Kanchanaburi (135 kilometers west of Bangkok) is home of the famous "Bridge over the River Kwai," immortalized by the Pierre Boulle novel, which coined the name, and the academy-award-winning David Lean movie with David Niven, which also used the same name. The original bridge was brought to Thailand from Java by the Japanese during World War II, and reassembled by prisoners of war and forced laborers, only to be destroyed by allied bombs in 1945. The present bridge was built after the war on arched supports left standing after the 1945 bombing.

Kanchanaburi is now a major tourist destination in Thailand. In addition to the bridge it attractions include several well-known waterfalls, caves that were once inhabited by Neolithic man, pristine national parks, tranquil rivers, virgin forests, several large reservoirs and activities like fishing, rafting, canoeing, mountain biking, bird-watching, star-gazing, golfing, elephant and jungle trekking, or even living in a bamboo raft. Rafting trips in Kanchanaburi are usually done on large bamboo rafts with a two story shelter that carries up to 20 people. Obviously rafts of this kind are better for negotiating relatively calm stretches of water not Class V whitewater rapids.

Important industries include sugar, agricultural products, and jewelry. Tourism is also a main source of income for the locals, though most are engaged in agricultural activities. The province’s population is made up of Thai, Mon, and Karen peoples, most of whom are rural people. Only two hours from Bangkok, Kanchanaburi is accessible by road or rail, the latter of which includes sightseeing day trips that run on weekends and public holidays; these weekend special trains are reasonably priced and make hassle free and enjoyable adventures. The climate of Kanchanaburi is cooled by the altitude, forests, and rivers.

The original town of Kanchanaburi was established by King Rama I as a first line of defense against the Burmese, whom he believed might use the old invasion route through the Three Pagodas Pass to attack Siam. According to most historians, the old town of Kanchanaburi was located near Ban Lat Ya, a small village situated approximately 16 kilometers north of the present town. The present provincial capital is a relatively newer town built by King Rama III in 1833. Many visitors like to come to the town to rest along the river with a cold drink and a good book. Others come for a couple days and explore the attractions in the surrounding countryside and engage in activities like white water rafting, elephant trekking and golfing.

Kanchanaburi Area

In north and west Kanchanaburi Province, the terrain is comprised mainly of mountains and high plains, with the Thanon Thongchai Range acts as a natural border between Thailand and Myanmar. The range is the source of Kanchanaburi’s two most important rivers Maenam Khwae Noi (Little Kwai River) and Maenam Khwae Yai (Big Kwai River), which form the famous Maenam Mae Klong. As a result of these major rivers and three of Thailand’s largest reservoirs, Kanchanaburi features several of Thailand’s largest Namtok (waterfalls) as well as a number of wildlife sanctuaries.

The most defining natural attractions in Kanchanaburi is arguably the Three Pagodas Pass, a break in the Thanon Thongchai Mountain Range that divides Thailand and Myanmar. Buddhism is thought to have first arrived in Thailand from India through the pass the A.D. 3rd century. In the 13th century the pass was controlled by the Khmer of Angkor, who built a fort there ( a Khmer temple from the time has been restored as a tourist attraction). The kingdom of Ayutthaya also built a military garrison in the area, yet it was through the pass that the Burmese swept into Siam and razed Ayutthaya in the 18th century. In World War II, the Japanese built a railway through the pass using forced labor, including western POWs. Later known as the Death Railway, the line included an infamous bridge crossing the Kwai River.

The Three Pagodas Pass area is also home to numerous hill tribes and other minority groups and today is serves as an arrival area of refugees fleeing Myanmar. For visitors, it is possible to get temporary one-day visas to cross the border for a sneak peak at Myanmar and do a little shopping there.

The city of Kanchanaburi is located at the point where the Khwae Noi and Khwae Yai Rivers meet and form the Maenam Mae Klong. The notorious Death Railway passed through the town, near which stands the site of the Bridge on the River Kwai. Nearby the reconstructed bridge are monuments including an Allied War Cemetery and a war museum. In economic terms, Kanchanaburi has been prospering for a number of years.

