A couple of years ago I planned a trip to Kanchanburi. We were off to see the death railway and the bridge over the River Kwai. I knew where we were going, how to get there, and what we were going to see. http://redtuktuk.com/2011/08/bridge-on-river-kwaiday-trip-out-of.html
Then work intervened and we had to defer the trip. But finally the stars re-aligned, the work schedules were under-control and we had new plans. This time I have increased the information about the train journey and a recommendation to stay near the station.
Bangkok Accomodation: Stay near Thonburi
The regular train from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi doesnt leave from Hualampong. Only the weekend excursion trips leave from the main station. Thonburi is not well linked into the public transport system. Because of chronic traffic 1st thing in the morning it can be quite a trial to drive in rush-hour traffic. The other option is to take the BTS to Saphan Taksin station. Take exit 2 and then hop on a river boat for the 30 minute journey.
We decided to take an even easier option and decided to stay in a hotel near the Thonburi station. This is not a tourist centre and there are less hotels, but still plenty of choices. We ended up choosing http://www.baanwanglang.com/ at about USD 65 per night. If you book through the hotel website make sure you look at the pop-up message which tells you a discount code. This will give you 10% rack-rate discount. This meant we could choose to either walk 20 minutes to the station or grab a taxi or tuk tuk for 10 minute trip. The hotel was very good but their restaurant was less than average. It looked good but service and food quality was lacking.
The hotel we stayed at offered to take us by tuk tuk to the main road and organise a taxi from there. As we only had light hand luggage we chose to walk.
Walking to Thonburi station
We stayed near Prannock Pier. From here it is an easy 15 to 20 minutes walk. If walking, two recommendations are:
1. Don’t walk down the road that walks parallel to the train tracks. This is the road between the market and the railway tracks. It looks sensible on the map but in reality is is busy with one way traffic. The footpath is an obstacle course with vegetable deliveries ready to be taken into the market and there is enough traffic that walking on the road is not a great idea.
Do walk the main road down past the hospital dormitories. While the traffic is busy, and you need to wait to find a way across the traffic, it is not that hard. There is also a good footpath, which makes life easier.
2. If you are walking from the hotels along the river, head to the road that runs parallel to the river. Once there turn right and head toward the railway station roads. We climbed the pedestrian overpass bridge and took the small road parallel to the main road road is further back still from the river. This road had a few motorcycle taxis cruising through, but the road was flat and smooth, good for pulling a small bag.
At the station and getting on the train
Once you have purchased your ticket (100 THB) either sit and wait or go check out the market across the road. I recommend buying some fruit for the journey. I like pineapple and my 20 THB cellophane bag kept me going on the journey. Of course you can always buy more fruit or snacks on the train.
On the morning we took the train, it was available for boarding about 7:40 (before the 7:50 scheduled departure. Before that the was a fair number of trains moving backward and forward. The train leaves from platform 1, directly out from the ticket office. There are signs in both English and thai stating the destination Thonburi – Nam Tok
Which side of the train to sit on will depend on the time of day. We went on the morning train and the best side was the right for 3/4 of the journey through to Kanchanaburi. For the last 45 minutes there was a bit of sun on that side, but it wasn’t too hot being morning sun.
For the section going over the Wang Po viaduct you do want to be on the left hand side to get a good view of the structures. Everyone tries to get a look out of the windows here. You need to weigh the view up with the fact the sun will be shining on you if you are facing backwards. We were lucky that the carriage was not full and we could move a seat away from the window to avoid the sun. The carriages are much busier between Kanchanaburi and Wang Po but then70% of people disembark to join minivans or buses. We continued all the way to Nam Tok.