam Tok station), it leaves daily at 7.45am and 1.35pm, the trip takes 4 hours, price THB100/US$3 pp.

On the way; the trip can be combined with the visit to the Death Railway, Sai Yok National park and Mallika City 1905.

Muang Singh Historical park, Kanchanaburi
Muang Singh Historical park a great place to visit for history lovers

#9 Travel back in time at Mallika City 1905 (Mallika R.E. 124)

If you’d like to travel back in time to Thailand at the beginning of the 20th century the restored Malika Village is the place for you. Here you get to know a lot about the changed lifestyle of the Siamese (Thai) people after the Abolition of Slavery in 1905. In Mallika, you can dress in a traditional Thai costume, visit an Ancient market where you can do shopping using old money (Satang) that you can exchange Baht for at the ticket office. Spend some time walking around the place, visit a traditional Thai householding, learn some skills in cooking, sewing or pottering at one of the shops, stop for food at the mini floating market. There are many things to learn and to do around Malika City for everybody if you come here with children I’m sure they’ll enjoy dressing up and walking around the colorful streets.

    • Opened; daily from 9am – 8.00pm
  • Admission; THB250/US$8 – adults, THB120/US$4 – children.

Getting here; by bus from Kanchanaburi bus station there are daily buses to Sangkhlaburi that run between 7am and 5pm every hour or so, takes 3 hours, price THB100/US$3 pp. Buses go past the park. By train from Bangkok (Thonburi station) go to Tha Kilen station (the same train that goes to Nam Tok), it leaves twice a day at 7.45am and 1.35pm, the trip takes 4 hours, price THB100/US$3. By train from Kanchanaburi there are three daily trains at 5.57am, 10.45am and 4.19pm, takes 1h20min., price THB100/US$3. Get off at Tha Kilen station from there take local transport to Mallika.

On the way; this trip can be combined with the visit to Muang Singh Historical Park and the Death Railway.

#10 Walk over the Mon Bridge

This and the next two sights are located in Sangkhlaburi a remote district in the western part of Kanchanaburi province, on the border with Myanmar, all three places can be visited in one trip. The Mon bridge is the longest wooden bridge in Thailand and the second longest in the world. The 850m long footbridge was constructed in 1987 over the Song Kalia river. In 2013 due to heavy rains in the region, a part of the bridge collapsed but it was restored in 2014. The best view of the bridge you can get in the early morning when it’s often covered in mist or at the sunset.

Getting here; buses from Kanchanaburi to Sangkhlaburi depart every hour from 7.30am to 4.30pm, takes between 4-5 hours, price between THB100-170/US$3-5 depending on a bus (AC or not). From Bangkok Northern bus terminal (Morchit) there are daily buses to Sangkhlaburi, buses start running from 5am, the journey takes 7-8 hours, price between THB200-300/US$6-9 pp.

The Mon bridge in Sangkhlaburi
The Mon bridge in Sangkhlaburi, the second longest wooden bridge in the world

#11 Explore the Sunken temple (Wat Saam Prasob)

The temple and the village (that now completely disappeared under water) were flooded in 19 after the dam was built. Now the area where the village used to be is called Vajiralongkorn lake, the entire village was moved to the top of the hill, nowadays the temple is the only visible part of the settlement. The best season to visit the temple is the end of the dry season (April, May) when you can actually go inside the temple and walk around, the rest of the year it’s underwater, you can approach it by boat and see the top part of the shrine.

    • Admission; free
  • Getting here; in the dry season, you can walk to the temple, in the wet season it’s accessible only by boat, there are many locals offering the ride, don’t hesitate to negotiate the price.

#12 Learn about Thai history at Three Pagoda pass

The pass on the border between Thailand and Myanmar is named after the three small chedis (pagodas) that were built here as a symbol of peace between two countries in the 18th century. The area around is beautiful and the historical meaning of the place is important but in general, we’d suggest doing this trip if you’re really into history and have some extra time. The pagodas are small and except for a souvenir market nearby there is not much else to see here.

Admission; free

Getting here; there are direct buses from Kanchanaburi to Three Pagodas Pass, buses leave at 7.30am, 11.30am, 12.30pm, 2.30pm and 3.00pm (check the timetable at the bus station beforehand), price TBH150-200/US$4-6 pp., 4-hour trip. You can go to Sangkhlaburi first (if you want to visit other sights) and from there take local transport, it’ll take 30-40min.

