Kanchanaburi from Bangkok: Tips for a hassle-free journey [2024]

We think visiting Kanchanaburi from Bangkok is a must for anyone travelling to Thailand. With its unique blend of natural beauty and historical significance, including the famous Bridge on the River Kwai, it’s a brilliant contrast to the bustling streets of Bangkok and the sunny beaches of Phuket. Added to this is the sheer number of transportation options that make it so easy to get from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi regardless of your budget. This charming town is perfect for either a day trip or a quick getaway.

You can easily travel to Kanchanaburi from Bangkok by public transport with train, bus, or shuttle. You can also arrange private transport with either by taxi, tour company or make your own way there by renting a car. Read on to find out how we traveled to Kanchanaburi, and all we learnt when visiting recently.

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Getting to Kanchanaburi from Bangkok

Travelling from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi is a route popular for tourists and locals alike. There are several transport options available to get travel the 120km distance to Kanchanaburi from Bangkok, including train, bus, and taxi. Let’s dig into them one by one and go over the pros and cons of each before you book tickets.

Travelling by train to Kanchanaburi

Travelling by train is not the quickest choice, but it is popular with two direct services each day from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi. It is also one of the most scenic ways to get to Kanchanaburi from Bangkok.

The direct train journey takes around a little under 3 hours and offers stunning views of the Thai countryside as you travel west.

bangkok to kanchanaburi map
Travelling to Kanchanaburi from Bangkok

There is no air conditioning on this slow-moving train, but there are fans and the windows that open. This allows you to stick your camera out and capture some lovely rural scenes along the journey.

Unlike some seats on the train to Ayutthaya, the trains on this seat are cushioned.

Monday to Friday, there are two trains per day. These trains depart from Thonburi Train Station, on the other side (west side) of the Chao Phraya River. While you can get here by bus from Siam or Sukhumvit, it can take quite a while thanks to the traffic.

The morning train to Kanchanaburi departs at 07:50 am and arrives at 10.25am. The afternoon train leaves at 1:55pm arriving in Kanchanaburi at 16.30pm. Tickets for tourists cost 100 baht.

You can also jump on a no flag Chao Phraya Express Boat from Sathorn Pier. This is the cheapest way to get to Thonburi Station. The Saphan Taksin BTS Station is 2 minutes walk from this pier. These boats are not that easy to board with luggage, so this option is really best for those with backpacks or carry on luggage.

Chao Phraya Express Boat

I recommend you get a taxi to Thonburi train station if you decide to travel by train, but know that most drivers are not keen to go here as they won’t get a return fare easily. Because of this, they may want to negotiate a fixed price. This is less about scamming you and more about making it a deal that works for both of you.

If you are not comfortable negotiating, I would suggest you book a Grab or ask your hotel to get you a taxi at a suitable price.

On weekends there are special excursion trains that leave from the old main train station at Hua Lamphong at 6.30am. These trains make stops at train stations along the way to allow you time to explore key sites.

Weekend excursion trains leave from Hua Lamphong

They are perfect for a one-day visit but they need to be booked in advance as they are popular with locals, too. While time might seem like an easier option, you will find Kanchanaburi is much busier on weekends.

Tips on arriving at Kanchanaburi Station

Once you arrive in Kanchanaburi, it’s important to know there are two train stations so you can make sure you know which one is the best for your visit.

The train stops first at the main Kanchanaburi station, which is in the town centre. This is the stop for you if you are staying by the riverside or in the centre of town. There will be plenty of taxis awaiting the train’s arrival who can take you to your accommodation.

Kanhchanburi station
Kanchanaburi main train station

The train then continues for about 2km on to the River Kwai bridge. The train station is just before the bridge and is called Saphan Kwae Yai. Unless your hotel is on this side of the river before the bridge, get off at the first stop as your taxi will need to cross the bridge near the main station.

By Bus or Minivan to Kanchanaburi

Travelling by bus is another option for getting to Kanchanaburi from Bangkok. There are almost 60 air-conditioned buses a day making the 95km journey from Bangkok.

Many of the services to Kanchanaburi are mini buses that seat 12-21 people and not standard sized buses. There are larger buses, but the terms are often used interchangeably by travel agents across the city. They may also use smaller 10 seater vehicles on some departures. If you are travelling with a large suitcase, it can be pretty squeezy!

Crowd of passengers are queuing for mini van in Bangkok

Several companies operate buses to Kanchanaburi and usually leave from one of two places in Bangkok

  • Bangkok Southern Bus Terminal (aka Sai Tai Mai Bus Station) in Thonburi
  • Bangkok Northern Terminal (aka new Mo Chit bus station or Chatuchak bus station)

The journey to Kanchanaburi takes a similar time to the train, about 2.5-3 hours, depending on traffic.

  • From the southern bus station, services to Kanchanaburi leave regularly throughout the day, with the first bus at 4am and the last bus leaving at about 8pm. Minivans start and finish an hour later.
  • From Mo Chit bus station, which is the largest in Bangkok, they begin at 4am. Ticket sales for the Kanchanaburi express from bangkok are on the ground floor and cost about 150 Baht.

