37 Best Sights in Around Bangkok, Thailand

Bridge on the River Kwai

Fodor's choice

Kanchanaburi is most famous as the location of this bridge, a section of the Thailand-Burma Railway immortalized in director David Lean's epic 1957 film The Bridge on the River Kwai. During World War II, the Japanese, with whom Thailand sided, forced about 16,000 prisoners of war and from 50,000 to 100,000 civilian slave laborers from neighboring countries to construct the railway, a supply route through the jungles of Thailand and Burma. Sure-footed visitors can walk across the bridge, whose arched portions are original. In December a big fair takes place with a sound-and-light show depicting the Allied bombing of the structure late in the war. Next to the bridge is a plaza with restaurants and souvenir shops.

Erawan National Park

Fodor's choice

Some of Kanchanaburi Province's most spectacular scenery can be found in this park. The main attraction, Erawan Waterfall, has seven tiers; the topmost supposedly resembles the mythical three-headed elephant (Erawan) belonging to the Hindu god Indra. Getting to the top requires a steep 2-km (1-mile) hike. Comfortable footwear is essential for the two-hour trek, and don't forget to bring water. You can swim at each level of the waterfall (levels two through five are the most popular). The first tier has a small café, and there are several others near the visitor center. There are also eight-person bungalows costing from B800 to B5000—the ones nearest the waterfall are quieter.

Five caves are among the massive park's other highlights. One of the caves, Ta Duang, has wall paintings, and another, Ruea, has prehistoric coffins. The caves are much farther away and are accessed via a different road. About 2 km (1 mile) from the park is Erawan Village; songthaews (B500 to B600) leave from its market and travel to the park entrance and the caves. Erawan-bound Bus 8170 leaves Kanchanaburi's bus station every 50 minutes; the trip takes 90 minutes.

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Hellfire Pass

Fodor's choice

The museum at Hellfire Pass is a moving memorial to the Allied prisoners of war who built the River Kwai railway, tens of thousands of whom died in the process. Along with a film and exhibits, there's a 4½-km (3-mile) walk along a section of the railway, including the notorious Hellfire Pass, one of the most grueling sections to build. The pass got its name from the fire lanterns that flickered on the mountain walls as the men worked through the night. Many people do the walk in the early morning, before the museum opens and before it gets too hot. Allow 2½ hours round-trip for the walk. Take plenty of water and snacks; there's a small shack near the museum that sells drinks, but not much food. The pass can be busy on weekends. Bus 8203 (two hours) makes the trip to the museum. The last bus back to Kanchanaburi is at 5 pm coming the other direction from Sangklaburi. The drive by car takes about an hour.

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Wat Phra Mahathat

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Building began on this royal monastery in 1374 and was completed during the reign of King Ramesuan (1388–95). The tree-shaded, parklike grounds, a pleasant place to linger, contain what's left of the monastery's 140-foot prang. The brick Khmer-style prang, which collapsed twice between 1610 and 1628, and again in the early 20th century, barely reflects its former glory. Partially in ruins, the prang is said to contain relics of the Lord Buddha. It and the beheaded Buddhas that remain in Wat Phra Mahathat are a result of the Burmese sacking of the temple in 1767.


The charming village of Amphawa, 10 km (7 miles) by songthaew from Samut Songkhram, has a floating market similar to, but smaller than, the one in Damnoen Saduak. It is also touristy but less in-your-face about it with characterful cafés and boutiques, and because of this is often preferred. The market is open on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 12 to 8 pm. The food market in the street adjacent to the canal starts at around 1 pm. Popular firefly tours allow you to enjoy both the market and the beautiful insect-lighted trees. The bugs are best seen from May to October and in the waning moon. The hour-long tours usually run every half hour from 6 to 9 pm. You can arrange a tour directly with Mae Klong Market Pier (B800 for a boat) or through your hotel (around B70 per person). Unless you have private transportation, you'll have to spend the night in Amphawa, but there are some lovely options. The last bus back to Bangkok is in the early evening.

Ban Khao Museum

This two-room exhibition of 4,000-year-old Neolithic remains is 8 km (5 miles) from Muang Singh Historical Park. Cars and motorcycles are your only options for getting here.

