Perfect three-day Itinerary for Kanchanaburi – Including the floating market and the railway market

A year ago, when I worked as a trip planner for a short period, I had planned a day trip from Bangkok for a family. The trip was with a personal driver named Tom and included two markets (A floating market and one with a train passing through it), as well as several other attractions along the way.

The trip actually cost them less with Tom than as part of an organized trip, as they were a 6-person group. They were very pleased by both the trip and the driver. Following their warm praise, I had recommended Tom’s services to additional clients, and feedback was overwhelmingly positive. And so, upon booking our flight to Thailand, I already knew we’d want to go on a trip with Tom as well.

I’d contacted his wife, Dee, who’s in charge of reservations (Dee And Tom’s website, get 5% discount for service transportation using the code : trvbox) and told her we would like a tour to both markets and on to Kanchanaburi. She suggested we add bamboo rafting and a visit to waterfalls the following day, which sounded like a wonderful plan. Since I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Dee both personally and professionally while I was a trip planner, she offered for her and her baby to join us on the trip and get to know us face to face. We liked the idea of a family trip a lot.

Day 1 – Railway market, Floating market and Kanchanaburi (Trip with a personal driver)

At 9AM, Tom, Dee and their baby were waiting for us outside the guest house we stayed at in Bangkok’s China Town – Pho Place (Dee And Tom’s website, get 5% discount for service transportation using the code : trvbox) . We hadn’t had breakfast, so we asked Tom to stop for a bite along the way. On the outskirts of Bangkok, Tom parked at a gas station area that held many restaurants as well. We had coffee and a small meal, then headed back on the road.

Dee speaks English very well, and Tom knows some as well, so we talked throughout the drive.

Maeklong Railway Market

We arrived at Maeklong Railway Market around 10 and a quarter. The train passes through the market several times a day, so it’s important to know the schedule and arrive one time. It’s best to arrive before 10:30, as it passes both at 10:30 and at 11 and you can enjoy the experience twice. (:

What makes this market unique is that the stalls are built directly on the train tracks and a few minutes prior to the train’s arrival an announcer calls for people to move away from the tracks. All the peddlers move their stalls back and fold some of the stands. It all happens very quickly. We tried finding a place to stand but the peddlers kept moving us. Since the market’s become very popular, there are many tourists wanting to take pictures and creating clusters – so there are certain areas the peddlers ask people not to stand in, since it disturbs their work. We found a spot and the train passed. The train goes right through the market slowly.

Dee told us it used to be much faster, but ever since the market became popular accidents had been on the rise, with tourists not knowing where to stand. So, the government issued an order for the train to slow down to a crawl as it cross through the market. You can also ride the train, as it stays in the market area. If you do arrive before 10:30, I’d recommend going to the market itself at 10:30 to watch the train pass and then board it. Then, at 11:00, follow it through the market. We haven’t done that, but it seems like a very nice experience.

Dee told us it used to be much faster, but ever since the market became popular accidents had been on the rise, with tourists not knowing where to stand. So, the government issued an order for the train to slow down to a crawl as it cross through the market. You can also ride the train, as it stays in the market area. If you do arrive before 10:30, I’d recommend going to the market itself at 10:30 to watch the train pass and then board it. Then, at 11:00, follow it through the market. We haven’t done that, but it seems like a very nice experience.

Amphwa floating market

From the railway market we continued to the floating market, which is only a few minutes away by car. We arrived at the area before the market proper, where you can board a boat to the market. Dee recommended sailing as being the best way to see the entire market and not just a part of it, as well as being an interesting experience. We chose the hour and a half cruise (You may opt for an hour, hour and a half or two hours). The cruise itself is really cool. We got to see the floating market from the boat and even buy fruit from the merchants on the other boats.

The entrance to the market was crowded by boats for tourists, and according to Dee things get even worse on weekends. So, I’d recommend taking this trip on weekdays. At one point we stopped at a coconut farm. We also got to pass by the residential buildings on the river. Seeing how people live there was very intriguing. Put shortly, it was a unique and interesting experience.

After the market we went to have lunch at a local restaurant. We asked Dee and Tom to take us to a restaurant they would have eaten at, as opposed to a touristic one, and so they did. The place we ended up going to only have menus in Thai, so we told Dee what we liked, and she ordered for us. We ordered many dishes to share. The food was tasty, and we enjoyed the meal. The bill amounted to 420 baht for the 4 of us, and we had ordered 6 dishes.

