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Kanchanaburi
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  1. #1
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    While in Thailand I was thinking about visiting the famous location for the Bridge over the River Kwai. I know that at the end of the day it is only a bridge so I was wondering whether there is more to Kanchanburi than just the bridge. Also, do you know any good places to stay?

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    I have been to Kanchanburi three or four times with different groups of people. It is a nice weekend away from Bangkok. Three nights, two days is about right for the trip. I took some friends there last year and we explored the town and bridge the first day and did a side trip to some limestone caves and a floating nun! The second day we booked a tour and did the elephant ride/bamboo raft "adventure" plus a trip to the Erawan waterfall which was a welcome break from the heat. We returned along the infamous "death railway".

    There are other day trips you can do which include one up to the little visited "Hellfire Pass". I haven't been there yet but it is apparently a sacred place to commemorate the soldiers that died. The name comes from the hellish appearance of the candles the soldiers used while working on the railway during the night.

    Another side trip I haven't done yet is to the so-called Tiger Temple. The monks here have befriended some tigers and if you are brave enough you can have your picture taken with them.

    For day trips, expect to pay about 400-800 baht.

    Like you said, the bridge itself is only a bridge. Not all of it is original as it was bombed in the closing months of the war. Movie buffs will be interested to know that the movie wasn't actually filmed in Thailand but rather The Phillipines. However, it is still of historical interest.

    Next to the bridge is a fascinating war museum. A little further away, but still on the river bank, is another museum called JEATH. In the town you can also pay your respects to the soldiers that died building the railway. However, don't forget that far more Asians died than the Europeans. History books tend to gloss over that fact.

    When I go I usually stay in a guesthouse along the river. The last time I went I stayed at Jolly Frog Backpackers.

    The bus from Bangkok leaves the southern bus terminal about every half hour. The last time I checked it cost 68 baht. I believe the mini vans from Khao San Road will cost you about three times that much. An alternative is the train which I did once. This only costs about 25 baht on a hard seat (good experience) and leaves at 10.55 a.m. and 4.35 p.m. I do believe the state railway still do day-trips to Kanchanburi which includes a stop at Nakhon Pathom. This has the largest chedi in Thailand (those up-turned bell shaped monuments found in temples).

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    A Thai Buddhist Monk fends off a playful attack from an Asian Tiger at the Wat Pa Luangtabua temple in Sai Yok, western Thailand, on May 22, 2001. The Monks, who hope to build a natural preserve for the eight endangered tigers at their temple, are appealing for donations from the public. Buddhist temples are often places where people leave unwanted cats and dogs, but this temple has built a reputation for taking in the wild animals after an orphaned cub was taken in three years ago. REUTERS/Jason Reed

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    Sai Yok is about 100 km northwest of Kanchanburi. People go there to visit the waterfalls in Sai Yok national park and the remians of the death railway bridge. The famous Russian roulette scene from The Deer Hunter was filmed here.
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    There's some interesting museums and memorials in Kanchanaburi related to the bridge, but I found the bridge itself to be a bit of an anti-climax.

    I'd recommended the Erawan waterfalls though, they're renowed as being the best in Thailand. It's not one big dramatic waterfall but a large seven-tier waterfall and there's a well trodden path up to the top, it's very impressive. You can also swim in the water there, but's it absolutley freezing. You can get here by ordinary bus from the bus station, I think the first one goes at 9.00am and the last one leaves Erawan at 4.00pm, try and have as much time as possible. Entrance to Erawan is 200B per person, or the usual 'cha-por kon thai' price of 20B.

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    Kanchanaburi - Lights and Sound Festival

    I drove myself to Kanchanaburi over the weekend (05 Dec - 07 Dec'08). Although I've been to Kanchanaburi (aka Mueng Karn) many times, this is the first time I drove there myself. Being a lousy driver with bad directions, I took more than 3 hours to reach there. By the time I reached my resort, it was almost 4pm. I joined a special boat-trip dinner tour (900baht for 2) where they brought us to see the re-entactment of WW2's bombing of the bridge over the river Kwuay. The dinner (they claimed it was chinese style) wasn't that fantastic but the journey was quite an experience. It also happened to be the King's birthday (05 Dec) and everyone was given a candle so we can sing happy birthday song and wish the King a happy birthday. This is the first time I seen the re-entactment. The fireworks could be too loud for children though as some of them on the boat was frightened by the loud explosions and kept crying to go home. There was narrator but it was in Thai language all the way. Overall, it was a good experience touring down the river.

    p.s. if you want to piss the Thai off, just keep repeating "River Kwai (Baffulo), River Kwai". ha ha

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    Online Guidebook for Kanchanaburi
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    Re: Kanchanaburi - Lights and Sound Festival

    Quote Originally Posted by BUCKY View Post
    There was narrator but it was in Thai language all the way.
    I hope they then gave the foreign tourists a discount.

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    Re: Kanchanaburi - Lights and Sound Festival

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Barrow View Post
    I hope they then gave the foreign tourists a discount.
    I doubt so.

    Anyway, the next day we did some day tours. First it was the nearby War Cemetery where they buried the POWs who died during the WW2 while building the railway.

    I noticed a new museum nearby. The entrance was 100 baht/pax but since I'm going to the JEATH museum (I figure they should be smilar), I did not enter.
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    Re: Kanchanaburi

    I've been to Kanchanaburi around 6 times now with and without tours as well as driving myself. I would recommend a tour if you had a short time and wanted to see as much as possible. You can do the normal things such as Death Railway, Cemetry, Bridge, Saiyok Waterall with options to take in other activites such as Hot Springs, Hellfire Pass, Elephant Batheing (swimming), Erawan National Park, Tiger Temple,etc. A lot of these companies put you up in cheap floating Guest Houses on the river in quiet locations far from the town. You can also choose more upmarket (ie. resorts with swimming pools) accomodations within the package by paying more.

    Kanchanaburi is one of the biggest provinces in Thailand and there is a LOT to see. If you're planning a one-off trip then you can book a package in Bangkok that picks you up from your accomodation and returns you there. This takes a lot of the hard work out of it for you if you want it that way
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    Last edited by SimonP; 07-12-08 at 08:37 PM.

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    Re: Kanchanaburi

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Barrow View Post
    Movie buffs will be interested to know that the movie wasn't actually filmed in Thailand but rather The Phillipines.
    'Bridge on the River Kwai' was shot on location in Sri Lanka for the most part. There were actors from this country and the bridge had been constructed across a river here.

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    Re: Kanchanaburi

    The Jeath Museum is just beside the famous Bridge Over The River Khwae. I'd been there many times. The last time I went was around 6 years ago and I don't remember having double pricing then. The entrance is cheap (40B for foreigners and 20B for Thai) though so I didn't argue much when the old lady at entrance told me to treat the "extra" as "thaam boon" although I'd told her I work here and have a work permit and paid tax like any other Thai. During the "Light and Sound Festival" they are opened at night for special viewing of the show at 50B and 100B (VIP whatever that means). I like the Musuem because I learn new things everytime I'm there. This time round, I learnt that the Thai originated from Monoglia! Surprise, surprise.
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