When you google ‘what to do in Kanchanaburi’ the first three things you find will be information about the Thailand-Burma Railway Centre, the Burma Railway (Death Railway) and the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery. So as you notice Kanchanaburi has a big history from the Second World War.
Besides those three must see I would also recommend going to the Hellfire Pass memorial museum and the walking trail because besides the beautiful nature you can now experience what you have learned in history class and which not a lot of people can.
The Hellfire Pass memorial museum and the grounds along the Hellfire Pass are maintained by the Australian government.
I would recommend taking the audio tour (in Dutch, English and Thai) during the museum and the walking trail. During the audio tour you will hear survivors of the Death Railway describing their hardships and their personal experiences. This will take your breath away and this will make it feel more real than just walking the trail. You also don’t want to wish this to anybody even your worst enemy!
The museum will tell you all about the history of making the Hellfire Pass. After that you can go to the contemplation deck and the walking trail.
The whole walking trail takes about 3 hours, return. You can also walk until the memorial stone and walk back. We however walked pass the memorial stone which I recommend doing because there are almost no tourist and with the audio you really feel the pain of the prisoners. It is unbelievably what those prisoners have accomplished in such a short time.
We arranged to get picked up at the end of the trail instead of walking back. To be honest I wouldn’t wanted to walk all the way back but that’s also because it started to rain.
Here are some pictures I took during the walking trail.
I can’t remember why I didn’t take any pictures inside the museum. I think I was shocked about what the prisoners went through that I didn’t wanted to take any pictures of that.
Walk down to the walking trail.
Part of a rail.
Prisoners made their way through this rock by carving it out with only their hands and some crappy tools.
The Memorial stone. You can walk back or walk further until the end.
How does a train fit through here?!
One of the many lookouts. Here there is a bench you can rest and hear a story of one of the survivors.
Be careful walking up the stairs as they can be unstable and slippery.
Parts from the rails.
The reason it is called the Hellfire Pass is because the sight of prisoners working at night by torchlight resembled Hell. The Hellfire Pass has killed 16,000 Allied POWs and 90,000 Asian because of the harsh work, working 18 hours a day without proper food and water, therefore starvation and exhaustion. Beaten to death by the Japanese as well as many diseases that were going around.