More than 200,000 prisoners of war built this 419KM Burma-Thailand railway within 20 months during Japanese occupation in War World II. 90,000 people died while building the railways.
Kacanaburi is the largest provinces in the western of Thailand. It is well known for the Death Railway, built during WWII, crosses over the River Khwae Yai via the Death Railway Bridge. Kacanaburi not only famous for the history of Death Railway and Hellfire Pass, but it is also famous for nature attractions such as Waterfall in Erawan National Parks and caves explorations in Phu Toei Cave, Chaloei Cave, Phra That Cave, Wang Badan Cave, Daowadeung Cave, Lawa Cave and Ang Hin Cave.
About us making this trip to Kacanaburi...
We only made the decision of staying over one night in Kacanaburi on the day we arrived in Bangkok because we really want to go Kacanaburi to visit Death Railway and Hellfire Pass. But if we want to make a day trip with the limited train schedules to Kacanaburi, we definately do not have enough time to visit a lot of places. Perhaps, we only have time to visit only one attraction.
On our Day 2 in Bangkok, we spent our day time on window shopping and visited Wat Arun in Bangkok, we took a cab to Southern Bus Terminal Bangkok (Sai Tai Mai). Bus service going to the southern part of Thailand. It took us a while to find the ticket counter to Kacanaburi as they have shifted to B1, Platform 10.
Bus 81 at Platform 10. Bus service to Kacanaburi.
I am really glad that my partner speaks a bit of Thai which help us a lot in this trip. Or else, I will have to start dancing chicken dance. LOL! I no longer have to keep saving small changes for taking cab. (If you give big notes to cab driver, they will say they do not have small change.)
We were lucky that we arrived at the perfect timing too! We had enough time to buy some snacks to munch in the bus and off we go! You will be surprise, the bus arrived and leave on time!
BUS JOURNEY: 2H 30 MINS
We arrived Kacanaburi at 8.30pm. We settled our dinner at the street food market.
Cheap mango sticky rice! Almost half price from Bangkok! Duck noodle soup and Pad Thai noodle.
Oyster fried eggs that Mr Tseung dying to get. He told me he always had it before he go back to camp.
From Kacanaburi bus terminal to Kacanaburi Train station is about 2KM, 25-30 Mins walk. There are a lot of hotels, boutique hotels, hostels and guesthouse along the way to Kacanaburi Train Station. It was difficult for me to choose because I prefer to stay in a place which it looks clean and comfortable.
After a long walk from the bus terminal, we decided to settle in The Nine Guesthouse.
We only arrived at around 10 plus at night. We got ourselves a Superior Double King room ( 750 Baht) just for a couple of hours before catching the first train to Nam Tok.
The Nine Guesthouse photos are from @agoda
Before we settled in The Nine Guesthouse, I actually looked through some of the accommodations in Kacanaburi on Agoda and Bookings.com. Hotels here are cheap unless you prefer to stay nearby River Kwai with leisure theme. But our main concern is to get an accommodation nearest to the train station. So we do not have to wake up extra early to travel to the train station. It is only less than 5 mins walk to the train station from The Nine Guesthouse!
I was also glad that I brought my toiletries. Maybe because we only requested for room via walked-in and they forgot to give us toiletries. But if you are making a trip like us, The Nine Guesthouse is really good enough to shower and sleep!
The next day morning...
We dragged ourselves out of the bed at 5 am. On the website, it stated the first train to Nam Tok from Kacanaburi will be departing at 5.57am. We thought that the platform will be filled with a lot of people so we will need to reach there early to buy tickets. Ticket counter only open at 0550. Train only arrived at 0602 and departed 5 mins later. But you still have to arrive early, you will never know if the train will arrive early or late. Because if you missed the train you will have to wait at least 2 hours for the next train.
You can check the train schedule here.
There is no price difference for foreigner.
The interior of the old train.
Actually I was very excited to take the train ride to Nam Tok. Because it was my first time taking such antique and old school train. It was raining outside but it was also very cold in the cabin. I forgot to bring my jacket for the trip. It was my huge regrets. Because the combination of the rain, wind and train speeds made the surrounding temperature felt like only 16 degree celsius!
On route attractions...