Kanchanaburi Tourism

Tourist Office: Tourism Authority of Thailand, Kanchanaburi Office, 14 Saengchuto Road , Tambon Bannua,Amphoe Mueang, Kanchanaburi 71000, Tel. +66 3451 1200 , +66 3451 2500, Fax. +66 3462 3691, E-mail Address: tatkan@tat.or.th, Website: tourismthailand.org/kanchanaburi

Accommodation: Because of Kanchanaburi’s popularity and stunning beauty there are a wide range of accommodation options, with the finer establishments making ample use of the province’s expansive natural beauty and the more economical ones situated in the center of town. There are a number of guesthouses, both budget and boutique, on the banks of the river along River Khwae Road, where most of the town’s nightlife is located, and others along the quieter Soi Rong Heep Oi nearer to the Kanchanaburi Allied War Cemetery. Soi Rong Heep Oi is also a fine place to try staying in a distinctive Thai raft house. Kanchanaburi’s finer hotels and resorts (including those with golf courses) tend to be located farther from the town, towards the national parks, though there are several fine resorts and boutique hotels located a short drive from the center of Kanchanaburi town.

Getting Around in Kanchanaburi; Kanchanaburi is quite spread out so getting around on foot isn’t always practical. Normally, bicycles, motorcycles and cars are common means of transportation. Bicycles and motorcycles can be rented from shops, guesthouses and hotels located along Maenam Khwae Road. For visitors who enjoy driving themselves, cars can be rented on a daily or weekly basis at several outlets on Saeng Chuto Road and around the Song Khwae Road area. The two major routes used to explore Kanchanaburi’s attractions are Highway No. 323 and Highway No. 3199. Highway No. 323 runs parallel to Maenam Khwae Noi to Sangkhla Buri District (approximately 230 kilometers from the city) via Sai Yok, Thong Pha Phum, and Vajiralongkorn Dam, while Highway No. 3199 follows the Khwae Yai River to Sri Nakharin Dam (69 kilometers away from the city).

Getting to Kanchanaburi

Kanchanaburi and its surrounding attractions can be reached via private car, public bus, or train from Bangkok. By Car: Route 1) A two hour drive along Highway No. 4 (Petchakasem Rd.) via Nakhon Chaisi Province, Nakhon Pathom Province, Ban Pong, Tha Maka and Tha Muang (of Ratchaburi Province) to Kanchanaburi. Route 2) Drive along Highway No. 338 from Bangkok to Nakhon Chaisi Province then switch to Highway No. 4 to Kanchanaburi.

By Train: Ordinary trains leave Bangkok’s Thonburi Railway Station (Bangkok Noi Station) daily. Only 3rd class seats are available. The journey takes approximately 3 hours. For more information, call Thon Buri Railway Station at tel. 02 411 3102 or Kanchanaburi Railway Station at tel. 034 511285. The weekend special train leaves Bangkok’s Hua Lumphong Railway Station (MRT Hua Lamphong) at 6.30am, returning at 7.55pm on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays. The trip usually includes several stop-overs at Phra Pathom Chedi (Nakhon Pathom), the Death Railway Bridge, and a transfer (by minibus) to Prasat Muang Singh Historical Park, among other points of interest. There are also special steam trains operating between Kanchanaburi and Wang Pho. For more information, call the State Railway of Thailand at tel. 1690, or 02 223 7010, 02 223 7020 or visit http://www.railway.co.th/English/Travel.asp

By Bus: Non air-conditioned daily buses leave Bangkok’s Southern Bus Terminal every 15 minutes from 4am to 8pm The trip takes about 3 hours. Call 02 434 5557-8 for more information. First-class air-conditioned buses (blue color) leave Bangkok’s Southern Bus Terminal depart every 25 minutes daily. Call 02 435 5012, 0 2435 1199 or 02 884 6249 or visit www.transport.co.th for more information. There are also buses leaving frequently daily for Kanchanaburi from Nakhon Pathom. The journey takes up to 1.5 hours. From Ratchaburi and Suphan Buri Bus Stations there are several buses leaving directly to Kanchanaburi. The trip takes some 2.5 - 3 hours.