#13 Climb to the top of Wat Ban Tham

A very colorful temple with a long staircase decorated with dragons all the way to the top of the hill through the mouth of a giant dragon’s head. Once inside the dragon, you’ll walk up through a long tunnel until you reach the first temple-cave. After that, there will be more caves and more stairs till you finally reach the top crowned with the golden stupa. The views from the top are spectacular but the climb there is quite demanding we’d recommend to do it in the morning before the heat.

    • Opened; daily from 8am to 6pm
  • Admission; free, donations are appreciated

Getting here; no buses, you can take a tuk-tuk or songthaew from Kanchanaburi, price about THB 1000/US$30 for a round trip, you can negotiate and visit other temples.

On the way; visit Wat Ban Tham can be combined with Wat Tham Sua and Wat Tham Khao Noi temples.

#14 Visit two temples at once

Wat Tham Sua and Wat Tham Khao Noi are two Buddhist temples are located next to each other on the top of the hill and can be seen from miles away, you can see it on the way if you go from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi by bus. Wat Tham Sua or the Tiger Cave temple (tigers used to live in the caves of it) is built in the Thai architecture style when Wat Tham Khao Noi is a Chinese temple. To get to Wat Tham Sua you can either walk upstairs or take a cable car, THB10/US$0,3. Although both temples are located next to each other to get to the top of both you’ll have to walk up and down twice because they are not connected. Like any other Buddhist temple, both are beautifully decorated with many details that can catch one’s eye. The most impressive part of the visit is the stunning views over the surrounding green hills. Among other highlights of the temples are a giant statue of Buddha (18m) and the pagodas. Tip! Not far from the temples in the rice fields, there is a cool coffee shop Rak Kanna a great place to stop for lunch or coffee.

    • Opened; daily from 8am to 6pm
  • Admission; free to both temples

Getting here; there are no public buses but you can take a local “taxi” or rent a scooter, the temples are just 14km outside Kanchanaburi.

Wat Tham Khao Noi one of the cultural experiences in Kanchanaburi
Pagoda of Wat Tham Khao Noi near Kanchanaburi

#15 Go off the beaten path in Pilok

If you’d like to visit a less touristy place with an interesting history and discover a “real” Thai village head to Pilok, located near the border between Myanmar and Thailand. This district used to be one of the main mining places in the region but after the tin market crash in 1985, the mines were abandoned. In the last 10 years, the area grows in popularity as a new tourist destination in Thailand, the main highlights that attract tourists here are Thong Pha Phum National park and a small charming village of Etong. There are several homestays in the village where you can stay to enjoy the tranquility and authenticity of this small Thai settlement.

Getting here; first, take a bus from Kanchanaburi to Sangkhlaburi, get off at Thong Pha Phum market, takes between 2 and 3 hours (depending on the bus), buses run from 6am till 6.30pm, every 30min. From Thong Pha Phum take a Songthaew (a yellow bus) to Etong village, the journey takes about 2 hours, there is a bus that leaves between 10am and 10.30am. If you’re planning to do a day trip we’d suggest catching the earliest bus from Kanchanaburi. Getting to Etong is quite tricky, much easier to do if you rent a car or join a tour from Bangkok or Kanchanaburi.

On the way; a visit to Etong can be combined with the visit to Thong Pha Phum National park.

Etong at night, Pilok. Places to visit from Kanchanaburi
A cozy town of Etong at night time, Pilok district, Kanchanaburi

Outdoor adventures around Kanchanaburi

Most of the outdoor activities involve hiking and swimming in the natural pools so make sure to pack swimming clothes and a towel. There are quite a few parks and waterfalls around Kanchanaburi if you’re tired of sightseeing you can catch a bus and go to one of them. Note! On weekends and public holidays these places get quite crowded it’s a favorite time spending place for locals. The best time to visit the waterfalls is just after the monsoon season when the falls are the most powerful and the pools are at their fullest. We were in Kanchanaburi in June, the beginning of the rainy season but there was no rain and not much water. Some waterfalls and pools, especially smaller ones, were almost dry.

For those who like outdoor activities and adventure travel G-Adventures has a great tour option Thailand Hike, Bike & Kayak during the trip you get to do all these activities and visit different parts of the country including some islands.

