>>>Cross the bridge on the river Kwai by train

Cross the bridge on the river Kwai by train

The famous film directed by David Lean made this bridge in Thailand, with its tragic origins, famous all over the world.
A shiver will run down your spine when you hear the dramatic story that surrounds the bridge built on the river Kwai. The film by David Lean ‘The Bridge on the River Kwai’ (1957) placed this tragic location into our collective imagination. However, what happened in the small Thai village of Kanchanaburi isn’t fiction. The train that used to cross it was known as ‘the train of death’.
Over 100,000 people lost their lives in the one and a half years that it took to construct the railway line between Thailand and Burma, now Myanmar, during the Second World War. The Japanese army used 60,000 prisoners of war and 180,000 Asian workers to build 415 kilometres of railway lines in order to transport weapons from Bangkok to Yangon through the jungle. The working conditions and those at the concentration camp were inhumane: people worked in shifts of over 16 hours and received scarcely any food. The high death rate of workers forged the black legend of the ‘death railway’.
The railway line connects the cities of Ban Pong and Nam Tok

The soundtrack to your trip

During your visit it’s impossible to avoid whistling the ‘March of Colonel Bogey’, included in the soundtrack to the film ‘The Bridge on the River Kwai’. This is the British military tune that the prisoners whistled in the film on their way from the concentration camp.

The original wooden bridge was bombed by the Allies. It was partially rebuilt after the war. Nowadays only 130 kilometres of railway line between the Thai cities of Ban Pong and Nam Tok operate. As well as the story behind these lines, the jungle landscape that surrounds the train journey is also chilling. Two kilometres away from Kanchanaburi, the station closest to the bridge on the river Kwai, are the Sai Yok Noi waterfalls.
The museums built in Kanchanaburi in memory of the dead allow you to learn more about this story. The Death Railway Museum recounts everything that happened during the building works and the JEATH War Museum reconstructs the lives of those who worked on the line. The name of this museum are the initials in English of the prisoners of war: Japanese, English, Australian, Thai and Holland. A visit to the cemeteries of the Allied soldiers is very moving, especially when you realise how young the people were who lost their lives there.
The War Cemetery in Kanchanaburi, a homage to the soldiers
Despite the tragedy that surrounds it, this is a region of great beauty.
65 kilometres away is Erawan National Park, which includes the most impressive waterfalls in Thailand. A beauty that contrasts with the scandals of war.
Erawan Park, 65 kilometres away, known for its waterfalls

Related articles

Soaking it up in Phuket

It doesn't seem like an island, but it's the biggest one in Thailand. With 36 beaches to practise on, Phuket...

Bangkok: Between two ages

More than eight million inhabitants live astride the past and future in the ever-vibrant Thai capital. Contrasts travel at full...

Keep calm and sawadee krap

From a retreat in a Buddhist temple to a sun lounger on a heavenly beach, with a stop-over for a...

“I did not choose Bangkok, it was destiny”

The culinary scene in Bangkok is changing. We interview two of its brightest stars, Gaggan Anand, chef at the best...