The provincial capital is a relatively new town, dating merely from 1831. Major tourism attractions are inextricably connected with the Second World War, and more specifically, the years 1942 through 1945.
The Bridge Over The River Kwai
Internationally famous, thanks to sevelral motion pictures and books, the black iron bridge was brought from Java by the Japanese army and reassembled under Japanese supervision by Allied prisoner-of-war labour as part of the "Death Railway" linking Thailand with Burma. Still in use today, the bridge was the target of frequent Allied bombing raids during 1945, and was rebuilt after the war ended. The curved spans of the bridge are the original sections.
The bridge, which spans the Kwai Yai River some 4 kilometres northeast of the Tourism Authority of Thailand's Kanchanaburi office on Saeng Chura Road is the focal point of a riverside area of restaurants, souvenir and jewellery shops.
Second World War vintage steam locomotives and a peculiar hybrid road / railcar from the same era comprise a small Railway Museum on the bridge's eastern approach.
]apanese War Memorial
This occupies a small plot of land just south of the bridge.
The Kanchanaburi War Cemetery
On Saeng Chuto Road, opposite the Railway Station, this immacullately maintained enclave contains the remains of 6,982 Allied prisoner's-of- war who perished during the construction of the Death Railway. An estimated 16,000 Allied prisoners-of-war, and 49,000 forced labourers, died during the construction of the Death Railway and Bridge over the the River Kwai.
The Chong-Kai War Cemetery
2 kilometres south of town, on the bank of the Kwai Noi River, this occupies the former site of the Chong-Kai Prisoner-of-War Camp. This second cemetery is more peaceful, attractively landscaped, and contains some 1,750 remains.
The JEATH War Museum
This enclave in the riverside precincts of Wat Chaichumphon has heen constructed largely in the form of an Allied prisoner-of-war Camp. The name JEATH is derived from Japan, England, America, Australia, Thailand and Holland. The thatched detention hut with cramped, elevated bamboo bunks contains photographic, pictorial and physical memorabilia dating fom the Second World War. Several prisoners-of-war who survived appalling conditions have donated items from that time to add to the museum's authenticity. Opening Hours: 8.30 am. to 6.00 pm.
Admission fee is 30 haht. Tel: (66 34) 511-263.
Wat Tham Khao Pun
1 kilometre southwest of the Chong-Kai War Cemetery, this Buddhist temple is locally renowned for a cave containing stalactites and stalagmites, and many beautiful Buddha images.