Things to do in Kanchanaburi

If you’re someone who loves visiting Thailand but have only frequented the more popular areas of Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket, it’s time to pack your bags and bring out the adventurer within you to explore some of the lesser-known cities. As a city just three hours away from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok, Kanchanaburi offers an entirely different experience.

It’s a city home to rich history and the infamous Death Railway, so get ready to embark on a path that’ll enlighten you on the darker parts of Thailand’s history. If you’re curious about the city as your next potential pit stop, then read on for our guide to Kanchanaburi.

1. Walk or ride a train across the Death Railway

Image credit: TRAZY

As a History major back in my junior college days, dark tourism has always appealed to me. The first on our list features Kanchanaburi’s infamous Burma Railway aka Death Railway. It got its ominous name from the history it carries – being the cruel and unforgiving project initiated by the Japanese back in 1940.

After 3 gruelling years, the railway was finally completed in 1943, but it exacted a heavy human toll. Constructing the tracks claimed the lives of up to 100,000 civilians and allied prisoners who were forced to be the unwilling labourers in the project.

Image credit: BBC Four via Inside Asia Blog

Today, the train track is a tourist destination, maintained and preserved for its cultural history. The once wooden track is now reinforced with steel and three trains ply the 17-stop scenic route. Potential commuters should note that despite its dark past, the current train route actually offers a gentle ride which will introduce you to the abundant nature in Kanchanaburi. Foreign visitors can purchase a train ticket at ฿100 (~USD2.76)/pax.

Alternatively, you could also opt to visit the bridge along River Kwai – yet another popular photo spot for tourists. The last stop along the train station would be the beautiful Erawan National Park – another must-visit stop that we’ve included in our list.

Death Railway
Address: 73 Chao Khun Nen Rd, Ban Nuea, Mueang Kanchanaburi District, Kanchanaburi 71000, Thailand
Opening hours: Daily, 9AM – 4PM
+66 3451 2721
 Google Maps

2. Visit JEATH War Museum to pay tribute to Death Railway victims

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Next on our list is JEATH War Museum. JEATH stands for the six nationalities involved in the construction of the Death Railway: Japanese, English, Australian, American, Thai and Holland.

Image credit: nashaplaneta

While the first part of the museum will share more about the railway’s history, there’s also a series of bamboo huts at the museum housing miniature train structures and paintings preserving the memory of a time forgotten.

A visit to such museums may often feel pretty heavy but it’ll make for a more poignant take on the culturally-significant region of Kanchanaburi than simply admiring the beautiful nature parks. The entrance fee to the museum costs a mere ฿10 (~USD0.28) for locals and ฿30 (~USD0.83) for foreign visitors. 

JEATH War Museum
Address: 2GR4+73P, Ban Tai, Mueang Kanchanaburi District, Kanchanaburi 71000, Thailand
Opening hours:
8.30AM – 4.30PM, Daily
Telephone: +66 3451 5203
Google Maps

3. Walk through Hellfire Pass at the Memorial Museum

Image credit: Tourism Thailand

As our segment on Kanchanaburi’s dark tourism comes to a steady close, one of the darker sites in our list to visit is the Hellfire Pass Memorial Museum. How its name came to be has to do with the gutting image where the forced labourers – often malnourished and emaciated – worked into the night whilst carrying burning torches.

With the orange and red hues of the flames moving against the sound of fellow prisoners painfully toiling away, many have commented that the locale resembled a scene from Hell.

Image credit: Eli Duke

In the day, the place looks a lot less intimidating and is home to tall tree foliage and fresh air. Entrance to the museum is free and you can even enjoy an audio guide which is also free – except you’d have to leave a ฿200 (~USD5.52) deposit, retrievable after you’re done with the tour.

Hellfire Pass Memorial Museum
Address: 207 Moo 11 Tha Sao, Sai Yok District, Kanchanaburi 71150, Thailand
Opening Hours:
Daily, 9AM – 4PM
Telephone: +66 3491 9605
Google Maps

4. Bask in a rainbow marketplace in the ancient Mallika City

Image credit: mallika124

As our list deviates from the darker attractions, this next place to visit is sure to light up your visual senses. Enter Mallika City – a retro-city that is home to the Siamese lifestyle from the past. Established during a changing era where slavery was newly abolished, Siamese slaves had to look for alternative ways to generate income and create a livelihood for themselves.

The best thing about this city is that most of its various communal places are still perfectly preserved, such as their ancient marketplace – now painted in vibrant colours and instantly recognisable from pictures alone.

Image credit: mallika124

Make sure to take a day out of your itinerary or a whole afternoon to simply explore the city – from its temples, markets, houses to its paddy fields. The entrance fee to the city starts from ฿120 (~USD3.31) for children and ฿250 (~USD6.90) for adults. You can also rent traditional Thai dresses from ฿200 (~USD5.52) for some committed photoshoots within the city walls.

