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Kanchanaburi

 

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Kanchanaburi is the largest of the central provinces (changwat) of Thailand. Neighboring provinces are (from north clockwise) Tak, Uthai Thani, Suphan Buri, Nakhon Pathom and Ratchaburi. In the west it borders Kayin State, Mon State and Tanintharyi Division of Myanmar. A province in the Central Plains, Kanchanaburi is frequented by tourists who have been attracted by its long history and ancient civilizations, a location of the Bridge over the River Khwae – ‘Kwai’ as it is known internationally and scene of the historic World War II. Producers of the movie the Bridge Over the River Kwae are guilty of giving the river and bridge both the wrong spelling and mis-pronunciaton. It is pronounced ‘Kwae’ as in the English word ‘Hair’. The province is also famous for its natural attractions such as forests, mountains, caves and waterfalls.

The Province itself captivates beautiful nature and friendly people with their native charm. Major attractions include several waterfalls, mountains, caves (that were once inhabited by neolithic man), national parks and last, but not least, the River Kwai.

History

Archaeology found in Kanchanaburi dates back to the 4th century which proves of trade with surrounding countries even in that time. Very little is also historically known about the actual Khmer influence in Kanchanaburi but there is evidence of their occupation with Prasat Muang Singh – one of the country’s most well-known Khmer sites.
Not much was historically recorded about Kanchanaburi province before the reign of King Rama I, but some historians believe that the province played much strategical importance during the Ayutthaya period. In 1982 the Fine Arts Department found many human and elephant skeletons and swords in Phanom Thuan District. Thus, this site might even have been the location of the famous battle of King Naresuan against the Burmese crown-prince, most commonly assigned to the Don Chedi district in Suphanburi province nearby.
With the rise of the Chakri Dynasty and General Chakri (who would later become King Rama I) Kanchanaburi certainly played a distinctive strategical point as defense against the invading Burmese.
For foreigners however, it is only Kanchanaburi’s recent history which really stands out with the name ‘The Death Railway’. During the Japanese occupation of Thailand in 1942 POWs both allies and Asian laborers were ordered by the Japanese to build a Thailand-Burma railway. Eventually, an unprecedented more than 100,000 POWs (16,000 allies and 90,000 local Asian laborers) died from horrific working conditions.

Info

Kanchanaburi

The province is located in the west of Thailand, and is situated 129 km from Bangkok and covers a total area of approximately 19,483 km² being the country’s third largest province after Nakhon Ratchasima and Chiang Mai. Topographically, it is covered with timber and evergreen forests. The district covers the source valleys of the rivers Kwae Yai and Kwae Noi ("River Kwai"), which merge at the city Kanchanaburi and form the Mae Klong River there.
Kanchanaburi town has a population of 54,000 and was originally established by King Rama I as a first line of defence against the Burmese, who might use the old invasion route through the Three Pagodas Pass on the Thai-Myanmar border. It is situated on the River Kwai and the home of the famous Bridge on the River Kwai, immortalized in Pierre Boulle´s same named novel and David Lean's movie. Every year in late November and early December the River Kwai Bridge Festival is held at the bridge with a spectacular Sound & Light Show.
The main road through Kanchanaburi, "Thanon Saeng Chuto", runs the length of town from north to south, connecting the River Kwai Bridge, the train station and the bus station.

Kanchanaburi is the 3rd largest of Thailand's 76 provinces (19,483 s.km), just behind Nakhon Ratchasima and Chiang Mai, however has a population of only around 750,000.

Several National Parks are located in the forests of the mountain area of the province - the Erawan, Sai Yok, Khao Laem, Khaoen Sri Nakarin and Chaloem Rattanakosin National Parks are located in the province. The Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary in this province is also listed in the UNESCO world heritage list.
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