#16 Visit famous Erawan National park

Probably the most famous park near Kanchanaburi, a wonderful nature place with waterfalls and pools hidden in the jungle. The walk all the way to the last waterfall can be a bit challenging due to the heat and humidity. Some tourists don’t make it all the way turn back at the waterfall №4. It’s better to start early in the morning before it gets very hot. On the way, you can refresh in several pools with nice clear water. We spent about 4-5 hours in the park, walked from the waterfall №1 to №7, stopped in two or three places for a short swim and took a lot of photos. The place can get very busy, many tours from Bangkok come here for a day visit.

    • Opened; every day from 9.00 to 4.30 pm, the trail to the far away waterfalls (from №4 to №7) closes at 3.30 pm
  • Admission; THB 300/$9 adults, THB 200/US$6 children.

Getting here; the cheapest option is by public bus, it leaves from Kanchanaburi bus terminal from 8am every hour or so (08:50, 09:50, 10:45, 11:50, 13:00, 14:10, 15:25 , 16:30, 17:50), price THB 50/$1,5, the trip takes about 1h30min. You can take a taxi or tuk-tuk as well it will be faster and of course more expensive. To get back you can the same way by bus, taxi or tuk-tuk.

Many fishes in the water in Erawan National park, Kanchanaburi
Alya swimming with hundreds of fishes in one of the pools, Erawan National park

#17 Discover more beautiful waterfalls

If falls and cascades in Erawan National park weren’t enough there are a couple of other falls not far from Kanchanaburi, about 100km away. Sai Yok National park another popular place for both locals and tourists, it’s a bit similar to Erawan but there are only three waterfalls here; two inside the park (Sai Yok Yai and Sai Yok Lek) and one just outside the entrance (Sai Yok Noi), the highest fall. Waterfalls are not the only reason to visit the park, there are several caves that are worth to have a look at.

#18 Explore mysterious caves in Sai Yok National park

The caves are located in the same Sai Yok park, there are four of them; Dao Wadung, Kang Kao, Wang Badan, and Lawa Cave. To get to Dao Wadung cave first you go on a long-tail boat down the river for about 5km and then walk uphill for 1km to the cave. Lawa Cave requires a short boat ride as well, it’s probably the most impressive cave in the park, with a small entrance and huge chambers. The other two caves can be reached on foot; Kang Kao – 2km walk (one way) starts at the visitor’s center; Wang Badan – 3km trail starts at Sai Yoi waterfall (follow the indications). Be ready to meet some small bats in the caves! It’s possible to stay overnight in the park, there are bungalows and tents for rent. Note! If you’re going to visit the caves don’t forget to bring a torch or a headlamp.

    • Opened; every day from 7 am to 5pm
  • Admission; THB 300/$9 adults, THB 200/US$6 children.

Getting here; by bus from Kanchanaburi, buses leave daily from 6am to 6.30pm, takes about 1h30min., price THB 70/US$2. From the bus stop to the entrance is about 3km more you can take a tuk-tuk (THB 30/US$1) or walk. By train from Kanchanaburi to Nam Tok station from where you can walk or take a tuk-tuk to the waterfalls. Trains leave daily at 6.07am, 10.35am and 16.26pm, the journey takes 2h., price THB 25/US$0,8.

On the way; Sai Yok park visit can be combined with the Death Railway and Hellfire pass.

Lawa cave, Sai Yok National park, must do thing in Kanchanaburi
Beautiful Lawa cave in Sai Yok National park a great place near Kanchanaburi for an outdoor adventure

#19 Camping at Huai Mae Khamin waterfall

A very similar to Erawan park but with almost no people. It’s a beautiful place with several cascades and pools but due to its remote location, it’s difficult to get here, impossible by public transport. It’s not the ideal place for a day trip from Kanchanaburi, you can join an organized tour from Kanchanaburi that includes staying overnight camping in the park.

    • Opened; daily from 6am to 4.30pm (possible to stay overnight if camping)
  • Admission; THB 300/$9 adults, THB 200/US$6 children.

Getting here; there is no public transport to this park, the best options are to rent a car or to do a tour from Kanchanaburi. Note! There is a ferry involved which makes getting there more difficult.

