Anyone fancy a short trip about 3 hours from Bangkok by train to one of the biggest river (River Kwai (pronounced khwaae) in Thailand , which has an interesting death railway run across it? Moreover , there are a jungle , plenty of waterfalls which one of them is considered as the most beautiful waterfall in Thailand , and a nice temple cave.
I am sure most of you would love it , trust me !!!!
As some of you might already know my travel style , which I could adjust from basic accommodation to 5 stars hotel. I have no problem as long as it is exciting with new things to learn. I would love to embrace it!
Again this trip , I had been with Nicola- the young German girl ( Jungle girl ) , who always choose as cheap as possible way to travel. If you are not into this style. But you want to try. I am sure our trip information is suit for you , as our cheap way is not tough at all. And it is the best value of everything!!!
Since the movie “The Railway man”(http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2160374/Colin-Firth-movie-The-Railway-Man-Extras-leave-set-pushed-Japanese-guards.html) , starring by Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman , has just launched in May 2014. The trip to the death railway is getting more and more popular. Event the facts has not been changed. Let’s look through some interesting information about this death railway path……
- The Death Railway , the Thailand–Burma Railway was a 415 kilometres (258 mi) railway between Bangkok, Thailand, and Rangoon, Burma (now Yangon, Myanmar), built by the Empire of Japan in 1943 ( World war II )
- Around 90,000 Asian civilian labourers and 12,399 Allied POWs died as a direct result of the project. The dead POWs included 6,318 British personnel, 2,815 Australians, 2,490 Dutch, about 356 Americans, and about 20 POWs from other British Commonwealth countries (the Indian Empire, New Zealand and Canada)
Alright let’s go!!!
How to get there?
Of course!!! The best way to get an experience from the death railway is to travel by railway itself. But Thai train is unpredictable , slow , and always late. If you don’t mind that facts. There are trains leave from Hua lampong station( Main station ) on weekends , or there are daily trains leave from Thonburi station. The details are as folloewed ;
Leaving from Hua lampong station.
It is very easy to get to Hua lampong. You could come here by MRT.(Subway). Hua lampong station is at the end of the line , or by bus no.113, 34 , 529 , 73ก , 4 , 507 , 47 , 53 , 109 , and no.29( Be careful as some buses just drop off at victory monument. There is a Thai sign that tell you this.So you have to ask them) , etc. And it is the hub of the suburb train as well , you could come here from Chaingmai or from the south of Thailand. But the train from Thonburi is not linked to here.
The only disadvantages of departing from here are that trains here are available only on Saturday , and Sunday. And the limited of time as it is a one day trip train(2 ways included in the ticket price) , plus the ticket cost more as this is a tourist train not a regular train.
All train depart at 6.30am and come back to Hua lampong at 19.20pm. All trip not included lunch , except Prasat Mueng sing trip.
1. The Suan Saiyoke adventure Park Adult 270 baht Children 220 baht – This trip would bring you to Suan Saiyoke adventure Park . You could do some activities there for free.
2. Saiyoke Noi waterfall 120 Baht – This trip would stop at Namtok station , and let you have free time about 3 hours to enjoy Saiyoke Noi waterfall.
3. Prasat Mueng Sing 570baht – This trip would stop at Kanchanaburi , and bring you to Prasat Mueng Sing by bus.
Leaving from Thonburi Train Station
To get to this train station is a bit tricky as there is no bus passing by. The best way is to go to Sapan Taksin pier by BTS(Sky train). Then take the Chaopraya boat to Siriraj hospital pier. The train station is at the back of the hospital. You could walk but it is a bit far and take a while to figure it out the way. Another option is to take a crossing river boat from Siriraj pier to Rotfai(Train station) pier , which cost just 3 baht. Then get on the red small bus(Open air truck)to the train station.
Note : Remember that small bus run until late night , but the last service boat finish around 7.30pm. So if you come back late. You have to find other choices of transport.
People who stay in Khaosarn road might find it easier to get to Thonburi station. The best way is probably to take the passenger boat from Phra Arthit Pier to Siriraj hospital pier , and do the same as above information.
Trains leave Bangkok‘s Thonburi Train Station at 07:50am. and 13.55pm. Then arrive at Kanchanaburi station(Closed to the bridge) at 10:35 and also at 16:19. Then will end at the Namtok( Sai yok noi waterfall) station at 12.35 and 18.30. You can look on the picture above of when to get the train back.
I felt the advantage of being a Thai citizen this time as the 3rd class train is free for Thai people. But the one way fare for foreigners is 100 baht. You could not book the seat. So you could come just in time as this is not a fixed seat train. It could be really packed of people , or it might have plenty of space for you to lay down. No one knows.
