Things to do in Kanchanaburi
When it comes to Thailand getaways, most instinctively think of Bangkok, Chiang Mai, or Phuket as go-to destinations. If you’ve already paid a visit to these places, you may be wondering where else you can go in the Land of Smiles.
Only 2 hours away from BKK, Kanchanaburi is nature-heaven for Singaporeans who want to escape the city and spend their days living on misty mountains or lazing by river banks. If you’re up for a challenge and love exploring the undiscovered, here are 12 things to do in Kanchanaburi that will satisfy every adventurous traveler’s wanderlust.
Note: If you’re looking to spend more than a day exploring all that Kanchanaburi has to offer, a private driver will be the most convenient way to get around without all the fuss and hassle.
1. Live in a fruit at Ban Pha Sawan Resort
Ban Pha Sawan is another new and out of this world accommodation you’ll only get in Thailand. The place is so surreal - it’s almost like a gigantic fruit plantation or theme park filled with larger-than-life durians, mangosteens and dragon fruit. Due to its location which is off the beaten track, the resort is peaceful and quiet with only a few tourists.
Due to its location which is off the beaten track, the resort is peaceful and quiet with only a few tourists.
We stepped into the shoes of Spongebob and stayed in a single-storey pineapple room for 2,200 Baht (~S$90) which was spacious and equipped with a mini fridge, TV and water heater. Wi-Fi is available throughout the resort, as well as a mini convenience store selling cup noodles and chips if you’re in need of a midnight snack.
A complimentary English breakfast is also served every morning at the resort’s restaurant
The highlight of the resort would have to be its water park, where guests can zip line, roll around in live-sized hamster balls, or jump off a water blob - all for free!
Address: 55 Moo 5, Tombol Sahakorn Nikom Amphor Thong Pha Phum, Kanchanaburi
How to get there: Take bus No.8203, 80 Baht (~S$3.30) from Kanchanaburi to Thong Pha Phum. You can get a taxi from Thong Pha Phum to Ban Pha Sawan Resort, or call the resort to arrange a pickup for 200 Baht (~S$8).
Rates: From 2,200 Baht (~S$90)/Night for a one-storey fruit room
2. Go “Glamping” at 3199 Mountain Camp
For those wishing to step up their Glamping game, 3199 Mountain Camp in Kanchanaburi is the place for you to experience glamorous camping, unlike anything you’ve seen in Singapore.
A caravan photo booth at 3199 Mountain Camp
Upon stepping into the camp grounds, you’re immediately whisked off into another world with boho tents lined up neatly in rows, fairy lights, and photo booths at every corner. There’s also a fortune-telling booth and free dress up services with jewellery, bags, and headscarves that’ll immediately transform you into a bohemian gypsy!
The Sweet Package Tent
We stayed in the Sweet Package Tent for 1,990 Baht (~S$82)/ night which came with two beds, ample blankets, towels, a standing fan, and free Wi-Fi. Outside food isn’t allowed on camping grounds, but you get a complimentary dinner and breakfast buffet every day! If you’d like, you can also visit the 3199 Cafe located just outside the entrance to the campsite for delicious coffee and pizza.
The set schedules for meal times and activities bring the spirit of the camp to life!
If you’re concerned about showering at the campsite, you’ll be glad to know that 3199 Mountain Camp has three “shower cabins” with spacious and clean cubicles for you to bathe in comfort. While the cubicles do not have water heaters, basic shower amenities like shampoo, body soap and hair dryers are available.
Address: Nong Bua, Mueang Kanchanaburi District, Kanchanaburi 71190, Thailand
How to get there: Private transport via Route.323 or Route.3199 (To get out of the camp, you can request for the staff to call a Songthaew)
Rates: From 1,990 Baht (~S$82)/Night for the Sweet Package
3. Live in a “flintstone” house at The Tara Cape Resorts
The Tara Cape Resorts is a completely new accommodation experience that you can add to to your travel list. Floating on a lake surrounded by a breathtaking mountainous view, the resort made us feel as though we were living in a 5 star-themed kelong.
