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Our trip to Kanchanaburi

Canberra, Australia
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Our trip to Kanchanaburi

This is part 2 of our month long trip to Thailand (have yet to finish the other parts!). Sorry it’s rather long but I found this area the hardest to research and actually get a feel for how to get around and where to stay so thought it might be helpful to others. It’s such a large area with so much to see and do. We hope to return one day and might hire a car as maybe an easier way to see more. I still have a list of things we wanted to see or places we wanted to eat at!

Caught the afternoon train from Nonthanburi station in BKK (I think our taxi driver thought we were insane catching the train...maybe because we aren’t spring chickens any more?) arrived at the station, bought our 100 baht each tickets. We must have looked odd (we had a suitcases plus hand luggage) and lost as an employee came up to us and between his minimal English and my non existent Thai he pointed us to a carriage on the train with padded vinyl seats and encouraged us to get on (I later realized other carriages were the wooden ones I had been expecting and was very grateful). Another employee came along and opened all the windows as it was very hot despite the ceiling fans. So there we sat for 30 mins then we were off. The trip took over 4 hours as we stopped for quite some time at one point ( I discovered this was to let the train going the other way pass).A friendly vendor kept walking up and down selling drinks in a bucket of ice and we bought lots (he even took our empties away!) there were food vendors too. We passed through rural Thailand, lots of fields and small towns, absolutely beautiful.

Finally arrived and a songthaew driver grabbed us, 20baht each, then we were at the guest house I had booked. We went for a walk, lots of guest houses, cafes, bars, massage shops etc, grabbed some drinks and nibbles at a 7/11 (only downside to our accommodation was no fridge but we figured all the walks to get cold drinks kept us fitter!) Dinner at Ali Bongo's across the road. Brilliant Indian food. Unfortunately it then started to rain and rain non stop.

Next day was still raining so alternated between relaxing in our tree house room (good after a hectic week in BKK) and going out for walks. For one walk my other half went in search of a shave and haircut (electric razor had broken) I found him with 3 Thai girls giggling hilariously whilst he very nervously sat there as they wielded a cut throat razor around his face!

Another was to the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery, couldn’t go in due to soggy grass but had fascinating talk with a lady from Adelaide whose father was buried there (she was allowed in as she was a relative). Had dinner at the guest house (would have been drowned walking anywhere) nice fresh cheap Thai food. Decided that despite the weather we had better organise something for the next day. Booked a tour that covered some of what we had hoped to see with KTC tours.

For about 800 baht we were picked up at 8am (still raining!) and we were off to Erawan falls. Half way there it stopped raining, phew! Our guide Dow was great. Arrived at the falls where we started to hopefully climb to level 7 (we had 2 hours) scenery and falls so beautiful! The walk was hard going due to very slippery muddy paths so at level 5 turned around, wore my camera out taking photos! My other half went for a swim once we were back at level 1 with the foot nibbling fish was rather tricky getting in and out of the water but he said it was worth it Off to lunch, choice of pad thai or a rice dish, could hear lunch being thrown around huge woks...one of the best pad thais I had in Thailand, also fresh fruit and water...perfect for long hot day. Off to Hellfire Pass where I learnt so much at the Museum about a war I thought I knew all about then the walk down the pass...lots of timber stairs down then along the old railway track thru the pass, I am not usually the type of person who "feels" that others were once there but words fail me to describe what we felt there. To build that railway in those conditions...

Next stop was Kra Sae Cave then onto the train for a short trip. Scenery awesome, though the train was packed full. Back into the van then we were at the "The Bridge Over the River Kwai". Walked over, realised our guide was rather white...she had never walked the bridge before and there are lots of gaps and it’s a long way down so we walked with her chatting. Arrived on the other side, where Dow took photos for us. Back in the van, where we were all delivered back to our accommodation. A long, hot exhausting day but one of the best. Too tired to walk anywhere so dinner at guest house then collapsed into bed.

The next day we checked out and were assured if we stood out in the street would get transport to the bus depot. Nothing was in sight so I started to walk to a sign that said taxi when my other half called out saying come back he had transport...hilarious...he had a motor bike songthaew! How we fitted on with our luggage and how that old bike kept going was amazing! I couldn’t stop laughing.

We then caught the bus (more comfortable than the train but the scenery was one town after another) back to BKK for part 3 of our holiday, the night train to Chiang Mai.

Melbourne, Australia
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1. Re: Our trip to Kanchanaburi

Thanks Georgette for taking the time to write this report. I really enjoyed it and look forward to your next installment

Antipodes
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2. Re: Our trip to Kanchanaburi

Yes, thank you GC.

