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August 2018

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Located just 130 km west of Bangkok, Kanchanaburi is a popular destination for both tourists and locals. Both looking to escape the craziness of Bangkok for the day, many people take one of the many organised day trips available. However the area is a beautiful place to stay for a few days to explore and relax, enjoying the peaceful surrounding.

The Province is a beautiful part of Thailand; the hectic town centre is surrounded by beautiful scenery and river views but also has a dark history which can be explored by its many memorials and museums

Affiliate Disclosure – Lou Does Travel contains affiliate links. If you choose to make a purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to yourself.

Kanchanaburi
The ‘Death Railway’

One of the main reasons visitors flock to Kanchanaburi for the day is to visit the so-called ‘Death Railway’ and the ‘Bridge Over the River Kwai’ as well as the many memorials and museums associated with it.

The ‘Death Railway’ also known as the Thai-Burma Railway, was a 415 km stretch of rail track that was built by thousands of allied prisoners of war (POW) and Asian labourers during world war 2 under the order of the imperial Japanese army. Most of these men where Australian, Dutch and British, who were made to live in squalor with a near starvation diet as well as being subjected to severe brutality. Many of these POW died due to injury, starvation or disease and after the war where collectively buried in the War Cemeteries.

Bridge Over River Kwai
The ‘Bridge over the River Kwai’

Ride the ‘Death Railway’

Today only a limited section of the original rail track is still in use with passenger services now only running as far as Nam Tok to the north of Kanchanaburi. The most popular part of the track being the ‘Bridge over the River Kwai’ which was made famous by the 1957 Film of the same name based on the novel Le Pont de la Rivière Kwai (1952) by Pierre Boulle. The Bridge itself is a popular tourist attraction; you can walk along its stretch of track running across the River Kwai. It’s also fun to stand in one of its side platforms along the bridge and wave at the passengers hanging out the windows as the train passes by, just be careful!

Bridge Over River kwai
The ‘Bridge over the River Kwai’

By spending more time in Kanchanaburi, you will have the time to take the full 2 hour journey along this stretch of line from the town’s main station all the way to Nam Tok which is known as one of the most scenic train rides in Thailand.

As the journey begins it heads over the famous ‘Bridge over the River Kwai’. It then leads into the beautiful Thai countryside before curving around the Wang Po viaduct which consists of a series of wooden trestles originally built by POW’s.

Wang Po viaduct Thailand
The trestles supporting the Wang Po viaduct!

As the journey progresses you will see some of the most beautiful parts of northern Thailand. As you pass the Wang Po viaduct, the track curves along with the river to one side and cliffs to the other. Further on you will be met with beautiful stretches of countryside.

Kanchanaburi
The River Kwai running along the side of the track.

You can also get the train in the opposite direction starting in Nam Tok or further down the line. Most people including myself took private transport past Nam Tok to visit Erawan waterfalls and Hellfire Pass, which then meant we were able to get the train back to Kanchanaburi at Tham Kra Sae station. This station is unique in itself as you can wander down the track towards a Kra Sae cave, however be careful as the tracks can be dangerous with no barriers along the edge. The cave itself is small with a small Buddhist shrine inside but the best part is the views along the river, simply stunning!

The trains themselves are pretty basic with no air-conditions but the large open windows blow in a lovely cool breeze. You can also stick your head out of windows to check out the scenery but be careful when passing close trees! The cost of a train ticket is 100 Baht.

Death Railway thailand
Inside trains!

Hell Fire Pass

About a 20 minute drive from Nam Tok you will find the Hell Fire Pass Memorial and museum. The Hell Fire Pass was considered one of the most complex parts of the ‘Death Railway’ to be built. This was due to the railway having to be cut through hard mountain rock! This 500 m stretch was carved mainly by hand by POW’s using only small hand drills, picks and shovels, surprisingly it only took 6 months to complete. The Pass is no longer in use but has become a memorial to all the allied POW’s and Asian labourers who suffered and died Here.

Hell Fire Pass
Hell Fire Pass.
Hell Fire Pass
Hell Fire Pass Memorial.

As well as being able to walk along the cutting and through the Pass you can also visit the museum which not only describes the story of the Pass and the suffering that went with it, the site is a place for visitors to reflect on the suffering and to remember the tragedies of the past with the hope of a more peaceful future.

Entrance is free and it is open daily from 9 am – 4 pm. However may be closed on Thai public holidays.

Kanchanaburi War Cemetery

Kanchanaburi War Cemetry
War Cemetery.

