Kanchanaburi Travel Guide – Things to do in Kanchanaburi
Kanchanaburi Thailand is one of the most beautiful places we visited during our 1 month trip around Thailand. Most people overlook Kanchanaburi for places like Phuket, Chang Mai and Krabi but it shouldn’t be missed. There are so many things to do in Kanchanaburi as it offers so much hiking, waterfalls, culture, temples, scenic motorbike rides and more. After spending 3 days in the province of Kanchanaburi we realized we could have easily spent more in the northern section. Maddie and I love going to unpopular destinations, and the beautiful town of Kanchanaburi made us feel right at home. You can drive 20 minutes in any direction and be surrounded by farms, mountains, temples and enjoy a motorbike ride on empty roads.
What to do in Kanchanaburi? 3 Hour Bus ride from Bangkok
The best and fastest way to get to Kanchanaburi is to arrive via Bus or Van. We took a van for around $10 per person from Bangkok which made around 5 stops along the entire route.
You will arrive at the Kanchanaburi bus station and will need to then take a tuk-tuk to your hotel. A tuk-tuk can vary widely in prices but we ended up paying 150 baht or $5 for a 15 minute drive.
We would not recommend driving a motorbike from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi unless you plan on going back to Bangkok to return the motorbike. The trip could be taken down to 2.5 hours via motorbike and would be a lot cheaper than buying bus tickets.
Where to stay in Kanchanaburi – What to do in Kanchanaburi
Checkinn Resort – Our Resort (Huge Bed & Bathroom)
Asleep Hostel – Next to bars and motorbike rentals
Siam Guesthouse – Stay with a Family
There are two main roads in Kanchanaburi: 323 (main highway) and Maenamkwai Rd (Bars, Shopping, Motorbikes)
There are numerous restaurants, bars, shopping and beautiful views along Maenamkwai Rd which is where most of the hotels and hostels are located. This is also the same road which accesses the River Kwai Bridge.
What to do in Kanchanaburi Thailand? Kanchanaburi Travel Guide
In this Kanchanaburi Travel Guide we assume you will most likely be arriving in Kanchanaburi around noon if you are coming from Bangkok and will only have a couple hours to venture out. You will have a couple of hours to explore the temples within 30 minutes of the city such as Wat Tham Suea and Wat Ban Tham before sunset.
There are so many things to do in Kanchanaburi so rent a motorbike from Sawitree which is directly across from the Meat and Cheese restaurant. Both temples are within 30 minutes but during the next 2 days you will also be using the motorbike. I would recommend renting the bike for 2 1/2 days and getting a 125-150cc motorbike. You should be able to work out a deal for less than 750 baht for all days.
Wat Ban Tham is a beautiful temple located on the top of a mountain which is not the easiest to get too. We went around late afternoon and there was only 1 other couple hiking to the top which made the hike a lot more enjoyable (we don’t enjoy crowds). The entire hike is almost completely steps so be prepared to bring water and a small snack. You will be walking through a dragons body and a small cave with beautiful overlooks as you hike up. This hike was not something we were planning on doing, but rather saw it on our way to Wat Tham Suea and decided to stop.
(Picture to the right is at the top of Wat Ban Tham)
After coming down from the small hike you will then drive another 10 minutes down the road to one of the most beautiful temples in all of Thailand, Wat Tham Suea. We arrived about 45 minutes before sunset which was perfect because the place was completely empty of tourist. There was a security guard and one local Thai woman. The temple was one of our favorites during our entire 3 month trip around Southeast Asia even with places like Bali and Yogja.
We highly recommend staying for sunset (the security guard closes the gates around sunset) to enjoy the beautiful views. The temple is perched on a high rock formation in the valley with great views of the surrounding rice terraces and mountains. On the third day we wanted to go back to visit the temple because of how beautiful it was, but it started to rain really bad so we ended up turning back for home. If you only have time to visit one temple in Kanchanaburi Wat Tham Suea would be the best!
After your short day of exploration, head back into the town and grab a few drinks and some good food. You won’t have any trouble finding a good place to eat as you will pass so many just to get back to your hotel.
Day 2 – Hot Springs & Waterfalls – What to do in Kanchanaburi
In this Kanchanaburi travel guide be prepared for a long day riding a scooter along some gorgeous roads in Thailand. You will make your way to two huge waterfalls and an amazing hot spring. This is going to be the longest ride of them all, so make sure you have at least a 125cc motorbike in order to go faster and have a comfier ride. We ended up being cheap and rented a small 110cc bike and were miserable during the whole ride and ended up switching at night when we got back. Spend a little extra money on the motorbike and your day will be a-lot more enjoyable. We recommend leaving your hotel between 6 and 7am to get to the spots before other tourists.
The morning ride will take around 2 hours depending on what size motorbike you have and how long you want to stop at the first stop. On your way to the hot springs, stop midway (1 hour drive) at Sia Yok Noi Waterfall which is a decently sized waterfall. This is right on the main highway you will be taking so it doesn’t add on anytime, and is better to visit in the morning. This waterfall becomes super overcrowded once all the tour buses start to come in. This is why we recommend going here in the morning, rather than on your way back in the afternoon.
