There are several attractions in Thailand’s Kanchanaburi area and the Bridge on the River Kwai is one of them. The bridge covers a small distance across the Kwai River. The bridge has great historical significance, and it has a great tragedy associated with it. Japanese captured many prisoners during the World War II and forcibly made them construct the bridge. It is estimated that more than 80,000 forcibly employed laborers and around 13,000 war prisoners died during the construction of the bridge. The bridge became famous because of a French novel written by Pierre Boule and a British movie with the same name made in 1957.
The story behind the bridge construction
The construction work of the bridge began in the month of October in 1942. Actually, there were two bridges that were developed by the war prisoners. The first completed bridge was the wooden bridge, which was built in February 1943, but it did not last for long and another bridge made up of steel was constructed after few months and this steel bridge is what we see today in the venue. The bent steel bridge spans are original, and Japanese purchased those spans from Java. However, there are two straight-sided spans from Japan, which were fixed for replacing the destroyed spans after the bombing around 1944-1945. During the construction, appropriate machines were not used and the workers made use of dynamite to break boulders and rocks that lead to numerous accidental deaths of the workers. After the construction of the bridge was over, it became a railway hub that helped the area to increase cultivation. At that time, the name of the river was Mae Klong. It was renamed in 1960 the “Kwai River”.
Things to see
Because of the historic background and the well-known movie, the atmosphere around The Bridge on the River Kwai is special. You will easily find information and there are few museums in Kanchanaburi to remember the story and tragedy of the second world war. There are platforms on the bridge and tourist can walk through the bridge.
One of the popular attractions around the area is Lawa Cave and Sai Yok Yai Waterfall. You can visit this attraction by hiring a boat from a place called Tambon Tha Sao, near the river. The entire time for traveling across the waterfall is around four hours and the trip is very enjoyable.
Near the bridge, there is another attraction, which is a war museum. In this museum, the visitors can take a close look of the collection of tools, utensils, and weapons, used by the Japanese army and prisoners of war all through the World War II and the construction of the bridge.
There are also several nice and enjoyable restaurants on the river.
Each year on November 28, there is a light and sound show around the bridge to remember the Allied bombing on that day in 1944.
How to reach The Bridge on the River Kwai
From the centre of Kanchanaburi, the distance of the bridge is around five kilometers. There are three daily passenger trains that carry the visitors to the location. There is a particular station dedicated for this site and the name of the station is the River Kwae Bridge station. A cycle rickshaw from Kanchanaburi can also access the bridge and this trip is more exciting than the train journey because of the scenic locales. During the visit, you can enjoy spending time in the cafes, museum, shops, and a few steam locomotives kept on display. Kanchanaburi is about 130 Km from Bangkok.
This post is also available in: French