A visit to the War Cemetery and Thailand-Burma Railway Centre are a must.

The War Cemetery is the resting place for nearly 7000 Australian, Dutch and British prisoners who died during the construction of the Death Railway. Walking through the cemetery can be a truly sobering experience especially when you realise that these graves only represent a small number of prisoners who died.

The Thailand-Burma Centre situated opposite provides an excellent overview of the brutal conditions suffered by the POW’s and Asian labourers showing poignant personal accounts, artefacts, photographs and videos to highlight this dark slice of history.

JEATH War Museum

The name of the museum stands for the countries that were involved in these events, these included; Japan, England, Australia, Thailand and Holland.

Although this museum houses many artefacts, photos and displays, it is starting to look a little run down and isn’t at the same standard of other museums in the area, however with just a small 40 Baht entrance fee, it makes up for this. The museum itself is situated in a prime location just across the road from the Bridge over the River Kwai.

JEATH War Museum
JEATH War Museum.
JEATH War Museum
JEATH War Museum.

Erawan National Park

Erawan National Park
Erawan National Park.

Not only is Kanchanaburi full of emotionally charged historical places but it is also known for having some of the most stunning scenery in Thailand. one area of particular natural beauty is Erawan National Park and it’s beautiful seven-tiered waterfall. This waterfall is surrounded by lush vegetation and has a hiking trail leading up to the top-tier. The trek however gets more difficult the higher you go and at certain times of year it may be impossible to pass some sections due to wet muddy conditions. However even the lower tiers are worth walking too and even stopping along the way to have a dip in the turquoise waters brings a welcome relief from the heat. Watch out for the fish nibbling at your feet, a very weird sensation!

Erawan Falls
Very friendly fish!

It is best to try to arrive early at Erawan Falls to beat the bus tours and have the falls almost to yourself. If you have time you can also visit the parks Tham That Cave where you can wander through stalagmites and stalactites.

Elephant World

Thailand Elephants
Amazing Elephants!

Many people come to Thailand with the hope of interacting with elephants. Although these creatures are Thailand’s most revered animal, many ‘sanctuaries’ have been known to torture their elephants in order to make them work, therefore it is important to seek out ethical companies that offer no riding and treat the elephants with the love and appreciation that they deserve.

One of such sanctuaries is Elephant Nature Park, Kanchanaburi (part of the same group in Chiang Mai). This park is a true sanctuary for elephants who are allowed to wander freely and only have limited interaction with visitors (no riding).

Adult price 2500 Baht

Children 1250 Baht

More details can be found at www.elephantnaturepark.org

So if you have the time, I strongly suggest spending a few days in the city, as there is so much to explore, as well as being a beautiful place to chill out and relax. I believe I only just scratched the surface and next time I would check out some other places of interest such as:

  • Boat trip along the River Kwai
  • Chung-Kai War Cemetery
  • Wat Tham Mongkon Thong
  • Sai Yok Noi Waterfall
  • Chinese cemetery
  • Thai Cooking Class
  • Night Market
  • Tham Phu Wa Temple
  • Hindad Hot Springs.

Getting to Kanchanaburi:

By Train:

Whilst not the fastest way to travel, the train is probably the cheapest option and also the most scenic, passing through beautiful lush countryside. There are two trains a day departing Bangkok’s Thonburi station at 7.50 am and 1.55 pm at a cost of 100 Baht each.

By Taxi:

Taxi prices can be negotiated with individual taxi drivers but most will cost between 1200 – 1500 Baht.

By minivan:

You can catch a minivan at most bus stations in Bangkok for around 200 – 250 baht each, you can also arrange this by going in any of the thousands of travel agencies in Bangkok and as well as Hotels.

Where to Stay:

Sky Resort Kanchanaburi
View from our room at Sky Resort

As I was backpacking Thailand I was on a fairly low-budget, however I found a lovely hotel with swimming pool called the Sky Resort Kanchanaburi for 800 Baht a night. This was a lovely hotel with a great little restaurant overlooking the river and only a short walk into town. Very much recommended if on a budget! However there is a huge variety of accommodation to choose from, including cheap hostels, guest houses and hotels and resorts catering for any budget. There are lots of different websites for booking accommodation in Thailand but for the best deals I recommend hotels.com for hotels and Hostel World for hostels

Have you been to Kanchanaburi? If so what was your favourite thing to do? Let me know in the comments below and if you want to be kept updated on new posts be sure to subscribe by email or follow me on your favourite social media.

