Before we went to Kanchanaburi, we didn’t really have any clue of what we wanted to do and see here. We still went though and it turned out to be amazing. It’s a really nice place, with lots to do and with a huge variety of food (which is among the most important things for us). We have put together this guide about things to do in Kanchanaburi and we hope it will help you plan your visit to Kanchanaburi.
Kanchanaburi is a city located approximately 125 km North-West of Bangkok. This city might be missed by many traveling in Thailand. This is a mistake however. Apart from its beautiful nature and surroundings, Kanchanaburi is filled with history and offers several memorials and museums for those interested.
Visit Erawan National Park
Kanchanaburi is filled with national parks. In the majority of them it’s possible to find beautiful waterfalls. The most popular national park is Erawan National Park. The major attraction of the national park is Erawan Waterfalls. It consists of 7 levels, each with a unique look and surrounding. Most waterfalls are running into ponds, perfect for a refreshing swim after all the walking.
The waters are filled with fishes. And not any fishes, but fishes that gladly eat off your dead skin. The ones that people pay a lot of money for, to use as a spa-treatment. So be prepared. I wasn’t, and I jumped at least half a meter.
Of course, there’s a lot more to see and do in Erawan National Park than to visit the waterfalls. You can find our guide to Erawan National Park here.
Take a cooking class
Have you ever wanted to learn how to cook proper thai food? In that case, this is your chance. We chose On’s Thai Issan because she only serves, and teaches how to cook, vegetarian and vegan thai-food. A 2 hour long cooking class and a stomach so full you’re about to explode is only 600 baht at On’s. This includes 3 main dishes of your choice and 1 dessert. You can read more about our experience here.
Of course, there are other options if you’d prefer that.
Visit the Night Market
Close to the main road in Kanchanaburi there’s a night market every night from 5.30pm until 21.00 ish. This market is amazing. They literally have everything. You can find anything from underwear to a sandwich coconut ice cream. The non-meat food options are a bit limited compared to many other markets in Thailand. But there’s enough to make your stomach happy.
However, don’t get too attached to the options of one vendor, since some vendors tends to be there only every other night or so. Also, not all of them have specific spots. Therefore, if you find something interesting one night, they might be somewhere else the next.
Eat at Zab Zab
Hands down, this is the best restaurant in the city (at least among the ones we tried). No matter what time of the day it is, it is always filled with locals enjoying hotpots, curries, fried noodles or something else from their lovely menu. It’s very reasonable in price and the food is so yummy that you’ll hope that you’ll never get full. They are a bit slow at times, but trust us, it’s sooo worth it.
We ate one portion of spring rolls, one green curry, one coconut soup, three bowls of rice and drank one big bottle of water for 230 baht. That’s a price I’m gladly paying for food like that.
Ride the Death Railway Train
The railway was built by South-East Asian civilians that were forced to work and prisoners of war, during the Second World War. A lot of people died during its construction. The Hellfire Pass is part of the railway that used to connect Thailand to Burma (now Myanmar). Now a days it is famous mainly due to the stunning and impressive view when it crosses the Death Railway Bridge.
If you’re going with the train all the way to Nam Tok, you could make this a day trip and visit the Hellfire Pass and Soi Yok Waterfalls while you’re at it.
Visit the Hellfire Pass
The Hellfire Pass is also a historic spot, popular among tourists. Hellfire pass is part of the Thailand-Burma railway that he Japanese built during the Second World War. Just like with the Death Railway, it was built by Asian forced labour and prisioners of war and a lot of people died due to terrible working conditions.
Here you can walk along the old train tracks among bamboo trees and loose stones lying around from the cutting in the mountains. In some parts of the walk you’ll be walking in between the mountain walls that was cut out by the prisoners and forced labourers from South-East Asia.
Enjoy the View from River Kwai Bridge
Just as with the Death Railway and Hellfire Pass, the bridge was built during the Second World War and its construction cost many lives. Today the River Kwai Bridge is what it was at the end of the Second World War, except for two parts of it that got destroyed during a bomb attack. These has been rebuilt.
The area is popular for tourists to visit and therefore there’s several vendors selling fruits, food and drinks. There’s also a couple of restaurant around the river. If you visit the bridge, make sure to time it with when the train passes.
Get a massage
If you’re keen for a massage, this might be just the place for you. The whole tourist street is filled with massage places. You literally can’t walk for 30 meters without passing at least one. All of them seems to have more or less the exact same prices for the different massage options. We choose a place called Le Best Massage, mainly because it was located close to our hostel but also because it was cheap and looked clean. It turned out to be a very good choice. We payed 250 baht per person for a nice oil massage
So, that’s our tips for things to do in Kanchanaburi. It really is a wonderful city that shouldn’t go missed among all the other more popular destinations in Thailand. Make sure you spend a couple of days here so that you have time to do everything you want to do.
We booked a hostel for three days in advance. It ended up with us cancelling the first booking, because we found another hostel with a better location. During what should’ve been our last day we decided to extend our stay with one night since there just wasn’t enough time to do what we wanted to.
We hope this guide has helped you in finding things to do while you’re in Kanchanaburi!