Places to eat in Kanchanaburi

Kanchanaburi is a great place to taste excellent Thai food and despite the number of tourists that come here all year round it’s still reasonably cheap when compared to other popular destinations in Thailand. Don’t expect anything particularly fancy and innovative though; many of the best restaurants in town will not indulge in any decoration of your plate and most of the time you will be sitting on plastic chairs or wooden stools.

posing for the camera for the 10,000th time. by permanently scatterbrained

Markets

The first place to start is the night market close to the train station. Every night starting from around 5.30pm a mix of Thai and Westerners head to JJ market (this is how it is known to everybody) for a quick snack or a full meal while drinking a beer or shopping at the clothes section.

Different stalls will offer you pork or chicken skews which seem to be the favourite snack for Thais when walking around. There are also stalls offering any sort of just cooked Thai dishes ready to eat on the spot or to take home. Only few of them have tables and chairs but a couple of shops will let you eat at their tables if you buy a drink from them.

Try mu grop if you fancy some crunchy pork (be aware that it’s almost only skin) with sticky rice to soften the flavour. Papaya salad (som tam) is a good choice for vegetarians but remember to tell the seller how hot you want it: Thais like it burning hot, but for newbies one chilli is normally more than enough. The majority of the dishes will come for THB30/40 while snacks are no more than THB10 a piece.

There’s another night market at the bus station. It’s still worth a visit if you have one more night but the food will be more or less the same, both in diversity and quality.

Thai food

Erawan National Park, Kanchanaburi, Thailand
Erawan National Park, Kanchanaburi, Thailand
Attr: yeowatzup (cc by)

On Mae Nam Khwae Road there’s the biggest concentration of Thai and Western food venues. A lot of street food options are available with vendors selling simple dishes like noodle soups, papaya salad, fried chicken, fried rice or pad thai for less than THB50.

At the southern end of the road, close to JJ market, you will find Zeb Zeb (16/27 Donruk Road), one of the favourite restaurant for locals. It’s always busy and you might need to wait for a few minutes to have a table but the food is delicious and it comes at Thai prices. The restaurant has been recently renovated and has lost a good deal of its original charm but the quality of food is still there. Everything on the menu is good but our special mention goes to the minced pork salad (lab moo) or frilled fish (pla pao) that comes fresh from the river Khwae. Most of the dishes will come for THB70/80 while the fish will be around THB150.

Slightly out of the tourist area, on the other side of the river, you will find Mangosteen Garden Restaurant (74/12 Moo 4). Enjoying a wonderful location in a beautiful garden, the restaurant has very large menu with tasty Thai food and international faves with dishes from all South East Asia. It is slightly overpriced by local standards with main courses coming for THB120/150.

Vegetarian

For vegetarians and vegans there are quite a few options in every Thai restaurant but the place to go is On’s Thai Isaan (268/1 Mae Nam Khwae Road). Specialized in vegetarian food from the Eastern provinces of Thailand, they are the best with their masaman curry and vegetable tempura for a special occasion. All the dishes are around THB60.

Western food

There are some good options for those missing Western food. Go to Bell’s pizza and restaurant (opposite of On’s) for the best pizza in town (from THB160), Schluck (20/1 Mae Nam Kwai Road) for delicious steaks (from THB180) and BBB bar (33/1 Mae Nam Kwai Road) for a proper burger (THB140)

Kanchanaburi station guide

Kanchanaburi - Bus

The west-central Thailand city of Kanchanaburi is popular for its hilly location and cooler weather, and is known for its proximity to the infamous WWII Death Railway, immortalised in the 1957 movie Bridge over the River Kwai. The city is just 128kms from Bangkok, and is easily and inexpensively reached by VIP bus from Bangkok’s Southern Bus Terminal, terminating at one of the two neighbouring local bus stations on Saeng Chuto Road.

The smaller bus terminal just off the main street deals with VIP bus services, and the larger bus station serves ordinary buses on short or longer-haul routes. The best way to get to Kanchanaburi is by bus, as there’s no airport and the train service is third-class only. Air-conditioned buses leave from the capital’s Southern Bus Terminal every half hour from early morning to 22:30, taking under two hours and costing just 106 baht.

Saeng Chuto Road is Kanchanaburi’s main street, running through the southern district from the River Kwai bridge past the rail and bus stations and giving arrivals at either terminal a central location with easy access to guesthouses and hotels. Another option to or from Bangkok is the VIP bus service from the capital’s Morchit Bus Terminal to Kanchanaburi’s smaller, first-class bus terminal. Buses run every hour from 06:30 to 18:00, take three hours and cost between 108 and 139.

Nakhom Pathom is just two hours away, with the service provided every 15 minutes between 04:00 and 18:00 and costing 50 baht. Kanchanaburi’s two bus stations are conveniently positioned just a 30 baht songthaew ride from the town’s guesthouse district. Even cheaper are the motorcycle taxis, costing just 20 baht and perfect for travellers without heavy luggage. Getting around town and exploring the region’s WWII history is straightforward and cheap by means of tuk-tuks, songthaews and motorcycle taxis.