323 Ban Khao, Kanchanaburi, 71000, Thailand
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Rate Includes: B50

Chao Sam Phraya National Museum

This museum on spacious grounds in the center of the Old City was opened by the king and queen of Thailand in 1961. Its many exhibits include Buddhist sculpture from the Dvaravati, Lopburi, Ayutthayan, and U-Thong periods. Also on display is a jewel-encrusted sword with which one Ayutthayan prince killed his brother in an elephant-back duel.

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Rotchana Rd., Ayutthaya, 13000, Thailand
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Rate Includes: B150

Chong-Kai War Cemetery

The serene and simple resting place of many of the soldiers forced to work on the Thailand-Burma Railway has neatly organized rows of grave markers. On the grounds of a former hospital for prisoners of war, the cemetery is a little out of the way, and therefore rarely visited. To get here, hire a tuk-tuk or moto-taxi for about B60.

Kanchanaburi, 71000, Thailand
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Rate Includes: Free

Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

A colorful market of produce and other foods sold by vendors on small boats, Damnoen Saduak is an icon of Thai tourism. Often overrun with visitors, these days the market pays lip service to the authentic commercial life of this canal-strewn corner of Thailand. On the other hand, even though it feels like a theatrical production, this is one of the few opportunities to witness a fading Thai tradition. And some of the food—including noodle soup, seafood dishes, grilled meats, mango ice cream, coconut pancakes, and fried bananas—is extremely tasty. The best way to enjoy the market is to come early and hire a boat. The area only becomes more crowded as the day progresses and ever more tour groups arrive.

Don Hoi Lod

On weekends Thai families flock to the village of Don Hoi Lod, about 3 km (2 miles) south of Samut Songkhram, to feast on clams and other seafood dishes at tree-shaded restaurants and the local fresh market at the mouth of the Mae Khlong River. The village is named after a local clam with a tubular shell, the fossilized remains of which are found on the riverbanks. The best times to view the fossils are April and May, when the water is low. The rest of the year you can also see the fossils in the early morning and in the evening at low tide.

JEATH War Museum


The letters in the first part of its name an acronym for Japan, England, America, Australia, Thailand, and Holland, this museum sits a little more than 2 km (1 mile) downriver from the Bridge on the River Kwai. The museum, founded in 1977 by a monk from the adjoining Wat Chaichumpol, is housed in a replica of the bamboo huts that were used to hold prisoners of war. On display are railway spikes, aerial photographs, newspaper clippings, and original sketches by ex-prisoners depicting their living conditions.

Wat Chaichumpol, Kanchanaburi, 71000, Thailand
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Rate Includes: B40

Kanchanaburi War Cemetery

Next to noisy Saengchuto Road, this cemetery has row upon row of neatly laid-out graves: 6,982 Australian, British, and Dutch prisoners of war are laid to rest here. The remains of the American POWs were returned to the United States during the Eisenhower administration. A remembrance ceremony is held every April 25th, Australia and New Zealand Army Corps Day.

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Saengchuto Rd., Kanchanaburi, 71000, Thailand
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Khao Luang Cave

Studded with stalactites, this cave overflows with images of the Buddha, among them a 10-meter-long reclining one. Some were put in place by kings Rama IV and Rama V. For a donation of B20 or so to pay for the electricity, a nun will light up the rear of the cave for you. It is about a kilometer's walk from the entrance, but a shuttle service is provided for B15.The cave is best appreciated on a clear morning, between 9 and 10, when the sun shines in and reflects off the brass iconography.

Phetchaburi, 76000, Thailand
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Mon Village

To make way for Khao Laem Dam, a village settled a half century ago by Mon people from Myanmar was relocated to the shore opposite Sangklaburi. The village has a temple with Indian and Burmese influences and a bronze-color pyramid chedi that's beautifully illuminated at night. A dry-goods market in the village sells Chinese and Burmese clothes and trinkets, with Mon dishes available at nearby food stalls. Get here by car or boat, or walk across Thailand's longest wooden bridge.

Muang Boran

An outdoor museum with more than 100 replicas and reconstructions of Thailand's most important architectural sites, monuments, and palaces, this park is shaped like the country, and the attractions are placed roughly in their correct geographical position. A "traditional Thai village" on the grounds sells crafts, but the experience is surprisingly non-touristy. The park stretches over 320 acres, and takes about four hours to cover by car. Or you can rent a bicycle at the entrance for B50. Small outdoor cafés throughout the grounds serve decent Thai food.

