During World War II, Japan occupied Thailand, and there were prison camps that housed mostly British, Dutch, and Australian prisoners of war. The prisoners were to make a railway between Thailand and Burma (now Myanmar), and this railway was known and still is known in English as the “Death Railway”.
After the war, Pierre Boulle wrote the book The Bridge Over the River Kwai, and in 1957 a major film directed by David Lean was released that made the railway, and especially the bridge, world famous.
In the early 1960s, tourists began to appear in Kanchanaburi, and to great disappointment they found that there had never been any bridge over the Kwai River but it had been a bridge over the Mae Khlong River. To avoid disappointment, Mae Khlong was officially named Kwaijoki, and the bridge seen today is not the same one that, unlike the film shot in Sri Lanka, was bombarded with fighter sniffs. Among other things, Kwaijoki is not pronounced “why” but its real name is Khwae (“quae”).
While many things are based on misunderstandings, the Death Railway Bridge is an interesting place to visit, and the museums next to it show parts of the original bridge as well as other related material. On the 300-meter-long bridge you can go for free to walk and shoot, and the most interesting thing it has to have when the train is leaving. The bridge has good views of the river and the Chinese temple area next to it, and the Joenranta buildings seen from the bridge are the kind of Thailand that many visitors to the country want to see. There is a carnival atmosphere near the bridge itself, the music usually sounds really loud and this place, especially popular with Australians, British and Japanese, is not a hobby to visit.
Next to the bridge are the WWII Museum and the Jeath War Museum, where you can see all kinds for a small entrance fee. There is old trainAnd it is a good place to stay for the duration of a quarter or a half hour.
Elsewhere in the city there is some to see, but the Heritage Walking Street advertised in many places is disappointing, as the houses along it are not as fine as you might realize and it is not a pedestrian street more than once a week. There is a fairly long distance from the centers of Kanchanaburi, and there is a really long distance from the Kwaijoki bridge.
The better place to visit is the market hall and market that kind of people in Bangkok will not meet.
Kanchanaburi is known for its rugged nightlife, and it is most abundant along Maenamkwai Road, and it leads from the core to the bridge. Along it, there are also numerous accommodations that are most convenient if you decide to stay in Kanchanaburi for the night. Kanchanaburi is a great place to spend a couple of nights, especially for those who want to be mostly just in Bangkok. It is also a tolerable trip from Hua Hin, but at its best it is a destination for those in Bangkok.
Kanchanaburin can travel in many different ways, but the best rides are by taxi and minibus. Taxis, for example, take you anywhere you want at a reasonable price for a group of four, and the price can even be negotiated at taxi services around Khao San Road.
Around Khao San Road, there are numerous travel agencies that take minibuses to Kanchanaburi and take foreigners door to door. Either you should look at a travel agency near the accommodation, which you can walk to in the morning before you travel, or tell the travel agency the name of the hotel and you will be picked up. The ticket should be picked up a couple of days before the trip, and before getting on the bus you should book the accommodation and tell the driver the address. The journey from both Khao San Road and Bangkok North and South Bus Stations takes 2 ½ hours.
Many travel agencies as well as domestic travel agencies and hotels organize day trips to Kanchanaburi, but it is worth keeping in mind that on such a day, the bus will sit for five to six hours.
Ayutthaya is located about the same distance from Bangkok as Kanchanaburik. It is along the railway to Chiang Mai and can be reached extremely cheaply and guaranteed without congestion by frequent trains.
Ayutthaya is annealed in many travel guides and other places, but in practice it is a large and poorly maintained city, which is always scorching hot and where stray dogs are a nuisance in many places. However, the city’s past is unique in that it was the capital of Siam, now known as Thailand, from 1350 to 1767. It, like many other Thai cities, was attacked by the Burmese and almost completely destroyed, and thus the capital was moved in 1782 to Bangkok.
Auytthaya’s main attractions are on a vast island with both still-operating temple areas and former temple areas and other structures in ruins. The most significant ruined temple areas are in the center of the island, where Wat Mahathat, Wat Rachaburana and a couple of other temple areas are located. There are other temple areas other than the island and mainly on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, and if you want to see them you should take part in a river cruise.
It is possible to explore the island itself on foot, but the distances are long and the heat makes walking painful, especially during midday. It is popular to rent a bike, which you can also get from the accommodation for free, and get around the sights. However, the traffic is considerable and you should be especially careful when walking or cycling.
One of the most popular ways for tourists to explore the sights is to board a tuk-tuk, and there are especially many of them outside the train station but also on the island. There is a 3 baht pass near the train station boat, which takes about a minute between the island and the mainland, and runs from early morning until dark landing. You can bring a bike on the boat at an additional cost.
You can go on an organized day trip to Ayutthaya, which can even be arranged from travel agencies around Khao San Road, a Finnish tour operator or many accommodation in Bangkok. This is a good solution in many different ways, as Ayutthaya does not see much in one day. If you go there for an organized day trip, the bus will take you around all the important places and you can take a walk in the finest temple areas for a while.
If you leave Ayutthaya on your own, you can get there by minibus from around Khao San Road, where you can buy a ride from many travel agencies, any Bangkok bus station or by train, which is the most recommended ride. Trains leave at a fast pace from Hua Lamphong Railway Station. Trains are usually only third-class trains, which means wooden benches and fans instead of air conditioning, but on such a train, the journey costs less than 20 baht in its direction. The journey takes a couple of hours and timetables can be viewed on the Thai Railways website. Trains run so often that it is only possible to go to the station and buy a ticket, but it is always most profitable to leave in the morning. There is a metro connection to the train station, and if there is no metro station nearby, you can take a taxi from anywhere in Bangkok for 100-200 baht. While congestion can slow down the trip, not all drivers agree to go there and many also refuse to turn on the meter and offer a fixed, far too high price.
If you want to stay in Ayutthaya, the most convenient is to stay in one of the many inns and hotels near the train station. If you want to stay on the island, you must first go either by tuk-tuk or by boat across the river with your luggage to the island, which is not profitable, at least for a short visit.
The favorite street for backpackers and bars is Soi 2, or “Foreigner street”, which always has a lot of tuk-tuk drivers nearby. There are also plenty of travel agencies where you can arrange all sorts of things for yourself, such as a sightseeing cruise, and it can be a place where some feel very comfortable. Accommodation in Ayutthaya is side by side and you can stay there cheaply, in your own room starting at 300 baht.