Kanchanaburi has totally stolen my heart. Even though I had been in this area before in 2015, I didn’t really take the time to appreciate and explore this beautiful area. Luckily, I got a second chance and I’ve complied my top 10 in Kanchanaburi – most I’ve done myself, but the last three are a bit of a wanderlist for us to visit when we return.
Explore the 7 Levels of Erawan Falls in Erawan National Park
Erawan Falls is a spectacular series of waterfalls in Erawan National Park. It’s not every destination that has such a spectacular natural sight. Erawan Falls is location outside of the town of Kanchanaburi. The beauty of the waterfalls comes not only from 7 unique falls, but from the bright turquoise water that spills over them + pools into perfect swimming holes.
Getting there from Kanchanaburi is really easy. You just show up at the Kanchanaburi Bus Station and it takes you right to the gate of the national park. It’s 50 baht each way per person. Buses leave hourly (ish) starting at 8 am, last bus at 4pm. Entrance to the National Park costs 300 baht per person.
Pay Respect at the Side-by-Side Temples of Wat Tham Sua + Wat Tham Khao Noi
These two contrasting temples are also outside of the town of Kanchanaburi. Wat Tham Khao Noi is a Chinese-style Buddhist temple that overlooks the gorgeous fields to one side, the gorgeous big Buddha figure to the other side and the river to the third scenic side. They offer stunning views. Don’t miss out on climbing to the very top for some incredible views.
To me, the beauty of this temple is in the views + in the details of each room. Like the tiles in the photo on the left and below.
The Thai-style Wat Tham Sua sits directly beside it and everything is different about it from the architecture to the details.
Wat Tham Sua is the more beautiful temple, I think. There’s a massive seated Buddha figure, a huge orange tower and it’s just so unique. Although I think it’s more beautiful, I think the beauty is seen better from Wat Tham Kao Noi. You have to climb several stairs to get to the top of this one too. Both of these temples are free to visit as long as you can get to them!
Learn More About the Pacific’s Role WW2 at the Bridge Over the River Kwai or a Museum
While the War in Europe and Pearl Harbor are the parts of WW2 that we learned the most about in U.S. history classes, a large portion of WW2 was fought in the Pacific as well. The infamous Bridge over the River Kwai was a the location of a deadly bombing. Soldiers had been taken prisoner by the Japanese and they were being forced under brutal conditions to build a bridge to connect Burma to Bangkok. The original bridge was destroyed in a brutal bombing that was so deadly it reportedly turned the river red.
It’s possible to walk across the Death Bridge. However, it is a functional railway bridge, so move to the side if you hear a train coming.
There are multiple WW2 cemeteries + museums that you can visit all through Kanchanaburi. We chose to visit the JEATH War Museum. It was interesting, but a little all over the place because there are so many exhibits. Not all of which are related to the WW2 history in the area.
Left: Train Engine // Right: All that remains of the original train track according to the sign at the museum
Marvel at the Base of Thailand’s Largest Bronze Standing Buddha Figure or Climb the Steps to the Big Buddha in Bo Phloi
There are so many big Buddha figures all over the Kanchanaburi area and we had a great time exploring them. These two stood out to me though.
Left is the Big Buddha at Wat Thipsukhotharam. This is actually Thailand’s largest, standing, bronze Buddha figure. Along with the beautiful statue, there are gorgeous gardens and a museum on the process of building this gorgeous figure. It’s one of the coolest Buddha figures I’ve seen. On the right is the big Buddha that overlooks Bo Phloi. My dear friend Salapong took us to see both of these and it was a love of fun getting to see these impressive works of art.
Climb 713 Stairs Through Cave Temples to the Top of Wat Ban Tham
Yes, you read that right. 713 steps each way! I think there are so many amazing things about Wat Ban Tham that make it stand out. First of all, there’s the entrance. Just look at those bright red steps with a dragon mouth to walk through. Secondly, to get to the upper stupas you have to walk through cave temples to get to the top. It’s really beautiful.
Left: One of the many cave temples // Right: the Top stupa
When you get past the cave temples, you continue up more stairs, following rows of prayer flags up to the top of the mountain with this beautiful golden stupa crowning the top.
Stand Under the Aptly Named Giant Rain Tree
They aren’t messing around when they call this 100-year-old tree the Giant Rain Tree. This beautiful giant’s diameter measures 51.75 meters in diameter (that’s about 170 feet!). Visiting the Giant Rain Tree is a free attraction, which is an added bonus.
You can visit the tree from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and you can find snacks, drinks and even horseback rides under this tree. If you’re out and about in the area, definitely be sure to stop and take a little time to appreciate this beautiful natural sight.
Relax + Unwind at D Hostel
The amazing mountain sunset view from one of the hammocks on the dock.
It’s not often for me that my accommodation is the reason for me to return to a destination. However, D Hostel is very much a must-stop for me. I cannot imagine staying anywhere else on a trip to Kanchanaburi. The front of the hostel doesn’t look like much, but the inside is modern, perfectly decorated and has a back dock lounge area that’s beyond perfect for relaxation.
The private room isn’t massive or anything, but it has everything you need and then some. The bed, although it only seems like a mattress on the floor, is super comfortable. Firm enough, but still soft. There’s a beanbag chair to relax on and holy cow the view! We were so obsessed with the view at all hours of the day. We even got to watch a lightening storm from the window.
Left: Early Morning light from bed // Center: View of the Deck from the Hall // Right: The amazingly modern + clean bathroom
My biggest gripe about staying at hostels now that I’m a little older and traveling with my husband, is the lack of private bathrooms. Although, I have to say that the bathrooms at D Hostel were so spotless and perfectly designed that it didn’t feel like nearly as much of a hassle. The showers had baskets hanging outside of them to put your clothes in, the toilets were separate and they were always amazingly clean. Let me tell you, this place is spectacular!
PLUS, THINGS WE’RE DYING TO SEE ON OUR NEXT JOURNEY TO KANCHANBURI:
Explore the Lesser-Visited Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall + Others
Photo from Pinterest
Every local I met in Kanchanaburi told us that Erawan Falls is amazing but Huay Mae Khamin was bigger, less-crowded and even more beautiful. Because we don’t drive a motorbike, we skipped it because there’s no bus there. However, Matt has convinced himself that if we go back to Kanchanaburi, he’s going to give it a go. In addition to Huay Mae Khamin, there are other beautiful waterfalls in the area.
Wander Through The Magical-Looking Caves of Kanchanaburi
It was only while toodling around on our last day before taking a bus to Chiang Mai that we realized that there were loads of caves in the area. Some are filled with crystals and some are covered in amazing formations. I know that next time we’ll be exploring these beautiful caves.
Trek the Epic-Looking Knife Edge
Photo from Pinterest
This was another trip that we skipped because of the lack of motorbiking skills. It’s the absolute top of my list for my next trip to Kanchanaburi. I always love an epic mountain view!
Kanchanaburi is a destination for everyone. It has it all: history, nature, culture and relaxation. There are so many amazing things to do + see here. Don’t make the mistake of passing over it on your trip to Thailand!
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