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Muang Singh Historical Park

The restored remains of this 13th- to 14th-century Khmer city, 45 km (28 miles) northwest of Kanchanaburi, range from mere foundations to a largely intact, well-preserved monument and building complex. There are also examples of Khmer statues and pottery and a prehistoric burial site. You can navigate the expansive grounds with the aid of taped commentary in English, Thai, or French, available at the park's entrance. Bicycle rentals cost around B20 per hour. If you don't want to make the 45-minute drive from Kanchanaburi, take the train to Tha Kilen Station (one hour; B15); the park is a 1-km (½-mile) walk west. There are lodgings and a small café on the grounds.

Tha Kilen, 71000, Thailand
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Rate Includes: B100

Phra Nakhon Khiri Historical Park

On a forested hillside at the edge of Phetchaburi, the park includes one of King Rama IV's palaces and a series of temples and shrines. Many of these are set high on the hilltop and have good views. Cable-car rides to the top and back are included in the admission price.  Watch out for the monkeys, who are a major shoplifting hazard around the gift shops at the foot of the hill. 

Phra Narai Ratchaniwet

This palace's well-preserved buildings, completed between 1665 and 1677, have been converted into museums. Surrounding the buildings are castellated walls and triumphal archways grand enough to admit an entourage mounted on elephants. The most elaborate structure is the Dusit Mahaprasat Hall, built by King Narai to receive foreign ambassadors. The roof is gone, but you can spot the mixture of architectural styles: the square doors are Thai and the domed arches are Western. North of Phra Narai Ratchaniwet is the restored Wat Sao Thong Thong.

Ratchadamneon Rd., Lopburi, 15000, Thailand
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Rate Includes: B150, Closed Mon. and Tues.

Phra Pathom Chedi

The tallest stupa in the world, Phra Pathom Chedi tops out at 417 feet. Erected in the 6th century, the site's first chedi was destroyed in a Burmese attack in 1057. Surrounding the chedi is one of Thailand's most important temples, which contains the ashes of King Rama VI.

The terraces around the temple complex are full of fascinating statuary, including Chinese figures, a large reclining Buddha, and an unusual Buddha seated in a chair. By walking around the inner circle surrounding the chedi, you can see novice monks in their classrooms through arched stone doorways. Traditional dances are sometimes performed in front of the temple, and during Loi Krathong, a festival in November that celebrates the end of the rainy season, a fair is set up in the adjacent park.

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Khwa T. Phrapathom Chedi Rd., Nakhon Pathom, 73000, Thailand
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Rate Includes: B60

Phra Pathom Chedi National Museum

Next to Phra Pathom Chedi is the Phra Pathom Chedi National Museum, which contains Dvaravati artifacts such as images of the Buddha, stone carvings, and stuccos from the 6th to the 11th century.

Khwa T. Phrapathom Chedi Rd., Nakhon Pathom, 73000, Thailand
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Phra Prang Sam Yot

Lopburi's most famous landmark is this Khmer shrine whose three prangs symbolize the sacred triad of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. King Narai converted the shrine into a Buddhist temple, and a stucco image of the Buddha sits serenely before the central prang. The most memorable aspect of the monument is its hundreds of resident monkeys, including mothers and nursing babies, wizened old males, and aggressive youngsters. Hold tight to your possessions, as the monkeys steal everything from city maps to cameras. Most tourists wind up having a blast with the monkeys, though. Approach them and stand still for a minute, and you'll soon have monkeys all over your head, shoulders, and just about everywhere else—a perfect photo op.

Vichayen Rd., Lopburi, Thailand
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Rate Includes: B30, Closed Mon. and Tues.

Phra Ram Ratchaniwet

Intended as a rainy-season retreat by King Rama V and started in 1910, the palace was eventually completed by King Rama VI in 1916. Phra Ram Ratchaniwet was modeled on a palace of Germany's Kaiser Wilhelm and consequently has a grand European-style design with art-nouveau flourishes. The dining room has ornate ceramic tiles.

