The fame of being infamous is what you will find in the province of Kanchanaburi. Left very much on its own for several hundred years until some bright Japanese General had the idea that this would be a great place to build a railway line. The story doesn’t just stop there, out of willing volunteers to help build the railway through mosquito infested jungles, the idea again came “why not use the many prisoners of war we have and put them to work for free!” And so began the biggest story of an international tragedy in Kanchanaburi.
The bright spark who conceptualized the railway line from Malaya to Burma would also be the cause for a lot of parents to lose their sons, wives to their husbands and children to lose their fathers. Time may have buried most of the atrocities inflicted during the Second World War but memories never fade. Made all the more memorable with an Oscar winning film, the memories just would not go away! This is none other than The Bridge over the River Kwai and the story of the infamous Death Railway.
If you are thinking of ghostly haunting, go visit the Hellfire Pass where thousands of Australian, British, Asian and other prisoners lost their lives during the construction of the pass, or take a ride on the Death Railway that leads up to this pass where it is reputed that one sleeper on the track represents one life lost. Want more memories? Visit theJeath Museum or the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery.
However if you are not afraid of ghost, we dare you to spend a night at the Hellfire Pass! We strongly feel it is not the ghost who will haunt you but rather a memory of the past that will give you sleepless nights!
Top 10 Destinations of Kanchanaburi
Feel The Heat In Hellfire Pass
If you ever wondered why it is known as “Hellfire Pass” take a ride up to this pass through the mountain. Go back 60 odd years and imagine you are facing the mountain in a mosquito infested and hot steamy jungle. The Japanese soldiers are screaming at you and prodding you to move along. You are hungry, tired and sickly. All you have with you is a shovel and a pickaxe plus a tall order to hack through the mountain of stone and bedrock. There are thousands like you, all far from home in the worse imaginable condition. You work day and night with the light of carbide lamps and bamboo flame torches. The shadows play on the freshly hewn walls like a mimic of skeletal figures in the flames of hell. Standing where you are now, aren’t you lucky that it is not you! That and more is what has been endured by the POWs of the Second World War of which many have lost their lives. This is one place where it was jumping out of the frying pan into the fire, literally, so thank your lucky star but remember those who have fallen!
See The Icon Of The Oscar Winning Film At The Bridge Over The Kwai
Immortalized by the famous film “Bridge on the Kwai” this is one of the sad icons of theSecond World War. Of course now all you will see are giggly tourist and picture hungry travelers snapping away along the span of the bridge. Some take short rides up and down the old railway track and others prefer to walk. Those who have been here will say “I have been to the Kwai” but what is memorable are the number of lives lost in the process of the construction and many of them unknown. Prisoners of War from UK, Australia, USA, Malaya and more were the “cannon fodder” used by the Japanese during the construction. Considered cheap and available labor they were exploited under the worst conditions. So when you are at this bridge, it is not theOscar award that makes it famous but the human element that is to be remembered!
Read Some Of The Inscription On The Tombstones At The War Cemetery
Oh wow! Another war memorial. Well, Kanchannburi is the place where you could call it a “hotspot” in the days of the Second World War. Of course it is not the kind of hotspot you would like to be in not even if you were a Japanese soldier at that time! There are no fun and entertainment here just work, torture and more work in a hot, wild place! Fast forward 70 years later, it is the famous tourist hub for war memorials! So naturally one of the highlights would be a war cemetery. There is nothing eerie here just the many fallen souls at rest who would not mind a prayer or two on their behalf. Read some of the touching inscriptions here, including one of a doctor who dedicated his services to the POWs that were sickly and injured. Quite a story of valor on the human spirit.
Death And War At The Jeath Museum
We could not fathom the word “Jeath” in our minds it is always “Death” but a visit to this quirky museum will tell you why! Yes, it is a war museum of sorts but there are some rather odd depictions of what “death” means in a jester-like manner. If you are into the macabre, take a walk around this museum, it just might fascinate you.
Dare To Pet A Pussy Cat At The Tiger Temple
We all know that tigers should be in the wild. However, this Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi first started out as a sanctuary for tigers brought in by villagers who found them injured and homeless trying to escape from the poachers guns and nets. Over time the Tigers were bred at the temple and became very much like domesticated cats but of the big variety. Some of them are as docile as your average house kitty cat! There is no ploy when you see them play with the monks much as a pussy cat would. If you are lucky, when you visit, you might get a chance to pose with these big cats and have an awesome picture to bring home. There are those who would protest against these cats in captivity but there is also a saying that “one man’s meat is another man’s poison”, so we can’t please everyone but on hindsight, if these wonderful cats were left in the wild, they would probably be almost extinct by now!
Get Some Big Loving At The The Elephant Sanctuary
Everyone loves an elephant! Say “elephant” and we think of that beloved “Dumbo” fromWalt Disney. These “Dumbos” at the Elephant Sanctuary in Kanchanaburi is as real as if you were to pinch yourself and find that you are wide awake. Where there are elephants, there are also lots of big loving! For their size, they are extremely playful and always welcome a banana or two, oh heck, why not give them a whole lorry load
Remember The Fallen On The Death Railway
We all mostly love choo-choo trains but this one is a ride down a memory lane built on blood and glory. While we have fun enjoying a scenic train ride it is good to remember that for those who built these railway lines it was not so scenic after all. Built from the lives of POWs the entire train ride may pass through scenic sights and wonderful river views, rewind 70 years and it was a nightmare of torture and sadness. Many never made it home. Known by its infamous name, the Death Railway extends from Malaya all the way into Burma. Most of the route has been damaged over time and the distance is much shorter now but you will get the idea of how the human spirit can conquer all.
Cool off at Erawan Falls
Feeling the heat yet? Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just take off those shoes and dip in a nice cool pool of fresh water away from the crowd and noisy streets! Kanchanaburi province is still very much a natural resource of eco-friendly adventures. Get bumped and thrown into some of the cleanest fresh water falls yet unspoiled by man at Erawan Falls or try navigating down the white waters of these rivers in rubber dinghies but hold on tight! Failing to bring a set of dry clothes to change into is your own look out!It is a great adventure to try white water rafting in Kanchanburi or if you are the type just just love to sit and wallow in the cool waters, go sit under the waterfall in Erawan Falls.
Would you like to meet a set of twins? See the Twin Sister Temples of Kanchanaburi
Considered twins but yet as far apart in appearance the only thing adjoining them is the hilltop they both sit on with interconnecting pathways. These are the temples of Wat Tham Sua and Wat Tham Khao Noi. While one is very typical Thai, the other is designed with influences all the way from china! Where you have a Thai stupa, you also have a Chinese Pagoda. You will find that the Buddha statues are similar as are all Buddha statues in Thailand. One thing you must see here is the very innovative way of collecting donations under the Big Buddha statue with a shell like enclosure. Look carefully under the statue and you will see a small conveyor belt that will carry your donation in a small bowl to a collection place right underneath! Happy wondering where it is going to go!
Get a fish-eye view of the River Kwai
You can see the River Kwai from the top, from the ground so why not try from a fish-eye view! No, you do not need scuba gear but just get into a nice little cruise boat for a ride down the length of the river. A quiet boat ride down the River Kwai is a nostalgic reminder and a great way to sober-up from all the great fun. Not to say that it is a party-pooper but Kanchaburi is all about memories. You can go back to your fun in the evening at the many pubs and cafes down the road in Kanchanaburi town till your heart is contented and drink out at some of the very British and Australian pubs!