Recommended attractions in Kanchanaburi
Kanchanaburi, in Myanmar border, is home to the famous Bridge River Kwai. During WW II, Japan constructed the meter-gauge railway line from Ban Pong, Thailand to Thanbyuzayat, Burma. The line passing through the scenic Three Pagodas Pass runs for 250 miles. This is now known as the Death Railway.The started making the Bridge on the River Kwai in October 1942 was completed in a year. Due to the difficult terrain, thousands of laborers lost their lives. It is believed that one life was lost for each sleeper laid in the track.
The railway line was meant to transport cargo daily to India, to back up their planned attack on India. The construction was done using POWs and Asian slave laborers in unfavorable conditions.
Bridge River Kwai is a tourist destination now. The track is developed into a walkway with side platforms. This allows crossing the railway bridge on foot. These platforms are useful as viewpoints and for avoiding trains. A small tourist train runs back and forth across the bridge.
Every year, River Kwai Bridge Festival is organized to mark the Allied bombing on November 28, 1944. Spectacular light and sound show is the highlight of the festival.
The nex River Kwai Bridge Festival will be :November 26 ,2015 and December 5,2015.
At the nearby Kanchanaburi War Cemetery, around 7,000 POWs, who sacrificed their lives in the railway construction, are buried. Another 2,000 are laid to rest at the Chungkai Cemetery.
Allied Forces bombed the iron bridge in 1944. Three sections of Bridge River Kwai were destroyed. The present bridge has two of its central spans rebuilt. The original parts of the bridge are now displayed in the War Museum.
The Bridge River Kwai became famous all over the world, when it was featured in movies and books. The cliff-hugging tracks and the natural beauty of the surrounding mountains and valleys are well captured in the David Lean movie.
If you are planning to stay in Kanchanaburi and visit nearby places, hiring a tricycle is the ideal choice. Motorcycles and jeeps are also available for hire at rental shops located at Saeng Chuto Road and Song Kwai Road. However, make enquiries regarding the rates and conditions at Tourism Authority of Thailand office in Kanchanaburi, to avoid being duped.
Kanchanaburi Town is located 128kms to the west of Bangkok. Regular buses ply the route from Southern Bus Terminal in Bangkok. Both air condition and non air condition buses are available throughout the day for the three hour journey. Train services from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi starts from Bangkok Noi Railway Station. Those with own vehicles may use the newly constructed expressway from Pinklao. The updated timings for buses and trains are available at Tourism Authority of Thailandoffices.
Special trains run from Bangkok for tourists during weekends. On Saturdays and Sundays, the train leaves Bangkok at 6.30am. It stops at Bridge River Kwai for 10 minutes. Tourists can use this time to sightsee and take photographs. The train further passes through the old POW camps. This train journey allows tourists to see the famous Bridge River Kwai and the historical places as well as enjoy the bewitching beauty of the rugged mountainous region.
JEATH stands for Japan, England, America, Australia, Thailand and Holland, representing the nationalities of the prisoners of war (POW’s) who were forced to work on the construction of the famous “Bridge On The River Kwai“.
The JEATH War Museum is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Click here for more information on visiting Kanchanaburi; you can purchase inexpensive bus or mini-van tickets at many guesthouses, backpackers and travel agencies in Bangkok. On a more pleasant note, Kanchanaburi is a lovely town, and the region is definitely worth a visit for its more bucolic charms.
Adres: Newzealand Rd., Tha Ma Kham, Mueang Kanchanaburi District, Kanchanaburi.
The Thailand-Burma Railway Centre is a privately funded project built in Kanchanaburi. It has been established to provide an unbiased, rounded and accurate account of the story of the Thailand to Burma Railway built in 1942/43 by Prisoners of War of the Imperial Japanese Army and by both forced and willing Asian laborers. Although not specifically a memorial, it facto is one. The object is to provide a center in Kanchanaburi that is part museum and part information and research facility, but devoted entirely to the Thailand-Burma Railway. A further aim is to complement the existing Australian Memorial Museum at Hell Fire Pass about 80 km north of Kanchanabur.
The site was acquired close to the War Cemetery in Kanchanaburi. Construction of the Centre began in March 2001 and completed January 2003. The two-story building includes a coffee shop, toilet facilities and a small shop, in addition to the museum area. The entire project cost over $A300,000 to build, equip and fit out. Donations have come from interested veterans, their families and other individuals, a Thai benefactor and the promoters of the project. There is no sponsorship from any government body, or from any major international company.
The Centre is run initially as a Limited Company (TBRC Co Ltd). It is intended to convert to a Foundation under Thai law in due course. Research Director and Museum Curator is Mr. Rod Beattie. Mr. Beattie is currently the Supervisor of the Commonwealth War Cemeteries in Kanchanaburi. He has spent his spare time since 1994 investigating many aspects o the Thailand-Burma Railway, mapping it and collecting records and data. Operations Director Mr. Hugh Cope has lived in Thailand for many years, has a wealth of business management experience and is responsible for the day-to-day running of the center.
The opening ceremony was held on 20th January 2003. This is a wonderful facility which, in addition to the Museum at Hell Fire Pass, 80km north, enhances visitors understanding of conditions on the line and the terrible treatment of the Prisoners of War.