Kanchanaburi

The city of Kanchanaburi is located at the point where two tributaries, the Kwai Noi and Kwai Yai meet and form the Maenam This is the location for the Bridge on the river Kwai which was immortalised in the 1957 film of the same name. The film told the story of the railway of death in the Second World War as 80,000 Asian labourers and 13,000 allied troops were forced by the Japanese army to build the line under terrible conditions. The town features war cemeteries to commemorate those that died in the building of the railway.

Kanchanaburi, which has mostly mountainous terrain, covers an area of approximately 19,473 square kilometres and is the third largest province in Thailand after Chiang Mai and Nakhon Ratchasima. Situated approximately 129 kilometres west of Bangkok, Kanchanaburi shares a border with Myanmar to the west, Tak and Uthai Thani Provinces to the north, Suphan Buri and Nakhon Pathom Provinces to the east, and Ratchaburi Province to the south.

In north and west Kanchanaburi, the terrain is comprised mainly of mountains and high plains, with the Thanon Thongchai Range acting as a natural border between Thailand and Myanmar. The range is the source of Kanchanaburi's two most important rivers Maenam Kwai Noi and Maenam Kwai Yai, which form the famous Maenam Mae Klong. As a result, several of Thailand's largest Namtok (waterfalls) and most extensive wildlife sanctuaries are found in this area.

The magnificent landscape and charming beauty of Kanchanaburi have resulted in major tourist attractions including several well-known waterfalls, caves which were once inhabited by Neolithic man, pristine national parks, tranquil rivers, virgin forests, and reservoir. Together, they offer an intriguing experience for first-time or repeat visitors. Whether its fishing, rafting, canoeing, mountain biking, bird-watching, star-gazing, golfing, elephant and jungle trekking, or even living in bamboo rafts, Kanchanaburi takes pride in offering them all.

In economic terms, Kanchanaburi has been doing well on a national scale, with over 10 per cent growth annually. Important industries include sugar, agricultural products and jewellery. Tourism is also a main source of income for the locals as the provinces h igh tourism potential has made Kanchanaburi number one among the west provinces in having the highest number of visitors each year.

Residents of Kanchanaburi are engaged in agricultural activities. Most of the locals are of Thai ancestry with notable Mon and Karen minorities. Rural dwellers enjoy living simply and respecting nature. Moreover folk music and dances dating back at least 500 years are still performed today.

Getting to Kanchanaburi is very easy and from Bangkok takes three hours by train or bus and two hours by car.