Sights in Kanchanaburi

There are many waterfalls in the Kanchanaburi area. The most accessible is Erawan waterfall (a 1½ hour bus ride from Kanchanaburi), a beautiful terraced cascade with many swimming holes. Huay Khamin Falls relatively little-visited Si Nakharon National Park has large and deep pools that are ideal for swimming. There are also some caves in the area. Tham Nam Klong Ngu, a cave at Kanchanaburi contains the world's tallest stalagmite. According to the Guinness Book of Records, it is 200 feet high. Ban Lomtuan used to be famous for fireflies that lit up trees along the banks of the Mae Klong River. The fireflies began disappearing in large numbers in the early 2000s.

Prasat Muang Sing Historical Park (6 miles north of Kanchanaburi) features 800-year-old, Bayon-style Khmer building from the Lop Buri period. Prasat Muang Sing is the westernmost Khmer temple in Thailand.

Rama II Monument Park (Samut Songkhram) was established at the birthplace of King Phra Phuttha Lertla (King Rama II). It contains five traditional Thai houses, including one which was used by the King and famous Thai literary figures. There are also a number of trees depicted in books written by the king.

Wat Tham Mangkon Thong (The Cave Temple of Golden Dragon) is famous for its floating nun—a “mai chii” (Thai Buddhist nun) who meditated while floating on her back in a pool of water. According to Lonely Planet: “The original nun passed away, but a disciple continues the tradition - sort of. The current floating nun does not meditate but instead she strikes Buddha-like poses based upon traditional mudra (ritual hand movements). Shows do not have a set schedule but instead are timed for the arrival of tour groups. Most Western visitors prefer to visit the temple cave instead of the swimming antics.” A long, steep series of steps with dragon-sculpted handrails leads on up the craggy mountainside to complex of limestone stine caves used by Buddhist monks and nuns as meditation chambers. Other caves like this are found at different locations around Kanchanaburi.

Giant Rain Tree (outside of Kanchanaburi) is more than 100 years old with a trunk large enough to be encircled by 10 people. The average radius of its crown is 25.87 meters and the diameter of its shadow is approximately 51.75 meters while the height of its canopy is 20 meters and the large shady crown covers a total area of approximately 2,416 sq.m. The tree is on the way to Amphoe Dan Makham Tia at Ban Kasikam, Mu 5 Tambon Ko Samrong, some three kilometers from Wat Tham Mangkon Thong. Enter the Royal Thai Army’s Division of Veterinary and Agriculture 1 via Wat Tham Muni Nat and turn right.

Kanchanaburi Safari Park (40 kilometers from Kanchanaburi on the way to Bo Phloi) is a drive-through zoo with lions, tigers, giraffes, zebras and bears and other African and Asian animals. Hours Open: Open daily: 9.00am - 6.00pm. Admission: Entry Fee: Adults: 300 Baht; Children 150 baht

Tiger Temple

Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi is now closed. It was one of the few places in the world where visitors are allowed to pet and pose for pictures with the tigers. For a while it was a popular tourist attractions. It i said the sanctuary was set up for for orphaned tigers by Buddhist monks in 1999 when the first female cub was brought to Wat Pa Luangta Bua Yannasampanno, a Buddhist sanctuary, and was cared for by the monks. In May 2016, the Thailand Wildlife Conservation Office (WCO) began capturing and relocating the tigers, intending to close the facility. Authorities counted 137 tigers on the premises, and the frozen bodies of 40 cubs, some of them dead for more than five years

Kerry Mcqueeney wrote in the Daily Mail in 2012: “For a basic entrance fee - or 'donation' - of 1,000 baht (about £20), visitors get a tour of the site and the chance to enter the sanctuary's Tiger Canyon, a quarry with a rocky pool at one end containing a dozen or so sleeping tigers chained to the ground. During a small half-hour window, tourists have the option of being escorted around the quarry with two volunteers so they can pet each tiger while they sleep. One volunteer keeps an eye on the tiger while the other takes charge of tourist's camera and snaps away as they touch the big cats. For an extra fee, visitors can have their picture taken with the largest tiger's head resting in their lap. And for more money, they can have a front row seat - in a cage near the water front - to watch the cats playing in the pool. [Source: Kerry Mcqueeney, Daily Mail, April 24, 2012]

