Kanchanaburi

If you would like to visit Kanchanaburi which is famous for the bridge which was built during the second world war, you will see many fascinating sights including old temples and buildings in the centre of the town and along the banks of the river. There are many areas to see including lots of market and food stalls while you stroll through this city or take a ride on one of the elephants. There are many things to do in the city itself and around the area. Some of these are listed below but we will tailor your trip to suit your requirements and book any accommodation you require.

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

This article was written by Nam. She works at “Holiday Garden Resort” which is a private road with Luxury Villa’s for holiday rentals in Pattaya, Thailand. Her husband is English and has lived in Thailand for 9 years and has traveled extensively throughout Asia.

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