Bangkok was founded in 1782 by the first monarch of the present Chakri dynasty.
It is now the country’s spiritual, cultural, diplomatic, commercial and educational hub.
It covers an area of more than 1,500 square Over the last few decades, Thailand’s capital city, Bangkok, has changed into a modern, exciting and sophisticated city.
It offers to visitors not only the cosmopolitan amenities they would expect from other big cities, but also a unique treasure trove of cultural attractions.
Thailand, in the heart of Southeast Asia, was never colonised and thus kept its unique culture and heritage intact.
Bangkok offers visitors the opportunity to experience fascinating glimpse of Thailand’s gentle culture amidst the bustle of a great and dynamic metropolis.
This great city has had astounding success in combining the ancient and modern world. For tourists, Bangkok has a feast of attractions to offer.
The city is dotted with 400 glittering Buddhist temples of great beauty and fascination, magnificent palaces, classical dance extravaganzas, numerous shopping centres and traditional ways of life,especially along the “Venice of the East” timeless canals and the Chao Phraya River of the “River of Kings” winding through the city.
It is worth taking a trip along its waters before exploring further into different canals to take a glimpse of old Bangkok.
The Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya (or Ayutthaya in short) is one of Thailand’s historical and majestic highlights. Serving as the Thai capital for 417 years (1350 /1767: Kingdom of Ayutthaya), it was once glorified as one of the biggest cities in Southeast Asia.
During the 17th century, most foreign visitors to Ayutthaya, traders or diplomats alike, claimed Ayutthaya to be the most illustrious and glittering city that they had ever visited.
The map of Ayutthaya published in 1691 by Simon de la Loubere in Du Royaume De Siam is proof of such recognition.
The Kingdom of Ayutthaya reached its apex in terms of sovereignty, military might, wealth, culture, and international commerce in the 16th century when the Kingdoms territory was extended far beyond present-day Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar. Ayutthaya even had diplomatic relations with Louis XIV of France and was courted by Dutch, Portuguese, English, Chinese and Japanese merchants.
Visitors can explore and appreciate Thai history in Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, which is situated only 86 kilometers north of Bangkok.
Visitors to Ayutthaya can marvel at its grandeur reflected through numerous magnificent structures and ruins concentrated in and around the city island surrounded by Maenam Chao Phraya, Maenam Pa Sak and Maenam Lopburi.
More importantly, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Historical Park, an extensive historical site in the heart of Ayutthaya city, has been included in UNESCO’s World Heritage list since 13 December, 1991.
The Kingdom of Ayutthaya was built and developed in leaps and bounds. The ruins in Ayutthaya that survived the test of time embody both the glorious and ignominious stories of the Kingdom.
This ancient capital of the Kingdom of Ayutthaya, founded in 1350 by King U-Thong, had thirty three kings of different dynasties and reached its peak in the middle of the18th century.
A magnificent city with three palaces and over 400 magnificent temples on an island threaded by canals Ayutthaya was truly an impressive city that attracted both Europeans and Asians.
After a 15-month siege the Kingdom of Ayutthaya was conquered and completely destroyed by the Burmese in 1767.
When King Taksin the Great finally liberated the Kingdom, a new dynasty was established and the capital was moved to Thonburi.
The seal of Ayutthaya depicts a conch on a pedestal tray placed in a small castle under a Mun tree. According to legend, King U-Thong, founder of the Kingdom of Ayutthaya, discovered a beautiful conch buried in the ground being prepared for the establishment of the seat of his Kingdom.
Consequently, he had a tiny castle built to house the shell. Hence, the provincial seal.
Today, there are but groups of crumbling ruins and rows of headless Buddhas where once an empire thrived. The temple compounds are still awe-inspiring even in disrepair and a visit here is memorable and a good beginning for those drawn to the relics of history.
The architecture of Ayutthaya is a fascinating mix of Khmer (ancient Cambodian style) and early Sukhothai style.
Some cactus-shaped obelisks, called prangs, denote Khmer influence and look something like the famous towers of Angkor Wat.
The more pointed stupas are ascribed to the Sukhothai influence.
For new arrivals who had limited their visit to Bangkok, similarities may be noted with the riverside Wat Arun, an 18th-century structure that was built in the so-called Ayutthaya style, a melding of Sukhothai Buddhist influences and Hindu-inspired Khmer motifs.
According to most historians, the ancient town of Kanchanaburi was located near Ban Lat Ya, a small village situated approximately 16 kilometers north of the present town.
