For people on a budget Mae Nam Khwae Road is the place to go, especially its southern end, between the two 7/11 shops.
At the lower end of the scale (THB200 or less) expect to find a pretty simple fan room with not much furniture, thin mattresses and a very basic – but often private! – bathroom. Some guesthouses will not provide complementary towels and breakfast is never included. If you choose a room facing the street be prepared for a bit of noise at night-time. All the bars are located in the same area and it can get really noisy until midnight.
Our first choice in this price range is Tara Bed and Breakfast (99-101 Mae Nam Khwae Rd). If you don’t mind to share the bathroom, this place has by far the best cheap rooms we ever experienced in Thailand. For THB250 (THB350 with air-con) you will have a clean room with a super comfortable double bed, satellite flat screen-TV and free Wi-Fi in the room. The two bathrooms are shared by 6 rooms on the third floor and are usually extremely clean, with hot shower, too. Ask for room K9 or K10 which are a bit farther from the street and less noisy at night. They also have bigger rooms with private bathroom for THB600/THB900.
A very popular destination among backpackers is Jolly Frog (28 Soi China, Mae Nam Khwae Rd). Despite being highly recommended by many travel books, we would suggest you to stay there only for one reason: they have the cheapest single rooms in Kanchanaburi. The cheapest ones, really basic and old, with shared bathrooms come for THB100.
For THB50 more a better option is Sugar Cane (22 Soi Pakistan, Mae Nam Khwae Rd) which comes in a form of few bungalows around a beautiful small garden right on the river. Double rooms with a private bathroom are really basic but they’re the best you can get for THB150. Being 80 meters away from the bars area will allow you to have peaceful night.
Mid Range (THB1000-THB2000)
People searching for this price range should head towards the bridge, in the northern end of Mae Nam Khwae Road. The necessity of a 10-minute walk at night-time from restaurant and bar area is well compensated by a much quieter night. Rooms in this range all come with breakfast included, free Wi-Fi and if you book in advance they will more than likely offer you a complementary free pick up from the bus station.
A nice option in this area is Good Travel Resort (265/5-7 Mae Nam Khwae Rd). Opened few years ago, it features spacious and well decorated rooms with a scenic river view. Prices start from THB1500.
A decent alternative is River Khwae Bridge Resort 8 (Vietnam Road, Tha Ma Kham). A few steps from the bridge, they have a beautiful big garden with a big pool. Starting from THB1600.
Top end (over THB2000)
The most exclusive and expensive resort and hotels are located away from the city centre and you’ll definitely need a taxi to get there.
Our first choice so far would be Felix River Khwae Resort (9/1 Moo 3, Thamakham). On the opposite side of the river this rampling resort sits on a 20-hectare piece of land. It has two big swimming pools, tennis courts, snooker room, SPA centre and whatever else you can imagine. Room rates start at around THB2000 with the royal suite coming at THB25000.
A less impressive but more secluded and charming is U Inchantree (443 Mae Nam Khwae Rd). It is a boutique hotel within a walking distance from the bridge, offering a few modern and well equipped rooms starting at just over THB2000.
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.