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The State Railway Trip to the River Kwai

This page tries to give you an impression of the State Railway trip to the River Kwai. This trip can be highly recommended, because it is the best way to visit the River Kwai Railway, constructed by prisoners of war in World War 2 and made world famous through the film "Bridge on the River Kwai". But be aware: You did not see "the real thing" in that film! It was shot in Sri Lanka. So you really have to make this trip to see the "real thing".

For the most attractive destinations by rail in Thailand, go to the destinations page..

Related page: An alternative trip to the River Kwai

Your trip starts at Hua Lampong Railway Station in Bangkok, very early in the morning (around 6 a.m.). I advise you to buy your tickets in advance, because the trip is very popular, not only with tourists, but also with Thai people. And when I went, this trip could only be made on Saturday, so please check things out!

When I made this trip the fee was around 200 Baht. And what do you get for this money? The trip, including drinks on board in a real 3rd class railway carriage (wooden seats). Furthermore you get explanations by a (only Thai speaking) guide, a good Thai lunch near the end of the trip and lots of Thai smiles.

Nakon Pathom Buddha at Nakon Pathom

The first stop is in Nakon Pathom. You will get enough time to walk to the Chedi and pay respect to the large Buddha Image there. When you arrive there it will probably be 8 am, so please stand still for a few moments when the National Anthem is being played through the loudspeakers in order to show your respect to the King.

The War Cemetary

Your second stop will be the War Cemetery in Kanchanaburi, where you will also get ample time to look around and pay your respect to all the people who died during the building of this railway.

Your train

Here, to give you an impression, is a picture of the outside of your train. Be reminded again that you will travel on wooden seats, third class, but the lack of comfort is worth the experience to have a day out with Thai people!

The Bridge on the River Kwai

The next stop is near the famous bridge. This is the original bridge over the River Kwai. However, you should be aware of the fact that two bridges have been built in World War 2. A visitor of this site, who was there in World War 2, wrote me the following information:
The first (bamboo) bridge was constructed about 100 meters from the existing bridge. There is a Temple constructed next to the Japanese war memorial (close to the existing bridge!), with a museum inside. Inside it, on the lower floor, are the original bamboo and wooden bridge pylons and footings. The original bamboo bridge was removed after the completion of the second bridge, as it completely blocked river traffic at the time. In the museum the bridges are shown together in bamboo and concrete. You can follow the original railway tracks into the temple, from the existing railway tracks.
So, the wooden bridge was not bombed at all in the second World War, as is shown in the movie.
The existing bridge was bombed, it seems, but the outer parts (with the round bows) are original. This fact was once more confirmed in a letter to the Bangkok Post in November 1998 by somebody who had been involved with the building of this bridge and who pointed out that there are photographs that clearly show which parts are original.

The train gives you ample time to look around, walk over the bridge, buy your souvenirs and take all the pictures you want.

River Kwai and the bridge

When you are called on board again, the train passes the bridge, and now the most interesting part of your trip comes: Now you pass the original railway track made by the prisoners of war (also called the "Death Railway").

The old River Kwai railway

Please pay attention to the part near the middle of the above picture. That is the original railway. And now that you are looking at the picture anyway, also take a look at the left side of the picture, where you can see some of the several "floating hotels" in this area.

Another view of the old railway

And please look around before you travel on, to see this historic point from the other side too. However, you will take the same way back, so there is a second chance to see it, on your way back.

Nam tok (the waterfall)

The train will stop near the end of this part of the railway. It goes a bit further, where it can turn around, and will pick you up later. You will get out and will have your lunch (included in your ticket; picture of the restaurant below) and then walk to this waterfall ("Nam tok") to relax for one or two hours.

Your restaurant Waiting for the train

Then you will be collected by your guide and you will walk back to the railway and wait for the train to pick you up for your trip back to Bangkok. You will arrive there between 7 and 8 p.m. But you will stop once more at a small station where several sellers (who know that this train passes, of course) will sell you a light dinner. Buy it, it is good.


Related page: An alternative trip to the River Kwai



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