There is huge local market opposite the train station. If you come early , you can walk around and have a look. There are lot of things that would surprise you there!
Thai train has got a bad reputation that it is very slow , and always late. Some people would love to take a nap during a trip. When you wake up , you could enjoy the view along the way. Then nap again over and over , maybe 3 times or more until you arrive. So don’t worry if you don’t have enough sleep the night before. You could sleep along the way on Thai train.
From Bangkok to Kanchanaburi:
BKS public buses (line 81) leave from Bangkok‘s Southern Bus Terminal (Sai Tai Taling Chan สายใต้ตลิ่งชัน), which is located far west in the suburb Thonburi. In Kanchanaburi, there are two separate but nearby bus terminals, with 1st class buses departing from an office off Thanon Saengchuto, and 2nd class buses from the larger terminal one block east.
- 1st class buses should leave Bangkok every 15 minutes from 05:00-22:30, take about 2 hours, and cost 110 baht, including a bottle of water.
- 2nd class buses (new route) leave Bangkok every 20 minutes from 03:30-19:00 and take about 2 hours. Cost 95 baht.
- 2nd class buses (old route) leave Bangkok every 15-30 minutes from 04:00-18:00 and take about 3 hours.
To go to Southern Bus Terminal , you could take bus No.79 from siam square , 510 opposite Cockwore road( Near Khaosarn rd. ) , and 555 from victory monument. Taxi cost about 80 Baht from Khaosard road.
There are also tourist minibuses directly to/from Khao San Road, departing Kanchanaburi at 13:30 and 18:30.
There are also some buses leaving less frequently from Bangkok’s Northern Mo Chit bus terminal (note: not the same as Mo Chit BTS station, and not within walking distance of it, although a standard 50 baht motorbike ride is available. It’s often called “Mo Chit 2″). Here are the times I could find at the station:
First-class bus with toilet (3 hours, 122 baht): 06:00, 11:00, 14:30
Second class bus with no toilet inside: 05:00, 07:00, 09:30, 12:30, 17:00
Bus rides may be variable or cancelled (for example, with 14:30 being last of the day.) BUT there are vans available at the bus station leaving even when you’re told there’s no way to get there by bus! It may pay to talk to the information desk for this. Price Feb ’11 was around 120 baht, about 2 hrs.
From Nakhon Pathom, there are direct buses (2nd class only) every 15 to 30 minutes between 04:00 and 18:00, which take two hours. Alternatively, you can hop off a 1st class bus when it passes by Nakhon Pathom, but double-check with staff to ensure the route allows this and they know your plans.
From Sangkhlaburi to Kanchanaburi, you’re spoilt for choice:
- Air-con VIP buses leave at 08:45, 10:45 and 14:30 and take 4 hours.
- Air-con minibuses leave at 06:30, 07:30, 11:30, 13:00, 15:30 and take 3.5 hours.
- Standard buses leave at 06:45, 08:15, 10:15, 13:15 and take 5 hours.
From Pattaya to Kanchanaburi:
There is a direct bus from Pattaya to Kanchanaburi, running 2 times a day (9:30am and 7:30pm), departing from Central Pattaya, arriving at Kanchanaburi Bus Terminal. The bus service is provided by Sri Mongkol bus company.
- Travel duration: approximately 5 hours (distance of about 220km – 230km)
- Bus ticket price: THB315 (price as at August 2013. Double-deck bus with air conditioner & toilet on board, price includes 1 free – bottle of water & one chocolate bon)
- Where to buy ticket & depart: Sri Mongkol bus terminal at Chaloem Phrakiat, Pattaya Sai 3 (Direction: on Central Pattaya road, find the TOT building (Telecommunication Company), Chaloem Phrakiat/Pattaya Sai 3 intersects with Central Pattaya road at this TOT building. The Sri Mongkol bus terminal is just about 150 meter from TOT building.
- Sri Mongkol contact: 089-280-2255 or 081-876-7770, or 081-879-9494, or 081-547-1548
Tips: best to buy ticket at least one day in advance. As many other Thais outside Bangkok, the company staff cannot understand & speak English well, especially over the phone. If there is any problem communicating to the staff, consider asking your hotel/hostel staff to speak to them in Thai over the phone, e.g. asking for the bus station address and have the hotel staff write it down in Thai – taxi/tuk tuk driver could find the place easier that way.
The 5-hour journey is quite long but the road quality is pretty good with hardly any problem. A good option to consider if one does not want to go to Kanchanaburi from Pattaya via going back to Bangkok.
