bangkok to kanchanaburi river kwai bridge railway station

Bangkok to Kanchanaburi: Guest Post by Jack Lee


Who in the right mind would travel from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi on an almost 14-hour return trip by train, when it is only 4 hours by car? Apparently the not-so-right-minds are my better half and I. A day earlier, we were at Hua Lamphong train station, traveling to Ayutthaya by train (another story next time) and we remembered that we read online about the excursion train service that is only available on weekends. Feeling adventurous, we enquired at the information counter inside the station, obtained this itinerary, queued up at lane number 11 and paid 240 Baht for two 3rd class seats (only 3rd class seats are available, by the way).

bangkok to kanchanaburi train-ticket
The next morning, we left the hotel at 6am with just minutes to spare before the train leaving at 6.30 am sharp. For early travelers, bear in mind that BTS and Metro operating hours start at 6 am, so do allow longer service intervals as it had just started the day’s service. Modern, glitzy inner city Bangkok skyline disappeared quickly as the train chugged out of Hua Lamphong; replaced with slums, smaller towns, paddy fields, tapioca plantations and beautiful mountain ranges over the horizon.

bangkok to kanchanaburi nakhon pathom

After an hour, we arrived at our first stop – Nakhon Pathom. As it was a Saturday morning, street food peddlers plied on the main streets, leading to the magnificent Phra Pathom Chedi, which is the largest pagoda in Thailand. This is also the first religious landmark that signified the introduction of Buddhism in Thailand. We had only 40 minutes before we were required to be on the train to our next destination.

bangkok to kanchanaburi thai burma railway landmark

Dual track rail lines continued on until the Nong Pladuk Station, where the single track line starts. This is also the Thai-Burma Railway or more commonly known as Hellfire Pass starting station whereby construction begun on 16th September 1942. The 415 km long rail connection was crucial for the Japanese to mount planned attacks on India, during World War II as their naval strength was reduced in earlier battles.

bangkok to kanchanaburi scenery

As we soaked in the scenery outside the train window, be careful of overgrown branches as the train passed by. Just as we began to warm up to other train passengers, the train arrived at the stop just before River Kwai bridge for photo shoot.

bangkok to kanchanaburi stop for photo river kwai bridge

bangkok to kanchanaburi river kwai bridge

bangkok to kanchanaburi river kwai bridge railway station

Kanchanaburi is a town of about 40,000 population, located to the west of Thailand. Occupied by the Japanese in the second World War, it was here that Prisoner of Wars (POWs) were forced into building the 415 km railway tracks, stretching from Nong Pladuk to Thanbyuzayat, Myanmar (Burma). Due to maltreatment, and treacherous and unhospitable jungle conditions, over 100,000 lives of POWs were lost during the 1 year construction period.

Once over at the other side of the river bank, we moved on to the famous Wam Po viaduct crossing. The Wam Po viaduct, now maintained by State Railway of Thailand, consists of a series of trestle bridges following the curve of a sheer limestone cliff which falls into the Kwae Noi at the side.

bangkok to kanchanaburi wam po viaduct crossing

bangkok to kanchanaburi wam po crossing riverbank

The tracks continued to be in operation until the year 1976 and it is the last stop, Sai Yok Noi waterfall where we rested for 3 hours, before leaving to Bangkok at 3pm.

bangkok to kanchanaburi sai yok noi

bangkok to kanchanaburi train last stop

bangkok to kanchanaburi last stop milestone

bangkok to kanchanabur sai yok noi waterfall

bangkok to kanchanaburi signage

Although it was hot and dusty throughout the journey, the train ride was nothing short of spectacular. Here, you get chance to mingle with the Thais, despite they do not speak much English. One thing for sure, you can forget about adhering to the itinerary schedule as we arrived Bangkok an hour late. But, who’s keeping track of timing when you are having holiday?

*All images and text by Jack Lee.

Would you like to feature your recent travel adventure here? If you’re interested to contribute a guest post to Kat Pegi Mana, please feel free to email me at katpegimana@gmail.com.

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6 comments

  1. Hi jack and kat,

    Thank you for this great.post. my wife and I went to kanchanaburi in 2010.
    Back then I just met my wife and she showed me around in bangkok and nearby. It was a really great experience.

    The day we went there, also happened to be the yearly anniversary of what.happened during the world war so that was really special.
    We watched this big show where the story of the bridge was being told with fireworks and sound effects.

    I go back to thailand for 3 weeks in december of.this year and I’m really looking forward to it.

    Yours,

    Chris

    1. Hi Chris,

      Thank you so much for your comment and for visiting this blog post on Kanchanaburi 🙂 I can imagine how touching the experience was when you visited the site, having to witness the war anniversary ceremony and shows, etc. I personally have not been to Kanchanaburi and based on Jack’s sharing, I, hope someday I get to visit this place. Have a great week ahead…

      Cheers,
      Kat

  2. Thanks! Unfortunately, unable to visit the grave stones of the POWs that died whilst building the bridge. The place has so much historical value, that I need to make a trip there again and this time, staying a night at Kanchanaburi.

    By the way, I am cooking up a driving trip from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok, hopefully in Dec 2015. 🙂

  3. Great post Jack. This is superb stuff. You have shared a wonderful experience of a train journey. I too am a very big fan of train journeys. But this one was special.

    I have seen this movie on Bridge over River Kawai. Fantastic and so poignant. Your post reminded of that movie. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  4. Great guest post Jack, thanks Kat for featuring. I spent a day travelling to Kanchanaburi, too, and remember standing there pretty much alone back in 2002. It was very sobering when I visited the grave stones and remembered the loss of life. I wish I had got the train there, though. It would have been so much more interesting than by road.

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