At 3,145 Baht (~S$130)/ night, the rooms are cosy and come with amenities such as a flat screen TV, air-con, towels, BBQ pit and a mosquito net canopy.
The reception is located on land, so you’ll have to take a 10-minute boat ride to your rooms after check-in. Each morning, a local breakfast is placed on a table outside where you can enjoy your porridge and eggs as you watch the sunrise. In-room dining is also available at the resort, so you can order fried rice or pad thai when hunger pangs strike!
A mini hut outside your doorstep
Image credit: The Tara Cape Resorts
Those who like to get their bodies moving can go kayaking with the canoes parked outside the doorstep or take a quick dip in the outdoor “mini pool”. If you’d like, you can also “sunbathe” while lying on the hammocks suspended over water!
Address: 284 Moo 4, Nong Pet, Si Sawat, Kanchanaburi, 71250 Si Sawat, Thailand
How to get there: Only accessible with private transport via Route.3199
Rates: From 3,145 Baht (~S$130)/Night for a King Room
4. Swim in Sai Yok Noi Waterfall
Despite being listed as a popular tourist attraction online, we found that Sai Yok Noi Waterfall was the complete opposite. While the waterfall is relatively smaller compared to Erawan Falls or Sai Yok Yai, it is beautiful, serene and also more accessible from the city.
Here, you don’t have to wear proper swimming attire since the locals usually enter the water with whatever they’re wearing. If you’re bringing along younger children, you can also rent a float on-site for 20 Baht (~S$0.80).
You can choose to soak at the base of the falls, or climb to the top of the tiers where the water is cooler and you get a bird’s eye view of the area.
There’s also a smattering of food stalls and restaurants nearby to fuel you up after the swim, such as pork satay and an assortment of dried fruit.
How to get there: Bus No.8203, 37 Baht (~S$1.50)/ Take Excursion Train No.909 from Bangkok directly to Nam Tok Sai Yok Noi Train Station on Saturdays, Sundays and designated public holidays
Admission fee: Free
5. Visit the Sunken Temple at Sangkhlaburi - Wat Samprasob
Those who want to maximise their trip and get as many new experiences as possible can take the path less travelled to Sangkhlaburi, a remote village bordering Myanmar. Home to several Thais and Burmese, the village houses the mysterious Wat Samprasob, a.k.a the Sunken Temple. Built by the Mon and Karen tribes, Wat Samprasob is the only remaining structure from a lost village that was destroyed by flood in 1968.
The Mon Bridge
To get to the Sunken Temple, we crossed the famous Mon Bridge - Thailand’s longest wooden bridge and the second longest wooden bridge in the world. We headed towards the riverbank with boats for hire, and paid 300 Baht (~S$12.40) for the 20-minute boat tour.
While approaching Wat Samprasob, we couldn’t help but feel goosebumps as the sun disappeared behind the temple’s eerie and mouldy silhouette. The guide was kind enough to circle us around the temple a few times in order to get the perfect shot, and we even got close enough to touch the walls!
Note: The surrounding water dries up in mid-April to reveal the temple in its dry state.
How to get there: Take Bus No.8203 from Kanchanaburi Bus Station
Admission fee: 300 Baht (~S$12.40) for 1 temple, 500 Baht (~S$20.7) for 3 temples
6. Escape to the hills at Keeree Mantra Restaurant
Image credit: Keeree Mantra Restaurant
The hills are alive at Keeree Mantra Restaurant, and every moment here feels like a scene out of Jurassic Park, sans the dinosaurs. As most restaurants in Kanchanaburi are known to be on water, Keeree Mantra is a good alternative if you’re looking to hit up a restaurant on land.
At this outdoor restaurant, sit back and relax as you enjoy authentic and value-for-money Thai dishes from 150 Baht (~S$6.20), such as Pineapple Rice, River Snail Coconut Curry, and Pork Satay. To end our dinner on a sweet note, we ordered a slice of Hokkaido Cheesecake at 120 Baht (~S$5).
