Top Things to do in Kanchanaburi Thailand

As I’m preparing to travel for the last quarter of the year, I’m reminiscing about my time in Thailand. There are still things I haven’t shared so be prepared to read about them. After exploring the temples, we drove from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi with some stops along the way. Our tour guide kept emphasizing staying in the jungle, but it was one of the most peaceful moments of our entire trip. If you plan on visiting central Thailand, read more about some of the top things to do in Kanchanaburi, Thailand.

War Cemetery in Kanchanburi
War Cemetery in Kanchanburi, Thailand

About Kanchanaburi

Kanchanaburi is mostly known for the activity around the area during World War II. The Japanese had control of the area and forced Thai and Allied POWs to build a railway from Choom Thang Nong in Thailand to Than Be Au Sa Yai in Myanmar (formerly Burma). There are a number of museums and memorials honoring lives lost during this period around the city. Getting to Kanchanaburi from Bangkok was easy for us was about two hours. If you’re not with a tour, you can take a train independently from Thonburi Station in Bangkok.

Top Things to Do in Kanchanaburi

  • Elephants World Elephant Sanctuary – After announcing our arrival in Bangkok, comments of riding elephants and petting tigers flooded my DMs. I dreamed of taking “cool pics” like those mentioned, but after reading and researching, my views on these activities have changed. Our group decided to visit Elephants World, an elephant sanctuary that rescues old, sick and abused elephants used for trekking, begging and entertainment. Here we spent a full day learning about the mission of Elephants World, feeding, bathing, and watching the elephants in a natural setting.
  • Damnoen Saduak Floating Market – Our first stop from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi was to the floating market. The Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is about two hours driving from Kanchanaburi, but definitely worth the trip. Take a sampan boat on the journey and purchase food, clothing, spices and other goods for friends and family. Don’t be afraid to negotiate final prices when purchasing goods, you’ll definitely get a good deal.
  • Thailand-Burma Railway Centre & War Cemetery – The Thailand-Burma Railway Centre is a museum and research center dedicated to the men who were forced to build the death railway. It is a fully interactive facility that includes videos, photos and actual memorabilia from allied POWs and Asian laborers. Across from the museum is the War Cemetery which is the main POW cemetery for these victims.
  • Bridge over River Kwai – Built along the Thailand-Burma Railway route, visitors can walk on the Bridge over River Kwai. Around the area, you can see beautiful views of the River Kwai and purchase goods from vendors. Be careful when walking, there is an active railway within the bridge.
Elephants World Kanchanaburi
Visiting Elephants World Kanchanaburi
Floating Market
The Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
Bridge over River Kwai
The Bridge over River Kwai

Other Activities in Kanchanaburi

Here are some other popular attractions in Kanchanaburi that our group didn’t get to see on our visit:

  • Visit the National Parks – For the nature lover, both Erawan National Park and Sai Yok National park are about 65 miles from Kanchanaburi. These areas are well known for their waterfalls, hiking, swimming and camping.
  • Hellfire Pass – Hellfire Pass is a point within the Death Railway where laborers used hand drills, picks, and shovels to carve through the mountain. The Hellfire Pass Memorial Museum includes an audio-guided walking trail with informative panels for visitor’s education.
  • Death Railway – Often done with a trip to the Hell Fire Pass, the Burma-Thailand railway (now called the Death Railway) was originally created as a passage through Burma (Myanmar) to transport Japanese troops, supplies and possibly invade India. This is a popular attraction where tourists often take a trip on the actual rail from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi.

Where to Stay in Kanchanaburi

Our full-day and two nights in Kanchanaburi was at the River Kwai Resotel, a 3-star property in the jungle. We didn’t get a chance to enjoy all the amenities, but this property has kayaking, boat tours, cultural dance shows, karaoke and offers services to said excursions. We also received some of the BEST Thai massages for reasonable prices.

River Kwai Resotel
River Kwai Resotel in Kanchanaburi

Check out my room tour and more in my video below:

Although our visit was short, I enjoyed the time spent. Kanchanaburi isn’t as much of a popular destination, but it was a peaceful and informative stay. You can easily do these activities within three days and it is well worth it if you’re a history lover.

Top Things to Do in Kanchanaburi

Have you heard of the town of Kanchanaburi?

21 thoughts on “Top Things to do in Kanchanaburi Thailand

  1. Kita says:

    I rarely ever see people traveling to Japan. Or is it me? Thank you for sharing your journey. I plan on traveling the world once my kids are older.

  2. Ty says:

    I would love to visit the elephant sanctuary. It seems popular place because I always see pictured from people who visit Thailand there. I’m sure the entire experience is amazing.

  3. courtalex95 says:

    I have wanted to visit Thailand for the longest time now. It’s nice to read about somewhere other than the more popular destinations, especially one with such rich historical excursions. I never knew about the Death Railway, that seems like something interesting (but sad) to learn about.

    • Joanna E says:

      It was included in our tour with Gate 1, but I really didn’t know where we were going until we got there. It was a pretty emotional, but informative visit. The elephant sanctuary and river boat rides were very relaxing though.

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