Kanchanaburi

First, we headed to Baan Ma Fueng guesthouse to check in and store our things, then on to Kanchanaburi. The guesthouse was very nice and clean and houses a café with good coffee and breakfasts. It’s located in a somewhat less touristic area.

 

Cemetery in memory of prisoners of war and bridge over the Kwai river

Afterwards, we drove to a cemetery built in memory of prisoners of war (World war II), who were killed while constructing the railroad (They were held under horrendous conditions), then on to the famous bridge over the Kwai river – construction of which began in 1942 and lasted a year and four months.

The goal was to build a railway from Thailand to Burma to transport supplies to the Japanese. We took many pictures of the bridge and had the pleasure of being there towards the sunset – so the skies were beautiful. We also climbed down to take pictures of the bridge looking up. On our way back, a train passed as we were crossing the bridge and we had to stand on little platforms by the side of the track.

Dinner at night market

Afterwards, we went back to the guesthouse and agreed to meet Dee and Tom at 9am the next day at the guesthouse café. After resting in our room, we went out to have dinner in a night market close by. It’s a local street-food market and most visitors are locals, there were almost no tourists. The food there was really good, we ate there twice more during our stay in Kanchanaburi. The market is next to the clock tower. Map.

Day 2 – Waterfall and rafting (Trip with personal driver) and return by local train

We had breakfast at the guesthouse café, then Dee and Tom joined us and we went rafting. On our way there, we stopped by the beautiful Sai Yok Noi waterfall.

We had breakfast at the guesthouse café, then Dee and Tom joined us and we went rafting. On our way there, we stopped by the beautiful Sai Yok Noi waterfall. The rafting turned out to be more like a relaxed cruise on a bamboo raft. It was very pleasant. I’d recommend bringing a bathing suit, as you can jump in the water. I got a bit of a tan and enjoyed the view. The area houses hotels with rooms by the river.

Given more time, we’d have loved to stay there for a night or two – the place seemed calm and beautiful. The cruise lasted about 40 minutes, it’s length may change according to the river’s flow.

We then headed to the train station, at which point we said goodbye to Dee, Tom and the baby. Dee was the one to suggest the day before that we take the train back from the rafting area, as the way back is very pretty, which seemed like a great idea. We were a sorry to see them go, as we really enjoyed spending time with them. They’re lovely people – Picking Tom to be our personal driver was a great idea.

Our entire trip was at our own pace and focused on the things we wanted to do, whether we wanted to spend more or less time at any given place, et cetera. Whenever we wanted coffee or food Tom drove us accordingly. It was a great experience, and at a very good price. They offer driving services to many different locations and travel packages including attractions and lodging. The part I loved was being able to plan our trip’s route with Dee according to what we were looking for and have her make suggestions based on the preferences I described. (Their website – Naka Service)

Train back to Kanchanaburi

The train station is surrounded by many restaurants, so we had lunch at one and then came back to the station. We bought a ticket for 100 baht per person and boarded. The ride was about two hours and the views really were very pretty. The seats were relatively comfy and there were fans and open windows, so the air was pleasant. It’s a nice way to have a local experience but with good conditions.

Day 3 – Erawan waterfalls, riding a local bus

The next morning, we rode the bus to the famous Erawan Waterfalls. You can read about our trip there in my post “Erawan Waterfalls in Kanchanaburi”.

After getting back from the falls, we went for a rest in our room, then out to dinner in the market near the guesthouse. After our meal, we decided to go out to the touristic area where many bars are for a bit. Roman saw a little street bar with a sign saying you can get drunk for 10 baht and decided for us to sit down (Get drunk for 10 baht). After seeing the 10-baht whiskey, he decided to order the 20-baht whiskey mixed with coke (Costs another 10 baht).

Don Rak Road is a main street with many bars, restaurants, cafes and more.

Return to Bangkok from Kanchanaburi

The following day we returned to Bangkok. The bus ride is approximately 3 hours, as opposed to a train which takes 4-5. There’s a central bus station with busses leaving for Bangkok every half an hour, but the busses are old and have fans (The ride costs 100 baht). Map.

Just before you reach the central station lies a travel agency’s office – there you can get on a new bus with air conditioning, which also leaves every half hour, for 120 baht. Map.

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