There is little difference in travel time from either the Southern Bus Terminal or northern terminal.

Buses cost between $5-8 AUD ($3-5 US)Tickets can be purchased at the terminal or online through bus ticket booking sites like 12goasia.

All buses arrive at Kanchanaburi Bus station which is about 20 minutes walk. You will probably want to grab a taxi to your hotel.

Tips for taking a bus to Kanchanaburi from bangkok

There are a few different types of buses, including larger buses and minibuses.

  • VIP mini buses with 24-32 seats.
  • 1st Class direct buses
  • 2nd class buses that may make lots of stops along the way

These all have air conditioning. You buy tickets for these at the main counters.

Regular mini buses sell their bus tickets only at their platform. It’s confusing to find the bus you have booked if you book online, so make sure you note any directions they send in their confirmation. You will be glad you did when you get there!

If you have a lot of luggage or are tall or bigger than average, you might want to book an extra seat if you choose a mini bus. This will give you some more space to move around.

Check the ticket price and service availability on 12Go.asia

By Taxi or Private Transfer

There are a number of ways to find a private taxi driver to take you to Kanchanaburi from bangkok.

  • Grab – Choose either a regular Grab car or an executive for more comfort.
  • Indrive – similar to grab however you set the amount you are prepared to pay and drivers then offer their services. You can see the car and the driver’s information and compare prices before you choose. We used this from Ayutthaya and it worked perfectly. We looked at the price on Grab to give us an idea of the going rate.
  • My Day Trip – Connects you with local drivers for door-to-door service and optional sightseeing.
  • Get Your Guide – This is a good option if you want to book in advance and not have to decide once you start travelling. You can book either a transfer or a Kanchanaburi tour.

How to decide which option is best for you

All the options available for getting to Kanchanaburi from Bangkok each come with their own advantages and disadvantages. Which one is best for you comes down to three things: budget, comfort and time.

  • If you don’t have a lot of luggage, then I think the train would be my preferred option.
  • If you are on a budget and staying in the Khao San Road area, then the boat service to the train station is a good choice
  • If you are staying on the dark green BTS or the blue MRT lines, then a bus from the Northern Bus station would be a good choice.
  • If you are tired, are travelling with a group, or just want some comfort and flexibility, then a private transfer would be my pick.
  • A new highway to Kanchanaburi is due to open mid 2024 and will cut the driving time to under an hour!

We had planned to take the train, but at the last minute, we booked a private transfer. We were staying riverside and transport to the train station seemed to be a big effort after a very busy few days exploring Bangkok.

I discovered My Day Trip when I started looking for private transfers and it stood out because I noticed you could add stops along the way, with a set price for each stop. I enjoyed knowing up front what the costs would be. Our trip went perfectly and we would use this company again.

We recommend planning ahead and book train tickets well in advance, especially during peak travel seasons.

What to See in Kanchanaburi Thailand

Kanchanaburi Province is known for its rich history, stunning national parks, and beautiful waterfalls. Here are some of the top attractions to see just a short distance from Bangkok.

The River Kwai, also known as the Mae Klong River, is a major tourist attraction in Kanchanaburi. Visitors can take a boat ride along the river and admire the beautiful scenery.

River Kwai Kanchaaburi
Floating restaurants on the River Kwai

The Death Railway, also known as the Burma Railway, was built during World War II by prisoners of war and forced laborers from Japan and Myanmar. The railway is a major part of Kanchanaburi’s history and is now an important site visited by almost all who come to Kanchanaburi.

The Bridge Over the River Kwai is the most famous landmark in Kanchanaburi. The bridge was part of the Death Railway and is now a popular tourist attraction. Visitors can walk across the bridge and learn about its history. The Jeath war museum is nearby.

Hellfire Pass is a section of the Death Railway that was cut through solid rock by prisoners of war and forced laborers. The pass is now a memorial site and there is an excellent museum, built by the Australian Government, that explains the story of what happened here and commemorates the lives lost during the construction of the railway.

Hellfire pass memorial walk
Memorials along Hellfire Pass

You can take a guided tour and learn about the history of the pass and then walk along the original tracks. To visit Hellfire Pass you are best to stay on the train to Nam Tok Station.

Check out our detailed guide to the War Memorials and Museums in Kanchanaburi, especially if you are planning to visit for Anzac Day.

After you have paid your respects at one of more of the memorials it’s time to check out some of Kanchanaburi’s other sites.

Erawan National Park is about an hour outside Kanchanaburi. The park is famous for its beautiful waterfalls, including the seven-tiered Erawan Falls. You can hike to the top level and swim in many of the pools along the way.

Erawan Falls is a must see just outside Kanchanaburi

Arrive early and expect to spend two hours here if you want to walk to the top level waterfall. You could easily spend half a day if you decide to swim in some of the falls.

One of the most spectacular of Kanchanaburi’s temples, Wat Tham Suea, is a must. Known as the “Tiger Cave Temple”this place is more than just a religious site; it’s a blend of nature, history, and art.

