Phra Pathom Chedi is the tallest stupa in the world with the height of 127 metres (417 ft). A Stupa is a structure related to the Buddhist religion which contains holy relics. The temple which houses the stupa is Wat Phra Pathom Chedi located in the town of Nakhon Pathom, Thailand. The name Phra Pathommachedi (said in Thai of course) literally means “Holy chedi (stupa) of the beginning”. The stupa at the location is first mentioned in Buddhist scriptures of the year 675, however archaeological findings date back to the 4th century. In the 11th century it was overbuilt with a Khmer (Ancient Cambodia) style prang, which was later overgrown by the jungle. King Rama IV later rebuilt the chedi in its present glory, which was completed in 1870.
Wat Tham Sua and Wat Tham Khao Noi in Kanchanaburi is perched on top of a rocky hill overlooking the Mae Klong Hill, affording visitors an amazing view of the river valley. The twined Temples are quite different with Wat Tham Sua (Tiger Cave Temple) having a Thai design and a large covered Buddha Image and Wat Tham Khao Noi being a Chinese design and a large overlooking Chinese pagoda.
Wat Tham Sua offers a cable car to visit the main level of the Temple. Once on the main level, there are still many steps to take for the determined traveler to get to the top of the large chedi adjacent to the large covered Buddha. The views are worth the trip to the top.
Wat Tham Khao Noi has a labyrinth of steps winding through the temple to the Pagoda. The Pagoda has also many spiriling steps to the top. But again, the work is worth it for the awesome views of both Wat Tham Sua and the Mae Klong River Valley.
The two temples are not connected, so to see both it takes a lot of work, walking to the top of one and then the other. To me the trip was well worth the fantastic views!
To get a good understanding of what occurred in World War 2 with the construction of the Thailand-Burma Railway or Death Railway, I suggest visiting certain locations in Kanchantaburi. The Hellfire Pass Memorial Museum will give you a lot of the history of the difficulties that the prisoners of war and the Asian workers endured to build the railway under the brutal command of the Japanese Military. The Death Railway section of the Tham Krasae Railway Station will show you the amount of rosk that needed to be removed and the bridges that needed to be built, mostly by hand. The Kwai River Bridge that was made famous by the 1957 film “Bridge over the River Kwai”. And the somber Kanchantaburi War Cemetery, the final resting place for many of the prisoners of war who died during the railway construction.
The Ban Hat Ngio Rope Bridge is located deep within the Kanchantaburi Province, only a few kilometers from the Hellfire Pass Memorial Museum. The Bridge is only a few meters wide and is not actually rope but steel cable but may have been a rope bridge at one time. The bridge connects a small village with a temple across the Kwai River. Is a beautiful scenic area and one worth taking the brief detour after your visit to the Hellfire Pass Museum.
The Hindad Hot Spring is about a 4 hour drive from downtown Bangkok. While this is quite far, if you are in the area visiting other attractions in Kanchantaburi, a trip to the hot springs is worth a soak to unwind. There are several pools built at the hot springs to allow people to enjoy the hot mineral water. The pools are constructed with various temperatures so that you can start off at a moderately warm pool allowing you to get used to the warm water before you make the move to hot pool with is a warm 44 degree C. The pools are set alongside a tree shaded, cool stream just a few feet away from the hot spring fed pools for a quick dip.
So you can go from the hot pools to the cold stream waters (and vice-versa) to completely relax every muscle in your body. Thai massage is also available on site for a minimal fee. Entrance fee to Hindad Hot Spring is 40 Baht (1.20 USD) per person for a whole day of relaxing should you want.
The Sai Yok Elephant Camp in Kanchantaburi is a great place to get close to elephants. The camp offers visitors a chance to ride or wash the elephants within the camp. Most of the elephants are free roaming throughout the camp and you are allowed to roam the cam freely and take as many photos as you like. The camp is quite large and the trail the elephants take the visitors takes you through dense jungle and through some streams.
Many people died building the Thailand–Burma Railway during World War 2. One way to appreciate how difficult was is to visit locations along the “Death Railway” where the difficulties were at the extreme. The area east of the Tham Krasae Railway Station that is still in use today. This area is very scenic with the sheer cliffs along the winding Kwai River. But remember many gave their lives to remove the rock to make a flat grade for the trains to run smoothly during World War 2. If you get a chance to visit, and you feel the high humidity and temperature of what is typically Thailand, remember how difficult it must have been for the prisoners of war who did not have proper food or clothes (and no air-conditioning) and were often beaten if the slowed construction.
The trains on this line are mostly used for tourists, showing a big portion of the “Death Railway” within the Province of Kanchanaburi.
At the western end of the cliff area and just west of the Tham Krasae Railway Station is another interesting destination, the Krasae Cave. It is not a large cave but easy to access and there is a Buddhist Shrine in the cave making it a place for meditation.
The Kanchantaburi War Cemetery is located in the heart of the town of Kanchanaburi, Thailand along Main Street. The cemetery is the final resting place for 6,982 prisoners of war that died in the construction of the Thailand-Burma Railway constructed during World War 2 in support of the Japanese War Effort in the region. The POWs are mostly Australian, British and Dutch and the Americans that were originally buried there have long since been repatriated. The cemetery stands as a memorial to those fallen in this gruesome campaign of the Second World War.
The Hellfire Pass Memorial Museum was built and is maintained by the Australian government. The Museum opened in 1998 and is located just above Hellfire Pass (Konyu Cutting) and is dedicated to the Allied prisoners of war and Asian laborers who suffered and died at Hellfire Pass and elsewhere in the Asia Pacific region during World War II.
Hellfire Pass is part of the Thailand–Burma Railway, a 415 kilometers (258 mi) railway between Ban Pong, Thailand, and Thanbyuzayat, Burma, built by the Empire of Japan in 1943, to support its forces in the Burma campaign of World War II. The conditions of the Prisoners and Asian laborers working on the railway were extreme and many died. But the conditions in the Hellfire Pass area were the harshest, with much rock to cut by hand and some explosives. It is estimated that 90,000 of the Asian workers died and 12,621 Allied POWs died during the construction of the railway. The POWs who died included 6,904 British, 2,802 Australians, 2,782 Dutch, and 133 Americans soldiers.
It is reported that as many as 700 prisoners died in the Hellfire Pass area alone. The area was not big but the work was treacherous and physically grueling. Also some 70 prisoners were reported to be beaten to death.
Ayutthaya was once a great kingdom that extended right across Northern Thailand and encompassed the whole of the land of the million elephants, which today covers Laos and part of Cambodia, Myanmar and Malaysia. The city was founded in 1351 by King Ramathibodi I (U-Tong), when he turned an existing settlement into what was to become the ancient capital of Siam. During its history, the Kingdom was ruled by 33 kings, who, unlike the kings from the neighboring Kingdom of Sukhothai, had absolute rule, were declared devaraja (god-king) and considered to be the earthly incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu.
The photos and videos below are to give you a taste of the Ancient City of Ayutthaya to help you decide to visit on your trip to Thailand.
Many of the destinations in Central Thailand is dense green jungle with spots of civilization here and there to make things interesting. Click here to view a list of Articles about Destinations in Central Thailand.
Bangkok's 9 Royal Temples
Bangkok Must Sees
Exploring Thailand's Nature
Islands of the Thai Gulf
Thailand's Royal Palaces
Thailand and World War 2
Explore Chiang Rai
Explore Chiang Mai