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Kanchanaburi & River Kwai, Thailand

Historic Riwer Kwai Bridge, Kanchanaburi, Thailand
Tranquil place by the waterfall in Kanchanaburi province, Thailand
Above: Historic Riwer Kwai Bridge, Kanchanaburi, Thailand
  • Historic Riwer Kwai Bridge, Kanchanaburi, Thailand
  • Tranquil place by the waterfall in Kanchanaburi province, Thailand

Kanchanaburi is a town in the west of Thailand approximately 130km west of Bangkok and is the capital of Kanchanaburi province. The town is located at the confluence of the Kwai Noi and Kwai Yai rivers.

Kanchanaburi town was first established by Rama I who used the town as a first defence against the Burmese who may have used the old invasion route through the Three Pagodas Pass. This pass is still a popular smuggling route into Myanmar today.

To the north and northwest of Kanchanaburi are several of Thailand's largest and most beautiful waterfalls and most extensive wildlife sanctuaries.

For many visitors the main attraction to the area is the famous Bridge over the River Kwai. The bridge was built in 1942 by prisoners of war (POWS) under the control of the Japanese. It is estimated that approximately 16,000 POWS died during the construction of the 'Death Railway' of which the bridge only a small part. At the time, Japanese engineers estimated that it would take 5 years to link Thailand and Myanmar by rail, but the Japanese army forced the POWS to complete the 415km in 16 months. Much of the railway runs through extremely difficult terrain that required very high bridges and deep mountain cuttings.

The Kanchanaburi Allied War Cemetery is very well cared for with green lawns and healthy flowers. The cemetery contains 7,000 graves, mostly British and Australian.

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