You’ll never run of places to explore and things to do in Thailand, this trip is one of the many one has to experience. The Death Railway Line carries a lot of Thailand and Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) history during the World War II, the railway line was built through some blood shedding and slavery through 1943 -1945.
A day trip Exploring this Railway line is possible through a tour guide or even more interestingly doing it on your own or with your mates for as little as 120Baht, approx. $3.50 by taking the weekend train offered by the government. This train trip was introduced to encourage the locals to have a getaway during the weekend with family and friends but they still welcome foreigners.
There are four destinations that the train stops for exploring and sightseeing; however there are other spots where you’ll just view from the moving train.
1. Wat Phra Pathom Chedi – Chedi Temple -Nakon Pathom
This is where you will visit the tallest stupa in Thailand which stands at 120.5 meters and is the second tallest stupa in the world after Jetavanaramaya in Sri Lanka
2. The Bridge of The River Kwai – approx. 20 mins
This spot became famous all over the world, when it was featured in movies and books. This is part of the railway lines in the World War II and of course built during the bloodshed era. The bridge was renovated by the government around 1946 after it was destroyed during the war, it has also been renovated and walk ways have been made for easy walks along the bridge. The curved bars on the bridge are the originals bars and the straight bars we added during the renovation.
3. Kanchanaburi War Cemetery
The train will stop for 30mins or more, ask the driver and the people in charge how long you have. It is known locally as the Don-Rak War Cemetery; it is the main Prisoner Of War Cemetery for victims of Japanese imprisonment while building the Railway Line by Commonwealth, Dutch and American prisoners of war. During the construction of the Railway Line, approximately 13,000 prisoners of war died and were buried along the railway. The graves of those who died during the construction and maintenance (except for the Americans, whose remains were repatriated) were transferred from camp burial grounds and isolated sites along the railway into three cemeteries at Chungkai and Kanchanaburi in Thailand and Thanbyuzayat in Myanmar. There are 1,896 Dutch war graves, the rest being from Britain and the Commonwealth. Two graves contain the ashes of 300 men who were cremated. The Kanchanaburi Memorial gives the names of 11 from India who are buried in Muslim cemeteries. The graves show men who died very young with one showing an 18 year old boy
4. Nam Tok Sai Yok Noi
Depending on what time you arrive you’ll spend about 3 hours
This is a small town in Sai Yok district, Kanchanaburi Province, Thailand, on the route of the Death Railway linking Thailand with Myanmar (former Burma). There is a waterfall located a few meters from Nam Tok Train Station. This shows an amazing nature that Thailand has. There are a lot of restaurants to have a 2 -3 hour picnic and cool off too.
5. Wampo Viaduct – Wang Po as known by the Locals
It is near Kra Sae station, the rail is supported by the plank ledges, the trail slows down crosses the creaking Wampo Viaduct. A ledge had to be carved out of the cliff face to form a base for the bridge and embankment construction. It was built in March-April 1943 and was completed within 14 months. I was renovated and reinforced after the war but still carries a lot of its 1940s originality.
Scenery of the River Kwai Noi from the Train Ride
Here are a few tips if you decide to do the train trip:
Decide on which cart to ride – air conditioned or non-air-conditioned.
If you choose a non-air-conditioned one which is the cheapest 120baht (approx. $3.50):
1. Bring along your shades, scarves and mask to protect yourself from the dust, hopefully you’ll arrive back in good health.
2. Be prepared to wake up early to catch the train at the start of your journey, you can check the stations the train stops, we took the train from Bangsue at 0650hrs, I think there are 3 to 4 stations that the train stops in Bangkok, take note and the times if you don’t want to take it from the departure stations Hua Lamphong. Check out The Longest Way Home for more info.
3. Be prepared to deal with the bugs on your way back in the evening, the best way to do is to shut the windows, work together with the people you would be sitting with
4. Buy food at the final destination to carry along as your dinner, i.e. if you don’t mind the menu on the train which to me didn’t look appetizing, but then again you might like it, to each their own right!?
5. The train reaches Hua Lamphong around 1930hrs; it might not always be on time though, so plan wisely.
So my pal and I rode on the non-air conditioned cart and I must say despite both of us getting sick we got the chance the experience the scenery and took a few great shots heads out from the carts, in an air-conditioned cart the windows are shut throughout the trip.
I would recommend this cart for people who are looking to get really nice shots.
Check out this BLOG for more information on the times, directions and more about this trip -à The Longest Way Home
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