It’s really ridiculous that more people don’t flock to Kanchanaburi when it is literally just over a 2 hour drive from Bangkok! It’s the most perfect, greenest city escape, and thanks to the rivers that run throughout it, it oozes the most serene of vibes.
While this place is famous for the Death Railway (built in 1942 during WWII), there are other interesting, as well as enriching experiences . influences and effects on the town.
There’s tons of relaxing, eating and admiring to be done, so we’ve put together a simple 3D2N riverside retreat to help you ease into that holiday feeling.
Why riverside? Well, what’s truly more relaxing than spending a few days with the sound of nothing but nature at your doorstep?
With some much appreciated fresh air, invigorating activities, and a natural surrounding as beautiful and different from the usual ‘tropical Thailand’ – there’s tons of things happening here from flea markets to museums, cafes and river exploring.
After a couple of days I’m sure you’re going to be ready to leave (or not) feeling rejuvenated and with your soul refreshed!
PS: You can pick up your local SIM card, organise airport transfers from Don Mueang or Suvarnabhumi airport, private car with driver, luggage services, and more – all with the help and convenience of our friends over at Klook.
How to get to Kanchanaburi?
From Malaysia, AirAsia offers direct flights from MYR 224.72 (round-trip).
How to get around Kanchanaburi?
To fully enjoy Kanchanaburi, you should definitely look into hiring a car to get around. (It’s only a 2hr 20min drive from BKK). Whether you would rather have a private chartered car or prefer driving around yourself (only if you’re confident on foreign and mountainous roads) – getting around can be simple!
a. Klook’s Private car with driver (From USD $138 / 4385 Baht per day)
Klook makes it simple with this competitive service that not only includes a private chartered car service that’s affordable, it also comes with a local driver that’ll help with your itinerary while making getting around extremely convenient and comfortable.
b. Car rental without driver (From USD $37.77 / 1200 Baht per day)
If you enjoy driving around personally and are confident on unfamiliar roads, you might want to consider renting a car from Thai Rent A Car or Avis. It’s tried and tested! (Prices vary depending on the car model chosen.)
c. Airport and City Transfers (From USD $89.45 / 2842 Baht)
If you’re not keen on hiring a car to get around and only require an airport transfer, or city transfer, the simplest way to do it would be via Klook.
d. Motorbike Rental (From USD $6.30 / 200 Baht per day)
Renting a motorbike is relatively easy business in Thailand, and you’ll always be able to find a local shop, tour office or even a local, renting out mopeds and scooters. Remember, if you’re going to drive a bike, please be aware of traffic officers (they will ask for an international driving license if you’re a tourist) so make sure you’ve got one, otherwise you’re gonna pay a hefty fine – talking from experience here). And DON’T forget to always wear that helmet!
1. A modern stay on the river – X2 River Kwai
It’s urban-cool and on the river, this tastefully decorated lake stay will give you all kinds of holiday tingles.
Focused on providing comfort as well as great space for you to relax; chill on your own private rooftop (imagine catching those sunrises and sunsets), hammocks and loungers.
And my personal favourite; the gorgeous sliding glass doors at your little riverside villa here will give you nonstop stunning views!
Photo Via Ceojamie
2. You sold me with ‘hot tub’ – Blue Sky Raft
You’ll find me sipping on champagne (or a chilled glass of vino will do), in my hottub, on my private deck, all the while enjoying the sounds and peace of the river.
Located on the Mae Klong River, these houseboats are spacious, romantic and seem perfect for couples or groups traveling together – you can each hire out one of the villas next to one another.
Hire a canoe and enjoy kayaking around the waters, or even evening rafting, and it’s another spot with an epic rooftop on each unit – this area is quite big and is great for chilling with a group of friends too! Imagine watching the stars from up here!
Photo Via Iam_moomint
3. A whole new meaning of ‘rafting’ – Wang Nok Kaew Park View Resort
Floating along the bank of the Kwai Noi riverside in Soi Yok are a line of wooden raft villas – Wang Nok Park. Even the standard raft is amazing; air conditioning, hot water, free WiFi….oh and amazing views of the river flowing past.
If you love the water then you may choose both the natural river or the deluxe swimming pool to take a dip.
After a busy day why not relax in the hammock on your private balcony, or have a traditional thai massage? You certainly won’t go hungry with the buffet breakfast feast and varied menu at the riverside restaurant!
