How to Reach Kanchanaburi by Train
At the top of my list of places to visit when we planned our trip to Thailand was the famous bridge over the River Kwai at Kanchanaburi. The bridge was immortalised by the David Lean film in the 1950s and it forms part of the Death Railway. Built by POWs during the Second World War the railway was originally destined for Burma. Today you can ride the train as far as Nom Tom which is just short of the border. This trip is all about railways. So of course, it makes sense to travel from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi by train.
Getting to Thonburi Station
Getting from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi by train is really straightforward. Firstly, you need to get to Thonburi railway station. It’s a small station which is a bit off the usual tourist track in Bangkok, however, it’s easy enough to find.
However, you have to be a little bit creative if you want to get there by public transport. Of course, you could just hop in a taxi but that’s rarely the best option with all the traffic in Bangkok and anyway I always prefer to use public transport to get around.
By express boat
From central Bangkok, you have two choices. You can head down to the river and take an express boat from Saphan Taksin to the nearest pier. Take the express boat to either Wang Lung or Thonburi Pier (stops 10 and 11). The Orange, yellow and no-flag boats stop at Thonburi pier (11) but they all stop at Wang Lung (10). From the pier, it’s approximately 1.5km so you can walk or grab a tuk-tuk.
Just before we arrived in Bangkok, a new metro line opened up and it has a stop which is quite close to Thonburi station. So, we decided to give this route a try. From our central Bangkok hotel, we took the BTS to Sala Daem. Here, you can walk to the nearby Metro station, Silom. Obviously, how you get here will depend on where you start from in Bangkok but you can checkout the metro map here.
Firstly, take the metro to Thra Phra. This line is actually circular so check the signs to make sure you are going in the right direction otherwise it’s a long trip. Once at Thra Phra exit the train and look for the escalator going up to the new metro line. Staff were on hand to point people in the right direction when we were there but it’s quite easy to spot.
Finally, take the train to Bhang Khun Non Station.
From Bhang Khun Non Station, it’s about 20 minutes walk to Thonburi station. I looked at it online on google street view before we left so that I would recognise some of the landmarks but obviously it’s easy if you have GPS on your phone. As can be seen, it’s quite a trek with the various changes so it’s not a great idea if you’ve got loads of luggage. We always travel light with a small wheeled suitcase and small backpack each so it makes trips like this a lot easier.
So we made it to Thonburi railway station. As you can see in the photos it’s a small and rather quiet station. It also has very limited facilities. Firstly, we bought our tickets at the desk. All the trains are 3rd class on this trip so just turn up and buy your ticket. We paid approximately £2 for our tickets.
The train stops at Kanchanaburi station in the town but we went to the next stop which is Kwai Bridge Station. Our hotel was really close to this stop but a lot of tourist hotels are nearer the main town so get off at whichever is most convenient. The price is the same.
We took the 13:55 train which arrives at Kwai Bridge at 16:33. You can check the timetable on the board in the photo above. As you can see, the final destination of the train is Nam Tok which is across the famous bridge. A lot of people choose to travel on the earlier train to get more time in Kanchanaburi but we stayed there for 2 nights so planned to arrive and go straight to our hotel so the later train was ideal.
There are very limited facilities at Thonburi Station. Very few trains leave from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi and so there aren’t many passengers travelling through. You will find clean toilets at the end of the platform. If you need supplies for the journey then there is a market opposite. We bought fresh fruit here. Also, there is a 7/11 just around the corner. With the ticket office on your right, walk forward along the road opposite. At the end turn right and walk to the end. The 7/11 is on the corner on the left. You find 7/11 stores everywhere in Thailand and they are very handy for stocking up on water and other supplies.
Additionally, there was a small stall serving coffee on the platform. It also looks as though there is a small shop or cafe but it was closed while we were there so don’t rely on it.
On the train from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi
Since there are so few trains departing from Thonburi station, the train pulled in quite a while before the scheduled departure. So we were able to hop on and settle in for the trip. It’s open seating so get on and find a seat. The train was basic and a bit worn but it was clean enough. There’s no air conditioning but the windows open so we got a nice breeze once the train started moving.
One of the things I love about travelling by train is that you get a great view of the suburbs of a city as well as the countryside. I find it fascinating.
Kwai Bridge Station
A few hours later we arrived at Kwai Bridge Station. Which, as the name suggests is right next to the famous bridge. So we got our first glimpse of the bridge as we rolled our cases down the platform and headed off to our hotel.