In Kanchanaburi, not far from Bangkok, you can relive one of the most dramatic episodes in World War II to occur away from the main war fronts.
The construction of a railway line by the Japanese that was to cross Thailand to Myanmar, built using local labour and prisoners of war, was the cause of an enormous human tragedy.
Thailand did not directly participate in the Second World War; however, one of the most harrowing chapters of the conflict far away from the ware fronts took place in this country.
Japan’s strategy included the invasion of British India, and in order to carry out these plans, it needed to have a quick route for the transport of troops and supplies.
For this purpose, the Japanese chose a route that would go through Thailand into Burma – today also known as Myanmar – and cross that country to reach the Andaman Sea.
The construction of the railway – carried out by thousands of prisoners of war of the allied forces, as well as Asian workers – constituted an impressive feat of engineering. It was a dramatic task, as evidenced by this cemetery in Kanchanaburi, the starting point for this visit to the ‘railway of death’.
The tour is very interesting because the cemetery itself, and some museums dedicated to the terrible railway project, provide powerful reminders of that tragic war from a very human perspective. It puts names to those people who lost their lives defending the cause of freedom, as well as being a testimony to the magnitude of the railway construction project itself.
One section of the railway has been restored, and it is possible to follow its route.
The surroundings of the Tham Krasae station are the most beautiful of the trip, so we suggest you visit only this area, along with Kanchanaburi.
The bridge over the river Kwai inspired the famous 1957 movie starring William Holden, although it was not actually filmed in Thailand.