Saturday, 18 February 2017

Death railway: options for your visit to the Bridge on the River Kwai

If you are planning a visit to Kanchanaburi, Thailand for the Death Railway and the famous Bridge on the River Kwai, there's a few things to consider to make the most of your visit. 


Here's a quick summary and some useful links to help with the minefield of information.

Getting there

The best way to get there is to embrace the full experience of riding the Death Railway itself. Take a train from Thonburi (Bangkok) to Nam Tok at the end of the line.

We did this in two parts. Staying overnight in Kanchanaburi, to visit the War Cemetary and Thailand-Burma Railway Centre, and to view the infamous bridge. 

Then on day 2 we took a tour of Hell Fire Pass and coupled this with a visit to Erawan Falls. 

Finally taking the train from Kanchanaburi to Nam Tok, crossing the Wang Pho viaduct, on day 3; the day we returned.

Wang Pho viaduct

If you're short on time, you can take a day trip from Bangkok, visiting the Thailand-Burma Railway Centre, cemetery and do the short train journey (get on at Tha Kilen for the best bit), and be back in the city for dinner. This is better done with an organised tour but at a push you should be able to fit it all in independently.

Note that official 'Death Railway' certificates are available in the foreign tourist carriage along with a drink and snack, if you pay the inflated price of 300 Baht. Whether you do this or take the normal train, it's worh getting on at Kanchanaburi where the carriage joins the train from Bangkok, and avoid the crowds at the River Kwai Bridge stop.

If you're on a budget, the normal train price of 100 Baht will get you from Bangkok (Thonburi station) to the end of the line (Nam Tok), and it is possible to purchase unofficial laminated souvenir certificates from local vendors.

Another alternative is the tourist train (120 Baht) which runs at weekends, and stops off along the way at other key sites.

More details can be found in the following links:


A few final tips:

- Watch the films A Bridge Over River Kwai and Railway Man before you visit.

- Sit on the left for the best views of the river when passing over Wang Pho viaduct.

- Take supplies of snacks and drinks, suncream and bug spray, all may be appreciated at some point in the journey.

- Try the green mango with chilli sold by the vendors. Note: vendors don't enter the tourist carriage.

- Visit Hell Fire Pass Memorial if you can, as it's poignant setting will put things into context.

Hell Fire Pass

- Consider a visit to Erawan Falls, it's beautiful and by far one of the best waterfalls in Thailand.

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