Kanchanaburi (pronounced gaan jà ná bù rii) (Thai: กาญจนบุรี) is a city located at the confluence of the rivers Kwai Noi and Kwai Yai. It is the Capital City of the Province of this name.
For most visitors the main sight of interest is the Bridge over the River Kwai(pronounced khwaae as in air), as the start of the infamous World War II Death Railway to Burma (now Myanmar), as well as the many associated museums. There is an increasingly thriving backpacker scene taking advantage of the chilled-out riverside vibe for those that need to get away from Bangkok. Kanchanaburi is also the gateway to the surrounding province of the same name. More foreign visitors are discovering why Thais know it as one of the most beautiful provinces in the country with its easily accessible waterfalls and national parks.
Regrettably, there does not appear to be as many tourists now coming here as of 10 years past, maybe because WW 2 was so long ago now, so the City appears to be slowing down compared to ten years previously.
Orienting yourself in Kanchanaburi is very easy. The main road, Saeng Chuto Road, runs through the length of town from north to south, connecting the River Kwai Bridge, the train station and the bus station. Running parallel to this, closer to the river, is Mae Nam Kwae Road where most of the guest houses and the local bar scene can be found.
- Tourism Authority of Thailand, Saeng Chuto Rd (just south of the bus terminal). 08:00-16:00 daily. Distributes a useful free map of the city and province.
From Bangkok to Kanchanaburi:
BKS public buses (line 81) leave from Bangkok‘s Southern Bus Terminal (Sai Tai Taling Chan สายใต้ตลิ่งชัน), which is located far west in the suburb Thonburi. In Kanchanaburi, there are two separate but nearby bus terminals, with 1st class buses departing from an office off Thanon Saengchuto, and 2nd class buses from the larger terminal one block east.
- 1st class buses should leave Bangkok every 15 minutes from 05:00-22:30, take about 2 hours, and cost 110 baht, including a bottle of water.
- 2nd class buses (new route) leave Bangkok every 20 minutes from 03:30-19:00 and take about 2 hours. Cost 95 baht.
- 2nd class buses (old route) leave Bangkok every 15-30 minutes from 04:00-18:00 and take about 3 hours.
There are also tourist minibuses directly to/from Khao San Road, departing Kanchanaburi at 13:30 and 18:30.
There are also some buses leaving less frequently from Bangkok’s Northern Mo Chit bus terminal (note: not the same as Mo Chit BTS station, and not within walking distance of it, although a standard 50 baht motorbike ride is available. It’s often called “Mo Chit 2”). Here are the times I could find at the station:
First-class bus with toilet (3 hours, 122 baht): 06:00, 11:00, 14:30
Second class bus with no toilet inside: 05:00, 07:00, 09:30, 12:30, 17:00
Minibus leave from Terminal 4 regularly, (12 noon was one of the scheduled times) taking 3 hours for 120 baht (July 2015)
Bus rides may be variable or cancelled (for example, with 14:30 being last of the day.) BUT there are vans available at the bus station leaving even when you’re told there’s no way to get there by bus! It may pay to talk to the information desk for this. Price Feb ’17 was around 120 baht, about 2 hrs.
From Nakhon Pathom, there are direct buses (2nd class only) every 15 to 30 minutes between 04:00 and 18:00, which take two hours. Alternatively, you can hop off a 1st class bus when it passes by Nakhon Pathom, but double-check with staff to ensure the route allows this and they know your plans.
From Sangkhlaburi to Kanchanaburi, you’re spoilt for choice:
- Air-con VIP buses leave at 08:45, 10:45 and 14:30 and take 4 hours.
- Air-con minibuses leave at 06:30, 07:30, 11:30, 13:00, 15:30 and take 3.5 hours.
- Standard buses leave at 06:45, 08:15, 10:15, 13:15 and take 5 hours.