The attractions in Amphoe Muang can be visited by bus, by bicycle or by motorcycle. Boat trips to some riverside attractions are serviced at the River Kwai Bridge Pier and at Wat Chai Chumphon Pier near the JEATH War Museum.
The Bridge on the River Kwai
Internationally famous, thanks the several motion pictures and books, the black
iron bridge was brought from Java by the Japanese supervision by
Allied prisoner-of-war labour as part of the Death
Railway linking Thailand with Burma. Still in use today, the
bridge was the target of frequent Allied bombing raids during World
War II and was rebuild after war ended. The curved spans of the
bridge are the original sections. A daily train is still following
the historical route from Kanchanaburi to Nam Tok Railway Station.
[ train timetable ]
Admission fee: free
Historical background: 'Death Railway'
In 1943 thousands of Allied Prisoners of War (PoW) and Asian labourers
worked on the Death Railway under the
imperial Japanese army in order to construct part of the 415 km
long Burma-Thailand railway. Most of these men were Australians,
Dutch and British and they had been working steadily southwards
from Thanbyuzayat (Burma) to link with other PoW on the Thai side
of the railway. This railway was intended to move men and supplies
to the Burmese front where the Japanese were fighting the British.
Japanese army engineers selected the route which traversed deep
valleys and hills. All the heavy work was done manually either by
hand or by elephant as earth moving equipment was not available.
The railway line originally ran within 50 meters of the Three
Pagodas Pass which marks nowadays the border to Burma. However
after the war the entire railway was removed and sold as it was
deemed unsafe and politically undesirable. The prisoners lived in
squalor with a near starvation diet. They were subjected to captor
brutality and thus thousands perished. The men worked from dawn
until after dark and often had to trudge many kilometres through
the jungle to return to base camp where Allied doctors tended the
injured and diseased by many died. After the war the dead were collectively
reburied in the War Cemeteries and will remain forever witness to a brutal and tragic ordeal.
Don-Rak War Cemetery
This War Cemetery is also known as the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery. It is located opposite Kanchanaburi's Railway Station on Saengchootoe Road. It contains the remains of 6,982 Australian, Dutch and British war prisoners who lost their lives during the construction of the Death Railway.
Admission fee: free
Chonk-Kai War Cemetery
The second War Cemetery is about 2 km south of town on the bank of the Kwai Noi River and occupies the former Conk-Kai Prisoner of War Camp. This cemetery is more peaceful, attractively landscaped and contains 1,740 remains (by countries: 1,379 British, 313 Netherlands, 42 Malayan and 6 Indian). It was the site of a base camp, a hospital and a church built by the prisoners themselves. The great majority of 1,740 casualties buried in this war cemetery, which is the original burial ground started by the prisoners, are men who died in the hospital nearby.
Admission fee: free
JEATH War Museum
JEATH is an acronym for the primary nations which participated in local action. These nations are: Japan, England, Australia, Thailand and Holland. The museum inside Wat Chai Chumphon has been constructed largely in the form of an Allied Prisoner of War camp which is managed by a Thai monk. The thatched detention hut with cramped, elevated bamboo bunks contains photographic, pictorial and physical memorabilia dating from the Second World War.
Opening hours: daily 8:30 AM - 18:00 PM
Admission fee: 30 Baht
War Museum at the Bridge
The private sector Museum that collects lots of World War II Stories,
such as war instruments, photographs, uniforms, etc. It is located
on the bank of Kwai River nearby the Bridge on the River Kwai. Inside
the building is also an Art Gallery on 2nd and 3rd floor. The paintings
on the second floor relate ancient battles between the Thais and
Burmese, while third-floor murals tell Thai history and provide
portraits of prime ministers and other important political figures.
This private museum also features Khmer-style woodcarvings, a pair of elaborate Burmese Buddhas, and excellent paintings of Chinese deities.
Opening hours: daily 7:00 AM - 6:30 PM
Admission fee: 30 Baht
Thai-Burmese Railway Centre
The TBRC is an interactive museum dedicated to the history of the Thailand-Burma Railway. The Death Railway runs once 415 km from Ban Pong (Thailand) to Thanbuyuzayat (Burma). The museum is located next to the Don-Rak War Cemetery.
Opening hours: daily 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Admission fee: 100 Baht
Ban Kao National Museum
This national museum is located 35 km from Kanchanaburi town it also overlooks the Kwai Noi River. The museum was constructed beside a Neolithic burial site discovered by an Allied Prisoner Of War during the construction of the Death Railway. About 4,000 years ago Neolithic man lived, roamed and hunted there beside the Kwai River, sheltering beneath rock overhangs or in nearby caves. The Baan Kao museum houses skeleton remains, pots, axe heads, jewellery made from animal bones and other artefact dating from that time.
Opening hours: 9:00 AM- 4:00 PM
Admission fee: 20 Baht
The museum is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Kanchanaburi Monkey School
The Kanchanaburi Monkey School trains 17 monkeys and 1 gibbon. All of the monkeys have been rescued - some were found in poor health conditions. Now they get trained to harvest coconut, dive, play basketball. Just to name few of their skills. Monkey School is located on the way to Khao Pun Cave on highway 3228 and turn left at the level crossing.
Opening hours: daily 10:00 AM - 4:30 PM
Admission fee: 150 THB
Show starts on demand.
Wat Kao Pun & Kao Pun Cave
The Kao Pun Wat and the cave are located about 5 km from town at highway 3228. Some boat tours stop there for a visit. Inside the cave are several Hindu and Buddha images in some rooms. Behind the temple on the way to the river is a big Buddha located from where you can have a fantastic view of the river valley.
Opening hours: daily 9:00 AM - 5:30 PM
Admission fee: 20 THB (for the cave)
Elephant's World is an elephant conservation camp established by Dr. vet. Samart Prasitpon in 2008. Elephant's World take care aged elephants which are to old to work for the tourism industry. He also took over and takes care now the elephants from the nearby former Elephants & Friends conservation centre. Dr. Prasitpon's aim is to give the elephants a place where they can enjoy their last days without having to work. Not for tourists and not for the economy - or at least as worse as that - to end up on the street and beg for money to buy their daily food. The conservation camp is located on a beautiful place next to the river nearby Nichigo Golf in Ladya subdistrict. It is about 30 km away from Kanchanaburi town. Dr. Prasitpon works with elephants since many years and he is still working full-time with them and take care them in national parks around Kanchanaburi. He also teaches student groups from Bangkok how to treat wounded elephants and shows them how to examine the animals. Also tourists are welcome to volunteer at Elephant's World. Volunteers wash the elephants and stay with the mahouts to collect food for the pachyderms. Tourists can even stay there overnight in a basic hut. 2 and 3 days programms are offered through their website. Dr. Prasitpon or his wife can even arrange a pick up from Kanchanaburi town.
Opening hours: daily 8:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Admission fee: 650 THB (half day) / 1.350 THB (full day)
Accommodation: 200 THB - 2.000 THB