Despite its status as a sanctuary, the Tiger Temple has been dogged by controversy as it has grown as a tourist attraction. Many online forums discussing the temple contain fierce debate of the ethical issues surrounding such a tourist attraction. The temple has been forced to strenuously deny accusations that its big cat residents are sedated to allow tourists to have their pictures taken with them. They say the reason the carnivores are so docile is because they have been hand-reared by the monks from an early age, which means their aggressive behaviour has been controlled and they do not see human contact as a threat. However, many remain suspicious over why the cats are so calm and sleepy during the visiting

Visitors to the sanctuary are made to sign a disclaimer before they are allowed to enter - to ensure the temple does not get sued in case someone is attacked by a tiger - and signs at the gate explain why the tigers are so used to human contact. Tourists are also advised to steer clear of dressing in brightly-coloured clothes to avoid getting the tigers excited. Nevertheless, for the most part, tourists who visit the Tiger Temple come away from it with a unique experience - a chance to get up close with the majestic big cats.

A review in Lonely Planet's website reads: 'Kanchanaburi’s most expensive tourist attraction is also its most controversial. 'This monastery affords incredible photo opportunities for visitors to get up close and personal with the big cats. 'Some of the temple’s 30 tigers pose for pictures in a canyon while visitors are shepherded in and out in quick succession.'

Bridge over the River Kwai

Bridge over the River Kwai is world famous because of the film by the same name but otherwise is quite ordinary-looking, with little to set it apart from a run-of-the-mill railway bridge. The bridge spans the Maenam Khwae Yai which is a branch of Maenam Mae Klong. During the Japanese occupation of Thailand in World War II, the Japanese Imperial Army brought the iron bridge from Java. It was then resembled by Allied Prisoners of War (POW) under Japanese supervision. The bridge was part of a strategic railway route to Myanmar in which the Japanese aimed to secure supplies with which to conquer other western Asian countries. The railway was 415 kilometers long (with about 303 kilometers in Thailand and about 112 kilometers in Burma) and passed through the Three Pagoda Pass in Sangkhlaburi District, the northern most part of Kanchanaburi province.

Construction started on September 16, 1942 at Nong Pladuk, and was completed 17 months later on December 25, 1943 when the rails were joined 37 kilometers south of Three Pagoda’s Pass. Because the terrain was so mountainous, construction crews had to build several high bridges and make deep cuts into mountains and passes. “Hellfire Pass” was the name POWs gave to he largest of the mountain cuttings. More than a kilometers long, it was created in 12 weeks using hammers, picks, steel tap drills, dynamite, and shovels by 1,000 Australian and British POWs working 12 to 18 hour shifts. The name of the pass described the way it looked a at night when the workers labored by torchlight. By the time they were finished 70 percent of the POW crew was dead. A Japanese brothel train inaugurated the line when it opened. The railway was in use for 20 months before the Allies closed by bombing he bridge.

It is estimated that over 16,000 POWs from England, Australia, Holland and America died while building the bridge which was a target of bombing raids in 1945. In addition to this, as many as 150,000 laborers from Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia and Indonesia died during its construction. Rebuilt after WWII, the bridge is still in use today with the curved portions of the bridge being that of the original. An attraction of note is the annual light and sound event at the bridge to commemorate the Allied attack in 1945.The railway currently ends at Ban Tha Sao or Namtok Station, a distance of some 77 kilometers from Kanchanaburi Station. A special train running from Bangkok to Namtok Station is available on weekends and national holidays. For further details, please contact the State Railway of Thailand, Tel. 0 1690, 0 2220 4334. Website: /www.railway.co.th;

Kanchanaburi War Cemetery

Kanchanaburi War Cemetery (Don Rak, Saeng Chu To Road (Highway 323)) is the immaculately maintained cemetery containing the remains of 6,982 Allied POWs who perished during the construction of the ‘Death Railway.’ It is open daily from 8.30am to 6:00pm (For more information, call Tel. 0 3451 1500). It is estimated that 16,000 allied POWs and 100,000 to 150,000 mostly Malay and Indonesian laborers died during the construction of the bridge. The Allied prisoners who died in captivity during the war are buried in the cemetery here among rows of flowering plants. Some died building the Bridge Over the River Kwai and others perished while laboring on the notorious "Death Railway" to Burma, which claimed more than 60,000 lives.