Photo Via Beeboinstagram
Play in idyllic purple flower fields and dine on a river
Note: This itinerary is planned with the earliest flight to Bangkok in mind. After landing in Don Mueang, you might want to grab some snacks from 7/11 for the ride to Kanchanaburi (Don Mueang to Kanchanaburi is a 2h 20mins drive). You’ll reach Kanchanaburi by 12.30pm just in time for lunch!
1. Lunch @ The Village Farm To Cafe (1.5h)
2. Activity at Ban Khao Museum (1.h)
3. Beautiful gardens and photo op! at Maple Gardens (1h)
4. Phu Ing Tara Market (1.5)
5. Dinner at Dejtosapak Restaurant (1.5h)
6. Back to Wang Nok Kaew Park View Resort
This is the perfect spot to finally unwind after your travels and get a little taste of the relaxed lifestyle out here in Kanchanaburi – as well as fill your belly. I’m sure you’re starving by now.
This gorgeous big, open bright cafe is in a garden next to the river, and they’ve totally gone for that farm-house style vibe with high ceilings and tons of natural light.
They have this really pretty bamboo tunnel bamboo overgrowing on each side for a great Instagram moment!
Photo Via Erkerk_erk, Khunnotto
This town is filled with rich culture and history, so let’s explore it! Plus this is crazy cool! Take yourself back 4000 years ago to the Neolithic period (Stone Age)!!!
Marvel over artifacts from wayyyy back when in Thai history, as well as from around the world. Expect skeletons, bone jewelry, shell ornaments, tripod pots, axes, and other things they’ve found and dug out in the area. As a history lover, this is epic!
Photo Via Go2kan
TIme to soak up that fresh air, and spend some time frolicking among the flowers (as well as taking a million beautiful photos. Let’s be real, who wouldn’t, it’s so pretty here!
My favourite part is it’s also a farm with tons of organic produce – which you can pick, weigh in and buy yourself. Nothing tastes better than freshly picked and organic.
Photo Via 1ployz_ns
Watch the sunset over the river, down at this cute little Boho / artsy market – Phu Ing Tara Market (2h)
Relatively new on the scene, this cute flea market is dotted with food (grilled river shrimp, fried clams, fried chicken, steaks, there’s a variety) and craft stalls – haystacks with blankets and mats to chill on and lots of cute little wooden structures everywhere.
It only opened recently in 2019 and is really gaining popularity among travellers. It’s the perfect chill haven in my opinion.
Photo Via Wipada81
Enjoy your first evening on the riverside at this gorgeous restaurant – Dejtosapak Restaurant (1.5h)
An absolutely gorgeous setting, enjoy your meal on your first night with ultimate ambiance.
This open-air restaurant surrounded by the river, mountains and green vistas, is exactly what you need to have a memorable dining experience in Kanchanaburi.
Indulge in authentic and delicious Thai food and we love their freshness policy. They won’t accept money if their food is not served fresh!
After dinner, why not hire a raft service offered by the restaurant to spend more quality time with your beau/family/friends?
Photo Via Tz_ruttapong
Once you’re done with dinner, head back to Wang Nok Kaew Park View Resort (or whichever accommodation you prefer), and enjoy your first night on the river!
Explore a banana plantation, see stunning views and more!!
1. Breakfast at Meena (1h)
2. Visit the Wat Tham Sua Temple (1.5h)
3. Activity at JEATH War Museum (30mins)
4. Lunch @ One Tea Coffee (1h)
5. Spend time exploring banana trees and taking beaut. photos (1.5h)
6. Freshen up and enjoy some cake! @ U&Me (45mins)
7. Dinner @ Loft (2h)
Raw, beautiful and totally surrounded by nature and greenery, the perfect way to start your day – Meena (มีนา Cafe) (1h)
What better way to start the day than enjoying a good cappuccino and some (traditional) brekkie among the gorgeous green rice paddies… With an incredible view facing Tiger Cave Temple in the morning sun.
Here you’ll find traditional Thai breakfast, as well as a huge selection of cakes (if you have a morning sweet tooth).
You’ll leave feeling invigorated, excited by Kanachanaburi’s nature and ready to take on the day.
Photo Via Felipedonoso91
Ride a cable car to a stunning temple with breathtaking views – Wat Tham Suea (Wat Tham Khao Noi) (1.5 hours)
This beautiful temple sits on a hilltop, and you can take a short cable car ride to visit it – or climb 157 steps to reach the top.
Pay homage to a striking giant golden seated Buddha resting in an open dome. Next, check out the “Ket Kaew” pagoda, an 8-story polygonal structure that holds Buddhist relics, and climb up to the top for a feast for your eyes.
