Thailand – Getting to know Kanchanaburi

Known as the home of the infamous bridge, the state of Kanchanaburi is also an adventure traveller’s paradise. Just two and half hours by car from the congested streets of Bangkok and bordering Myanmar along its western flank, the region is not only home to some of the best biking and hiking trails in Thailand but also offers some great kayaking opportunities along the River Kwai.

What to do in Kanchanaburi

Explore infamous highlights such as the POW Cemetery, JEATH Museum and Hellfire Pass

More adventurous activities such as light trekking, kayaking, cycling

Visit the nearby elephant sanctuary that cares for sick and old elephants.

World War II

Japan entered World War II in 1941 and quickly took control of the British Colonies of Singapore and Malaysia. They then turned their attention north, invading Burma from the supposedly neutral Kingdom of Siam, today’s Thailand. Their ultimate aim was India; however, they soon discovered that they needed to find a more effective way to supply the front lines in western Burma. To this end, they devised a railway running from Thailand into Burma.

Despite their original survey suggesting construction of the railway would take over three years, this audacious project was completed in a little over 18 months. This was achieved by a huge workforce that they either forced or employed to work on the construction, under appalling conditions and pressures.

By the time the project finished in February 1943, around 60,000 P.O.Ws had taken part in the construction, which required a total of 300,000 men. Of this number, a staggering 100,000 people lost their lives, including 15,000 P.O.Ws.

Along with visiting the bridge in Kanchanaburi (actually over the River Mae Klong, not River Kwai), those interested in learning more about the railway and the men that built it can visit the JEATH Railway Museum and cemetery and the nearby Hellfire Pass Museum.

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Photos of Kanchanaburi

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    • Asia Specialist
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