Budget Trip to Thailand - Reconnecting with Nature and Locals
January 1, 1970
by Nicole CJ
When someone mentions “Thailand”, the first few thoughts that lights up are usually “Bangkok”, “Hat Yai”, “Phuket” and a few more; but not many mentions “Kanchanaburi” , am I right ? ? So here I would like to recommend Kanchanaburi, just 2.5 hours away from Bangkok, but looks entirely different from what I imagined of Thailand.
There are several ways to get to Kanchanaburi from Bangkok: taxi, train, minibuses and public buses. As we try to go as low budget as possible, we took the bus. From Bangkok’s Southern Bus Terminal (Sai Tai Mai), I took bus #81, for around 110 Baht, a 2.5 hours ride to Kanchanaburi Bus Station. There are many buses departing from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi throughout the day, their operating hours is 4.00am – 10.00pm, with an interval of approximately 20 minutes, so it will not be a problem to get a bus to Kanchanaburi.
The same bus (or buses, considering that they operate for the whole day) operates the same for the way back from Kanchanaburi to Bangkok.
Many would recommend taking the train too. We enquired at the Kanchanaburi Railway Station, the train takes around 3 hours from Kanchanaburi to Bangkok (and vice versa), costs 100 Baht, and only has two trains throughout the day : 7.20am and 2.45pm. The downside of taking the train is that it may not be on time (the next train was delayed by almost half an hour when we enquired), so if you’d like to take the train, be sure to enquire at the station around 2 hours beforehand. Based on reviews, the train ride would give you an amazing view throughout the journey as Kanchanaburi is filled with nature, we could tell that we will be missing a gem just by looking at the railway tracks by the station.
Accommodation – VN Guesthouse
This trip we stayed at VN Guesthouse, just 5 minutes walk from the railway station and the Kanchanaburi night market. There are several different guesthouse/homestays/hotels around this area, and many more that are nearer to the tourist attractions and historical sites (which I will touch on later), however I think this area is most strategic because it is at the center of the Kanchanaburi town. The historical sites are located a little towards the north of the town, while the main market and bus station is down south of the town; this guesthouse being located at the center works best for us because we only needed to walk for around 30 minutes to reach either end of Kanchanaburi (or take the taxi for 20 Baht if you don’t prefer walking).
Things to do
As the title suggests, Kanchanaburi is filled with nature, that means national park and waterfalls !!! I personally love unwinding myself back to the nature because of the abundance of fresh air and how it rejuvenates my soul. In Kanchanaburi, the Erawan National Park is definitely one you cannot miss ! It is almost an hour bus ride from the town to the national park, and costs around 50 Baht per trip. The bus #8170 (only this bus) departs from the Kanchanaburi Bus Station every 50 minutes and is very punctual. But if you missed the bus from the bus station, worry not as they do pick up passengers along the route to the park, just be sure to ask the locals where the route is, or check the map. The first bus departs at 8.00am, and the last bus from the falls leaves at 5.00pm. I would recommend departing as early as possible to have more time to spend in the national park, and also have the falls to yourself before the crowd kicks in.
The entrance fee to the park is 300 Baht for foreigners and it was worth every penny ! There are 7 tiers for the Erawan Waterfalls, with fairly easy hike upwards. All the information about the falls can be found at the visitor center located just where you alight. Food and drinks are allowed only up to the 2nd tier, thus most people stop at the 2nd tier to have their meals while absorbing the beauty of the falls. I would not have it any other way, it was perfect ! The crowd is huge at the 2nd tier, as it is the main tier of Erawan Waterfalls, so as you hike to higher tiers, the crowd gets lesser and you get more of the falls ?
Death Railway & River Kwai Bridge
This is one of the trademark of Kanchanaburi, it is located up north of the town. It holds the historical story of World War II and is definitely worth the visit especially if you’re into historical sites. Walking on the railway track gives you the magnificent view of the River Kwai, and not to mention good photo opportunities too !
On the way to the railway, there are stalls selling material goods such as clothes and accessories. At the entrance of the railway tracks there are food stalls and mostly coconut shakes and coconut ice cream. The corner stall sells the best coconut ice cream ever tasted in Kanchanaburi (we approved) !
Town Gates & Pak Prak Heritage Street
Another main tourist attraction is the Town Gates along with the heritage street. This is located at the south of the town, where the morning market and bus station is at. It was not much to see at the Town Gates, but definitely provides a good background for your #ootd shoot ?
The market was worth visiting because we get the insights of the locals’ life. Along the streets there are many gold jewelry and accessories shops, which is quite different from my home country (Malaysia).
Places to Eat
One of the fondest memory of Kanchanaburi (besides the falls) is the food !
The best way to get a taste of the local delicacies is street food! You can find street foods almost anywhere and everywhere you go, don’t be afraid to try the food from shop lots by the streets too ! This time, I will let the pictures do the talking. ?
Our favourite breakfast stall by the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery. We went back for second round!
You will be able to find skewers everywhere, perfect for meat-lovers!
Made of glutinous rice and coconut milk, tastes amazingly delicious!
This stall is located opposite the night market. It sells mostly desserts, the one shown below (I don’t know the name) goes amazingly well with the pandan custard, a perfect combination of sweet and savory ?
Almost every food stall serves drinks, so you don’t need to worry about hydration ?
Another not-to-be-missed for local delicacies is their night market, located right in front of the train station. Here are a few of our favourite !
Roti Coconut is a must!
I am Kanchanaburi
We came across “I am Kanchanaburi” accidentally on Google Maps and decided to go for it. We were to taken aback when we arrived at this place, it is so beautifully decorated, perfect ambiance for a fancy/romantic date night. Words can’t do them justice. The staffs there are over-the-top friendly and kind, one helped us with the menu, briefed us about the place and its future plans (it was previously a night market and they are replanning the place), and went out of her ways to ensure we have a great time there.
All in all, Kanchanaburi is a great place to unwind ourselves back to nature, and to get the true essence of Thailand (because we all know capital cities are usually globalised). In addition, Kanchanaburi is not so well known (yet), so this would be a great destination if you’re not into heavy crowd.