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Thailand is a place full of endless wonder. We spent two weeks here during our time abroad and honestly, we wish we had two more. Between the food, the landscape, and the culture, this country really does have it all. A place that absolutely goes under the radar is a little town called Kanchanaburi. Most people do not even know how to get to Kanchanaburi, let alone where it is or what to do there.
This little town gave us such a different vibe than during our time in Bangkok. Sometimes, you just need a break from the city. It also didn’t hurt that Kanchanaburi is home to Elephant Haven, an absolutely wonderful place that legitimately made Alicia smile from ear to ear for weeks. Besides the elephants in Kanchanaburi, there is so much more to this town as to us, this feels more like the real Thailand, where you are not overrun with tourist attractions. Just a short trip from Bangkok, this is an ideal way to get out of the city.
How to Get to Kanchanaburi
By Train: Costing 100 Baht and leaving from the Thonburi station–important note, this is NOT the main train station, Hua Lumphong, where we found the train to Chiang Mai, this station is across the Chao Phraya River, you will have to take a cab, ferry, or tuktuk to get across–this train takes roughly three hours to get you to Kanchanaburi. We were warned this train was gross and we should hold onto our bags for dear life. This was just another reason why you can’t trust everything you read on the internet! We loved this train ride. The train was clean, there were ample seats, and it is a nice slow ride. It feels as if you are coasting to your destination. The windows stayed open for the whole 3 hour ride, and we got great views of small villages and countryside along the way. A fantastic way to get to Kanchanaburi.
Note: The train station in Kanchanaburi is a bit of a walk from the Khwae Yai river, which is the hub of the town. So if you have big bags, you may need to grab a tuktuk at the station–don’t forget to haggle!
By Bus: Similarly to taking the train, you can use 12goAsia to book your bus tickets from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi. This runs you around 200 Baht each way, but there are many more options in terms of timing and departure points. Leaving from Mochit New Van Terminal, Khaosan Tara Travel, and the Southern Terminal, the departure point depends on preference. We have routinely said, bus travel throughout SE Asia was not for us. If this is your preferred method, there are certainly options.
What to do in Kanchanaburi
Elephant Haven: Without a doubt, one of our favorite experiences. Go to Elephant Haven and help support this little organization in trying to protect our wildlife.
Burma Railway: A train bridge built by Prisoners of War, this railway bridge connected Thailand to Burma during WWII. Now seen for its beauty, this bridge is a reminder of the difficulties and the brutality of war for the POWs during WWII. You can walk across it, and there is a little market underneath the other side, though this is mostly super expensive tourist trap stands.
Rent a Bike: Even though it is incredibly hot in Thailand, we always said we wanted to rent bikes here. Kanchanaburi, with it’s limited traffic, actually gave us the opportunity to do that! We rented bikes and went to visit a cave temple, Wat Tham Khao Fun. This was a very cool experience, but we do have to admit, we needed some AC and water after this one.
Note: We don’t remember the exact pricing, but we think this was about 400 Baht for the daily bike rental.
Where to Stay in Kanchanaburi
Good Times Resort: A hotel located on the Khwae Yai river, we felt as if we were in a hidden oasis during our time here. The restaurant is right on the water, there is a nice pool, and the staff was incredibly friendly. For less than 1000 Baht, you can really sit back and relax here. There are lots of other little resorts and guesthouses here, but we stuck to Good Times the entire time we were here.
What to Eat in Kanchanaburi
Street Stalls: More often than not, we simply wandered and found street stalls to eat. We loved the Chiang Mai sausage we found on the side of the road here. It may have been some of the best we had during our time in Thailand. Like the rest of Thailand, the food is always delicious and you really cannot go wrong wherever you stop.
Restaurant next to Burger Kraft: We don’t the name of this spot. After spending some time on google maps trying to re-find it, we found it! But it’s not the map. Head to Burger Kraft, than walk right past it. Next door, on the same side of the street, is awesome local food for around $1-2 USD a plate. Expect to see no other tourists here.
Blue Rice Restaurant: We went here for a date night needing a bit of down time together. The setting is absolutely beautiful, but we were underwhelmed with the food. This can easily be skipped, or would make a good stop off for a drink. Also make sure to ask for the mosquito coil, the mosquitos do not mess around here!