Kanchanaburi: the Perfect Weekend Trip to Escape Bangkok

beautiful river kanchanaburi

Kanchanaburi: a Bangkok Weekend Trip

After living six months in Bangkok, one starts to lose their mind a bit. It is not that living in this urban jungle of filth is horrible or anything – not with its sexpats, red light go-go bars, the backpacker refuge Khao-San Road  known as Shangri-La to some, dipship-ville to others, glorious movie theaters and crazy online dating playgrounds – it is just one needs to get a little bit of serenity. A place where you aren’t in fear of being run over by some weird type of transportation 24/7.  Most people who come to Thailand, at least on a brief stint, turn to the postcard worthy islands (if you can photoshop out a million tourists) or to do some elephant riding near Chiang Mai (hint: it is much better to volunteer with them than ride the poor guys), but if you want to just take a quick break and snag some peace of mind while absorbing a bit of living history – check out Kanchanaburi.

 

Not that this isn't great or anything but....

Not that this isn’t great or anything

skytrain bts

Sometimes you just need to get away from all the constant socializing

 

Kanchanaburi is only a 2 hour-ish bus ride, or 3 hour-ish train ride away. I recommend locomotive as you can take in the scenery and aren’t constantly feeling the need to vomit sitting next to that smelly backpacker while the van driver takes you on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. Sidenote – you can chain smoke off the back and bond with the railway police attendants onboard.

 

Def. take one of these guys - classy

Def. take one of these guys – classy

 

You get the added bonus of making a wish on the Thai version of the Zoltar machine from the hit Tom Hank 80s classic BIG. Must be broken, I still am on this train.

You get the added bonus of making a wish on the Thai version of the Zoltar machine from the hit 80s film BIG featuring Tom Hanks. Must be broken, I still am on this train.

 

You can make friends

You can make friends

Hang out with monks out of their workplace

Hang out with monks out of their workplace

 

Say farewell to your city life worries

Say farewell to your city life worries and add years to your life.

 

And then put those years back on by chain smoking in the caboose

And then put those years back on by chain smoking in the caboose

 

Kanchanaburi is best known for its famous River Kwai, which was made by the prisoners of war and forced labors of WWII. It is a relatively uninspiring monument to see, as it is a remake of the original (the allies blew it up in 1945 – America, Fuck Ya). But the scenery and ability to lounge on the floating barrages of restaurants and guesthouses on river make it worthwhile.

Classic train when you arrive for your weekend escape

Classic train when you arrive for your weekend escape

 

The legendary bridge which was rebuilt and completely anti-climatic to see

The legendary bridge which was rebuilt and completely anti-climatic to see

 

Don't worry if you are starting to miss Bangkok. These floating barrages have Thai Karokee with the best Thai pop songs playing extra loud to whisk you back down memory lane.

Don’t worry if you are starting to miss Bangkok. These floating barrages have Thai Karokee with the best Thai pop songs playing extra loud to whisk you back down memory lane.

 

river kwai

As a suggested day trip, since I am beaming with historical knowledge – lucky you – is to rent a scooter and check out the Rail Museum in town, then take your scooter and head up to Hellfire Pass.

Great museum

Great museum

If you are feeling adventurous or are having your mid-life crisis you can opt for this instead of the scooter

If you are feeling adventurous or are having your mid-life crisis you can opt for this instead of the scooter 

Hellfire Pass is about a 1.5 hours scooter ride away and was one of the most difficult parts of the railway to make for the prisoners and forced laborers. They had to cut through rock without industrial equipment all the while coping with cholera, dysentery, starvation, exhaustion and oppressive Japanese handlers. It is estimated between 80,000-100,000 people died while constructing this railway for the Japanese.

This way.

This way.

hellfire pass

Bring bug spray, as I got bit by a mosquito and it just about ruined my entire day.

Turner barr
turnerbarr@gmail.com

Hi, my name is Turner. I travel the world, hustle to find interesting jobs, and write about what happens when you read too many self-help books.

4 Comments
  • Joshua
    Posted at 07:25h, 03 September

    Hey Turner! Ill be flying into Bangkok mid Oct with no itinerary. It would be great to connect with you along the way. Your a huge inspiration, Im a big fan of your work and determination.

    Joshua

    • Turner
      Posted at 22:59h, 03 September

      Thanks Joshua. I am not sure. I am heading out shortly to the US, but you never know. Stay in touch and enjoy your adventure.

  • Volunteering with Tigers in Thailand - Day 1
    Posted at 19:06h, 11 September

    […] rush out of my guest house in Kanchanaburi Thailand, the site of the famous bridge over the River Kwai and nearest town to Tiger Temple – at the wee […]

  • Kevin
    Posted at 10:54h, 02 October

    Hey Turner, I live over in Ban Thaen, a little town near Khon Khen. I was just wondering, you said you rented a bike? I thought you needed a work permit in order to do that, am I correct? I’m not renewing my recruitment agent and they want me to mail it in next week, but I’m thinking about holding onto it, what do you think?