After visiting Sia Yok Noi Waterfall, you will have another hour drive to Hin Dat Hot Springs and Pha Tat Waterfall. This is a great midway point, and there are some restaurants that you can grab food and drinks at before continuing your journey.
Hin Dat Hot Springs can become overcrowded if you come to late in the afternoon which I why we suggest arriving here first before going to the next waterfall. Some small van tours take people to the hot springs which means it can become crowded fairly fast. The hot springs are man made, and are cleaned everyday by the locals which made us feel better knowing it was somewhat sanitary. After relaxing in the hot spring you can jump right into the small river flowing right next to it to cool off. There are also small restaurants here so if you are hungry grab food and drinks because Pha Tat Waterfall does not have anything.
Pha Tat Waterfall is only a 15 minute scooter ride away from the hot springs and was completely empty when we got to the park. The waterfall is located in a state park which means it did cost around 300 baht per person to get into the park. The price was worth it. There was an easy 1/4 mile hike to the waterfall, The rocks are slippery but you can climb up the different layers and go for a small swim.
After spending time at the waterfall, you can either head back to Kanchanaburi to relax or stop at Sia Yok Noi National Park and check out the scenery before heading back into Kanchanaburi. Day 2 includes alot of driving and we ended up being to tired to stop at the national park on the way back.
Day 3 – 7 Tier Waterfall and Caves – Kanchanaburi Travel Guide
Wake up EARLY so that you can experience Erawan Waterfall to yourself before the tour buses arrive! The national park opens up at 8am so we suggest leaving Kanchanaburi around 6-6:30am in order to beat the crowds. Erawan Waterfall is the most popular tourist attraction in all of Kanchanaburi, which means it gets packed quick.
Erawan Waterfall is one of the largest waterfalls in Thailand and is also our favorite. There is a total of 7 different tiers that make up Erawan waterfall. Depending on how long you stop at each tier it can take an hour or 1.5 to reach the 7th tier. I would recommend not swimming in the lower tiers until you start your way back down, that way you can enjoy the top before everyone else arrives. The hike is not that hard, but you walk up hill the entire way in order to get to the 7th tier and the rocks and mud can become slippery. There are rock slides, cliff jumps, and beautiful pools of water to go swimming in. BEWARE OF THE FISH as you will see so many in the waters. They aren’t harmful or anything, but they will start to suck on your arms and legs in the water and it can hurt and tickle at times. We often jumped in and got right back out because the fish started to hurt after a while.
The next stop is Phra That Cave which cost around 150 baht per person. We ended up going here first thing in the morning (before Erawan) and were the first people here. From the parking lot to the cave it is a 1/2 mile hike up hill. A local guide will be at the top waiting to take you inside the cave with a flashlight and will take around 30 minutes. This was the largest cave we had ever been in by far. There were bats inside, huge rock formations and different crystals inside the cave. The local guide tried his best to explain everything and said the only rule was to not touch any of the rocks. We hope you finding all the unique things to do in Kanchanaburi with this travel guide.
There is another waterfall that a local highly recommended to us called, Huai Mae Khamin Waterfall which is about 1 hour past Erawan Waterfall. We decided not to go because we were tired from the day before and wanted to relax, but the local said that Huai Mae was better than Erawan waterfall and alot less crowded. After Phra That Cave we stopped at Srinagarind Dam before heading back to Kanchanaburi. It was only 20 minutes from the cave and offered amazing views of the mountain range and lake. The ride up to the dam is beautiful and once you get there it will be worth it to just relax and enjoy the scenery.
After you are done exploring Erawan National Park, you can start your journey back towards Kanchanaburi.If you’re feeling up to it you can even visit an elephant sanctuary on the way home. Be sure to look up reviews first because some “sanctuaries aren’t humane to the animals. We went to an elephant sanctuary in Phuket that we knew was humane. If not head back, check out the River Kwai Bridge and enjoy a night on the town.
Kanchanaburi Travel Guide – What to do in Kanchanaburi Thailand
Kanchanaburi offers alot more to do than just what is included in this 3 day itinerary. If you want to experience the rural part of Thailand , head into the northern section of Kanchanaburi along the Myanmar boarder. There is the beautiful Khao Laem National Park and so many different hiking and camping spots for outdoor enthusiasts. This section of Thailand is for people who want to get away from the crowds and get a taste of the local life.
The local we spoke with (who gave us this entire itinerary) recommend renting a 150cc bike and going up north for a couple of days just driving around, hiking, talking to locals and enjoying the peace and quiet. You can stop at different hotels or homestays along the way and book your hotels as you drive. We both wish that we had more time in Kanchanaburi because this is exactly the type of fun we wanted.
Another amazing place to visit north of Bangkok is the ancient city of Ayutthaya!