Bangkok is a large city of 17 million people. After a few days visiting the town we felt the need to get out of the noise, traffic and smug that never stop. Our Thai friends suggested we drive to the Bridge on the River Kwai and hike the Erawan waterfalls. So, we packed an overnight bag, and here we were driving west out of the city to Kanchanaburi, Thailand.
The Bridge on the River Kwai
The bridge on the River Kwai was made famous through the 1957 film directed by David Lean and baring the same name. The movie received and Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. But the real story was not as glamorous. The bridge was constructed during WWII to transport daily cargo to India to back up the Japanese planned attack on India. The construction was achieved in difficult conditions using prisoners of wars and slave laborers. The work started in 1942 and was completed in a year. During that time thousands of laborers lost their lives, and the War Cemetery where 7,000 POWs are buried is here to remind us of their stories. The original bridge was bombed in 1944 where three sections were destroyed. The present bridge has two of its central spans rebuilt, while the original can be seen in the War Museum near by.
Things to do in Kanchanaburi, Thailand
- Rent a boat for a tour on the river
- Hop on a floating party house for a drink or two
- Stop at the War Cemetery to pay respect to the thousand of soldiers buried here
- Visit the World War II museum
- Hike or bike to the Koapooncave Temple and visit the caves
Erawan Water falls are located in one of Thailand National Park close to the Myanmar border, and an hour drive north west of the Bridge on the River Kwai.
The area is covered by limestone hills. The seven levels of falls extent around 1,500 meters above sea level through the rainforest. The access to the first waterfalls is relatively easy, however the trail gets stepper and rougher as it carries on the next tiers. The highlight of the first water fall is the great number of fish swimming in the ponds, munching dead skin on your feet. A weird sensation, but after a while you get use to it.
A few tips:
- Arrive early to be able to hike to the top falls. Upper levels close at 3:30 pm.
- Plan on about 3 hours to hike the entire length of the falls
- Wear shoes that can go in the water as well as hike the steep hills of the last levels.
- There is a hotel in the park as well as a youth hostel and campground to spend the night.
- Do not feed the monkeys, they can get aggressive.
- Bus tours are available from Bangkok. It takes the entire day and they leave early in the morning.
- Even on a slow day off-season the lower falls felt crowded.
As Always Safe Travel!