Just 2 hours away from Bangkok, Kanchanaburi holds a treasure trove of nature and history that will enchant you. Even better, there are many untouched attractions in Kanchanaburi that you’ll be glad to discover before most everyone else. To give you some ideas of what to expect, here are 16 of the best things to do in Kanchanaburi, Thailand.
Historical things to do in Kanchanaburi
Discover the remnants of World War II at the Death Railway Kanchanaburi
The Death Railway is one of the most famous attractions in Kanchanaburi and one that you can’t miss. Also known as the Burma Railway, it was built by thousands of Allied Prisoners of War (POWs) and forced laborers during World War II, many of whom lost their lives because of it.
The railway connects Thailand and Myanmar (formerly Burma). At the time, Japan had taken control of Burma from the United Kingdom and used this railway to supply its forces there. To fully understand the story and sufferings caused, we recommend visiting the Death Railway Kanchanaburi with a local guide.
Visit the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery
After visiting the Death Railway, you can visit this memorial to pay respects to the victims. The Kanchanaburi War Cemetery is the main cemetery to remember almost 7,000 POWs victims who passed away during the construction of the Death Railway.
Most of the POWs buried here were British, while others were Australian and Dutch. The remains of American POWs were returned to their homeland.
Get the full World War II crash course at the JEATH War Museum
For more insights into the history of the allied forces during World War II, it’s worth going to the JEATH War Museum. There, you can see the wartime relics which were used by the allied POWs, such as tools and weapons. An open area also exhibits the life and suffering of POWs building the Death Railway. This is an eye-opening experience, a sad one but worth to see if you want to understand better our recent history.
Cross the Bridge on the River Kwai in Kanchanaburi
If you’ve watched the 1957 war film “Bridge on the River Kwai,” then you’ll love to see this place for real. The bridge is one of the most important historical landmarks in Kanchanaburi. You can walk on it and soak the gorgeous view of the surrounding jungles and mountains. Plan your visit an hour before sunset and get the best shots from the river.
Love and Road recommendation: We went for a day trip from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi with TakeMeTour and loved it. The trip covered some of the best things to do in Kanchanaburi. We visited the National Park, Sai Yok Waterfall, Kanchanaburi Death Railway, and the River Kwai. Watch our video of this day tour from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi and book this TakeMeTour experience in Kanchanaburi here.
See the enshrined Buddha image in the Tham Krasae Cave
Tham Krasae Cave houses a Buddha shrine that locals come to pray and pay their respects. The rock formation around it is also beautiful. There you will learn about its story during the Death Railway construction and its significance as a spiritual place for locals.
Discover ancient temples at Mueang Sing Historical Park
This historical park is one of the best known Khmer-style temples in Sai Yok, Kanchanaburi. Marvel at the preserved shrine, tower gates, and ancient inscriptions in the courtyard, perfect for gorgeous shots.
Go back to prehistoric times at Ban Kao National Museum
Step back into the Stone Age and see how humans from roughly 2 million years ago lived. Located on the bank of the Kwai Noi River (approximately 35 kilometers from the Kanchanaburi city), Ban Kao National Museum stores a collection of prehistoric artifacts and archeological evidence. You will get to see ancient pots, ax heads, jewelry made from animal bones, and other objects. This museum is one of the top things in Kanchanaburi, you can’t miss if you’re a history buff.
Nature places to visit in Kanchanaburi
Trek to the 7-tiered waterfall at Erawan National Park
If you love nature, then you should head to the Erawan Waterfall while you’re visiting Kanchanaburi. The waterfall is located in Erawan National Park. People come here to admire the 7-tiered Erawan Falls with turquoise ponds full of fish! If you want to go there hassle-free, the best option is to have a local guide, and you can also do it as a day trip from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi.
Refresh yourself at Sai Yok Noi Waterfall
Looking for more waterfalls? Then, Sai Yok Waterfall in Sai Yok National Park is another can’t-miss. The dense jungle around the pool makes for a peaceful setting for you recharge your batteries. So, dip your toes in or go for a swim for a refreshing break from the sun.
Take a dip at Hin Dad Hot Spring
Yes, there’s a hot spring in Kanchanaburi! Hin Dad is a natural hot spring filled with minerals that are said to treat various diseases. Whether or not that’s true, you for sure will be relaxed after a dip in the 45-55 degree hot springs.
Cooldown at Pha Tad Waterfall
If you like camping and swimming, then come to Pha Tad Waterfall. It’s located deep inside the Khuean Srinagarindra National Park, located 140 km from Kanchanaburi. It’s a 3-tiered waterfall, a real natural beauty. The highlight you’ll see is the water flowing down along the 10-meter wide cliff, which is fantastic. It’s a great place to boost your energy after visiting all the top things to do in Kanchanaburi.
Cultural and unique things to do in Kanchanaburi
Experience the Mon culture in Sangkhla Buri town
About 3 hours northwest of Kanchanaburi, Sangkhla Buri is a small charming town and heaven of calmness with a rich history and diverse culture. It is home to many Mon people, part of the Mon ethnic group that was one of the first settlers of Southeast Asia.
Start the day wandering at Wat Mon Temple, the spiritual heart of locals. If you’re there during the rainy season, don’t miss taking a boat ride to the Sunken Temple (or Wat Saam Prasob in Thai), which is almost entirely underwater. Also, be sure to catch the sunset at Mon Bridge, the longest wooden bridge in Thailand, and the second-longest in the world.