Thanks for reading,

Happy Travels,

Louise X

Kanchanaburi is a beautiful historic town a short drive from Bangkok. Most people visit by taking a tour from Bangkok? In this post I explain why you should look at staying for more that just a few hours! #kanchanaburi #thailand #bangkok #travelguides #traveltips #travel

Beautiful Ruins in the Heart of the English Countryside

Kenilworth Castle is not just any castle, it is where Queen Elisabeth I, the Virgin Queen had a love affair. To be honest before visiting, I had no idea about the long history that went with it. However one step into Kenilworth and your mind is transported back in time.

The site is run by knowledgeable English Heritage guides and staff are always available for an informative chat about anything to do with the castle. The site itself is vast. As soon as you step into the grounds you can feel the history encased into its walls. You can walk along passageways and staircases imagining the footsteps that have been taken before you. Marvelling at its many building and the objects and artefacts that are housed within. You can even get to touch some of the original stone balls, each weighing up to 140 kilos that were thrown at this fortification during the siege of 1266.

Affiliate Disclosure – Lou Does Travel contains affiliate links. If you choose to make a purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to yourself.

Kenilworth Castle History

The Castle was built over several centuries and has been linked to some of the most famous names in English history. It is thought that the original structure dates back to Saxon times which where most likely destroyed during the Saxon wars with the Danes. However the oldest part still standing dates back to 1120. After the Norman Conquest, it became property of the crown and around 1129 King Henry I gave it to a Norman noble Geoffrey de Clinton who was the Treasurer and Chief of Justice of England at the time.

Over the years the castle expanded, eventually the castle was seen to be too much of a powerful stronghold and was confiscated by Henry II. He then developed the site into one of the greatest fortresses in England. In 1244 King Henry III gave the castle to the Earl of Leicester, Simon de Montfort who was also married to the Kings sister Eleanor. Although de Montfort was French he is remembered in history as one of the founders of English democracy. He was a leading rebel in the Baron’s War against the Kings increasing taxation system. Kenilworth Castle became the site of a siege that remains the longest in English history! The rebels held out inside the castle for six months against Royal forces. The siege was only ended after the Barons finally surrendered due to being overcome with disease and famine.

In 1563 Queen Elisabeth I bestowed the castle to Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester. It is thought that the Queen wanted to marry Dudley however after the suspicious death of his wife his reputation had been ruined. Queen Elisabeth visited Dudley many times at Kenilworth Castle, however her final visit in 1575 lasted 19 days and cost Dudley so much that it almost bankrupted him. Legend has it that the pageantry and splendour eclipsed anything else before seen in England. The festivities are believed to have been the inspiration for Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

In 1649 the castle, like many others at the time were deliberately destroyed by parliamentary forces and after the civil war it was abandoned. However today you can still get a sense of what the castle was like in its heyday.

Kenilworth Castle: Things to See and Do:

Tower views

Explore the full height of the tower built by Dudley, Earl of Leicester to court Queen Elisabeth I and soak up the spectacular views. Climb up the stairs and platforms that take you up 18 meters to the tower to glimpse the Queens private staircase and see what would have been the most luxurious part of the castle.

Elizabethan Gardens

These gardens are so beautiful and elegant. As you stroll around you can imagine the Queen walking alongside the colourful and fragrant walkways.

Leicesters’s Gatehouse

Built in the 1570s the castle entrance was transformed in to a stunning private house. The house today has been left how it looked when the last caretaker left in the 1930s. Inside you can explore the many rooms including the beautiful ornate fireplace which once was part of Elisabeth I’s private rooms. There is also an exhibition on the romance between Elisabeth I and her ambitious courtier Robert Dudley.

Castle Grounds

Walking around Kenilworth Castle grounds is probably my favourite part about visiting Kenilworth, you can wander around taking in the various viewpoints and getting up close to the oldest parts of the castle. You can admire the mighty keep which was once the heart of the castle. Its dominance is easy to see, built three stories high and with walls 14 feet wide!

The Great Hall is another awesome structure and was once one of the finest of its kind. It was the cutting edge of 14th century design and played host to many monarchs and Tudor kings.

Visitor Information:

Kenilworth Castle is situated in the town of Kenilworth about 5 miles from the city of Warwick in Warwickshire. The site is operated by English-Heritage. If visiting many English heritage sites it maybe be beneficial to get a yearly pass.This gives free access to over 400 historic places from just £5 per month, for further details check here

Car parking:

This can be found just outside the site entrance and has a parking charge of £2 however this is refunded with the purchase of the admission ticket. The site is clearly signposted from the town centre, off the B4103.

