I kept revisiting Thailand year after year, just as their slogan “Amazing Thailand” promises, there is always something amazing and an eye-opener for me in every trip.

Amazing Underwater Temple in Kanchanaburi

Text/Photos : Elina Heng

Bridge over the River Kwai

I have never stopped exploring Thailand ever since I knew how to travel. I kept revisiting Thailand year after year, just as their slogan “Amazing Thailand” promises, there is always something amazing and an eye-opener for me in every trip.

After my previous trip to Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Song, I was invited for a trip to the Western region of Thailand that is Kanchanaburi Province which is near the border of Myanmar. Kanchanaburi is 129km away to the west of Bangkok. It is famous for its historical sites and natural beauty of the highlands with abundance of national parks, caves and waterfalls. The most famous World War II historical site the “Death railway” at River Kwai is also in Kanchanaburi.

There are a total of 13 districts in Kanchanaburi. I travelled on the Route 323 from Bangkok to Sangkhlaburi, which is the far northern part of the district. It was a really nice journey, watching the scenery transforming from a very modern and busy city to a very authentic country side. We have travelled a total of more than 350km to this place and there is only word I could say “Worth It”!

Death railway-a train calling at the station

For a dose of history, it is no doubt that we should pay a visit to the bridge over the River Kwai which is the signature of Kanchanaburi. This is part of the Death Railway linking Thailand and Myanmar that was built during World War II by the Allied Prisoners under the Japanese army. Thousands of prisoners died during building the railway. Visitors can take a train across the bridge over the River Kwai along the historical rail route to Sai Yok. The train runs every day and it is only 50Baht to Namtok station in Sai Yok.

A trip to Kanchanaburi would not be complete without a rejuvenating regime at the River Kwai Village hotel, it was a very nice hotel covered by nature green and the sounds of river flowing. The most exciting thing about staying in this hotel is The Rock Valley hot spring & fish spa across the river. Without wasting much time, we took a 5 minutes boat ride across the river to enjoy the natural hot springs. There are a total of 14 pools available in this beautiful place besides the pure mineral water pool. There are also some pools with Thai Herbs or other ingredients like Red Roselle, coffee, Eucalyptus and so on. Each ingredient is meant for a different healing purpose. After a good soaking in the hot springs, we continued with the mud mask and cucumber mask for better blood circulation and cooling. Then, we were brought to the huge massage room back in the River Kwai Village hotel to enjoy the 2 hours Thai massage. It was the best way to end the day!

For in-house guest :

Hot springs 1450 Baht to enjoy 14 pools with mudmask & cucumber mask.
Thai massage 350 Baht per hour

The Rock Valley Hot Spring with different ingredients

Wat Wangwiwekaram

After a good night’s sleep, we embarked on a journey to Sangkhlaburi. It was a very unique 3 hours experience to have lunch at the floating house on Vachiralongkorn Dam which was built in 1979. The main reason we were here is to visit the underwater-world (Muang Badan), there is an old Wangwiwekaram Temple that was submerged in water due to the construction of the dam. It is so amazing that the temple will appear during the dry season where visitors can walk around the temple. When it comes to the wet season, the dam is filled and we will only see the roof of the temple. I was there during the end of dry season, so we managed to walk up to the temple. There were many kids gathered at the river bank waiting for us to arrive and sold us the flowers and incense for prayers in the temple. This is the highlight of our visit and I would say that don’t leave Kanchanaburi without paying a visit to this amazing unique temple!

Muang Badan emerge during dry season.

The Samprasob Resort is where we put up for the second night. Its location offers the best view point of the new and old Mon Bridge and the merging point of the Songkalia, Bikhli and Ranti river. It is also the perfect location for a mesmerising view of the sunset and sunrise. The Mon Bridge is also known locally as “Uttamanuson Bridge” and it is the longest wooden bridge linking Sangkhalaburi market and the Mon Village. It measures a total length of 850meters across the Songkalia River. Every morning at around 5.30am people or visitors from Sangkhlaburi will walk across the Mon Bridge to the Mon Village to offer alms to the monks. The devotees will prepare food or flowers and line up in the middle of the road to wait for the parade of the monks at 6am. The local people are very humble, they will bow to pay respects to the monks. It is nice to walk around the Mon village as the Mon people are very pleasant, simple, friendly and beautiful.

Nov- April : dry season
May to Oct : rainy season. (Wangwiwekaram temple will be submerged from August to December every year.)

Chedi Bundhagaya near to Wat Wangwiwekaram.

Submerged when the dam is filled. Photo by Richard Lim

Muang Badan the temple in the dam

Little monks of Sangkhalaburi.

After the old Wangwiwekaram Temple was submerged in the dam, Luang Pho Uttama, the chief monk rebuilt the new Wangwiwegaram Temple at the bank of Amphoe Sangkhalaburi. There is another temple nearby, the Bundhagaya temple, which is a very nice temple with golden pagoda on top. It was constructed in the mixture of Thai, Indian and Burmese Buddhist architectural styles. It was a happy shopping spree for us at the souvenir stalls outside the temple. Amongst the good bargains are jewels and jade, you may also get very good price for the Thanakha (the local face lotion).

Guess what? We grabbed dozens of them as souvenirs.

On the way back to Bangkok we made a brief stop at the Historical park of Muang Sing (City of Lion) in Saiyok. It was believed that this ancient city was built in the 13th and 14th centuries and it is more than 800 years old. It was built in the Bayon style in Khmer art. Most of the monuments are well kept and there is a museum that preserves a lot of historical treasure that was found in this ancient city.

Opening hours : 8.00am – 4.30pm
Entrance fees :100 Baht

Muang Sing Historical Park sculpture

Muang Sing Historical Park

Mon Village - offering alms to monks.

Mon Bridge connecting Mon Village to Sangkhlaburi market

Old and new Mon Bridge at the confluence of 3 rivers

Approximate Distance :

Bangkok to Kanchanaburi River Kwai bridge : 130km

Kanchanaburi to Saiyok River

Kwai Village hotel : 63km
Kanchnaburi to Sangkhalaburi : 215km
How to get there :
Take bus no 81 to from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi
Take bus no. 8203 from Kanchanaburi to Saiyok and Sangkhlaburi Take highway no.338 or no.4 then switch to highway no.323 (all attractions are along 323).