The Bridge over the River Kwai is undeniably the main tourist attraction in Kanchanaburi. This famous bridge has been the inspiration for a number of Hollywood movies including the 1957 Academy Award Best Pictures winner, “The Bridge over The River Kwai”. This bridge is also a part of the Death Railway between (then) Siam and Burma, which was built under Japanese occupation during World War II. The construction of the whole railways projects had led to the loss of thousands of lives, especially Allied prisoners of war and Asian forced workers. The details of the historic event which took place in this area related to the railways can be found in Thailand-Burma Railway Museum which has been mentioned in my previous post.
The bridge is particularly crowded late in the morning until around dusk, when many tourists would arrived from Bangkok to visit the site before continuing their journey to other places. Many people would flock the area and walk across the bridge to the other side of the river and back. The favorite location to take photos and selfies however is on the bridge over the river. But be mindful that there is still trains that regularly use this bridge to cross the river. Once a train is passing through everyone on the bridge need to move over to designated spaces along the sides of the rail for safety.
This area is very lively during the day. There are many vendors selling food, drinks and souvenirs in the nearby market next to the train station platform. There are some descent restaurants including a floating restaurant and some stores next to the river. There is also a war museum located near the bridge which showcase a lot of war artifacts. For those looking for more excitement in this otherwise idyllic river, there are boat trips along the river and jet-ski rental.
On the other side of the river there is a big Chinese temple. The dragon totem and the gigantic statue of Goddess Guan Yin (or better known as Kwan Im in Indonesia) in the temple can be seen from afar. To get to this temple, we need to use the bridge or take boat trip across the river. The main entrance of the temple is at the back of the temple, opposite of the river, but there is also a smaller entrance at the side which lead to a staircase connected to the bridge. Like other Chinese temples, this temple is very colourful and provide a very nice location to take photos.
Most visitors would only spend a couple of hours in the area before proceeding to other destinations. On the other hand, I had the chance to spend the night in the area during my visit to Kanchanaburi. I stayed in a hotel at the other side of the river not far from the bridge. I must say that early in morning, and especially at night, this whole area is very very quiet and peaceful. The history of the area and the serene riverside setting makes it a bit eerie at night though. However, my trip to Kanchanaburi had been memorable, especially since this place brings back memories with my late father, as he took me to this bridge a couple of decades ago as a teenager.