Marking the beginning of the infamous Death Railway, the Bridge on the River Kwai is arguably one of the most iconic and poignant landmarks in Thailand. Built by POWs and slave labourers during World War II, the railway provided a direct route between Bangkok in Thailand and Rangoon in Burma (Mayanmar) to enable the mobilisation of Japanese troops across Asia by aiding the movement of supplies. 

Overview

Toiling in the searing heat and humidity, over 60,000 Australian, British and Dutch prisoners of war worked on the 215-mile stretch of railway from 1942-43. Immortalised by David Lean’s film ‘The Bridge on the River Kwai’, based on a book by the same name by Pierre Boulle, the bridge became an icon that was recognised across the world and thousands of people head to this poignant spot each year.

An incredibly moving place, memorials mark the streets surrounding the bridge where people come to remember the 12,000 Allied POWs and estimated 80-90,000 Southeast Asian labourers that gave their lives under the brutal working conditions and systemic torture employed by Japanese soldiers over the year that it took to construct the railway. The bridge is still fully functional, with sections having been rebuilt following the Allied bombings that occurred towards the end of the war.

How to see it with Kuoni

Embark on a fascinating three-day excursion to the River Kwai & Kanchanaburi . Stay in Three-star accommodation and visit the compelling JEATH war museum, the Kanchanaburi war cemetery and the iconic bridge before heading off to see notorious Hellfire Pass and the Trails of Death. The trip also features some cultural highlights including a visit to Mon Tribal Village.

Independent travel options

You can travel independently to Kanchanaburi from the capital city of Bangkok via train, bus or taxi. Board a train in Bangkok and travel along the tracks that the POWs laid, across the Bridge on the River Kwai and the striking Wamp (Wang Po) Viaduct to Nam Tok. Only third class train depart Bangkok and can take up to 5 hours, making this is an extremely authentic experience that is not for everyone. Alternatively, the bus from Bangkok takes around two hours, and the more expensive option of a taxi can find you in Kanchanaburi in around an hour and a half.

Good to know

While it is possible to walk out across the bridge and gaze out at the unbelievably beautiful scenery, it helps to be mindful that trains still frequent the tracks.

Insider tip

This is a spectacular place to watch the sunset, but be sure to arrive early to get a good spot as the bridge is often bustling with tourists all trying to get the same shot.

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