Kanchanaburi - train

For passengers who would like to go travel Kanchanaburi by rail, Thonburi railway station is the only station that has train units off to Kanchanaburi. Be informed that there are only two departs from Thonburi Train Station (west of Chao Phraya river) to Kanchanburi and the average travel time from Thonburi to Kanchanaburi would be at least 3 hours.

The main Kanchanaburi Station is located at Sangchuto Road, a short walking distance from Maenam Kwai Road. You should visit the bridge over the River Kwai, which was re-built about 20 meters away from its original place. The remains of the original bridge are still visible if you search for them. The war museum is a few meters down the river and has some pictures, old uniforms and old weapons on display. On the southern side of the river you can find a temple on top and inside a cave. Wear solid shoes if you plan to go there.

Nam Tok Sai Yok - train

Nam Tok Station is the end of the infamous "Death Railway" that linked Thailand and Burma during the World War II. The historic railway now exist only partial of what was originally built. From the bridge over River Kwai to Nam Tok Station, the remaining rails run at about 50 kilometers or 30 miles.

Thonburi - Bangkok route by rail would consume up to 5 hours of travel. There is also a 3rd class train travelling to Nam Tok but is not air-conditioned.

Three Pagodas Pass - Bus

For several centuries, the Three Pagodas Pass served as western Thailand's main link between India and the rest of Southeast Asia. Today, this Tenasserim Hills pass connects the Thai community of Sangkhla Buri to Payathonzu in Myanmar. The three tiny stupas or chedis on the border's Thai side are said to have been constructed as peace symbols during the Ayutthaya period.

This largely rural part of northwest Thailand is about 370kms from its nearest air gateway, Bangkok's Don Mueang International Airport, and 227kms from its nearest major city, Kanchanaburi. There is non-stop bus service between Bangkok's Mochit station and Sangkhla Buri, the closest community to the Three Pagodas Pass.

However, many passengers prefer changing buses at the larger Kanchanaburi bus station, which offers a greater variety of minibuses and buses travelling to Sangkhla Buri. The bus journey between Kanchanaburi and Sangkhla Buri takes between four and five hours. The more expensive air-conditioned buses and minibuses travel faster than lower budget buses without air-conditioning. The Sangkhla Buri bus station stands conveniently across from its lively market and green shuttle buses to Three Pagodas Pass depart frequently from the terminal.

As of 2012, only Thai citizens could cross the Three Pagoda Pass border, and passports will not be stamped at either side of the border. The Burmese Inn is located two kilometres outside of Sangkhla Buri city centre, while the Phornpailin Riverside Resort and Potanee Resort are both situated south of the post office. Other places to stay can also be found in town.

Sangkhla Buri - Bus

Thailand's northwesternmost district, Sangkhla Buri, is situated next to the Myanmar border in Kanchanaburi province. Floating house parties, Three Pagodas Path, and the Mon community at the opposite end of the country's longest handmade wooden bridge, Saphan Mon, are this idyllic region's main attractions. The bus journey between Sangkhla Buri town and Bangkok's Mochit station takes seven to eight hours.

Passengers may also stop at the Kanchanburi bus station, then board any of the several buses and minibuses making the four- to five-hour journey to Sangkhla Buri. The costlier minibuses and air-conditioned buses depart Sangkhla Buri from the main market road's east end, while cheaper buses without air conditioning leave from the Sangkhla Buri bus station. Most places to stay are situated either two kilometres outside the city centre, like the Burmese Inn, or south of the post office, like the Potanee and Phornpailin Riverside resorts.

News

Kanchanaburi launches 2017 Harmony World Puppet Festival

Today sees the start of the delayed Thailand Harmony World Puppet Festival in Kanchanaburi Province. The fest is a celebration of the art of puppetry and marionettes and features string puppets, shadow puppet shows, hand puppets, rod-driven puppets and even human puppets.

20 February 2017

Thai Immigration Bureau plans to upgrade Kanchanaburi checkpoint

The Immigration Bureau of Thailand has put forward a proposal that could see a Kanchanaburi province border crossing upgraded. On an official visit to the Three Pagodas Pass checkpoint over the weekend, immigration boss Nathathorn Prousoontorn explained that the border crossing with Myanmar was becoming strategically more important as a tourism and commerce link between the neighbouring nations.

02 May 2016

Thai PM tells Kanchanaburi disco rafts to turn down the volume

Responding to complaints of noise pollution, the Thai prime-minister has asked Kanchanaburi’s disco raft operators to turn down the volume. The activist group Rak Thammachart Muang Kan had lodged a formal complaint with the prime-minister’s office saying disco and karaoke rafts on the Kwai Noi River were far too loud.

20 November 2015