Mallika City
Address: 168, Sing, Sai Yok District, Kanchanaburi 71150, Thailand
Opening hours:
Daily, 9AM – 5.30PM
+66 3454 0884
Google Maps

5. Ancient Khmer ruins at Prasat Muang Singh National Park

Image credit: Renown Travel

Speaking of ancient cities, we’re sure that any visitor to Thailand will be curious to visit our neighbouring countries of Cambodia and Laos – both of which come with rich histories of their own.

Well, if you’re looking to see what ancient Khmer ruins look like, you just might be able to get a taste of them at Prasat Muang Singh National Park. 

Image credit: thelostpassport

Just a 30-minute drive away from Kanchanaburi’s city centre, admission to the park costs ฿20 (~USD0.55) for locals and ฿100 (~USD2.76) for foreign visitors. Make sure to bring your DLSR cameras for some HD shots of a mysterious lost city in Kanchanaburi.

Prasat Muang Singh National Park
Address: 26QV+GCJ Prasat Muang Sing Historical Park, Sing, Sai Yok District, Kanchanaburi 71150, Thailand
Opening hours:
8AM – 4.30PM, Daily
Telephone: +66 3467 0264
Google Maps

6. Wat Tham Suea – a famous Tiger Cave temple with a gold Buddha

Image credit: @toptravelpattaya

Now, this is one for the temple enthusiasts. With one of the most impressive Buddha structures in all of Thailand, Wat Tham Suea is Kanchanaburi’s Tiger Cave Temple. It has a magnificent giant golden Buddha statue placed outdoors, a stark contrast to other temples that normally house them indoors.

Due to its sheer size, most visitors will be able to catch a glimpse of the Buddha even from afar, before arriving at the temple.

Image credit: @i_ammalamas

A visit to the temple is free though donations to aid in the maintenance of the temple will always be welcomed. After paying your respects at the worship area near the statue, visitors can also climb the 157-step hill to a viewpoint with panoramic views of Kanchanaburi.

Wat Tham Suea (Tiger Cave Temple)
Address: XJ34+H36, Muang Chum, Tha Muang District, Kanchanaburi 71110, Thailand
Opening hours: Daily, 8AM – 5PM
Google Maps

7. Chase a 7-tiered waterfall at Erawan National Park

Image credit: @nillarafael

Here’s a quick shoutout to all nature lovers, specifically those who love chasing waterfalls. Cues TLC. Erawan National Park is home to a stunning set of waterfalls that are perfect for some mid-afternoon swims amidst the heat and some Pocahontas-wannabe shots.

Image credit: @alanarainer

With its emerald green clear waters and pools, the expansive park is a great locale for afternoon picnics or nature dates. To enter the park, expect to pay about ฿300 (~USD8.28) for adults and ฿150 (~USD4.14) for children.

If you’re a bit more of an adventurer and are keen on staying in the park overnight, you could also rent a tent from ฿800 (~USD22.08) to ฿5000 (~USD137.99), depending on your choice of accommodation. Tent bookings can be made via this NPS site and do look out for the 20% discount on non-peak days from Monday – Thursday. 

Erawan National Park
Address: 94GV+5HW, Tha Kradan, Si Sawat District, Kanchanaburi 71250, Thailand
Opening hours: 8AM – 4.30PM, Daily
+66 3457 4222
 Google Maps

BONUS: Alpaca Hill – Thailand’s first alpaca breeding farm

Image credit: @paikapiak 

Though this quaint farm isn’t exactly in Kanchanaburi per se, we’re sure those who’ve already made up their minds to travel all the way there will wanna know if there’s any attractions otw there.

We’d highly recommend hitting up Ratchaburi on your way back as a bonus detour. Here, you’ll be able to find Thailand’s first alpaca breeding farm: Alpaca Hill. From free-roaming resident geese to other farm animals like owls, capybaras or iguanas, the farm houses friendly animals of all shapes and sizes. Oh, did I also mention that they’re always picture ready and smiling? Just look at our fellow alpaca here.

Image credit: @mook_lalita

For ฿290 (~USD8), you can expect a whole afternoon of cuddly fun and animals shows within the farm. For those travelling with families or a squad full of animal lovers, we’re sure that a visit here will be worth every penny. Time to make those furry memories fam!

Alpaca Hill
Address: 357 Moo8, Phapok-Tako Land Rd, Suanphung Ratchaburi 70180, Thailand
Opening hours: Mon – Fri, 9.30AM – 5PM / Sat 9AM – 6PM / Sun 9.30AM – 6PM
+66 8 0821 2108
Google Maps

Adventures beyond Bangkok and Phuket

If you’ve stayed with us this far, we hope that you’ve found a few new places to add to your ever-growing list of places to visit in Thailand. 

Since many of us have already fallen in love with this country simply from visiting its most popular cities, perhaps a day or two in its lesser-known provinces will only keep you coming back for more.

So if you are already here or planning your next weekend getaway, do bookmark these places for some ideas. We’re sure you’ll get to know a whole new side of Thailand.

More places to see in Thailand:

Cover images adapted from (Clockwise from Top Left): Renown Travel, @toptravelpattaya, @alanarainer, TRAZY 

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