There are a number of attractions within a short distance of Kanchanaburi.
The Mangkorn Thong caves are half an hour from Kanchanaburi (boat hire) by river on the Kwae Noi. Two brightly colored dragons mark the foot of the steep flight of over 95 steps leading up to the Cave Temple of the Golden Dragon, the series of tunnels up to the mountain top, and a cavern with some fine stalactites.
Ban Kao on the Kwae Noi is one of the most important excavation sites in Kanchanaburi province. The finds, including tools, skeletons, vessels, pottery and the Bronze Age burial already mentioned, are on display in Bangkok's National Museum, which also has statues in the Lopburi style (derived from the Khmer style, 7th-13th c.) found at the "Lion City" of Prasat Muang Singh, 34 km (21 mi.) from Kanchanaburi.
Prasat Muang Singh Historical Park
Prasat Muang Singh was built as an outpost against the Burmese. The ruins of the city ramparts enclose a square compound 1000 m (3282 ft) by 600 m (1970 ft) with the well preserved shrine with its brick prang and four gopuram (tower gates) in the center. A large number of inscriptions were found in the library in the inner courtyard.Behind the little restaurant at the entrance to Muang Singh is a shelter where more recent discoveries are kept pending cataloguing. A small outdoor museum nearby has several well preserved statues and other artifacts on display.
Tham Keng Lawa
Tham Keng Lawa is an exceptionally scenic system of caverns, full of stalactites and stalagmites, just a few minutes from the River Kwai Village Hotel, in a beautiful setting of jagged rocks, deep gorges, waterfalls and jungle-covered mountains.
Sai Yok Yai
Anyone with a taste for adventure should make the river trip, passing between towering rock walls and riding the rapids, to the Sai Yok Yai waterfalls, half a mile from Nam Tok railway station, where a turbulent mountain stream cascades down into the Kwae Noi.
Three Pagodas Pass
From the Sai Yok Yai waterfalls a track leads through the jungle to the Three Pagodas Pass, one of the original terminals of the "Death Railway". The area is inhabited by a number of hill tribes who eke out a meager living from "slash-and-burn" agriculture. The pass gets its name from the three pagodas by the roadside, and leads up into the mountains on the Thai-Burmese border - the highest peak in the region is 1950 m (6400 ft). It is a favorite route for smugglers and exploration on foot in this wild place is certainly not to be recommended.
Kanchanaburi Province owes part of its wealth to its mines and diggings. Some of these are still in operation today around Bo Phloi, a little place 48 km (30 mi.) north of Kanchanaburi Town. Besides gold, silver, wolfram and tin, there is mining for such gemstones as sapphires, rubies, garnets, cornelian and amethyst. In fact jewelry and cut and uncut stones are cheaper in the Bo Thoi shops than anywhere else in Thailand.
About 95 km (59 mi.) north of Kanchanaburi (Highway 3199 then left at Nong Preu), in Chaloem Rattanakosin National Park, there are two caves which are worth seeing. Than Lot, a large and lofty cavern with stalactites and stalagmites, was a site of prehistoric settlement, as the many finds made here testify.
A cave, Talad Yai ("big cave"), about half a mile past the Nam Tok Trai Treung waterfall, has two resident hermits.
Wat Kanchanaburi Khao
Other places worth visiting along the Kwae Yai valley include Wat Kanchanaburi Khao, a temple on the old site of Kanchanaburi Town, with a chedi and a prang from the Ayutthaya period, and Erawan Falls, 55 km (34 mi.) from Kanchanaburi by road on Highway 3199 or about three hours by river.
Khao Salop National Park - Erawan Falls
The falls take the form of a series of cascades and pools over and among the rocks, and are supposed to be shaped like the divine Indra's three-headed elephant, hence their name.The whole area has been declared the Khao Salop National Park. This extends over 2024 sq. km (781 sq. mi.), and beyond it is Thung Yai, another National Park. Both parks are best visited during the week, since they attract large numbers of visitors from Bangkok at the weekend.
The famous Pong Teuk excavations are east of Kanchanaburi on Highway 323 to Nakhon Pathom, presumably a very old trade route. Digging has uncovered the foundations of several buildings which were probably part of a temple precinct. A sensational find here in 1928 was a bronze Roman oil lamp, thought to have been cast in Alexandria, in Egypt, in the 2nd c. ad.The handle is shaped like a stylized palm leaf framed by dolphins and the lid is adorned with the head of a satyr, proof of the trade links that existed between south-east Asia and the Roman Empire.
Wat Dong Sak
Reached by Highway 323 or 324, Wat Dong Sak is built of teak and is worth seeing for its 6th c. figure of Vishnu and extremely beautifully carved gable, while Wat Phra Taen Dong Rang is the place where, according to legend, Buddha lay down in a hollow to enter Nirvana. Not far from this temple is another hilltop shrine where the body of Buddha is said to have been cremated.
Map of Kanchanaburi Attractions