Many things have been written about Kanchanaburi and especially the bridge over the River Kwai. The real one, not the one build by Hamster, Captain Slow, and Clarkson during an episode of Top Gear (UK).
I am very sorry to say but my most recent visit (31st of May and 1st of June 2015) confirmed that the city itself and the bridge are a tourist hell hole. You really do not want to get stuck there. Not even for a second of your time (for an alternative see Day 2 at the below).
Day 1 (or: man, this is a tourist trap!)
The early morning hours of the 31st of May 2015 my good friend Herbie from Auswandern nach Thailand set of from Nang Rong (his home town and a real boring place!) to drive to Kanchanaburi (province and city proper).
I had read a lot about it, and thought it would be a good place to take some nice views in. Especially the landscape should be stunning.
As I am the biggest fool on this planet earth I had forgotten that on the 1st of June Thailand would have another of their myriads of public holidays. No wonder half of Thailand was moving around and traffic became worse with each hour into the day.
We arrived around noon and settled for a hotel at the main tourist strip that I do not want to mention as it was neither good nor bad. For 650 Baht a night (a bit less than 20 Euros) it offered a very small pool, an aircon room, and a drunken retired guy from Australia. Same person would sit all day long at the lounge and bar to drink beer. And would play his music on full blast. Nothing worth to remember.
After check-in we decided to go around the corner (at least with a car) to see the famous bridge over the river Kwai. In front of it you will find as many touts as you will find tourists on the bridge. Interestingly they only step on the bridge to take pictures of themselves. That’s pretty much about it.
Herbie and I dared to walk over the full length of the bridge and got some interesting sights into the nearby temple (one of the many existing in Thailand). The very end of the bridge is pretty much empty. Therefore I recommend to go over the full length if you want to take in the sights in a bit of peace.
After 30 minutes we decided to leave the bridge and drive with no aim a bit into the surroundings of the city. We drove north-west (but not much) were the hills and mountains begin. As soon as you leave Kanchanaburi city you get immersed into the beautiful and stunning scenery of Kanchanaburi province. We decided to stay an extra day and use this to go around the province to take in some more of the beautiful sights.
Day 2 (or: man, what a beautiful place this is)
The very next morning we took of again in north-western direction but stayed a bit longer on the main road (in the below video the route will be shown at the beginning). Once we hit the cross-road were you have to turn left to go into the Erawan national park we stayed right. Just after turning a very steep climb began and below us on the left side we could see the on of the two dams.
The road follows the lake (formed by the Srinakarind Dam) all the way up north and latter turns to cross the mountains back east to return to the plains and civilization.
At the beginning the road was empty and later on you wont see any village and/or other traffic. I would therefore highly recommend to ride a motorbike there.
But be careful and watch your petrol gauge constantly. There are no fuel stations up there for many many kilometers and often I had lost my mobile phone lost connection to the service (no calls possible). If you breakdown there it will take you a long time to find help.
Video crossing the mountain
I took this video when we crossed the mountains to return to the plains north of Kanchanaburi city proper. I took it with my mobile phone camera. So please excuse the not perfect view. It is slights tilted to the left.
But the video should give you a good impression of the landscape and road available. Please note that for the most parts of the video there is no traffic or village near.
Warning: Check your petrol tank before you go up there. Especially on smaller bikes and motorcycles!
Panaroma photographs of the Sinakharin lake:
I took the photos at the end of the dry season and rainfall had not yet begun. The water level is therefore very low. It will look less dry and dirty after some proper rain and when the water comes down from the mountains.