Sat Nav:

Post code: CV8 1NG Latitude: 52.347852 Longitude: -1.592548

Bus access:

A bus service operates Between Kenilworth train station and the castle. From the surrounding area Travel West Midlands 11 & 11X and Stagecoach U12 both serve Kenilworth Castle.

Train access:

Kenilworth station has services running from Coventry and Lemington Spa. If travelling from London or other areas regular trains connect with Coventry and Lemington Spa where you can catch connecting trains to Kenilworth.

Prices and Opening Times:

Adult – £11.30

Child (5-17 years) – £6.80

Concession – £10.20

Family (2 Adults 2 Childres) – £29.40

Opening times:

March 2018 – September 2018

Monday – Sunday 10 am – 6 pm

Are you a lover of castles? If so check out this post of one of the most underrated castles in England. A visit to this castle is a must if in the area! #Kenilworth #kenilworthcastle #castle #englishheritage #visitengland #trave #travelguides #traveltips

Hi I’m Louise and I’m addicted to travel!

So how did I become addicted to travel?

Well it all started when I was 35 years old, soon after I got divorced. I’ve always loved travelling but my passion to travel only really started then. To be honest I was feeling a bit lost and wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do with my life, so during a dark miserable night shift I googled where is hot in May? The top answer came back as Rio de Janeiro! Next thing I know, I’m checking out flight prices on Skyscanner and by the end of my dinner break I had booked a two week trip to Rio! It was only once I got home and told everyone what I’d done that the panic started to set in! Especially after everyone was telling me how stupid I was for travelling to such a dangerous country on my own! However me being me, I decided to prove everyone wrong and embrace this new challenge. I checked out Hostel world and booked myself into the Lemon spirit hostel, perfectly situated near to Ipanema beach!

My previous holidays consisted of package holidays where everything was sorted for you in advance, flights, hotels, transfers, so this adventure was going to be different. After the initial shock had subsided I started to research as much as I could, everything from things to do once there, to travel tips for female solo travellers. Eventually I was feeling quite excited and really looking forward to the challenge. However I was starting to worry that I was a little too old for the hostel life?

Eventually the time came and I waved my parents goodbye from Manchester airport. So with my massive 80l backpack which in hindsight was far too large for any sort of trip, never mind a two week holiday! I boarded my flight. I was really quite relaxed about the whole trip during the flight, right until I landed. As I left the plane I could feel my anxiety building and was starting to get a bit panicky! However I sat down and gave myself a little pep talk and a boot up the arse and decided I should at least look like I know what I was doing, rather than look like a complete lost soul! So I picked up my bag and just walked confidently out the airport and into a taxi, before I knew it I was at the hostel ready for a much needed sleep!

My anxiety about staying in hostels soon disappeared after I met my other roommates, three lovely girls from Sweden who invited me out for tea and we all became friends soon after. The hostel was a great place to meet people, I met people from all over the world; some travelling full time and others on smaller trips, many of which were solo travellers as well. Over the next two weeks I really had the most amazing time, I checked out all the sights, and even went hang gliding off a mountain, the best experience ever! To hear more about what I got up to in Rio, check out my Rio de Janeiro travel guide here

I returned home a new person and decided to sort out my life. As much as I wanted to travel full time, I knew I wasn’t going to be in a position to do that anytime soon so I decided to fulfil my other ambition to be a nurse and hopefully get my travel fix using annual leave. Soon after I returned I enrolled on a access to nursing course which helped me gain a place at university. It was a long 4 years and after a lot of hard work I graduated with a first class honours. During this time, I worked a lot of hours in order to satisfy my addiction for travel and travelled to Greece, Cambodia, Italy and Thailand twice. However this travelling just seems to make my addiction worse!

I am now 41 years old and my life revolves around nursing and travel. As much as I love my job, I just can’t shake off the travel bug! Therefore I’ve decided to save as much money as possible in order to take a career break travel full time. I have an endless list of destinations and experiences that I want to try, it’s the only way I’m going to scratch this itch!

So in the meantime I decided to start this travel blog to document my past and any new experiences along the way, not only to help me control the travel bug but to hopefully inspire others to travel more as well. I really do believe that travel can change a person, especially travelling solo, it opens you up to face problems head on, refocuses the mind and makes you more tolerant of the people around you. It also makes you realise how lucky most of us are to have the ability to travel freely and have the privileges many people in the Western world take for granted!

Chase ya dreams folks, cause you only live once!

Happy travels everyone!

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