West of Bangkok and abutting the mountains which divide Thailand from Myanmar lies Kanchanaburi. The mountainous province, with its lush jungles and beautiful rivers, combines historical interest with some of the most picturesque scenery in the whole Country.
The landscape is dominated by forested hills and the valleys of the Kwai Noi and Kwai Yai Rivers, where waterfalls and caves are additional elements of natural wonder.
Kanchanaburi is the third largest province in Thailand after Chiang Mai and Nakhon Ratchasima, and shares a border with Myanmar to the west, Tak and Uthai Thani Provinces to the north, Suphan Buri and Nakhon Pathom Provinces to the east, and Ratchaburi Province to the south.
Historically Kanchanaburi province is best known as the site of the infamous ‘Death Railway’ and ‘Bridge over the River Kwai’, built by allied POWs and Asian forced labor during World War II.
Discover the history behind The Death Railway and enjoy the nature around the famous River Kwai.
Along the Death Railway
The notorious Burma-Siam railway (best known as the "Death Railway") was built by American, Dutch and Commonwealth prisoners of war/ It was a Japanese project driven by the need for improved the support the large Japanese army in Burma. During the construction, approximately 13,000 prisoners of war died and were buried along the railway. An estimated 80,000 to 100,000 civilians / chiefly forced labor brought from Malaya and India or conscripted in Siam (Thailand) and Burma (Myanmar) also died in the course of the project. Two labor forces camps, one in Thailand and one in Myanmar (Burma) worked from opposite end towards the center. The aim was to complete the construction within 14 months. The Works started in October 1942 and was completed by December 1943. The total lenght of the line was 424 kilometer.
Thailand–Burma Railway Centre in Kanchanaburi is an interactive museum, research and information centre. It’s dedicated to presenting the history of the Thailand-Burma-Railway. The fully air-conditioned center offers the visitor an educational and moving experience.
Next to the Thailand–Burma Railway Centre the Allied War Cemetery gives the 6.982 victims of the Japanese imprisonment, which built the Burma Railway (Beat), the last peaceful rest.
Bridge over the River Kwai is much known for the 1957 move “The Bridge on the River Kwai”. Besides the question how much of the film was real or how much was fiction, the real history of how the railway though Thailand (Siam) was build is a horrific story. Actually the Japanese ordered to build two Kwai River bridges (one of steel and one of wood) to help move Japanese supplies and troops. One bridge was built of wood approximately 100 meters upriver from the current bridge, during the construction of the iron and concrete bridge (also rebuilt in 1945 when the iron bridge was bombed). No remnants of the wooden bridge remain.
Hellfire Pass (known by the Japanese as Konyu Cutting) got his name from the POWs (prisoner of war) and Asian labors who cut and blasted with force trough rock by hand to clear the area and pass for the former Burma Railway (today also called the “Death Railway”) during World War II. Covered by jungle after closing the pass, the area has been reclaimed from the jungle as a profound war memorial. The pass is known for the harsh conditions and heavy loss of life during the construction by its suffered labors. To build the pass within a very short time frame, construction had to continue through the night by torchlight which resemble a scene from Hell, prisoner reported. A small museum (Hellfire Pass Memorial Museum )next to the pass gives a lot of detail information.