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Off the Beaten Path: Kanchanaburi, Thailand

June 30th, 2010 by

Travelers touring Thailand tend to hop from major city to major city, paying very little attention to the villages that exist in between. This is, especially in the case of Kanchanaburi, a huge mistake.

P1120125 - THAILAND - KANCHANABURI - THE BRIDGE OVER THE RIVER KHWAE (KHWAY)

The town of Kanchanaburi is small, and is located a few hours west of the city of Bangkok. Travelers tend to pass Kanchanaburi when they leave Bangkok to visit either the northern city of Chaing Mai or the islands.
P1120139 - THAILAND - KANCHANABURI

Kanchanaburi may be small, but it’s incredibly inexpensive and relaxing. Anyone looking to spend a few days in a quiet atmosphere while experiencing true Thai culture will really appreciate the time they spend here.

When to Visit Kanchanaburi

P1120636 - THAILAND - KANCHANABURI - THE DEATH TRAIN RAIL

The western section of Thailand, where Kanchanaburi is located, tends to be relatively warm throughout the entire year. There is almost no winter season, with the coldest temperatures hovering around 70F (21.1C). During the hottest months, temperatures can soar into the hundreds.

P1120638 - THAILAND - KANCHANABURI - THE DEATH TRAIN RAIL

Because the temperatures are relatively consistent throughout the year, most travelers plan to visit Kanchanaburi when they know it won’t be as rainy. The rainy season begins in April and lasts through October, with the heaviest rainy periods occurring between September and October. The month of April experiences about 8 inches of rain, while the month of May experiences about 15. During the months of September and October, on the other hand, you might see up to 60 inches of rain.

Transportation throughout Kanchanaburi

P1120624 - THAILAND - KANCHANABURI - THE DEATH TRAIN RAIL

As noted, the town of Kanchanaburi is pretty small, but it isn’t small enough to say that walking is the only reasonable mode of transportation you’ll need. While most attractions and sites are within walking distance, you’ll probably find it necessary to at least rent a bicycle to get to a couple of the sights that are further away from your hotel. Bicycles are easy to rent at just about any hotel.

It's not a bicycle, but...

If you’re not into walking or bicycle riding, especially during the hottest months, you can easily rent a car, rent a motorcycle, pay for a motorcycle-taxi ride, or take the bus. Locals recommend motorcycles over rental cars because parking is so difficult to find.

Visiting the Tiger Temple

Thailand - 39 Tiger Temple, Kanchanaburi

The Tiger Temple is one of the most popular and well known attractions in Kanchanaburi. The Tiger Temple is a safe area in which orphaned tigers are taken care of. Visitors to the temple can interact with the unchained tigers, which have rarely ever attacked. The hot sun keeps them docile and they are well fed by the people caring for them in the temple.

we tigers are day sleepers ....

The cost to enter the temple is about $10, which may not seem expensive to western travelers but is a significant amount of money for locals. Don’t bother paying anyone for a tour of the temple. You are better off buying a map and finding your own back to and from the temple. The temple grounds are very hot (they’re located in an area equivalent to a quarry), so make sure you take a hat and plenty of fresh drinking water on your journey.

The Kawi River Bridge

P1120121 - THAILAND - KANCHANABURI - THE BRIDGE OVER THE RIVER KHWAE (KHWAY)

The bridge that stands over the Kawi River is one that major history buffs won’t want to miss. It was featured in a movie about World War 2 POWs, most of which was only partially accurate. The bridge was built by POWs, who were forced by the Japanese to work under extremely harsh conditions.  The bridge is considered a historic landmark and there is a nearby memorial cemetery dedicated to those who lost their lives during the bridge’s construction.

Erawan National Park

Thailand - 29 Second step of Erawan seven step waterfall. Erawan national park, Kanchanaburi

Also located within Kanchanaburi is the stunning Erawan National Park. This is another site you can see without the aid of a formal tour group. Simply hop on a local bus and head towards the park, where you’ll find plenty of jungle pools and water pools, perfect for rinsing away the heat of the day. You will find plenty of food vendors within the park, but they charge quite a bit for food, so make sure you pack a few snacks of your own if you are on a budget or simply want to save money.

Waterfalls - 07 Erawan Falls step 5, Erawan National Park. Kanchanaburi, Thailand

The town of Kanchanaburi is an enchanting place well worth taking the time to visit. Make sure you include a stop in this town on your itinerary. You won’t be sorry.

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