Huay Mae Khamin waterfall off the beaten track thing to do in Kanchanaburi
Huay Mae Khamin waterfall an off the beaten place to visit from Kanchanaburi

#20 Zipline at Tree Top Adventure Park

A great option for travelers with older children and those who love climbing, swinging and not afraid of height. There are many different rope routes and zip lines with all sorts of challenges that offer stunning views over the area and the nearby lake; swinging over the lake, zip lining above the trees, ride a skybike or just chill in one of the huge hammocks. A visit to the park will require a good part of your day.

    • Opened; daily from 8am to 9pm
  • Admission; package for adults & children (includes pick up and drop off at your hotel in Kanchanaburi, all park activities, lunch, fruit and refreshment, equipment) – THB 1900/US$60 (day package), THB 2100/US$67 (evening package).

Getting here; no public transport, you can get by car (then you get THB 300/US$9 off the package price) or use the transfer included in the tour.

#21 Go on a hike at Thong Pha Phum National park

A real off the beaten path place for hiking and camping lovers. The park is quite remote which explains why so few tourists come here, the easiest way of exploring the area is to join a guided tour from Kanchanaburi or Bangkok or rent a car (better 4×4). There are several attractions in the park; waterfalls, caves, lush green jungle, old mines, lookouts, etc. The area forms one of the largest nature protected areas in South East Asia. It’s possible to stay overnight in the park (at the park headquarters) there are several accommodation options from camping (can rent equipment) to staying in wooden huts, tree houses or bungalows. To get the best views of the park and the whole area go to Khao Chang Phueak peak, it’s a 16km return hike to the highest point of the park from where on a clear day you can see the Andaman sea. The hike can be done only in the dry season, from November to February, it must be booked beforehand through the park headquarter.

    • Opened; daily from 8am to 6pm, possible to stay overnight
  • Admission fee; THB 300/US$9 – adult, THB 200/US$6 – children

Getting here; first take a bus from Kanchanaburi to Sangkhlaburi, get off at Thong Pha Phum market, this trip takes between 2 and 3 hours (depending on the bus), buses run from 6am till 6.30pm, every 30min. From Thong Pha Phum take a tuk-tuk or motorbike taxi to the entrance (headquarter) of Thong Pha Phum park, the journey takes about 2 hours. Note! The road to the park is quite steep and winding up.  

#22 Walk around the Giant Rain Tree

This giant single rain tree is over 100 years old and over 20m high. Its canopy is the most impressive part, it reaches 52m in diameter and covers the area of 2416m². There is not much else around, it’s a very short trip from Kanchanaburi, basically just to take a couple of photos with the tree.

    • Opened; daily from 6am to 6pm
  • Admission fee; free

Getting here; by motorbike, tuk-tuk or taxi from Kanchanaburi, it’s about 20km south of the city on the territory of the Royal Thai Army’s Division of Veterinary and Agriculture.

Local food in Kanchanaburi

Kanchanaburi like any other city or town in Thailand has a couple of food markets and if you’re like us a big Thai market lover you have to check out these places.

#23 Dine at Kanchanaburi night market (JJ market)

The most famous and touristy market in Kanchanaburi located next to the railway station. Most of the stalls sell food but there are some that sell clothes and souvenirs as well. The market is not very big but it has all the variety of traditional Thai food from different kinds of seafood/fish and pork dishes to exotic fruit and sweets. It’s a nice place to come in the evening.

    • Opened; daily from 6pm to 9pm.
  • Getting here; walk from your hotel or take a tuk-tuk.
Thai food at JJ Night market in Kanchanaburi
Thai food at JJ night market. Visit the market is one of the nice things to do in Kanchanaburi

#24 Go local at Chukkadon Market

Another street food market with a great variety of local dishes and very few tourists. Unlike JJ Chukkadon is an afternoon market here you can find very good priced traditional Thai food like Pad Thai or Tom Yum soup, all sorts of curries and special local delicacies like pla khang a freshwater fatty fish. Chukadon is a good place to come for a budget lunch.

    • Opened; daily from 3.30pm to 7.00pm
  • Getting here; it’s quite far from the city center (railway station) about 3km, it’s better to take a tuk-tuk or taxi.

#25 Stroll through Kanchanaburi Central fresh market

It’s not really a place to come for eating rather for “window shopping” if you want to see where locals buy fresh fish, seafood, veggies, and fruit. We love strolling along with the stalls with strange looking fish and fruit. Here and there you might find some typical Thai snack type of food.