The site was repeatedly recorded in Thai history as an invasion route which the Burmese used to enter Thai Kingdoms. Kanchanaburi, which has mostly mountainous terrain, covers an area of approximately 19,473 square kilometers and is the third largest province in Thailand after Chiang Mai and Nakhon Ratchasima. Situated approximately 129 kilometres west of Bangkok, Kanchanaburi shares a border with Myanmar to the west, Tak and Uthai Thani Provinces to the north, Suphan Buri and Nakhon Pathom Provinces to the east, and Ratchaburi Province to the south.
In North and West Kanchanaburi, the terrain is comprised mainly of mountains and high plains, with the Thanon Thongchai Range acting as a natural border between Thailand and Myanmar.
The range is the source of Kanchanaburi’s two most important rivers Maenam Khwae Noi and Maenam Khwae Yai, which form the famous Maenam Mae Klong.
As a result, several of Thailand’s largest Namtok (waterfalls) and most extensive wildlife sanctuaries are found in this area.
The magnificent landscape and charming beauty of Kanchanaburi have resulted in major tourist attractions including several well-known waterfalls, caves which were once inhabited by Neolithic man, pristine national parks, tranquil rivers, virgin forests, and reservoir.
Together, they offer an intriguing experience for first-time or repeat visitors.
Whether its fishing, rafting, canoeing, mountain biking, bird-watching, star-gazing, golfing, elephant and jungle trekking, or even living in bamboo rafts, Kanchanaburi takes pride in offering them all.
The city of Kanchanaburi is located at the point where two tributaries, the Khwae Noi and Khwae Yai meet and form the Maenam Mae Klong.
This is the location of the notorious Death Railway and the Bridge on the River Khwae one of the worlds famous World War II sites which have been immortalized in print and film.
In economic terms, Kanchanaburi has been doing well on a national scale, with over 10 per cent growth annually. Important industries include sugar, agricultural products and jewelry.
Tourism is also a main source of income for the locals as the provinces high tourism potential has made Kanchanaburi number one among the west provinces in having the highest number of visitors each year. Residents of Kanchanaburi are engaged in agricultural activities.
Most of the locals are of Thai ancestry with notable Mon and Karen minorities.
Rural dwellers enjoy living simply and respecting nature.
Moreover folk music and dances dating back at least 500 years are still performed today.
The Bridge on River Kwae
The bridge spans across Maenam Khwae Yai which is a branch of Maenam Mae Klong. During the Japanese occupation of Thailand in World War II, the Japanese Imperial Army brought the iron bridge from Java.
It was then resembled by Allied Prisoners of War (POW) under Japanese supervision.
The bridge was part of a strategic railway route to Myanmar in which the Japanese aimed to secure supplies with which to conquer other western Asian countries.
It was 415 kilometers long (about 303 kilometers in Thailand and about 112 kilometers in Burma) and passed through the Three Pagoda Pass in Sangkhlaburi District, the northern most part of Kanchanaburi province. Construction started on September 16, 1942 at Nong Pladuk, and was completed on 25 December 1943.
It is estimated that over 16,000 POWs from England, Australia, Holland and America died while building the bridge which was a target of bombing raids in 1945.
In addition to this, approximate 90,000 laborers from Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia and Indonesia died during its construction.
Rebuilt after WWII, the bridge is still in use today with the curved portions of the bridge being that of the original. An attraction of note is the annual light and sound event at the bridge to commemorate the Allied attack in 1945.
The railway currently ends at Ban Tha Sao or Namtok Station, a distance of some 77 km. from Kanchanaburi Station.
A special train running from Bangkok to Namtok Station is available on weekends and national holidays.
Hell Fire Pass Memorial Musem.
This is a part of the Death Railway that was constructed during the Second World War using POW labour to cut through the mountain.
The site is located in a thick forest near Km. 66 of the Sai Yok-Thong Pha Phum Road (Highway No. 323). Along a 4-kilometer walking trail made by the Allied prisoners visitors can envision the difficulties faced in constructing the Death Railway using simple tools.
The pass is approximately 500 metres long and 26 metres deep.
In 1943 Australian POWs employing hand drills, picks and shovels, baskets and dynamite completed it within six weeks.
There is also a museum displaying contemporary photographs, maps, models, illustrations, etc. from the period.
Open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free.
Erawan National Park
The national park is 65 kilometres from Kanchanaburi along Route 3199.
The park, covering 550-square-kilometers, is the site of the seven-tiered Erawan waterfall, one of Thailands loveliest waterfalls.
The second tier has a pool, which is ideal for swimming and is particularly picturesque.
However, the most popular activity in the park is trekking.
Bungalow accommodations and camping facilities and a daytime food market are available.