From Ayutthaya to Kanchanaburi:
Ayutthaya – Suphanburi, bus no. 703, 40 baht, travel time 1.5h, leaves every 30m. Suphanburi – Kanchanaburi, bus no. 411, 50 baht, travel time 1.5h, leaves every 20m.
Minivans depart to Kanchanaburi from BTS Victory Monument. The minivans leave when they are full or every 15 minutes. The price is 130 baht from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi and 120 baht from Kanchanaburi to Bangkok.
By limousine taxi
Bangkok (Airport) limousines are a comfortable and swift means of travel between Thailand’s capitol and Kanchanaburi. Transfer rates by luxury Japanese sedan are typically from 3,000-3,500 baht.
For shorter travel, day trips from Bangkok are commonly sold at Bangkok travel agencies. Typically these include Toyota minibus transport from one’s hotel to Kanchanaburi and back (visiting the famous bridge, Erawan National Park, etc., depending on the package), and perhaps lunch and entrance fees. One example, circa early 2011: approximately 1,100 baht for transport, lunch, and entrance fees to Erawan National Park & the famous bridge.
Finally , here we are in Kanchanaburi. The train depart late for 10 minutes , but arrived late for 30 minutes. The way back was worse , the train was late for 2 hours!!! As I told you Thai train is unpredictable.
We planed to get off at Kanchanaburi station as we want to explore around this area. So we wanted to go into the city , hire a motorbike , then find a place to stay for a day. If you have a plan for a one day trip. You could keep continue until the next station , River Kwai Bridge , which is about 6 minutes from Kanchanaburi station. Or you could get off at the last station , Namtok , which is about 2 hours from here.
From train station , there is only one road that lead you to the main road. You could stop and take a picture of the old train. If you turn left on the main road , and keep walking about 10 minutes or less. You could visit one of the biggest cemetery , Kanchanaburi war cemetery.
It is very easy to go there from the train station. You could test some atmosphere in the past of this area.
Back to the train station. As our plan is to rent a motorcycle first. If you want to do the same. When you walk to the main road (Seang Chuto) , cross that road to another street that is just opposite the road from train station. Then keep walking along about 10 minutes , you will see a tall white top blue water tank. Then turn right , keep walking about 5 minutes. You will find the first motorcycle rental shop opposite 7-11.
To rent a motorbike in Thailand , the shop owner prefer foreigner’s passport than Thai national ID. card. If you come with Thai friend. You have to give your passport for a deposit. You have to write some detail mostly about time you take a motorbike , type of it. Nothing serious if you return it in the same condition. The price depend on CC. which we took 125CC. for 200Baht per day.
If you plan to ride it around , you don’t need a big motorbike. 100 CC. bike is more than fine. But if you want to go to Erawan waterfall , 125CC. bike is enough as the road in Kanchanaburi is not steep at all. It is good for the one who want to learn to ride in Thailand.
Where to stay?
Meanamkwai road , the road that we rent motorbike , has plenty of accommodations. Most of them set along the river Kwai , which is very nice. At first we planed to stay at Bluestar Guesthouse , which we found on wikitravel. But the price was up 50 baht from what we read. So we changed the plan to explore around. Then we found a very nice guest house , which is not on wikitravel’s list. It was just 150Baht a night , and the accommodation is event float on the river!
Sugar Cane guest house is about the third place that we went on searching. The price and stunning view had stopped us from searching somewhere else. The room start from 150baht to 550 baht per night.
( our room is very basic but has a bathroom inside )
We decided to stay in the cheapest one , which is not floating on the river. But it was about 15 steps apart from it. We could sit in their restaurant , and enjoy the nice view as well. The basic fan bungalow we stayed has bathroom inside. At night it was a bit hot , but could not complain for 75 baht per person a night. If you want to stay in an Air-Con , you have to pay 550 baht per night for 2. You could have a look for more detail ;
www.sugarcaneguesthouse.com Tel : +66 34624520
Other accommodations are as follow ;
- (Update May 2014 ) Bluestar Guesthouse, 241 Mae Nam Kwai Rd (between the two 7-11s), ☎ +66 34 624 733, +66 34 512 161, . Near Sud Chai Bridge. All rooms with private toilet. Wi-Fi streams from the main counter. About half the rooms are within range. from 200baht fan-350A/C baht.