Darwin
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3. Re: Our trip to Kanchanaburi

Thanks Georgette for your report. I found it REALLY interesting as it is mirroring what we are doing in October. We will catch the train to Kanchanaburi, do the same tour that you did but spend the second night at the River Rafts. Then bus back to Bangkok to catch the overnight train to Chiang Mai. So I too look forward to your part 3.

Darwin
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4. Re: Our trip to Kanchanaburi

Georgette

.........you also might be able to help me with a bit of planning for the above trip. We are thinking about staying at either the Navalai or the Charlie House Pin Klao the night before we catch the train to Kanchanaburi.(We fly in at 10pm that night). We need somewhere close to the Thonburi train station due to the early start the next morning. I believe we would catch the ferry from the Navalai to the train station or if we stay at Charlie House (on the other side of the river), a short taxi ride there. Do you have any helpful advice about either or?

Canberra, Australia
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5. Re: Our trip to Kanchanaburi

Hi Scallywag

We stayed at the Navalai River Resort and it was easy to grab a taxi to Thonburi train station. Lots of taxis pass outside the hotel. Cant remember the fare but it wasnt much. I considered getting the ferry the same as you but once I realised taxis were very reasonably priced I figured it was so much easier than lugging bags on a ferry, plus I was advised on here that the ferry to the station was a bit of a walk (they were right) plus lots of construction is going on in the area which might make walking tricky if you have bags. We were lazy and caught the afternoon train. Hotel is very nice too. Hope this helps

Darwin
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6. Re: Our trip to Kanchanaburi

Thanks for that. Any helpful hints about catching the train itself? Is there a train number or something like that? I think I was imagining a sleepy little station with not too many people around at that hour of the morning!

Canberra, Australia
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7. Re: Our trip to Kanchanaburi

Its a small station that only one train at a time seems to use. In the afternoon it was quiet with few people around. I just walked up to the ticket window (you cant miss it) and bought our tickets.As we were early wasnt sure if the train standing there was the right one so showed my ticket to someone in uniform and he said yes this was the train and get on. But I read a review by a fellow TA person (i have searched and cant find the review) who caught the early train said that they nearly got on the wrong train but staff worked out that the lost looking tourists with luggage wouldnt be catching a train to work and helped them( sorry cant remember all the details) apparently the station is much busier in the morning. The staff are helpful so I would ask if you are unsure.

Darwin
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8. Re: Our trip to Kanchanaburi

Thanks Georgette, you have been a fountain of information to me. As I said before we seem to be echoing your trip and so if you don't mind, I have another couple of questions for you.

We also will be catching the bus back from K'buri and then straight onto the night train to Chiang Mai.

As we will be staying that night at the Jungoe Rafts and want to spend a few hours in the morning there, what time should we be looking at catching the bus from K'buri back to Bangkok to enable us to be at the train station in good time not to miss the train? (I imagine we would need to be there by 5pm). Also I am unsure of the best way to collect our train tickets. We will book through traveller2000 and I have the choice of collecting the tickets at the train station an hour before we leave or have them delivered to the Navalai. As we only get into the Navalai at 10pm the night we arrive and then leave early the next morning to K'buri, I'm a bit worried about them not being there. But I suppose I'm also worried about them not being at the train station. Your advice would be appreciated.

Many thanks.

Canberra, Australia
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9. Re: Our trip to Kanchanaburi

The buses run every 20 minutes and the trip is 2 hours so i think that so long as you leave by 2pm at the latest you should be fine to catch the 6pm train. That still allows a 2 hour leeway. The taxi ride was 20 minutes I think? Getting on the train is easy, no queues etc.You will have plenty of time to buy some snacks etc.One thing I didnt know, if you are travelling first class, is that the vendors that I read sold food on the train are locked out of first class..I wondered why I didnt see them!

Hmm the tickets is a tricky one. We had them delivered to the Navalai as we had 6 days in BKK.Must admit the front office told me they werent there on our first day, second day I asked again and it was "ohh here they are in a drawer". Think it might have been a language problem more than anything and I am sure they were there all along. Traveller2000 seemed very efficient so I would trust them. Just make sure you have their contact numbers just in case? Just a thought but if you use the hotel for delivery you have a few days to chase them should things go wrong, at the train station you have a few hours?

Its been great helping someone else as I really appreciated all the help I had when planning. I have been on the HCMC forums and saw you there so I will be picking your brains soon as thats where we are headed next year:) I think its great we have this site so everyone can help each other.

Saint Louis...
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10. Re: Our trip to Kanchanaburi

Did you mention what guesthouse you stayed at in K? And what tour group did you use?