Ratchadamnoen Rd., Phetchaburi, 76000, Thailand
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Rate Includes: B50

Royal Palace

Bang Pa-In's extravagant Royal Palace sits amid well-tended gardens. The original structure, built by King Prusat on the banks of the Pa Sak River, was used by the Ayutthaya kings until the Burmese invasion of 1767. After being neglected for 80 years, it was rebuilt during the reign of Rama IV and became the summer palace of King Rama V.

King Rama V was interested in European architecture, and many influences are evident here. The most beautiful building, however, is the Aisawan Thippaya, a Thai pavilion that seems to float on a small lake. China also fascinated the two rulers, and Phra Thinang Warophat Phiman, nicknamed the Peking Palace, is a replica of a Chinese imperial court palace. It was built from materials custom-made in China—a gift from Chinese Thais eager to win the king's favor. It contains a collection of exquisite jade and Ming porcelain. The Buddhist temple, Wat Nivet Thamaprawat, is built in British neo-Gothic style, with a fine steeple, buttresses, a belfry, and stained-glass windows.

Bang Pa-in, 13160, Thailand
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Rate Includes: B100

Sai Yok National Park

The national park's main attraction is Sai Yok Yai waterfall, which flows into the Kwai Noi River. The waterfall, an easy walk from the visitor center, is single tier and not nearly as spectacular as Erawan's. More unique are the bat caves, 2 km (1 mile) past the waterfall. They are the only place you can see the thumb-size Kitti's hog-nosed bat, the world's smallest mammal. Rent flashlights at the visitor center. Other caves worth visiting include Tham Wang Badan and Lawa Cave.

This part of the park has several options for accommodations, all without electricity. The private raft houses on the Kwai Noi River are the more scenic choices. The accommodations near the waterfall have inexpensive restaurants that are more pleasant than the food stalls near the visitor center.

Driving here from Bangkok or Kanchanaburi you'll pass Sai Yok Noi waterfall, also within the park's boundaries. Despite being taller than Sai Yok Yai, Sai Yok Noi has less water, but there's enough to swim in from June to November, when the area is often packed with Thai families on weekends.

Sanam Chandra Palace

While still a prince, the future King Rama VI commissioned this palace, completed in 1911, that's notable architecturally for its French and British flourishes. The surrounding park, which includes ponds and broad lawns, is a lovely place to relax. English signs and translations provide information and guidance around the grounds.

Samut Songkram, 73000, Thailand
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Suan Sampran

Roses are just a part of this 50-acre complex where herbs, bananas, and various flowers, including orchids, flourish. Within the complex are traditional houses where guests can participate in activities such as garland and pottery making. 

Km 32, Pet Kasem Rd., Nakhon Pathom, 73110, Thailand
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Rate Includes: From B40 per activity

Thailand-Burma Railway Centre

A walk through the center's nine chronologically arranged galleries provides a good overview of the railway's history. Though small, the center is well designed and packed with informative displays. The second-floor coffee shop at the end of the exhibits has a view of the adjacent Kanchanaburi War Cemetery.

Tiger Temple

Also known as Wat Pa Luanta Bua Yannasampanno, the Tiger Temple is a forest monastery that houses several kinds of animals on its grounds, most notably tigers. Every day at 3, the 30 or so tigers are brought into a canyon for a photo op that lasts no more than a minute. The rest of the day you can see some of the tigers in their cages, as well as wild boars and water buffaloes.

Controversy surrounds this site. Some locals are concerned about safety (though no injuries have been reported), and many suspect that the tigers have been drugged to make them docile around visitors. Many tour operators claim they'd rather not promote Tiger Temple, but can't afford to lose customers.

Vichayen House

Built for King Louis XIV of France's personal representative, De Chaumont, Vichayen House was later occupied by King Narai's infamous Greek minister, Constantine Phaulkon, whose political schemes eventually resulted in the ouster of all Westerners from Thailand. When King Narai was dying in 1668, his army commander, Phra Phetracha, seized power and beheaded Phaulkon.

Vichayen Rd., Lopburi, 15000, Thailand
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Rate Includes: B50, Closed Mon. and Tues.

Viharn Phra Mongkol Bopitr

When this temple's roof collapsed in 1767, one of Thailand's biggest and most revered bronze Buddha images was revealed. It lay here uncovered for almost 200 years before a huge modern viharn was built in 1951. Historians have dated the image back to 1538.