- Apple’s Guesthouse, 52 Rong Heeb Oil (at the southern end of Mae Nam Khwae Rd), ☎ +66 34 512 017, . This guest house features a bunch of rooms adjoined by a nice big garden outside. The rooms are fairly spacious and luxury, and contain hot showers. Rooms have either fan or air-con rooms, with the fan-rooms being cheaper. Rooms do not feature TVs, according to the owner due to environmental concerns. There is a good restaurant attached as well, but breakfast is lacking. Portions are small, it is served late (not before 07:30) and it is not included in the room price. 490-690 baht.
- Baanchaokoh Homestay, 11/8 Bannua Rd (on Bannua (Sangchuto soi 47) between Sangchuto and Krom Pra Rad Cha Wang Bo Warn road), ☎ +66 92 113 9065, +66 81 921 7644 (email@example.com), . This homestay is run by a very friendly Thai couple, both speak English well and are very helpful. The homestay features seven rooms, a garden seating area, and an attached restaurant with organic options. The rooms are spacious and clean and the shared bathrooms have hot shower and Western toilets. Free wifi. Tours are available. Free pick up from bus or train station. Breakfast included through 2013. 200 baht (double w/ fan) 300 baht (double w/ AC), shared bathroom.
- Pong Phen Guesthouse, Soi Bangklated, River Kwai Rd, ☎ +66 34 512 981, +66 85 293 7683, +66 95 494 920 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Swimming pool, motorbike hire, shuttle/taxi services to Bangkok & the local area, and local sightseeing tours. Friendly staff, Wi-Fi, movie screenings on a large TV at 18:00. The reception is shared with the restaurant and is a good place to meet other guests. start at 400 baht.
- Ploy Guest House, 79/2 Mae Nam Kwai Rd, ☎ +66 34 515 804, . All rooms in Siam-style with air-con, private toilet and hot shower. Restaurant/bar with river view. Walled garden outside your room with incorporated open-air shower. 550+ baht.
- Rainbow Lodge, 48 Rong Heeb Aoi Soi, Caokhunnen Rd (call for free pick up), ☎ +66 34 513 976, +66 81 763 0116 (email@example.com), . All rooms have free Wi-Fi and a buffet dinner is provided. Fan room with TV & toilet 1,050 baht, fan & hot water 390 baht, standard room: TV, air-con, hot shower & toilet 490-590 baht. VIP room TV, air-con, fridge, hot shower & toilet 1,050-1,200 baht..
- Sams Guesthouse, 14/2 Moo 1, Maenawkwae Rd (short drive from bus station), ☎ +66 34 515 956, Sam’s cell: +66 81 948 3448 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . All rooms come with air-con, most are wooden bungalows in a quiet area on the River Kwai. 400-1,000 baht.
- Tamarind Guesthouse, 29/1 Thamakham Rd, ☎ +66 89 837 7256 (email@example.com). Rooms overlook the River Kwai. Raft house and new building, Internet and Wi-Fi, travel advice, tours, transfers to other places in Thailand. Friendly staff. Close to night market. Air-con rooms with hot shower & TV, 550 baht; fan room with hot shower, 350 baht; suite room, air-con, hot shower and TV, 700 baht; raft house with hot shower, 350 baht; single room with shared bath, 150 baht..
- Tanaville, (walk towards the GKhwae bridge on Mae Nam Kwai Rd, pass the 2nd 7-11 and it is 150 m to the right). Not a new place but the owners are nice and there is a well cared for garden. Shared facilities are clean. Good if you want to sit on the river, relax and see the water flow by with an occasional boat. 200 baht for a raft room (on the river itself) with a shared bathroom. 300 baht for a room with a fan. 400 baht for air-con.
- Tara Bed & Breakfast, (A bright yellow & orange, 3-storey building a stones throw north of the Tesco Lotus Express on Mae Nam Kwai Rd), ☎ +66 86 3374540 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . checkin: 14:00; checkout: 12:00. Nice and clean, exceptionally good value for money! Extremely comfortable beds, flatscreen TV and good, free Wi-Fi in all rooms, more expensive rooms also have safe & fridge. A nice perk is that you can use the backyard neighbour’s (Noble Night’s) swimming pool, tanning chairs, and cute garden space for free. 250 baht for fan room with shared bathroom, 450 for AC, 700 for AC with ensuite bathroom, 900 for triple room.
- V.N. Guest House, 44 Rong Heeb Oil Rd, ☎ +66 34 514 082 (mailto:email@example.com), . Free Wi-Fi. Raft rooms from 250 baht, double rooms with bath, 250 baht, air-con rooms, 400 baht..
- Kasem Island Resort, 44-48 Chaichumphon Rd, Chukadon Pier River Kwai, ☎ +66 81 499 4941, . Fan-rafting rooms or air-con rooms with private balcony overlooking the River Kwai. An island resort on the River Kwai. Rooms for 2-3 persons.
