River Kwai Bridge

Bridge Over River Kwai

River Kwai Bridge is one of Thailand's most popular bridge and I finally had the opportunity to visit this amazing piece of history in June 2012 with the assistance of Tourism Thailand. The bridge made popular by the historical movie 'Bridge on the River Kwai' in 1957 actually goes over the Khwae Yai River or known also as the Mae Khlung.

As this is one of the most popular attractions here, thousands of tourist flock here on a daily basis to see this historical and famous bridge. Not only foreigners are seen here, but also many local Thai tourist also flock here to see this the River Kwai Bridge.

Photo of River Kwai Bridge
Another view of the River Kwai Bridge
River Kwai Bridge

This attraction is also a very important tourist site in Kanchanaburi where a museum, cafes and loads of tourist shops surround the main bridge area. Tourist are free to walk across the bridge at any time but need to remember that the passenger trains pass through a few times a day.

You can stand at the side of the bridge when the train passes as it moves at a very slow speed sounding the horn all the way. If you have children with you, please be very careful here.

 River Kwai Bridge at the end

Originally there were two bridges here which were both built by prisoners of war during World War II. The first bridge that was completed in February 1943 was a wooden one and after a few months later, it was converted into a steel bridge which you see now.

The metal in the bridge was also imported from Java (Indonesia) by the Japanese back then while the straight side spans were brought in from Japan after the war which damaged some of the curved spans therefore you see a mix of straight and curve now. 
River Kwai Train Service
River Kwai train leaving the station
To get here, one needs to book a tour from Bangkok or you can take the train from Bangkok and alight here. Two trains a day leave Bangkok Thonburi station (also known as Bangkok Noi) on the West side of the river in Bangkok, for Kanchanaburi then River Kwai Bridge station. Price is about US$3 per person on third class only but the coaches are clean. 
There is also a special Tourist Railcar for day trippers on Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays. The coaches are just 3rd class non-air conditioned seats and are very basic. Best to double check before you book anything as over the years, timing can change.

Below is the train itinerary for River Kwai.
06.30 depart Bangkok Hualamphong station, Saturdays & Sundays only.
07:40 arrive Nakon Pathom, 40 minute stop to visit the great Chedi (cone-shaped temple).
09.26 arrive Kanchanaburi, very short stop.
09.35 arrive River Kwai Bridge station & stop for 25 minutes.
10.00 depart River Kwai Bridge station, cross the Bridge & head along the River Kwae via the impressive Wampo Viaduct.
11.30 arrive Nam Tok station. 
11:30 arrive Nam Tok Sai Yok Noi.  This is the only train to run beyond Nam Tok to the end of the operational line.  Time to see the scenic waterfall.
14:20 leave Nam Tok Sai Yok Noi.
14.25 leave Nam Tok station heading back south.
15.53 arrive at Kanchanaburi station and stop for 60 minutes for a visit to the war graves.
16.53 leave Kanchanaburi.
19.30 arrive back in Bangkok Hualamphong station.

From Bangkok: A round trip fare cost 120 baht while reservations may be required before departure although it is reported that in practice you can just get on and pay on the train.  You may well find plenty of seats available between Bangkok and Kanchanaburi and River Kwae Bridge station, but all seats are usually fully-booked from River Kwae onward.

For information, see Thailand Railway. This is excellent for those who do not have much time but want to see the River Kwai. 
Traveling from Singapore, Malaysia or Southern Thailand: You can get to Kanchanaburi and the River Kwai Bridge without going all the way into Bangkok and out again. Express trains from Penang, Hat Yai, Surat Thani and Hua Hin all stop at Nakhon Pathom, 64 km southwest of Bangkok, where you can change onto the local trains to Kanchanburi (the actual junction between the Death Railway and the Bangkok-Singapore main line is at Nong Pladuk, but express trains don't stop there).
Time spent here can be anywhere from an hour to two hours depending on what you want to explore here besides the souvenir shopping. Kanchanaburi also has a tourist office while there is much Eco-tourism activities found around the area apart from the River Kwai Bridge.