Sprawling green plains and hills
The highlight of our dinner had to be the stunning view of the hills, vast fields and tall fountains surrounding the restaurant. After dinner, we took an outdoor stroll while enjoying the night breeze - and were pleasantly surprised that they were hardly any mosquitoes around even after sunset!
Address: Nong Bua, Mueang Kanchanaburi District, Kanchanaburi 71190, Thailand
Opening Hours: 10AM-10PM, Daily
7. Shop in a boat at the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
People who have never been to floating markets in Bangkok should pay a visit to Damnoen Saduak - a more authentic and less crowded floating market. With its narrow canals fitting only 5 longtail boats at a time, the colourful market makes for Nat-Geo worthy pictures and is a great place for you to pick-up cheap fashion finds like bohemian-style sundresses and elephant pants.
From sundresses at 170 Baht (~S$7) and “I Love Thailand” knick-knacks, to local delights like coconut ice cream and mango sticky rice, be sure to switch on your kiasu mode and bargain as hard as you can to snag good deals!
Tourists buying food from their rowboats
You can choose to tour the market on foot or rent a rowboat at 200-300 Baht (~S$8-S$12). While joining the boat tour allows you to view more of the market and nearby villages, we recommend exploring on foot to get a closer look at the stalls on the walkway. After all, walking is free!
Note: Avoid peak hours from 9AM onwards if you want to beat the crowd!
Address: Damnoen Saduak, Damnoen Saduak District, Ratchaburi 70130, Thailand
Opening Hours: 9AM-4PM, Daily
How to get there: Public bus from Southern Bus Terminal, 50 Baht (~$2)
Admission fee: Free
8. Travel back to olden day Siam at Mallika R.E.124 Village
At Mallika R.E.124, visitors are transported back in time to when Thailand was still referred to as Siam. Here in this living museum you get to dress up in traditional Thai costumes and explore the old shop houses, markets, as well as homes of different classes of people from 1905 A.D.
Just after the entrance to the village is the Saphan Han Bridge - a turntable bridge made for boats to pass through. Inside the bridge are shops on both sides selling handicraft, snacks and imported dried fruits.
The market zone
Not only did Mallika give us all The King and I feels, it also allowed us to fully immerse ourselves in Siamese way of life by changing our Thai Baht to the ancient Satang currency.
The tour guide gave us 20 Satang (100 Baht) per person, which we used to buy souvenirs and food from the market zone. Toward the end of the village was the Ruean Phae, a floating house with boats selling street food. We bought the coconut ice cream for 8 Satang (40 Baht), which was served in a ceramic pot that you can wash and bring home after.
Preparing rice at the Cooking Kitchen
We also tried our hand at rice production in the Cooking Kitchen, where “villagers” taught us the process of rice milling and rice pounding. After spending 10 minutes here, we started to appreciate where rice comes from and how they’re made!
Address: 168 Moo 5 Tombol Singh Amphoe Sai Yok, Kanchanaburi
Opening Hours: 9AM-7PM, Daily
Admission fee: 250 Baht (~S$10) for adults, 120 Baht (~S$5) for children
9. Visit the French gothic Nativity of Our Lady Cathedral
Be up for some cultural exposure at the Nativity of Our Lady Cathedral, a French Catholic church built in 1890. With its gothic architecture and stained glass windows, every corner of the church from its entrance to the walkway makes for a photogenic backdrop.
Address: Moo 7, Bang Nok Khwaeg subdistrict, Bang Khonthi, Samut Songkhram
Opening Hours: 7AM-8PM, Daily
How to get there: Follow the Samut Songkhram - Bang Nok Khwaek route (the same way to King Rama II Memorial Park) for around 5KM. The church is around 100M from the Somdet Phra Ammarin Bridge Junction.
