Updated: Jul 1
This central Thailand town should be on the top of your list for Southeast Asia cities! Kanchanaburi is an enchanted jungle town with breathtaking rivers, mountains, waterfalls, and more!
Know Before You Go:
The native language of Thailand is Thai - however, most everyone speaks English (especially in the tourist industry).
Thai Baht (THB) is the only currency in Thailand. Cash is used far more than credit cards so I advise always having some on you.
Pack a lot of bugspray - especially for this part of the country. Malaria pills won't be necessary, but you'll still want multiple types of bug repellant (lotion, bracelets, spray, etc) to ward off those pesky creatures.
Thailand Packing List - everything you'll need while in Thailand
Read more about my Thailand tips here!
Where to Stay:
River Kwai Jungle Raft: This "floatel" is an absolute must! Take a step back from your phone, disconnect from wifi, and relax under the stars in a bamboo lodge floating above River Kwai. This experience is unlike any other. Read more below!
Related Article: Review of River Kwai Jungle Raft
What to Do:
1. Spend the night in a floating river raft!
I cannot say enough amazing things about this experience - don't let the idea of no electricity and no wifi scare you away.. I promise this is an experience you'll be so thankful for and never forget. You'll board a boat that takes you to your secluded retreat. Once aboard, you'll check into your bamboo lodge for the evening. Each rooms has a private balcony with a hammock, ensuite bathroom with toilet, sink, and shower head (cold water only), and each bed has a mosquito net above it.
Once you're settled, grab a life jacket and jump into the river! It has a quick current that drifts you down to the opposite end of the floatel. You can jump in over and over again and just float down the river. When you're tired of that, relax in a hammock, or sunbathe on the bamboo pier. The raft also has add ons that you can purchase, such as Thai Massages, Boat Rides, Kanoes, and more!
The hotel stay includes dinner which is served family style and has a very authentic central Thailand menu. There's also a small bar onboard the floatel for refreshments.
After dinner, you can enjoy a Mon show put on by the nearby villagers and staff of the floatel. The next day, you can opt to take a walk through their village and see how they live with out electricity each and every day.
2. Take a dip in Erawan Falls
The Erawan National Park features 7 stunning tiers of waterfalls and ponds. The park is Thailand's 12 National Park and costs 300 THB for foreigners. It is open daily (8AM to 4:30PM). These falls are a huge tourist destination and can get very crowded so be sure to get there early to try and beat as many crowds as possible. Hike up the path to Tier 4 (or higher if you're more adventurous) and take a dip in the falls! You can slide down the rocks as a slide in Tier 4 which is so fun! Next, head to Tier 3, which is by far the most picturesque in my opinion! Continue down to Tiers 2 & 1, which are the most crowded and easily accessible.
Be aware - the fish are everywhere and they are not shy about nibbling on your toes!
Don't forget to pack a towel to dry off after a dip in the falls!
3. Walk over the Bridge at River Kwai
This famous bridge is worth a pit stop while in Kanchanaburi. It was built during WWII by Asian slaves under the command of Japanese soldiers. The plan for the railway was to transport bombs and explosives to India for Japan to attack. It is now referred to as the Death Railway due to how many lives were lost while building the railway. You may also visit the nearby cemetery in honor of those who lost their life.
4. Visit an Elephant Sanctuary!
While the most popular Elephant Sanctuaries are in Chiang Mai, there are still so many great options here in Kanchanaburi! My favorite is the Elephant Haven! You can book a full day tour to include preparing the elephants food, feeding them, bathing them, and taking a dip in the river with them! It's an experience you will never forget! Your tour includes a Vegetarian lunch buffet (just like an elephant diet!).
Whether you visit this particular Elephant Sanctuary or not, it is important you know the difference between Sanctuaries and Parks. The sanctuaries are part of a new initiative in Thailand to prevent animal torture. You may think riding an elephant is no big deal, but it is - the training they go through to get to a point to allow humans to ride them day in and day out is excruciating. It literally takes away the elephant's will to live. Be sure to look into what Elephant sanctuary you book before going!
5. Wat Tham Seau (Tiger Cave Temple)
This giant gold Buddha is a must see! It's located atop a mountain with gorgeous views. You can climb steps to the top or take a cable car for 20baht. The Buddha itself is quite a site to see and different from other temples in the area.
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