Spending the weekend in Bangkok for New Years had me itching to get out of the craziness of the city and into nature (coming from the small city of Chaiyaphum into Bangkok is always a little overwhelming). My friends were visiting from America and I heard Kanchanaburi was a great little weekend getaway from Bangkok.
The best part about traveling from Bangkok, is that there are always lots of ways to get to where you need to go. To get to Kanchanaburi there are 3 main ways of transport.
Train: There is a train from Thonburi Station, a small train station in Bangkok, that has a line from Bangkok to Nam Tok that leaves two times a day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. Its said to be about a 3 hour ride but extremely scenic as it takes you on the Death Railway and over the Bridge on The River Kwai, which is one of the main sites in Kanchanaburi. There are only 3rd class tickets available which are open air cars, but apparently they are quite comfortable and the views from the cars are priceless and a great part of the Kanchanaburi experience. Tickets cost about 100 THB (a little over $3USD). Unfortunately, we weren’t able to take this mode of transport on our trip, due to timing.
Van (Mini Bus): Vans are constantly leaving out of Victory Monument and also the Southern Bus Station and leave when they are full. They cost around 110THB -180TH, but you have big luggage, you need to pay for an extra seat as there is no trunk space (we learned this the hard way on the way back to Bangkok). Vans are a lot quicker than taking the train or the bus, they cut out about 1 hour of travel time, however this is because the van drivers are known to be absolutely insane. I personally try to avoid traveling by vans in Thailand because of this reason, but if timing is an issue and you’re an adrenaline junky, maybe vans are for you.
Bus: We opted for the bus that left from the Southern Bus Terminal. The bus cost 92 THB for a First- Class ticket, which means the bus is air-conditioned. The trip took about 3 hours and dropped us at the bus terminal in Kanchanaburi which had songtaews waiting as the busses arrived to take people to their accommodations.
We stayed at Sam’s Guesthouse, which was about a 10 minute songtaew ride (30 THB per person / about $1USD) from the bus station. It was located on the main street that was filled with a mixture of tiny bars, western dining options and thai dining options. The driver knew exactly where to drop us off, it was clearly a very well known hostel in the area. When we arrived to Sam’s we were greeted by Moon, a sassy thai woman who owned the property. We originally had booked the 4 person Deluxe Room for 1200THB a night which came to be about $8.50USD per person. However, there was an issue with overbooking and she had to give us two 2-person Deluxe Rooms, but honored the original pricing we had been quoted.
The rooms were not anything special, but they were clean, provided towels and toilet paper (something I never expect now being in Southeast Asia, it is a BYOTP society), clean sheets, nice A/C, and a clean bathroom with a shower and hot water. Truly not more you can ask for when budget traveling!
We headed to the Bridge on the River Kwai, about a 15 minute walk from our hostel just in time for sunset. The Bridge is still an operating bridge which we learned when the train came strolling through as we stood on the side of the tracks, super cool and highly recommended.
The next morning, we chartered the same songtaew who drove us from the bus station, to take us to Erawan National Park, about an hour and 45 minutes away from the hostel, costing us each about 300THB ($3.50USD). As we went on a holiday weekend, the park was very crowded, but not with other westerners, with Thai people which added to the experience. Entrance to the park was 300THB per person and 30 THB for parking.
The Erawan Waterfalls are beautiful, even during dry season. There are 7 tiers of waterfalls here. The first 4 are clearly charted paths with stairs that bring you up hills. However, when you get past tier 4, the path becomes a little more rocky and more climbing is necessary.
We hiked to the top first, as it is the first tier to close around 1:30pm, then made our way back down to take a swim in the 4th level which was amazing!
A weekend in Kanchanaburi is a great way to get out of the city and back in touch with nature, with all the amenities needed for a comfortable stay!