River Kwai Bridge
Photo from http://thailandforvisitors.com/central/kanchanaburi/bridge-on-river-kwai.php
Photo from http://www.thailandadventureguide.com/location/kanchanaburi/river-kwai-bridge/
You can click on the link here to know more the history of River Kwai Bridge and River Kwai Bridge explosion in 1945.
DEATH RAILWAY @ Tham Krasae Station.
Krasae Cave Temple with Golden Buddha statue.
Last stop of the train ride, Nam Tok.
It took us 2 and the half hours to reach Nam Tok. So if you are taking from Bangkok, Thonburi, it will be total around 4 and the half hours train ride!
For your references.
Once you alighted Nam Tok, you will definitely 'welcome' by the local drivers. They will offer you a price list to different places. Most famous destination will be Hell Fire Pass Museum. It is quite a distance from Nam Tok train station. It is troublesome to take public busses to Hell Fire Pass museum. So I think by preparing cash to go Hell Fire Pass is a best choice and it will save you a lot of time!
Car ride to Hell Fire Pass Museum from Nam Tok train station: 20 Minutes.
Hellfire Pass Memorial Museum
Inside the museum...
The start of the walking trail.
We didn't finish the 4KM journey to the other side of the Death Railway because it will takes up to 3 hours for return trip and there is nothing else to see as they already removed all the train tracks.
It was a sad history. That is one of the reasons you must visit Hellfire Pass Museum to understand more about the history of Death Railway. For your information, you can also read about this history when you visit Fort Siloso Museum in Sentosa Island Singapore. Because P.O.W (Prisoners of War) were from Singapore, Malaya and Thailand, they were sent to Thailand for the building of Death Railway.
We hired the driver drove us to Tham Krasae from Hellfire Pass.
Car journey from Hellfire Pass to Tham Krasae : 40 Minutes
Panorama of Death Railway and Khwae Noi River.
Krasae Cave Temple.
We arrived Tham Krasae at 12.40pm. It was a little bit crowded with tourists on the train track to take photos. But to us, it was a perfect timing because we have one hour to explore Krasae Cave temple and countless photos on the train track before the train arrive. You can arrive here even earlier to get nicer photos without people photobombed you.
Some tourists who want to experience the old train service, they will start taking train from Tham Krasae station or walk further down to Thakilen Station to take train back to Kacanaburi or drop off at another attraction of Kacanaburi, River Kwai Bridge station.
I love this old school train ticket!
Back view of an old lady.
Almost two hours later, we arrived River Kwai Bridge station. We did not alight here as we continue our journey back to Bangkok.
We spent total of 4 Hours 30 Minutes to arrive Bangkok.
Until today, I still miss our trip to Kacanaburi very much. I do not know why but the process was adventurous and enjoyable. I would like to do it again!
How to get to Kacanaburi from Bangkok and expected expenses:
Cab Fare from Klub Hotel to Southern bus Station: 180 Baht
Bus to Kacanaburi, Bus 81: 100 Baht( per person)/ SGD 4.20
Bus journey: 2 hours 30 minutes
Alternate options: Train from Bangkok (Thonburi) Station to Kacanburi: 100 Baht (per person)/ SGD4.20
Train Ride: 3 Hours
You can check Kacanaburi Train Schedule here: https://www.kanchanaburi-info.com/en/train.html
Accommodation at The Nine Guesthouse:
Price for a night (walked-in): 750 Baht/ SGD 31.54
Distance to Kacanaburi train station: Less than 5 minutes.
Train ticket to Nam Tok: 100 Baht (Per person)/ SGD 4.20
Journey: 2 hours 30 minutes
Taxi (Songkeu) to Hellfire pass : 800 Baht per trip/ SGD33.60
Taxi to Tham Krasae: 600 Baht per trip/ SGD25.20
Hellfire Pass Memorial Museum :
Operating Hours: 0900-1600 Open all day except public holidays.
Entrance Fee: By Donation. Audio guide is free for rental.
Train Ticket from Tham Krasae to Thonburi , Bangkok: 100 Baht (per person)/ SGD 4.20
Journey: 4 hours 30 minutes
Feel free to drop me an email if you have any enquiries!
Photos are taken by Panasonic GF9 and iPhone 7 Plus