  • Opened; daily from early morning
Central Fresh market, Kanchanaburi
Fish stall at the Central Fresh market, Kanchanaburi

#26 Learn how to make real Thai food

If you a fan of Thai food and have some extra time why not to take Thai cooking classes and learn how to make some basic local dishes. There are several places in Kanchanaburi that offer cooking classes for foreigners most of them teach how to cook traditional curries, stir-fries, soups, and desserts. Some longer cooking classes start at the Central fresh market. Place with the best reviews in TripAdvisor is On’s Thai-Issan Vegetarian, you get to cook three vegetarian dishes from the restaurant main menu.

#27 Go out at Maenam Kwai Road

The main touristy area of Kanchanaburi with many hotels, guest houses, bars, and restaurants. Though it’s quite busy and touristy it has a nice vibe, you can choose if you want to party at a bar with loud music or rather have a quiet dinner in a nice restaurant here you can find places for different budget and preferences.

#28 Have a nice lunch at Keeree Mantra Restaurant

A beautiful place on the other side of the Kwai river surrounded by the green hills and meadows. The area around the stunning you can spend a couple of hours walking on the boardwalks through the garden with fountains, flowers, and small dams. Here you can get traditional Thai dishes, Western food, BBQ meat, and fish, as well as vegetarian and vegan dishes. It gets quite busy on weekends, better to make a reservation.

    • Opened; daily from 10am to 10pm
  • Getting here; it’s a bit outside of the city, you can take a taxi to get here or rent a motorbike.
Delicious Thai food experience in Kanchanaburi, Thailand
Sometimes it’s nice for a chance to eat in a nice restaurant

Relaxing in Kanchanaburi

Do you want to take some time off to escape your daily routing why not to join a 9-day Wellness Thailand tour and enjoy relaxing massage, morning yoga, cooking classes and just relaxing at the river or on the beach?

#29 Go on a boat ride on the River Kwai

One of the best ways to explore the river area of Kanchanaburi is to do a long tail speed boat tour. The tour is 2 hours during which you get to see the main WWII sights; the bridge, the Chungkai War cemetery, the World War II museum, and Khao Poon Underground Cave Temple. Most boats leave from the Bridge over the River Kwai all day long.

#30 Watch the sunset/sunrise at the river

Sunset and sunrise is the best time to see the Kwai river if you’re lucky to stay in one of the places on the bank you can enjoy the view right from your room or the garden if not go to one of the river restaurants or cross the bridge and watch the sunset at Kuang Im Chapel.

sunset at the River Kwai, Kanchanaburi
Beautiful sunset at the River Kwai, Kanchanaburi

#31 Enjoy a cup of coffee with a view

For those who like coffee or based on it drinks there are some great places in Kanchanaburi that offer good coffee, delicious desserts and a nice view as a bonus. Some of the tourists’ favorite are; Rim Nam Café – a charming place with a wooden terrace overlooking the river; Ravi Riva Café de Forest – a beautifully decorated place with a garden and the river view, look nice at night with all the street lights around, opened daily from 10am to 8pm; Bicycle café – nice and cozy, bikes and bicycles here are a part of interior and exterior design, opened all day; Meena Café – an open-air cafe in the rice fields with 360 panoramic views over the green fields and Wat Tham Sua and Wat Tham Khao Noi temples in the distance, opened; daily from 8.30am to 7pm.

#32 Soak at the spa

What can be better than spending a couple of hours at a spa after exploring Kanchanaburi and the places around it! There are several spa resorts and hotels in the area as well as massage and spa salons. Two spa resorts with the best reviews are Away Kanchanaburi Dheva Mantra Resort & Spa and Natee The Riverfront Hotel Kanchanaburi.

Away Kanchanaburi Dheva Mantra Resort & Spa
Away Kanchanaburi Dheva Mantra Resort & Spa – a great place for relaxing. Photo by booking.com

#33 Escape for a couple of days

If you’re tired from busy and bustling cities and would like to be somewhere in a quiet in-nature place there are several great options around Kanchanaburi where you can enjoy the tranquility and spend a couple of days relaxing away from the city noises. River Kwai Jungle Raft floatel is a nice and eco-friendly hotel with wooden cabins on the rafts, it’s not a luxury place, there is no electricity (no AC or fans in the rooms), oil lamps and candles are used instead. Thawsi Lake Hill located at the lake in a very peaceful spot with stunning views over the area. This is a luxury place with a swimming pool, jacuzzi, AC, etc. – a great place to come for a honeymoon or romantic getaway. Another floating accommodation near Kanchanaburi is The Raft, small cottages on wooden platforms on the lake. Very cozy houses and stunning location another great place for a romantic escape or a family stay.