The view is totally worth the climb! Panoramic views of rural Kanchanaburi with rice paddies, the mountain range, and river stretching far beyond the horizon are unbelievably picturesque.
Photo Via Brandibollig
JEATH? Let’s quickly break it down: Japan, England, Australia/USA, Thailand, Holland, these are the countries that were involved in the WWII death railway construction from 1942 to 1945.
This museum which is run by a monk, was designed to be an exact replica of an actual Prisoner Of War camp. It showcases bunks, photographs, and other authentic items. Displays also show actual written accounts from the prisoners, their family members, and authors who interviewed POWs.
(I visited Auschwitz in Poland, where Anne Frank and her family were taken to, and although it was pretty heartbreaking and unsettling – it was definitely a humbling and an incredible experience, I’d highly recommend it.)
Photo Via Birthmark.on_.feet_
If you’re the type that prefers to get active instead of going to a museum, how about SUP (Stand up paddleboarding)? It’s an absolutely amazing way to explore River Kwai, not to mention it’s awesome fun for all ages!
Be guided, while you SUP, through remote areas of the river, surrounded by mother nature and truly experience and discover the river.
PS: Don’t forget to bring a long sleeved shirt and sunscreen for skin protection as well as a towel, in case you get wet!
Photo Via Suphirethailand
Adorable and popping with colour, it feels like another barn/farm-style venue that makes you feel right at home.
Refuel after all the activities with some simple traditional Thai style dishes (noodle and rice variations), pies, salads, sandwiches – and if you’re still hungry, the crepes are a pretty sweet deal!
Photo Via Oneteacoffee
Spend some time exploring and taking photos of EVERYTHING – Banana Crest Bridge @ Banana Farm (1.5 hours)
Wow, talk about a b.e.a.utifulll set-up! They recently built this bridge among the banana fields so you can view the plantation as well as the life and locality that takes place here.
It makes for some seriously gorgeous/unique photos (we actually don’t often see banana plantation shots in Thailand, right?) and it’s just as beautiful at night as it is in the day time!!
Photo Via O_neemstory_o
After a long day I’m sure you’re dreaming of a power nap or shower for that matter. On your way back, stop for a quick energising coffee to help you make it there.
And check this sweet spot out. In Thailand (and Bali) they love this idea of using nest-like structures, but it totally works and always makes for gorgeous photos, in my opinion. Here is absolutely no different!
Photo Via Bbbuble88
For your last evening, enjoy a night on the river, filled with ambiance and beautiful views especially more so at night and if you’re lucky, some live tunes!
Set up around a classy poolside area, and on the river, it has this elegant yet relaxed atmosphere, and feel free to stay after your meal for a few drinks and some beats!
Photo Via Loftrestaurantofficial, Cartoon_nyc
Done with dinner? Head back and enjoy the rest of your night at your riverside stay!
Step into an Oscar-winning film, seriously
1. Breakfast at Chaai Samai Cafe (1h)
2. Pay one last historical homage at the River Kwai Bridge (45mins)
3. Lunch on the riverside at Ravi Riva Cafe de Forest (1.5h)
For breakfast, duck into this unsuspecting building by the road and find an urban, arty loft-style cafe – along with the most gorgeous wall sized mural to accompany you!
Head to the back, and enjoy breakfast on the riverside, and with a gorgeous view of it too.
PS: If you like sweet things for breakfast, try their super thin and crispy waffles (it’s like the holes of the waffle have been taken out so you just have this super thin waffle outline with a delish matcha icing.
If you’re not in a hurry to get back to BKK, you just have to visit this historical site before leaving.
Once a village, now it’s a lake. The old Sangkla Buri village was flooded in order to construct a dam. When the water is at the highest, the only thing you will see is the top of the bell tower peeking out from the surface.
But if you come during dry season from March to May, the whole temple will reveal itself on a small island in the middle of the lake. You can see the remains of the old village are just a couple of monasteries.
There are left with nothing but exterior walls, fallen stupa, and stone Buddha head. You can then walk on the temple ground, and imagine that all where you are will be under the water again.
Photo Via Equationoflife, Miki_jung11, Geleeers
This cafe oozes vintage bistro vibes, but with a different era of vintage, there’s a certain 20s feel to it.
Situated at the waterfront, it’s got this Great Gatsby era feel, from the design of building to the insides, with green ferns and these gorgeous chandeliers hanging down – very old world European.
It’s the perfect place to grab something before heading back to Bangkok, and with such a beautiful environment, plus delicious food, you won’t be disappointed.