Just a 30-minute drive from the cathedral is Gong Meng Chan Ba Mee Kiao, a hidden restaurant selling only Thin-egg noodles. Earning itself the nickname “noodle in drawer” due to its freshly-made noodles being stored in drawers, their noodles are bouncy and soft and topped with caramelized char siew. A bowl of noodles costs approximately 50 Baht (~S$2.06).
Image credit: Qyer.com
Address: 638 Diamond Road, Samut Songkhram
Opening Hours: 10AM-5PM, Daily
10. Drink coffee and have a private photo shoot at Rim Nam Cafe
Kanchanaburi has a multitude of coffee shops and cafes, and you can hardly go 10 minutes on the road without passing by one. One of the more unique coffee shops you may have missed is Rim Nam Cafe, a well-kept local secret serving amazing cold coffee, sodas and cakes for as low as 45 Baht (~S$1.85).
When we first entered the gates of Rim Nam Cafe, we couldn’t help but be drawn to the garden filled with creative booths and backdrops. After spamming our gallery with pictures, we made our way to the end of the garden which is the entrance to the coffee shop. Just like the exterior, Rim Nam Cafe is intrinsically decorated with vintage decor and cute dolls, as well as books for you to read - or use as props when you pose for pictures!
After ordering your coffee, you can head outside and rest on the benches overlooking the river, or relax indoors while listening to English hits played at the cafe. If you’re lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of elephants having a drink below at the water’s edge.
Address: Lum Sum, Sai Yok District, Kanchanaburi 71150, Thailand
Opening Hours: 10AM-5PM, Daily
11. Explore the Mini Grand Canyon at Ratchaburi
Image credit: @nicencm
Just 1.5 hours away from Kanchanaburi city is the “Mini Grand Canyon” at Pong Yup - a jaw-dropping natural phenomenon with weird looking walls as high as 5 metres. Certain areas of this “Grand Canyon” are made up of pillars forming a maze of sorts, and with correct angling, your pictures will look as though you’ve landed on Mars!
Image credit: Tina Mue
Pong Yup is located in a private area which looks almost like a ghost town, but the quiet and natural surroundings make a good getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city. You can choose to go there by car, or rent a motorbike and ride there yourself if you’ve got a license. The views on the way to the site are also spectacular with winding roads and misty green mountains.
Address: Baan Takoei, Tambon Takoei, Suan Phueng 70180, Thailand
Opening Hours: 6AM-6PM, Daily
Admission fee: 30-50 Baht (~S$1.2-S$2)
12. Sleep in a Camper Van at Ozono Resort
If sleeping in a hotel is too mainstream, try a staying the night in a caravan instead! From 2,200 Baht (~S$90)/ night, you can stay in Ozono Resort’s Camper Van equipped with air conditioning, TV, an outdoor bathroom, and breakfast. The resort is great for couples who want to have more privacy and quiet time away from large tour groups or families with squealing toddlers.
The campgrounds resemble a little Italy with brick buildings and houses.
Ozono Resort is strategically located near attractions such as the Baan Hom Tien candle shop (a 1-minute walk from the resort), as well as Bo Klueng Hot Springs and Kao Chon Waterfall (both an 8 km drive away). Numerous coffee shops, sheep farms and convenient shops are also within walking distance from the resort, so you’ll never have to worry about having nothing to do during your stay.
Address: Ozono Resort Suan Phung 33/3 Moo 2, Suan Phung, Suan Phung, Ratchaburi 70180, Thailand
Rates: From 2,200 Baht (~S$90)/Night for the Camper Van
Your must-see, must-do list of things to do in Kanchanaburi!
If you’re itching for a trip to Thailand and want to experience something different, it’s time to include Kanchanaburi in your travel itinerary and explore its undiscovered gems before the rest of the world finds out!
Bonus for TSL readers: Travel to any of the places mentioned in the article between 3 January and 18 March 2018 and redeem FREE $50 Cold Storage vouchers!
All you've gotta do is take a selfie at one of the of the locations, tag Tourism Authority of Thailand Singapore on Instagram (@tatsingapore) and caption the photo with hashtag #opentothenewshades while you’re there. Have fun!
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