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The Death Railway [Bridge on the River Kwai]

  • Kanchanaburi, Central Thailand, Thailand

  • Bucket List Experience

Last updated: 04 April, 2024

Built during the Japanese occupation of Thailand in World War II, the Burma-Siam train track – better known as the Death Railway – represents a dark chapter of the country’s past.

More than 100.000 prisoners of war and civilian laborers lost their lives due to hunger and exhaustion, making this one of the deadliest construction projects in modern history.

These days, most visitors come to pay their respects at the iron railway bridge made famous by the eponymous 1957 movie Bridge on the River Kwai (though few know it was filmed in Sri Lanka).

But unless you’re a history buff, the bridge itself isn’t all that interesting. Instead, board one of the rickety trains still cruising the tracks several times a day to get a much better feel of the intense suffering this project has caused.

While you’re there

To dive deeper into the railway’s fascinating (and horrifying) history, a visit to the Thailand-Burma Railway Centre, just north of the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery, is highly recommended.

Here, informative videos, maps and recovered journals from deceased prisoners provide a deep-dive into the construction project and its WWII context.

Logistics

Price: Free
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 13+
When: All year around

Getting there & doing it

The Death Railway bridge is a 20-minute walk or short tuk-tuk ride north of Kanchanaburi’s town centre. Dozens of tour companies in Bangkok offer minivan transfers and guided tours to Kanchanaburi, but a DIY train trip from Bangkok’s Thonburi station delivers a more authentic experience at a fraction of the price. On weekends, a slightly more comfortable tourist train departs from Bangkok’s Hualamphong station in the early morning.

If you’re not arriving by rail, rickety trains departing from Kanchanaburi’s main station also ply the Death Railway tracks twice a day, crossing the bridge and passing by steep cliffs along the way. From Nam Tok, at the end of the line, you can catch a bus back to Kanchanaburi proper or continue to the infamous Hellfire Pass further north.

When to do it

The train runs all year round, seven days a week. Every tour group makes a stop here, so arrive in the early morning or late afternoon to dodge the crowds.

Who to go with: organised tours

7

Our selection of the best Viator tours of this attraction or activity

Bridge on the River Kwai and Thailand-Burma Railway Tour

  • Bangkok

Bridge on the River Kwai and Thailand-Burma Railway Tour

Viator

Kanchanaburi's famous Bridge on the River Kwai and the beginning of the Death Railway is a poignant reminder of the thousands of POW's and forced laborers who lost their lives in the Second World War. This full day guided tour from Bangkok also includes a visit to the war museum and the opportunity to ride a local train.

Price THB 3,423

Min age 0

Rating 4.25 / 5 [651 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Erawan National Park and Bridge Over River Kwai: Small Group Tour

  • Bangkok

Erawan National Park and Bridge Over River Kwai: Small Group Tour

Viator

- Discover the captivating tales of Thailand's rich history - Explore Erawan National Park, JEATH Museum, and the Bridge Over River Kwai - Travel in comfort aboard a cozy, well-maintained, air-conditioned vehicle - Enjoy the intimacy of a small group tour with 9 people maximum - Last-minute booking is available for the meeting point option

Price $75

Min age 2

Rating 4.10 / 5 [185 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Bridge on the River Kwai and Thailand-Burma Railway Tour

  • Bangkok

Bridge on the River Kwai and Thailand-Burma Railway Tour

Viator

Kanchanaburi's famous Bridge on the River Kwai is a poignant reminder of the thousands of POW's and forced labourers who lost their lives in the Second World War. This full day guided tour from Bangkok includes touching visits to a small war museum and a POW cemetery. The day will also consist of an exhilarating long-tailed speedboat ride, Thai Local Lunch, a walk across the Bridge and a ride along the tracks of the Death Railway on a local train for 90 minutes. This is great value for money with no hidden costs. This tour can be taken joined with fellow customers OR private with your own vehicle and guide

Price THB 2,790

Min age 0

Rating 4.40 / 5 [181 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Private Tour: Thai–Burma Death Railway Bridge on the River Kwai from Bangkok

  • Bangkok

Private Tour: Thai–Burma Death Railway Bridge on the River Kwai from Bangkok

Viator

Visit the Bridge on the River Kwai on this thorough private tour from Bangkok. The beginning of the Death Railway (also known as the Burma Railway), the famous bridge that spans Thailand’s River Kwai is a poignant reminder of the thousands of prisoners of war and forced laborers who lost their lives during the construction of the railway in World War Two. With a private guide, discover the bridge, the JEATH War Museum and Allied War Grave, and take a long-tailed boat ride on the river before sightseeing the picturesque nature sceneries on board a train riding on the tracks built by the prisoners of World War II. Local Lunch in a restaurant is included.

Price THB 5,359

Min age 0

Rating 4.40 / 5 [162 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Private Tour to Bridge over River Kwai and Hellfire Pass incl trainride

  • Bangkok

Private Tour to Bridge over River Kwai and Hellfire Pass incl trainride

Viator

Full day private tour from Bangkok to see the highlights of Kanchanaburi.  Today you will see Bridge over River Kwai and surroundings, go for a trainride over the Death Railway, visit Hellfire Pass and finish off at Saiyoke Noi waterfalls.  This private tour includes an official guide, driver, comfortable vehicle with airconditioning, lunch, bottled water and lunch at a local restaurant. You can expect to leave at 7AM and be back at your hotel in Bangkok at 6PM.

Price THB 5,300

Min age 0

Rating 4.78 / 5 [123 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Destination guides

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  • Central Thailand, Thailand

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From dazzling temples to dizzying nightlife, Thailand’s capital is a dish of delicious contradictions that beffudles the senses. One of the world’s most dizzying, fast-paced cities, home to the glittering Grand Palace.

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