No idea where this place is? Neither did I till I googled: Places to go near Bangkok. she is famous for her Death Railway, if you've watched The Railway Man starring Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman, you'd know what I am talking about. And yes as the title suggested, I went to this unfamiliar place alone, and trust me I loved every moment of it. (Before you doubt me, the pictures of me are either taken by my driver or I used a selfie stand.)
There are a few ways to get to Kanchanaburi like driving, taking the bus or minivan as well as the train. I chose the last option, 1: I've never sat in an old, air con-less train before; 2: they say the scenery is beautiful. I stayed near Khao San Road the night before as I felt it was near to THONBURI TRAIN STATION, the most direct line to Kanchanaburi, there are only 2 trains going there, one at 0745 and 1335. Due to the terrible traffic, a 12- minute journey turned to a 43-minute ride in a taxi, I thought I was going to miss my train, I ran like my life depended on it. The fee will always be 100 THB, no air conditioning, just natural breeze. I have to warn you though the dust particle might be too much for some. After 2 hours, I finally reached.
I stayed at THE NINE GUESTHOUSE, booked through booking.com. Its only a 5-minute walk from KANCHANABURI STATION, you have to cross the road and walk pass CHUNGKAI CEMETERY and the THAI-BURMA RESEARCH CENTRE (0900 - 1700). Its a standard, normal guesthouse, with a yard in front of the rooms and a cafe beside, just in case you are the every-morning-must-drink-coffee type. What I loved the most was the owner, she is super friendly, and helped me get a driver to go to attractions that are too far for a fair price. The room was enough for 2, with a king size bed , air condition as well as a private bathroom equipped with soaps and towels for only 711 THB. After settling, I began my little adventure.
Hellfire pass (0900 - 1600) is about 1.5 hour from the city, you can always ride the bus from Kanchanaburi bus station (take the bus to Thong Pha Phum) but it was already 12 by then, I wanted to maximise my time so I got a driver instead. Please bring a hat, sun block. most importantly mosquito repellent, I've only walked for 5 minutes and I was already scratching all over. The entrance is FREE, I really encourage you to get the audio guide ( again no money required, just give them your ID), its informative and emotional, hearing what kind of conditions they were in at that time was really painful. They have a shorter route of 500m (one round and you go back to the entrance, trust me its tiring enough), and also a longer route where you'll walk all the way to the other side, if you have a driver, get them to wait for you there.
Let's talk briefly about Hellfire pass' (Konyu Cutting) history; its a difficult section of the line to build, 26 m deep 500 m long. the POWs Australians, British, Dutch and other allies) were forced by the Japanese to work long hours and many died from cholera, dysentery, starvation, exhaustion etc. As you walk between the rocks, you can see flags and kind words from travellers especially from said countries being displayed there.
We left for Sai Yok Noi Waterfalls (0800 - 1800) after, it was on the way to and from Hellfire pass. Noi means small, and yes it was a small waterfall. The water is clean. the location is very well-shaded, very suitable for a little picnic session. Across the road from the waterfall there are a few shops selling local snacks as well as a 7e. We only stayed for 30 minutes and left for my most anticipated attraction.
As you head to the Death Railway, there are shops selling clothes, souvenirs and more. Honestly, I was very nervous about this site, because again of its WWII history. I was mesmerised, the view was amazing as I walked along the railway tracks I couldn't help but feel calm. It was so peaceful, in contrast of the pain and suffering the POWs had encounter whilst constructing the railway. I suggest that you take a walk on the track and just enjoy the serenity that comes with it. You can look up Thai-Burma Railway to have a full understanding of what was going on at the time. Unfortunately for me, I can't stay too long because it started raining, my driver and I ran back to our vehicle as fast as possible. We decided to head to Prasat Mueng Sing Historical Park (0800 - 1700) which was located about 30 minutes away from the Death Railway.
Prasat Mueng Sing Historical Park to me is like a mini Angkor Wat. I've always loved ancient ruins and you can guess how excited I was when I got to see these architectures. Of course having had a chance to visit Angkor Wat itself, the historical park wasn't extremely "breathtaking" but beautiful in its own way. It was about 5 pm, and we decided it was time to go back to the guesthouse.
There's actual a vegetarian restaurant beside the guest house, but I chose to walk another 3 minutes to another vegetarian restaurant, On's Thai Issan which offer vegetarian cooking classes as well. The food was delicious, that I had to order 2 dishes, and that's a lot for somebody who can't really finish a whole bowl of something. Do order to Tom Sap, it deserves so many thumbs-ups. After that, I walked to Kanchaburi Train Station to explore Kanchanaburi Night Market. Like every other night market, they sell food and clothes amongst other things, not to mention a foot massage for 60THB, products are relatively cheap. The next day was going to be a long one, so I went back early to rest, apart from a few bars and the night market, there's nothing much to do at night anyway.
(my morning started with a good 1.5 km hike up a mountain and a 30-minute swim at Erawan Falls (0800 - 1630), still trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle even when traveling, LOL. We left the guesthouse at 0800 and reached Erawan National Park at about 0915. You can also take a bus from the bus terminal, the earliest bus is at 0800, but it'll take you about 2 hours to get up here. An entrance fee of 300 THB is required for foreigners. There are 7 tiers to this waterfall and the higher you go the more beautiful the waterfall gets, at least in my opinion. A lot of tourists will hang around the first few tiers, and by a lot I really do mean A LOT. The water was cooling and clear, a beautiful colour of green/ blue, a site to behold indeed. To hike up to the 5th tier onwards, it was really a challenge, but I don't give up easily and I was glad, because the 7th tier was my paradise. My driver liked the 5th tier, the only reason why I didn't like it was because of the fishes, they kept "biting" my dead skin away, WHAT IF I LIKED MY DEAD SKIN, FISHES? WHO GAVE YOU PERMISSION TO EAT ME! It took us about 2 and 1/2 hours to go hike up and down, that was always because we only swam in 2 out of 7 tiers. After a quick change of clothes, we got food and left for Srinagarind Dam (0800 - 1800) (this was my driver's suggestion, he said since we are in the area)
Needless to say, I was overwhelmed, the view is too breathtaking, its like a painting, I'd assume heaven looks like this. There's nothing much to do there, but a few things to look at like the sun dial and a place to pray. I was more focused on the view, I just stood there like a mannequin. The guy right there, my driver, and now my friend.
After a quick shower and a simple checking out procedure, I decided to head to the bridge over the River Kwai. Again, lots of tourist, maybe it also had to the with the fact I went during their holiday. The bridge has platforms on the side so when the train comes, you won't die. As I was walking along the bridge, there was a train so the experience was exhilarating. JEATH museum was 5 minutes away, I usually loved going to museums, but I didn't really enjoy this one, I thought it lacked a system.
And that's the end of my trip to Kanchanaburi. I took a mini van (Win Happy company) from Kanchanaburi Bus Terminal back to Bangkok at 5pm and reached about 8pm. It was not a bad ride. I am definitely coming back again, there's so many more things I felt I have not got the chance to see, like the Elephant camps (proper, non-abusive, for the elephants kind). Till then, I am signing off for now.
An Aquarius actress seeking for the meaning of life: good food, good friends, good places, good music, basically everything that is good.