Popularly known for the Death Railway, Kanchanaburi is one of the major tourist destination in Thailand with both local and foreign tourist associating it with World War 2 and beautiful sceneries. It is located around 3 hours from Bangkok, with trains departing from Thonburi Railway Station.
Thonburi Railway Station is located on the western side of the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok Noi district. The current station is located around 800m west of the original site, which is now part of the Siriraj Hospital. The station stood at the current site even before World War 2 as Bangkok Noi Railway Station. After the war, the station was moved to the river bank and was named Thonburi. In 2001, the current Thonburi was rebuilt and named Bangkok Noi. Finally in 2003, the Thonburi station by the river was closed and services were cut back to Bangkok Noi, which was renamed Thonburi in 2004. The original Thonburi station by the river was the KM 0.00 for the calculation of kilometer posts on the Southern Line.
While not as grand as the main Hua Lamphong Railway Station, the simpler layout means shorter waiting times and you can buy your tickets at a more relaxed pace.
The station sign of Bangkok Noi still stands at the west side of Platform 1.
The semaphores which used to command the line still stands but they are not in use anymore.
The station sign of Thonburi Railway Station.
The train may depart from Platform 1 or 2, just follow the signs on the train or on the platform.
The ordinary train is third class only, which is comfortable. Tickets to Nam Tok costs 100 baht (SGD4/MYR12) for foreigners and is current free for Thais (usual price 39 baht).
The train joins the main Southern Line at Taling Chan junction, just around 10 minutes after departing from Thonburi. It shares the Southern Line till Nong Pladuk Junction.
No worries about food and drinks even with no buffet car attached. Local vendors board the train at varying but frequent stations, and some even stay on board during the journey. The bigger vendors board from Nakhon Pathom station.
A sample of Kway Teow from Nakhon Pathom. Each serving costs 10 baht.
Along the way, you will cross with other trains running on the line too. This is the opposing train from Nak Tok to Thonburi in the morning.
The train branches off at Nong Pladuk Junction from the main line.
Nong Pladuk Junction also has a branch line to Suphan Buri, served by 1 pair of trains daily.
Splitting off the main line’s alignment.
Typical scenery of the Nam Tok branch line.
Some will get off the train at Kanchanaburi to get to their hotels or resorts around the city. Kanchanaburi is worth a visit if you have sufficient time in Thailand.
The locomotive will decouple here to pick up the tourist rake which will be in service between River Kwai Bridge station and Nam Tok station. A ticket for the tourist car goes for 300 baht with a boxed meal, mineral water and a certificate, with an added cushion on the wooden seat. This is available for booking at River Kwai Bridge station.
Departing from Kanchanaburi with a longer rake.
With the longer train, it makes for better pictures from here on.
River Kwai Bridge station has preserved steam locomotives on the side and plenty of souvenir shops.
Crossing the bridge over the River Kwai? The river was originally known as the Mae Klong River until the popular film entitled “The Bridge on the River Kwai” came out when everyone flocked to the River Kwai, only to find that there is no bridge there. So the portion of the river with this bridge over it was renamed to Saphan Kwai Yai and the other, Saphan Kwai Noi. When they meet at the confluence, the Mae Klong River begins.
Many restaurants are available are the Kanchanaburi side of the bridge.
You are allowed to walk on the bridge when there is no train passing through. When a train arrives, get in to one of the escape platforms to wait for the train to pass. The train passes at a leisurely speed of 10km/h for safety.
On the tourist rake, there are 3 cars without the frills, costing 100 baht from River Kwai Bridge to Nam Tok. These are regular wooden benches. The ones running from Bangkok are more comfortable honestly, with the same layout but with added seat cushions.
The seats on the special tourist car, with the added cushion.
Attendants are on board to serve the boxed meals and water. Foldable tables are provided on the car.
If you’re feeling adventurous or have plenty of luggage, you can try this open plan car on the Thonburi – Nam Tok rake. On busy weekdays, you may share your floor space with local market vendors with their fresh vegetables or livestock.
Or just stay on the car from Thonburi, it’s comfortable enough and definitely more comfortable than the wooden seats on the 100 baht tourist car from River Kwai Bridge.
More scenery after Kanchanaburi.
At around noon, the vendor walks around again with more Kway Teow.
This packet comes with chilli and includes a portion of pork. 10 baht a portion.
Tham Krasae Bridge station marks the start of the long viaduct by the cliff built by the Prisoners of War during World War 2 as part of the Death Railway.
Today, the many resorts and immaculate gardens around the area are a far cry from the sufferings endured by those who were forced to build the railway.
To get a picturesque shot, the view is best on the left side of the train towards Nam Tok.
On the other side are cliffs. Be careful when you stick your head out along this stretch of viaduct.
The Tham Krasae viaduct is also a highlight of the trip on the Eastern and Oriental Express, and some advertisements even feature the train running on the viaduct.
On the other side of the bridge is Tham Krasae station. Here, many local tour guides pick passengers up for day trips or for a resort or hotel transfer.
Wang Pho station also marks the start of the Wang Pho viaduct. While the scenery of the viaduct is not as impressive as the Tham Krasae viaduct, the POWs had to cut through stone on high ground in order to let the railway pass. Even with modern technology, the alignment is no mean feat.
A long stretch of peace before arriving at Nam Tok.
Nam Tok may be the end of the line for ordinary services, but there is one last stop at Nam Tok Sai Yok Noi, a beautiful waterfall served only by the weekend excursion train.
The line goes on for another 1.4km to Nam Tok Sai Yok Noi.
The locomotive for Ordinary 257 turns around and immediately forms Ordinary 258, plying the reverse route from Nam Tok to Thonburi.
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|River Kwai Bridge||1044||1440|
|Tham Krasae Bridge||1153||1336|
You may also access the timetables for other trains on the Nam Tok and Kanchanaburi branch line, and other trains on the Southern Line here.