Many of the graves are in inscribed with poignant epitaphs like the one for H.S. MecLeod, a 34-year-old Austalian sergeant who died in 1943: “A smile and a wave of the hand, he wandered into an unknown land.” The memorials resemble the memorials for fallen soldiers at Normandy. Fifteen full-time groundkeepers maintain it. For the Asians that died there are few memorials. The mass graves where many of them were buried are now covered by orchards.

Chong Kai War Cemetery (two kilometers south of town on the bank of the Kwai Noi River) occupies the site of the Chong Kai which once was the prisoner of war camp. Smaller in size than the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery, the cemetery attracts visitors with its peaceful, well-designed landscape where 1,740 POWs rest in eternal peace. Hours Open: Open everyday from 9:00am to 5:00pm.

Thailand – Burma Railway Centre

Thailand – Burma Railway Centre (near the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery Don Rak) is a museum that opened in the 1990s that features relics unearthed by collectors who scoured the area with metal detectors, information panels, photographs, video clips and a detailed, interactive topographical map of the 415-kilometer-long railway, it stations and POW camps. The photos include many taken by Japanese photographers during the war, some of them quite grisly and shocking.

The Thailand-Burma Railway Centre contains exhibitions on the history of the Thailand – Burma railway, including the invasion of the Imperial Japanese Army, the planning and construction of the railway, its geography, the living condition in POW camps, the medical conditions of the prisoners, a summary of deaths and details on the bombing of the bridge and its construction. Hours Open: open daily during 9.00am to 5.00pm Admission: is 100 baht for adults and 50 baht for children under 14. Website: tbrconline.com; For further details, please call Tel. 0 3451 0067, 0 3451 2721 or or E- mail: admin@tbrconline.com.

Other Museums in Kanchanaburi: There are two other museums but they are smaller and shabbier. There are two other museums but they are smaller and shabbier. The JEATH museum contains a re-creation of the original POW camp, where the Allied prisoners lived while working on the bridge and railway. It is run by Buddhist monks. Nearby is the Ban Kao Neolithic Museum. It houses a display of neolithic remains, utensils, artifacts and skeletons from a cave discovered by a Dutch POW. Also nearby is a cave temple, where the "floating nun" meditates in a pool of water.

Three Pagodas Pass

Three Pagodas Pass (on the Myanmar border, 18 kilometers from Sangkhla Buri) serves as a border crossing between Thailand and Myanmar. Formerly called “Hin Sam Kong” (Three Heaps of Stone), it is located beyond the Tenasserm range on the Thai–Myanmar border. The pass links the town of Sangkhla Buri in the north of Kanchanaburi Province, Thailand, to the town of Payathonsu in the south of Kayin State, Myanmar. In the past there has been guerilla activity by Karen insurgents in the area, Today the biggest problems are illegal logging and mining.

The Three Pagodas Pass was a strategic military point during the Ayutthaya and early Ratanakosin eras. The line of three white pagodas (chedis) at the pass are small and are kind of tribute to the spirits that live in the mountains. As both Thailand and Myanmar are heavily forested in this region, various wild plants, including rare wild orchids, particular can be seen. Nowadays, the pass is the location of an active border market, Phaya Tong Su. Among the most sought-after products at the market are woodcarvings, woven fabrics, wood furniture and a variety of forest products and tools. Purchasing wild orchids from the market is prohibited as they are protected by law.

Entry to from Thailand to Myanmar is allowed from 6:00am to 6:00pm daily. Visitors should apply for an entry visa at the immigration office. There is a small charge. Once in Myanmar, tourists can visit “Wat Sao Roi Ton” (The Temple of Hundred Pillars) which is located only a few hundred meters away from the pass. They are however, required to strictly observe rules and regulations.