Live the traditional Thai lifestyle at Mallika Village
Go off the beaten path to explore the vibrant Mallika Village in Sai Yok, Kanchanaburi. It’s a charming pop of color that will bring you back to ancient Thailand. The village has been restored to an open-air and interactive museum. The locals dress in traditional clothes, and you can join in on activities to experience the traditional Thai lifestyle there.
Discover a unique blend of architectural styles at Pak Prak Heritage Street
Pak Prak Heritage Street is the oldest community in the Kanchanaburi. This street is quiet but teeming with beautiful buildings in mixed architectural styles of Chinese, European, and Thai. There are Thai and English explanations in all the historic buildings. You can understand the architectural styles and discover the purpose of each of the buildings in the past was. Take your camera with you, or you’ll regret missing all the beautiful shots there!
Find breathtaking views at Tham Sua Temple
Tham Sua Temple sits on a hilltop in Kanchanaburi. Climb 157 steps to reach the top and admire the stunning view. You can take a short cable car ride to the top as well. When you arrive, you will see a giant Buddha image resting in an open dome. Feel the peace while strolling around the temple compound.
Go the less trodden path at Pilok
If you’re looking for the untouched, then Pilok is a lovely change of scenery in Thong Pha Phu, Kanchanaburi. It’s 95% covered in natural forests, and Pilok also has many exciting places to visit. Visit the Etong Village to enjoy the authenticity of a charming community. For beautiful misty views, mountainous landscapes and rare wildlife, go to Thong Pha Phum National Park and have a real wilderness experience.
Now that you know what to do in Kanchanaburi, Thailand, let’s move to the planning part. Below you will find the best hotels in Kanchanaburi, where to stay for any traveler and pocket. Plus, travel tips on how to get to Kanchanaburi and around.
Where to stay in Kanchanaburi, Thailand
As you probably realized this far, Kanchanaburi is a real gem of Thailand. And even if you are tempted to go on a day trip from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi, you might want to stay there for at least one night. It doesn’t matter how long you are planning to stay; it’s best to find accommodation in Kanchanaburi that will give you all the proper rest that you’ll need. To make things easier, we’ve selected some of the top choices of where to stay in Kanchanaburi, come along!
– X2 River Kwai Resort
This resort is a bit far from Kanchanaburi city, but it’s exceptional. Blending with the surrounding nature and facing a beautiful part of the Kwai Noi River, it offers a wide range of activities to keep you entertained for days. It’s the perfect floating hotel in Kanchanaburi, a place you want to stay when you feel that you’ve done enough and wanna treat yourself. X2 has 22 rooms (in 6 different types), a restaurant with an outdoor deck, a bar & bistro, an infinity riverfront pool, kayaking, bicycle rent, and much more.
– U Inchantree Kanchanaburi
The hotel sits on the north bank of the Kwai Yai River and just 5 minutes walking to the River Kwai Bridge in Kanchanaburi (even less if you get one of the free bicycles). The charming U Inchantree Kanchanaburi is a relaxing hotel, beautifully designed, with a great breakfast. Tip: enjoy the outdoor dining area to catch the sunset while listening to the birds by the river.
– Good Times Resort
This accommodation in Kanchanaburi has a convenient location, offers cozy rooms, a right mix of Thai and western food, and breathtaking views. It’s no wonder that Good Times is a best seller hotel in Kanchanaburi, an affordable resort recommended for both families and couples.
– Stamp Hostel
The Stamp is an adults-only hostel in Kanchanaburi and a super cool one! Guests praise the comfort of the property and how welcoming the hosts are. The spaces are clean and organized, and the light atmosphere invites you to make new friends, which makes Stamp one of the backpackers’ favorite hostels in Kanchanaburi.
And did you know you can rent a house, a boat, a castle or a room on Airbnb? Curious? Sign up here and get a discount on your first booking!
How to get to Kanchanaburi and around
It’s good to know that the best time to travel to Kanchanaburi is from November to March. Plan your trip according to the season, so no climate surprises will stop you from doing all the activities in Kanchanaburi. From November to March, the weather in Kanchanburi is drier and steady. From April and October, it’s humid and rainy.
If you’re an international traveler, you should first fly to Bangkok; Kanchanaburi is about 130 km west of Thailand’s capital. Some travelers choose to go on a day trip to Kanchanaburi, others stay longer, about 2 to 4 days.
From Bangkok (and other neighboring provinces), you can travel to Kanchanaburi by train or bus, as the city receives daily rail and road services.
Trains are leaving Thonburi railway station to Kanchanaburi two times a day. The train from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi takes approximately 3 hours. Buses (air-conditioned and non-air conditioned coaches) are departing from Sai Tai Mai (Bangkok’s Southern Bus Terminal) every 15 minutes or so. The bus from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi takes around 2 and 3 hours. You may also take a minibus to Kanachanburi in case you want to make the trip within 2h.
Check rates and best options here, on the 12GoAsia website you can find tickets for trains, buses, and minibus to Kanchanaburi departing from everywhere in Thailand.
For more tips for traveling by bus read our guide: How to travel around Thailand by bus.
Once you get to Kanchanaburi, it’s easy to go around. You can combine guided tours with renting bikes (bicycles and motorcycles – prices are reasonable, and gas is cheap). Hiring tuk-tuks, rickshaws, or songthaews are also a good option. Choose the one that gives you the best value, the prices will vary depending on how many people and the distances to the tourist attractions in Kanchanaburi that you want to visit.
Let us know in the comments what you think or any questions you might have about what to do in Kanchanaburi, places to visit, and how to travel there!
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Bas Nattadon is a content writer from TakeMeTour and a young local from Bangkok who loves street food hunting in Chinatown, finding antique shops, and taking short day trips from Bangkok. Check their Instagram and Facebook.