There are two stairways leading to the site, but before you climb, look for the one facing Kanchanaburi from the parking area — it’s a bit easier on the legs. If you have mobility problems, there is a small cable car (currently under repair) that delivers you to the top for under 20 baht return.

Wat Tham Suea

Once you reach the top, there’s an amazing 18 metre high gold leaf-adorned Buddha waiting to greet you.

Beyond the typical temple vibes, Wat Tham Suea has its own unique touch with its intricate carvings and relics. The summit offers a killer panorama of the surrounding mountains and vast rice paddies.

We made an offering and got a blessing from the monk while we were there. If you have never done this, I recommend you do. This unique experience will stay with you.

Where to Stay in Kanchanaburi

If you are looking at Kanchanaburi Hotels, I can tell you it may take a while to decide! A wide range of options to suit every budget and taste are on offer here. Whether you’re looking for a luxurious stay or a budget-friendly option, Kanchanaburi has something for everyone.

Cross River Kwai Resort

Guest Rating: 8.9 I Location: south of city centre I Check price

For those who are looking for a luxurious stay, they don’t come much better than the Cross River Kwai.

With floating cabins, pool front hotel rooms and Falling Waters villas featuring private pools, this is the type of resort that offers total relaxation. It’s also a special place to come back to after visiting the moving war sites. Being outside the busy city centre, it offers peace and quiet and its riverfront location is incredibly picturesque.

Our villa at Cross River Kwai Resort

Unlike many of the floating villas that Kanchanaburi is famous for, this resort is close to town and some of the popular sites. We stayed in a Falling Water Villa and will return in a heartbeat. My favourite hotel stay in a very long time.

Check the room options and availability at Cross River Kwai Resort

Natee The Riverfront Hotel Kanchanaburi

Guest Rating: 8.4 I Location: Riverfront city centre I Check price

After a relaxing break at Cross River Kwai, we moved to the city centre for two nights at the Natee Riverfront Hotel. We booked ourselves a pool access room so we could cool down easily after a warm day of sightseeing.

Natee sits on the riverfront at Kanchanaburi, which during our visit was covered in flowers

This is also a lovely property with a really comfortable room, great breakfast and central location. Highly recommend this if you prefer to stay in an area surrounded by bars and restaurant.

Check prices and availability at Natee Riverside Hotel

Good Times Resort Kanchanaburi

Guest Rating: 8.4 I Location: Riverfront city centre I Check price

One of the popular places to stay in Kanchanaburi is the Good Times Resort. This resort is located on the banks of the Kwai River, offering beautiful views of the river and the surrounding mountains.

Good times Resort Kanchanaburi
Good times Resort Kanchanaburi

We visited Good Times Resort last July and enjoyed a delicious lunch at their on-site restaurant that overlooks the river.

We did not stay overnight. However, we did take a quick look at the rooms while they were being serviced and they looked comfortable and great value for the price.

Check prices and availability at Good Times Resort

Holidays and Festivals in Kanchanaburi Province

Kanchanaburi celebrates several festivals and public holidays throughout the year, including:

  • Songkran (Thai New Year)
  • Loy Krathong (Festival of Lights)
  • Anzac Day (25 April)
  • River Kwai Bridge Week (November)

Be sure to check the dates of these events before planning their trip, as they can affect bus and accommodation availability.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the options for traveling from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi?

There are several options available for traveling from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi. One can take a train, bus, or taxi. The train is the most popular and cheapest option, while a taxi is the most expensive but the fastest option. The bus is also an affordable option, but it usually takes longer than the train.

How much does a taxi from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi cost?

A taxi from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi can cost between 2,000 to 3,000 baht depending on the type of taxi and the time of day. It is the most expensive option for traveling to Kanchanaburi from Bangkok.

Is it worth taking a day trip to Kanchanaburi from Bangkok?

Yes, it is definitely worth taking a day trip to Kanchanaburi from Bangkok. Kanchanaburi is a beautiful and historical city with many attractions such as the Bridge over the River Kwai, the Death Railway, and the Erawan National Park.

While one day is enough to explore the main attractions and get a taste of Kanchanaburi, there is plenty here to warrant a longer visit.

What is the distance between Bangkok and Kanchanaburi?

The distance between Bangkok and Kanchanaburi is approximately 130 kilometers. It takes around 2-3 hours to travel by train or bus, while a taxi can take around 2 hours depending on traffic.

What is the first-class train price from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi?

The first-class train ticket from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi costs around ____ baht. The first class offers air-conditioned cabins with comfortable seating, and a food and drink service.

How long does it take to travel by train from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi?

It takes around 2-3 hours to travel by train from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi. The train departs from Thonburi Station in Bangkok and arrives at Kanchanaburi Station. The train ride is scenic and passes through beautiful countryside views.

About the author: Paula Morgan has been travelling to Thailand since the mid-1990s and has fallen in love with the people, culture, and of course, the food. These days she visits as often as she can and is planning an extended stay in the country in 2024.