National Parks Near Kanchanaburi

Erawan National Park (1 ½ hour drive, 65 kilometers northwest of Kanchanaburi along Route 3199) is one of the most visited national parks in Thailand. Covering 550-square-kilometers, it is the site of the seven-tiered Erawan waterfall, one of Thailands loveliest waterfalls. The water often has a milky, turquoise color. The second tier has a pool, which is ideal for swimming and is particularly picturesque. However, the most popular activity in the park is trekking. Contact: National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department, Bangkok at Tel. 0 2562 0760 or ‘www.dnp.go.th’ or Erawan National park Tel. 0 3457 4722, 0 3457 4234 Accommodation and Food: Bungalow accommodations and camping facilities and a daytime food market are available. Shelters and camping are available for tourists in the park. Admission: Admission is 200 baht for adults and 100 baht for children. Getting There: Visitors may take a bus departing from the Kanchanaburi Bus Terminal to the waterfall every 50 minutes from 8am to 5.20pm The journey takes 1.5 hours. Website: Official Thailand National Park website, Use Google translate /park.dnp.go.th

Khuean Srinagarindra National Park (just north of Erawan National Park but more difficult to get to) embrace limestone mountains and evergreen and deciduous forests and the origin of Kwae Yai River. Designated a park in 1981 and covering a total area of 1,532 square kilometers, the park features waterfalls, hot springs, caves and an island studded reservoir. The area is mostly hot and humid and receives a lot of rain. The lowest temperature in the cool season in December about 8 degrees C. Wildlife includes leopard cat, slow loris, civets, squirrels and bats. Birds found in the Park include parakeets, kingfishers, beeaters, orioles and barbets. The north side of the reservoir is an important fishing area for locals. Contact: Khuean Srinagarindra National Park, P.O.Box 1 Amphur Si Sawat Kanchanaburi Thailand 71250, Tel. 0 3453 2027, 0 3454 7018 (VoIP) Fax 0 3451 6667 E-mail khuansrinakarin_np@hotmail.com Website: Official Thailand National Park website, Use Google translate /park.dnp.go.th

Tham Than Lot National Park

Tham Than Lot National Park (97 kilometers from Kanchanaburi, 10 kilometers from Erawan National Park) was created in 1980 and also goes by the name Chaloem Rattanakosin National Park. Covering 54 square kilometers, the park embraces pristine forests, waterfalls and several caves, including include Than Lot Noi Cave and Than Lot Yai Cave, which are accessible from a 2.5-kilometer nature trail along a stream. The two caves are full of spectacular stalactites and stalagmites one of which is the world’s tallest stalagmite pillar. The ideal time of the year to visit the caves is from February to April. It is recommended that you request the services of a park ranger as your guide. Outside of the caves you can observe several species of bird and witness the barking tree frog whose croak sounds very much like a barking puppy.

The park has two forest trekking routes: Route 1: Start from Tham Than Lot Noi to Tham Than Lot Yai. Tham Than Lot Noi contains stalagmites and stalactites. The creek ‘Lum Kraphroi’ flows inside the cave. After passing through Tham Than Lot Noi, go on foot about 1.5 kilometers to Namtok Trai Trueng and walk on for one kilometers to Tham Than Lot Yai. The total distance is 2.5 kilometers. Route 2: Forest trekking route to Namtok Than Ngoen and Namtok Than Thong, about 1.8 kilometers long. Namtok Than Ngoen is a small waterfall with seven levels. It takes about 35 minutes to travel from the park office to the first level. Another waterfall called Namtok Than Thong is a massive waterfall with 15 levels. It takes 25 minutes to reach the first level from the park office.

Hours Open: open everyday from 6.00am to 6:00pm. Contact: National Park Office; National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department, Bangkok, Tel. 0 2562 0760 or www.dnp.go.th. Accommodation: Bungalow accommodations and camping facilities are available. Admission: 200 baht for adults and 100 baht for children. Getting there: Getting There: From Kanchanaburi, drive on about 7 km. then turn right and take the route Kanchanaburi-Thung Masang for about 23 km. Turn into Highway 3086 passing Amphoe Bo Phloi to get to King Amphoe Nong Prue. Hire a Songthaew at Nong Prue Market to reach the park. Website: Official Thailand National Park website, Use Google translate /park.dnp.go.th

Sai Yok National Park

Sai Yok National Park (104 kilometers northwest of Kanchanaburi via Highway No. 323) covers approximately 300-square-kilometers and contains several interesting caves and the famous Sai Yok Yai waterfall, which can be viewed from a supension bridge. The park has dense forests, including majestic teak trees and an abundance of mammals and birds such as slow loris, Malayan porcupine, gibbons, wreathed hornbill, serow, squirrels, bats and barking deer in addition to regal crabs. Sometimes elephants from Myanmar make their way to the park. Particularly noteworthy, the park is home to the smallest mammal in the world: the two-grammed Kittis Hog-nosed Bat, which was first discovered in 1973 by a Thai naturalist. Also noteworthy: the famous Russian roulette scenes from the film “The Deerhunter” were shot in the park.

