With its famous WWII sites, Khmer temples, historic museums and nature-filled national parks, Kanchanaburi offers the chance to enjoy a family trip combining easy-going sightseeing with rugged outdoor adventure. With that in mind, here are 10 family activities in Kanchanaburi worth considering.
Located 100 km northwest of Kanchanaburi City, Sai Yok National Park is the place to head for a true family adventure. This 300-square-kilometer park is home to picturesque waterfalls, caves, mountains and hiking trails. Nature lovers will want to keep eyes peeled for the park’s wide variety of wildlife including elephants, sambar deer, wild boar, Malayan porcupine and the rare Kitti’s hog-nosed bat – one of the world’s smallest mammals. Visitors can book overnight accommodation in the park’s campsite, bungalows or opt to stay in one of the private raft houses along the river.
2. River Rafting
River rafting excursions are one of Kanchanburi’s big attractions, with opportunities for kayaking, canoeing, jet-ski rides and bamboo rafting. Aside from offering a potentially wet ‘n wild adventure, rafting trips offer the chance to glimpse local wildlife including water lizards, various species of birds, and even the occasional buffalo. Local tour operators offer both half-day and full-day tours with the option of combining rafting trips with sightseeing tours that visit historic sites such as Erawan Falls and Hellfire Pass.
This adrenalin-filled excursion in the jungles of Kanchanaburi is definitely one for families with older children. Attractions include a Money Swing course that boasts a combination of 30 stations, zip lines and treetop-based games. You can also ride a skybike over the tree canopy, while those with a serious head for heights can buckle up for a ride on the giant zip line, which spans the entire length of the park’s lake! The programme here isn’t suitable for children under 140 cm in height, and children less than 12 years old must be accompanied by an adult.
4. Bridge over the River Kwai
Spanning 300m, this famous railway bridge was almost completely destroyed by an Allied bombing raid in 1945. Today, visitors are free to walk across the reconstructed bridge, which arguably remains the most popular attraction in Kanchanaburi Province. The wooden tracks quickly become crowded with tourists, so as an alternative, you might want to consider taking the Kanchanaburi–Nam Tok train service. It crosses the bridge three times a day in each direction and pauses for a short time at the River Kwai Bridge station.
5. Erawan Falls
Set amid a landscape of dense vegetation and limestone peaks, the seven-tiered Erawan Falls is one of those picturesque nature spots you just don’t want to miss. Situated within Erawan National Park, the first three tiers of the falls require little effort to reach, but the remaining 2km trail does involve a slightly more taxing hike. Look out for elephants, gibbons and macaques as you explore the park. Once you’ve worked up a sweat, be sure to take a swim in the cooling waters of the falls. Just be prepared to encounter a few toe-nibbling fish.
6. Wat Tham Sua
To reach the summit of this beautiful hilltop temple, you’ll need to climb over 150 stairs – and they’re pretty steep! That said, the sweeping views of the river and mountains from the top are more than worth the leg ache. If you’re travelling with younger children, you might want to catch the small cable car to the top for THB 20. Other notable sights here include an impressive 18m-tall Buddha and several stupas – the tallest of which is nine stories high and contains a variety of murals, largely relating to the war. Wat Tham Sua can be reached by taxi and it’s around a 12km ride from town.
The kids will love splashing around the pools and water slides at the newly opened West Wonder Water Park. Alongside two large slides and a rainbow slide for older kids, the park has two separate areas for little ones that feature mini water slides and water fountains. You can hire lots of additional swimming gear including caps, bathers and life jackets and entry is just THB 100 for kids and THB 300 for adults. As far as affordable and fun-packed family days out go, West Wonder Water Park is hard to beat!
While some touristy elephant attractions come with questionable ethical credentials, this particular experience is different. Why? Because the visitors are at the service of the animals. There are no shows or elephant rides here. Instead, visitors are given the opportunity to prepare food, feed the elephants with fruit and sticky rice, and scrub them clean in the river. The kids will no doubt love the up close nature of this experience, and because the elephants are all rescues, it provides a unique opportunity to help animals that have suffered from years of abuse or neglect.
Gushing waterfalls, murky caves and limestone mountains make this sprawling national park one of Kanchanaburi’s true natural beauty spots. The park covers 1,532 square kilometres and has an abundance of wildlife including leopards, bats, civets and slow lorises. After a family nature walk, everyone can relax with a refreshing dip in the park’s hot springs. While you’re here, make sure you take a trip to Huay Mae Khamin Waterfalls. Tumbling down seven separate levels, it’s regarded as one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Thailand.
10. Family Bike Adventure
In Kanchanaburi, organized bike tours offer a fantastic way to encounter the region’s stunning rural scenery and historic sites. Viator offer 5-day bicycle trips that begin in Bangkok and involve a 71-mile journey that winds along country roads, canals and rice paddies. En route, you’ll visit World War II sites, ancient Khmer temples and stop at the village of Ban Nong Khao to gain a unique glimpse of rural life. Five days of cycling might sound a lot, but an air-conditioned minivan accompanies riders all the way, so you and the kids can take a break whenever you need to catch your breath.