River Kwai Jungle Raft floatel, 33 amazing things to do in Kanchanaburi
River Kwai Jungle Raft floatel, a perfect place for relaxing near Kanchanaburi. Photo booking.com

How to get to Kanchanaburi from Bangkok

It’s very easy to get here you have different options; shuttle bus, public bus or train. We spent most of the time in Bangkok near Lumpini park and all the time to move around the city used public buses, they are very cheap. 

By bus

We took a bus both ways. Buses to Kanchanaburi leave from the Southern bus terminal every 30min. or so. Ticket costs THB 110/$3 if you buy it at the ticket office inside the terminal, on the second floor. If you pay at the platform it’ll cost THB 80/$2,2. Sometimes Thais try to cheat and explain that the price 80 is only for students or Thai people but it’s not true so just insist and you’ll get it for 80. The way takes about 2 hours, all the buses are quite comfortable and have AC.

To get to the Southern bus terminal from Lumpini you can by public bus 149, it takes about an hour, depending on the traffic and costs THB 9. There are several buses to the terminal from different areas of the city. Check Google.map they give quite precise public transport options for Bangkok. Book a bus ticket from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi here!

By shuttle bus

If you stay at Khaosan Road the easiest way is to take a shuttle bus, it’s more expensive but more convenient. Ticket costs about THB 200/US$6, buses leave in the morning between 9.00-10.00 am., you can buy it in many agencies around Khaosan Road. It’s better to book your ticket the day before sometimes buses can be full. Book your shuttle from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi here!

By train

Trains leave from Thonburi train station every day at 7.45 and 13.45, price THB 100/$2,8. Book your train ticket from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi here!

Search for public transport prices and make secure bookings directly on Asian Public Transport here.

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We spent a week in Kanchanaburi and really enjoyed our stay here, there are many things to see and a lot to do in the area.

Water lilies, the River Kwai, things to do in Kanchanaburi
Water lilies in the River Kwai, Kanchanaburi

Travel insurance for Thailand

It’s always recommended to have travel insurance when you go away especially if you’re planning to move around a lot by public transport and to do some outdoor activities like diving, snorkeling, hiking or just driving around on a scooter. Make sure you will be able to get medical assistance any time you need. Another reason to have insurance is to be covered in case of luggage loss, flight delay, trip cancellation or any other unpleasant emergencies that can happen on the way. 

Handy items to pack for Kanchanaburi

Recommended books and guidebooks

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7 Comments

  1. Thanks for informations. I just want to get informations about Thong Pha Phum and Pilok which are hard to be searched. I just know that I can reach Pilok by Local bus. Thanks 🙂

  2. There is a market by the bridge where you can get excellent black coffee early in the morning. I got a cup from a lady who was brewing it in a pot and it wasn’t 3 in 1 variety. It was 10 or 20 BHT only.

  3. Hi we are planning one week stay in river kwai. Could you please recomment best place to visit nearby.. We prefer close to nature

  4. I was checking how to get to Kanchanaburi hitchhiking from Bangkok and accidentally (or not) I arrived here.
    I really enjoyed your way of describing things.
    Tomorrow I will see it all with my own eyes.
    I started following you with @campodegelo too. Feel free to check the view of the world and keep your ways on the road!
    Thanks again!

  5. hello. can we do it in one day? any itinerary suggestion and what to do ride when commuting? Thanks.

    • Hi, Jolli! Thank you for the question!
      It’s possible to do in one day, the best way to take a morning train from Thornburi station in Bangkok all the way to Nam Tok station (the Death railway museum), get a train back and get off at Kanchanaburi and from there take a bus to Erawan National park. Or skip Nam Tok take a train or bus to Kanchanaburi, visit Erawan Falls, see the bridge over Kwai river and the Death railway and go back to Bangkok. If you have more question we’ll be happy to help!
      Cheers!

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