Sai Yok Yai Waterfall flows directly into Khwae Noi River. Also known as Namtok Sai Yok Yai, its idyllic beauty has been repeatedly celebrated in Thai poetry and songs. A rope bridge enables people to cross the river to view the waterfall. Rafts are available for a river trip along the riverbank but advance booking is recommended. Lawa Cave and Daowadung Cave are two caves, which house numerous stalactites and stalagmites. Of the two caves, the Daowadueng Cave, which entails a river trip and one-kilometer walk to reach, is the more popular cave.

Another 1.5 kilometer walk from the ranger station will lead to the cave with nature interpretation signs along the way. Tham Wang Badan is a small but deep cave, 500 meters long. It is a two-level limestone cave with a small hole at its mouth to be entered one by one. Its upper level houses various chambers with beautiful stalagmites and stalactites of different shapes. The lower level contains a stream that goes through a tunnel under a large boulder. Sai Yok Noi Waterfall (Namtok Sai Yok Noi) is also dubbed as Khao Phang Waterfall. It is situated 60 kilometers from town via Highway No. 323. The place is best visited between July and September.

Location: The park is 104 kilometers from Kanchanaburi via Highway No. 323 and can also be reached by chartered boat from the Pak Saeng Pier. The park is very popular during the weekends. Hours Open: open everyday from 6.00am to 6:00pm. Accommodation and Food: Bungalow accommodations, river rafts, camping facilities, and a daytime food market are available. Getting There: To get to Sai Yok Noi Waterfall: non air-conditioned buses leave Kanchanaburi Bus Station every 30 minutes from 6:00am until 6.30pm The journey takes 2 hours and costs 25 baht. Alternatively, visitors can take a train from Kanchanaburi to Namtok Station and continue on foot or by local transport to the waterfall, which is 2 kilometers away. Trains depart from Kanchanaburi at 6.11am, 11:00am and 4.37pm and return from Namtok Station at 5.25am 1:00pm and 3.15pm The one-way rail trip takes about 2 hours and costs 17 baht. (Please check the current schedule from TAT Kanchanaburi or the railway station before departure.) Website: Official Thailand National Park website, Use Google translate /park.dnp.go.th

Thong Pha Phum National Park

Thong Pha Phum National Park (accessible from Kanchanaburi) is located within the area of Pa Huai Khayeng and Pa Khao Chang Phueak reserved forests. Covering a total area of approximately 700,000 rai, it has spots of interest including two viewpoints at Doi Tong Palae which is about 300 meters uphill hike and from where Namtok Chokkadin is visible, and Noen Kut Doi which is accessible by car and offers a panoramic view of the mountains, Vajiralongkorn Dam and Khao Chang Phueak – the national park’s highest peak. There are three nature trails to waterfalls; Namtok Chokkadin, Namtok Pha Pae and Namtok Chet Mit. These waterfalls are located in the evergreen forest of Tambon Pilok which is a former location of tin and wolfram mines on the Thai – Burmese border. A four-wheel drive car and hired guide will be needed.

Hours Open: Open everyday from 8:00am - 6:00pm. Contact: Tel. 08 1382 0359 or Thong Pha Phum National Park, P.O. Box 18, Amphoe Thong Pha Phum, Kanchanaburi 21110. Accommodation: and camping is available. Admission: 400 baht for adults and 200 baht for children. Getting There: To get there from Kanchanaburi, follow Highway 323 to Amphoe Thong Pha Phum and turn into Highway 3272 (Thong Pha Phum – Pilok Mine) for some 57 kilometers to Thong Pha Phum National Park’s headquarters. The road, though asphalted, climbs up the mountain with several sharp curves; thus drivers will have to drive carefully. Website: Official Thailand National Park website, Use Google translate /park.dnp.go.th

Image Sources:

Text Sources: Tourist Authority of Thailand, Thailand Foreign Office, The Government Public Relations Department, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books and other publications.

Last updated August 2020

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