How to get from Kanchanaburi to Bangkok
Kanchanaburi remains one of the most popular tourist destinations away from the sea in Thailand. There are dozens of tour buses plying the route daily, and public buses and vans do not lack either. Note that different companies drop off passengers in different locations in Bangkok: before buying your ticket check with the provider what is the terminus of their route in Bangkok. The most useful options include the Northern bus terminal (Mochit), from where you can continue your journey to many other destinations in the north and northeast of the country as well as catch an airport shuttle bus to Don Mueang; Victory Monument, which has the namesake BTS station and is a headquarters of many van companies providing transfer to cities and town all around Bangkok; and Khao San Road, the prime choice for backpackers and flashpackers planning to stay in Bangkok a couple of days before setting off for a new trip.
From Kanchanaburi to Bangkok by bus or van
Kwan Chee Vee Tour operates hourly vans from Kanchanaburi bus station to the Northen bus terminal in Bangkok, aka Morchit. Kanchanaburi bus terminal is located between U-Thong Soi 4 and Soi 6 in the southern part of the city, about 2.5 km from the main guesthouse area. To get there from the city, take a public songthaew (THB10 per person) or negotiate a motorbike taxi ride (normally about THB40). Van tickets cost THB150 only but note that luggage space is rather limited in these vans. It may prove a good idea to buy a separate ticket for your luggage, too. The first van of Kwan Chee Vee Tour leaves at 4am and reaches Bangkok by 7am, the last one departs at 6pm.
Hanuman Tour Siam has vans to Bangkok heading to Victory Monument. The route originates from Kanchanaburi North, at the intersection of Route 3199 (Lad Ya–Bo Ploy) and 3086 (Thanon Phra Kru Son), and is convenient if you stay around that area – some 15 km northwest from the main guesthouse area in Kanchanaburi proper. Tickets cost THB180, a bit more than Kwan Chee Vee Tour offers, but it is quicker and easier to get to central locations in Bangkok from Victory Monument than form Morchit. Vans of Hamunan Tour Siam depart every 40 minutes from 5am till 6.20pm.
There is also a direct service from Kanchanaburi bus station to Khao San Road area in Bangkok. It levies quite a bit of headache of getting to Khao San Road by public transport, though costs significantly more: THB250. The service is offered by Thai Sriram company. They have four buses a day – at 10.30am, 12.30pm, 4.30pm and 8.30pm – and bring passengers to their office off Chakrabongse Road from where all the budgets digs in Soi Rambuttri and Phra Athit are an easy walk away, so you will be comfortable even if taking their last bus which arrives to Bangkok by midnight.
From Kanchanaburi to Bangkok by train
Kanchanaburi sits on the Nam Tok branch of the Southern line of Thai railways (aka Western line). There are only two trains a day heading to Bangkok: at 5.20am and at 12.50pm. They take devastating five hours to reach their destination. Both of them offer third class seats only cars. But if you have free time to waste away and tough lower back, you can catch quite a lot of nice countryside pastorals from your railway carriage with your camera. Buy tickets on the spot.
From Kanchanaburi to Bangkok by taxi
The fastest and by far the most convenient way to travel to Bangkok from Kanchanaburi is by private transfer with PGS company. They have Toyota Camry for 3 passengers maximum (THB3,000) or Toyota Commuter which accommodates up to 9 travellers (THB3,400). The rates are flat and all-inclusive: you will not need to pay any toll charges or additional fees for pick-up or drop-off at specific locations.
Not to miss while in Kanchanaburi: Thai Myanmar in Sangkhlaburi
An elegant silhouette of a wooden Mon bridge is hardly visible behind a transparent veil of the morning mist. Young barefooted girls hurry from Wang Kha to the other side of the Khuean Khao Laem with piles of metal bowls balancing on their heads. The rattle of longtail boats over the water ushers the day in, and a golden chedi of Wat Mon glitters in the distance, surrounded by the sea of lush greenery.
The two things any visitor to Sangkhlaburi should do is to walk along the Mon bridge to Wang Khla to experience ‘Thai little Burma’ with men wearing traditional longyies, women and children with tanaka powder on their cheeks, flavoursome Mon curries in street cafes and a postcard perfect view of the bridge which will inevitably make you think of Amarapura – well, if you have ever ventured up there.
The second thing is a boat trip to the sunken temple which used to be the main wat of the Mon settlement before the dam was constructed in 1982. Even though the most part of the year you can walk inside the temple as the water level in Khao Laem reservoir remains relatively low, the whole place oozes tons of atmosphere. It is even more fun in summer when it often rains the whole day through, as both the bridge and the temple look especially mysterious. The boats are wonderfully affordable, too, and cost THB300 for the trip up to the temple.
For even a greater experience invest in a suit room at P Guesthouse on the Thai side of the bridge (THB900). Their suits are located on the second floor of the main building, are perfectly appointed and have balconies with jaw-dropping view over the bridge and Chedi Buddakhaya in Wang Khla. If you choose to stay on the Mon side, come to the restaurant in P Guesthouse for an affordable and tasty dinner at sunset.
Tip: There are local buses travelling between Kanchanaburi and Sangkhlaburi, but the route 323 which leads to the border town is best done on your own wheels. If you go by bus, you miss half the charm of your journey: you will be unable to make a stop at Thong Pha Phum and to go up the hill to Wat Tha Kha Nun for a picturesque view; you will not enjoy a cup of the best Thai coffee grown locally in one of those no-name coffee shops along the way; and you will not detour to Hin Tat hot springs, either.