Historic Citytrip Kanchanabury, Thailand (WWII)

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Historic Citytrip Kanchanabury, Thailand (WWII)

Right in the Mid-West of Thailand, close to the border with Myanmar, you find the village Kanchanabury. During World War II, many (Western) prisoners of war, were forced by Japanese occupiers to help build a 415 kilometer long Railway from Thailand to Myanmar (Burma). Many prisoners parished during that time. All that remains right now in and close to the village of Kanchanabury are the working sites, the Railway and the many memoreals and museums remembering the ill circumstances of the build of the Railway and those who have fallen. The three most famous memorial sites are: the DeathRailway site, the Bridge over the river Kwai and the HellFire Pass.


Death Railway

The Burma Railway, or Burma-Siam Railway is a Railway that was intended to connect Bangkok (formally named Siam) with Myanmar (formally Burma). This Railway was made by prisoners of war during the second world war. The section of the Railway that these prisoners of war and forced laborours mainly worked on was the section between Nong Pladuk, Thailand and Thanbyauzayat, Myanmar. The prisoners also referred to the Railway as the “Death Railway”, as so many prisoners did not survive the hard labour. The work on the Railway started in September 1942 and was finished in December 1943.

Picture: Death Railway tracks Picture: Death Railway tracks

Read more about Death Railway here!


Bridge over the river Kwai

In the Mid-West of Thailand, the Khwae Yai river (big Khwae) flows. Also known as: “the river Kwai”.  Over the Big Kwai, a bridge was built in the year 1942 This bridge was built just before the Big Kwai river merges with the little Kwai river and jointly become the Mae Klong river. (Klong river). The bridge over the River Kwai is a Railway bridge with a major historic significance as the bridge over the river Kwai is part of the “DeathRailway”. You can find the bridge over the river Kwai in the Thai village of Kanchanabury, about 3 hours drive from Bangkok.

Picture: Bridge over the river Kwai Picture: Bridge over the river Kwai

Read more about the Bridge over the river Kwai here!


HellFire Pass

The HellFire Pass is a pass between two rock walls. The pass was cut out by the prisoners of war. An enormous task that was completed in only 6 weeks. The conditions were horrific and the prisoners were exepected to work long hours and hard in very bad circumstances. It is said that the Japanese guards killed 69 Allied forces persons during the build by beating them to death. There are no records of how many Asian people were killed in forced labour. Many people died of sickness or pure exhaustion. The Hellfire Pass got its name because the sight of the war prisoners working in the pass in the night by torchlight looked like a scene frome hell.. Imagine this…

Picture: HellFire Pass Picture: HellFire Pass

Read more about the HellFire Pass here!


How to get there

From Bangkok, there are many day-trips to Kanchanabury. You can book them online or just walk into one of the tour offices at Khao San Road. Note that from Bangkok city center to Kanchanabury is about a 3 hour drive, so a day-trip is really a day filling trip, and you will not have a lot of time in each area. There are different tours going to different sightseeing places. The more sites you like to visit in one tour, the more expensive the tour gets.

There are many daytours that you can take from Bangkok to visit some of these historic sites. However, Kanchanabury has a lot to offer. If you are backpacking, and have the time, spend some time in Kanchanabury. The village has a nice laid back athmosphere, and is nearby amazing waterfalls like the Sai Yok Yai waterfalls and the Erawan waterfalls. Two of the most famous waterfalls of all in the area.

As an important note: we advise against visiting the Elephant “sanctuary” in Kanchanabury. Every organisation that lets you ride elephants, or make them do tricks, are not taking good care of the elephants. Elephants are wild animals. In order to have them obeying humans, their spirits are “broken” in cruel ways.


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