- Pavilion Rim Kwai, . Beautifully landscaped gardens on the banks of the River Kwai Valley.
- River Kwai Hotel, 284/15-16 Saeng Chuto Rd (halfway between the bus and train stations, 600 m away), ☎ +66 34 511565, . Centrally located hotel with a really good breakfast, Thai or Western. Was once the city’s fanciest hotel but now it’s getting a little long in the tooth. Large swimming pool, an OK restaurant. If you want to be adventurous, better walk to the railway station some 600 m distant, turn right as you leave the hotel, go around the night market, and eat there cheaply, because this is where the locals shop and eat. Internet café, though more expensive than many other nearby cafes, beer garden, dubious massage/karaoke bar, and disco 1,190 baht as at March 2013 walk in price.
- River Kwai Jungle Rafts . Floating rooms in the heart of the jungle near Saiyok Kanchanaburi.
- Saiyok River House, ☎ +66 34 591 050, . Rooms are for two persons, three persons & six persons. There is a three-bedroom house for couples or a family. All equipped with refrigerator, mini-bar, hair dryer, water boiler and coffee service, balcony/deck, water heater, DVD player, TV, and Internet. Has restaurant/café/bar, spa, swimming pool, half-court basketball, karaoke, and reading room. 1,140-3,800 baht.
- Tamarind Boutique Resort, ☎ +66 22 33 4250 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . An alternative relaxing and ‘Green’ resort which lays in a small, calm and peaceful village, 30 min. from downtown, with wooden single houses equipped with all the facilities that you need for a real rest.
- Felix River Kwai Resort, . Walking distance from the bridge, just on the opposite side from the main touristy area. Nice, well-maintained facilities, with several restaurants, Internet access in the lobby, massage parlor, air-con rooms. From 1,800 baht.
- Nakakiri River Kwai Resort  One of the largest River Kwai resorts. Enjoy their own hot springs, huge ATV track, giant swimming pool and nearby waterfall. Stay in jungle river raft houses, more luxury hotel rooms overlooking the river or the top location pool side or river view villas. Starting from 1,350 baht.
- Royal River Kwai Resort and Spa Great views, OK breakfast, helpful staff but a distance from the town itself. Tranquil environment and twice-daily (10:30 and 14:30) hotel taxi service which can be booked for the entire afternoon. From 2,300 baht.
- U Inchantree Resort, (5 min walk from the bridge), . 26 small but well-equipped modern rooms. Luxury bed and duvet, LCD cable TV, iPod. Friendly attentive staff, restaurant and riverside terrace. Fitness room, library and free Wi-Fi. Located on a bend in the river offering views of the mountains in the distance. From 2,900 baht including breakfast for 2.
Where to eat?
A large number of street food vendors and nice fancy restaurants are easy to find along Maenamkwai road. But if you want to have a meal near the river with a very fair price. The Sugar Cane restaurant (same as accommodation) has a very reasonable price ,for example , a dish in picture is just 40Baht!!! , and a water melon juice is only 30Baht. It was unbelievable price for a riverfront restaurant! But you might find a more satisfies one. So take a time to have a look around. This area is very small. You have plenty of time to do that.
Where to go?
River Kwai bridge
If you keep walking on Meanamkwai road until the end of it , which is about 30 minutes walk. You will be at river Kwai bridge , where the death railway used to line along. The actual bridge was rebuilt again after the bomb from alliance. Some remain original pieces of the bridge was removed to the war museum , which is next to the river Kwai bridge.
You can ride a motorbike about 10 minutes from city to river Kwai bridge , or you could drop off by train. But there is not much things to do and see around this area. The train runs just 2 times per day on weekdays. So you would stuck here if you plan to come and go by train. You could walk around to see everything in just 30 minutes or less.
You can walk on the bridge , when there is no train run on. There is a ticket booth next to the rail sell 2 ways ticket to ride on 2 kilometers train for 20Baht , which start just next to the booth and stop a bit further from the end of the bridge.
World war II & JEATH war museum
Entrance fee : Adult 40 baht , Child 20 Baht Open : 8.30 – 18.00 pm.
The museum is just about 5 minutes walk from river Kwai bridge on the right of the Meanamkwai road. There are plenty to see here. I found that I spend time here more than on the river Kwai bridge. If you plan to visit just a river Kwai bridge , and return to Bangkok in the same day. This is the place you have to be!
There are plenty more stuffs that I haven’t shown you. And there are some interesting history to read as well. You could come here and explore by yourself. I grantee that 40Baht is worth for the experience that you would get in return.