No visit to Thailand is complete without a visit to Kanchanaburi, unless your only interested in the go-go bars of Pattaya or the beaches of Koh Samui that is. For those of you who love to lap up the sites and culture then there’s no better place to do so than this most amazing province.
Not only is Kanchanaburi one of the most picturesque parts of Thailand with its jungle covered hills and natural waterfalls such as Erawan and Sai Yok, it also home to some of the most historic sites of World War II, engineered by the invading Japanese imperial army and built in the blood of the allied prisoners of war.
The Bridge over the River Kwai, or definitely a bridge that crosses a river, built by POW’s under the supervision of the Japanese army is a curved steel bridge constructed to join Burma with the Kingdom of Siam during Japanese occupation. The Bridge over the River Kwai was made famous by Pierre Boulle’s book of the same name, originally it crossed the Mae Khlung river but Pierre Boulle got his facts slightly wrong as he had never visited the region, however this was no problem for the Thai goverment who changed the name of the river to the Kwae Yai to accomodate the thousands of tourists that visit it every year.
The curved steel spans of the Bridge on the River Kwai were brought in by the Japanese from Java, but the two straight sided spans were imported from Japan after the war to repair the bridge that was damaged in the allied bombing campaigns during the Asia-Pacific War.
Wampo Viaduct is a long winding trestle bridge that clings to the cliff side on a stretch of the Burma-Siam railway between the River Kwae Bridge and Nam Tok stations. Built by the allied prisoners of war, this magnificent bridge is an impressive piece of engineering and a train ride along its rails is a must for those visiting Thailand. Wampo Viaduct which is also spelt Wang Po was also featured in the Michael J. Fox, Vietnam War movie ‘Casualties of War’.
Konyu Cutting or Hellfire pass as it is more commonly known, is located on a disused section of the track about 50 miles north of Kanchanaburi. The cutting now serves as memorial to those 80,000 Asian labourers and 13,000 prisoners of war who died making the railway during the Asia-Pacific War and sits on 7km of the track cleared by the Australian government out of respect.
Konyu Cutting was given the nickname Hellfire Pass by the POW’s who worked at the site due to the way it looked at night working by torchlight cutting through the solid rock using nothing but hand tools.
It is said that there was one life lost for every sleeper that was laid on the Burma-Thai railway and so it is become known as the ‘Death Railway’, a dark history that has become part of Thailand’s heritage and to be enjoyed in memory of those who died there.
With all this and much, much more sites to see and visit its easy to see why Kanchanaburi holds some of the best sightseeing in Thailand. Visit our site to see these tours in detail more amazing tour destinations in Kanchanaburi.