home of Bridge on the River Kwai

KANCHANABURI

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anchanaburi has become a major tourist destination, with attractions including several well-known waterfalls, caves that were once inhabited by Neolithic man, pristine national parks, tranquil rivers, virgin forests, and several large reservoirs. Together, these attractions offer an intriguing experience for both first-time and repeat visitors. Whether it’s fishing, rafting, canoeing, mountain biking, bird-watching, star-gazing, golfing, elephant and jungle trekking, or even living in a bamboo raft, Kanchanaburi takes pride in offering them all.In north and west Kanchanaburi, the terrain is comprised mainly of mountains and high plains, with the Thanon Thongchai Range acts as a natural border between Thailand and Myanmar. The range is the source of Kanchanaburi’s two most important rivers Maenam Khwae Noi (Little Kwai River) and Maenam Khwae Yai (Big Kwai River), which form the famous Maenam Mae Klong. As a result of these major rivers and three of Thailand’s largest reservoirs, Kanchanaburi features several of Thailand’s largest Namtok (waterfalls) as well as a number of wildlife sanctuaries.The most defining natural attractions in Kanchanaburi is arguably the Three Pagodas Pass, a break in the Thanon Thongchai Mountain Range that divides Thailand and Myanmar. Along an overland trade route from India, it is through this pass that Buddhism was thought to first to arrive in Thailand around the 3rd century. The province and its pass were later controlled by the Khmer of Angkor in the 13th century, who built a fort there ( a Khmer temple from the time has been restored as a tourist attraction). The kingdom of Ayutthaya also built a military garrison in the area, though it was through the pass that the Burmese frequently swept into Siam and eventually razed the capital of Ayutthaya. In World War II, the Japanese built a railway through the pass using forced labor, including western POWs. Later known as the Death Railway, the line included an infamous bridge crossing the Kwai River that was the subject of a historically inaccurate academy award winning film. The Three Pagodas Pass area is also home to numerous hill tribes and other minority groups who reside in the area as nation-less refugees without citizenship in either land. For visitors, it is possible to get temporary one-day visas to cross the border for a sneak peak at Myanmar and do some shopping for exotic souvenirs. The city of Kanchanaburi is located at the point where the Khwae Noi and Khwae Yai Rivers meet and form the Maenam Mae Klong. The notorious Death Railway passed through the town, near which stands the site of the Bridge on the River Kwai. Nearby the reconstructed bridge are monuments including an Allied War Cemetery and a war museum. In economic terms, Kanchanaburi has been prospering for a number of years. Important industries include sugar, agricultural products, and jewelry. Tourism is also a main source of income for the locals, though most are engaged in agricultural activities. The province’s population is made up of Thai, Mon, and Karen peoples, most of whom are rural dwellers who enjoy living simply and respecting nature. Moreover, folk music and dances dating back at least 500 years are still performed to this day. Only two hours from Bangkok, Kanchanaburi is accessible by road or rail, the latter of which includes sightseeing day trips that run on weekends and public holidays; these weekend special trains are reasonably priced and make hassle free and enjoyable adventures. Even the climate of Kanchanaburi, cooled by the altitude, forests, and rivers, is a welcome respite from the heat and congestion of the nearby capital city.(Credit:tourismthailand.org)

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POPULATION
32 ,000 (estimated, 2010)

population

WHAT TO WEAR

Kanchanaburi has a tropical climate influenced by monsoons . Rainy season is from May to October. Average temperatures stay around 30C throughout the year. DRESS CODE: light cotton clothing, comfortable shoes, sandals, hat, sunglasses. When visiting temples it is advisable to dress modestly and wear shirts with sleeves. Some classy venues such as restaurants require a smart casual attire.

SHOPPING

Kanchanaburi has a good variety of shopping: local markets and shops.

NO SMOKING, PLEASE

In Thailand smoking is forbidden in all temples, public transport, airports (they may have designated smoking areas), train and bus stations, indoor public places including office buildings, hospitals, restaurants, shops.

TIPS

Tip is discretionary and up to you, of course gratuities for a good service are appreciated.