Three days in Kanchanaburi with Kids

Author: Celine Brewer

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Kanchanaburi is best known as the home of The Bridge over the River Kwai, but we chose to visit there on our Thailand family vacation for the amazing outdoor activities. In our three days in Kanchanaburi with kids (aged 3 & 5), we were able to do our three favorite outdoor activities; hiking, biking and kayaking.

two small kids play on some logs while visiting Erawan Waterfall National Park Thailand.

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3 Day Itinerary for Kanchanaburi with Kids

There are so many family-friendly things to do in Kanchanaburi, Thailand that we had a hard time choosing. In addition to all the war history, we were attracted to this region by all of the amazing outdoor activities we could do as a family.

Here is how we spent three full days in Kanchanaburi with kids:

Day 1 – Biking to Wat Ban Tham

After demolishing a huge buffet breakfast at our family-friendly Kanchanaburi hotel, we walked to the main street to rent some bikes to visit some Buddhist temples nestled in the beautiful limestone karst mountains outside of town.

We figured no one would rent bikes with child seats in Thailand, so we brought our own child carriers with us from Canada. We weren’t sure if they’d work ok on bikes, but they worked really well!

Celine Brewer, of the Family Can Travel blog, rides a bike with her son while on a family trip to Kanchanaburi Thailand.

There are many beautiful temples in Kanchanaburi and we picked the one which looked the most fun to bike to. We rented two single-gear bikes from a very friendly couple for 50 baht each for the day (roughly $1.60 USD each). We were glad the bikes had baskets on the front as we were able to store our day bags while the kids were on our backs.

The Bike Ride Through the Countryside

The first half of the ~8 mile (13 km) bike ride to Wat Ban Tham was through the town of Kanchanaburi. The roads were busy, but not too crazy. The Thai drivers are very courteous and we never felt in danger.

In fact, many drivers slowed down to wave at the kids and a few local cops even slowed down to give the kids a big smile and a thumbs up. The Thai people are so friendly and they really made our kids feel special.

Two bikes parked by a river in Kanchanaburi, Thailand.

Our bike ride through Kanchanaburi took us past a beautiful temple, an outdoor market, alongside the river and through quiet residential streets. This type of experience is what we love most about active travel – renting bikes allows us to see parts of town that 99% of tourists never see. The locals are so happy and welcoming to see you there, it’s such a special experience.

After a while we crossed over the River Kwai and turned down a country road towards the temples. This road was quite busy with many large trucks on it – but again, we never really felt in danger. This road was sandwiched in between the River Kwai on one side and beautiful, tree covered limestone karst mountains on the other.

We passed the most interesting cemetery on our way to Wat Ban Tham, located in a field below a karst mountain. The cemetery was filled with tombstones in the shape of semi-circles and the visual effect of a whole field of them was really quite amazing.

a very unique cemetery in the fields close to Kanchanaburi Thailand.

Visiting Wat Ban Tham

Before long, we arrived at Wat Ban Tham and locked up our bikes. The kids played on some concrete animals while we ate some grilled bananas bought from the market in the parking lot, which to be honest weren’t that good.

After our little break, we began to climb up the mountain to the Wat Ban Tham temple at the top. The climb begins with Thai-style dragons on either side of the staircase. After a while, the outdoor stairs end and you walk through the mouth of a dragon and you climb the stairs higher through the belly of the dragon, with many Buddhist scenes painted on the walls along the way.

a 5-year old girl on a family trip to Kanchanaburi, Thailand, admires a dragon staircase at the Wat Ban Tham temple.

At the top of the dragon stairs, you take off your shoes and enter a cave, where there are several statues of Buddha. After a short while, we resumed climbing the stairs – this time via a steep spiral staircase. This soon transitioned to carved rock stairs in a forest for the rest of the climb.

There was another small temple along this stretch which was an excellent place to stop and enjoy the views of the river and countryside. The trees provide nice relief from the powerful tropical sun.

The beautiful view of the River Kwai from Wat Ban Tham temple in Kanchanaburi Thailand.

At the very top was a golden stupa with two Buddha’s sitting in front of many-headed dragons, which even the kids thought were pretty cool. The views from the top were amazing, but it was also in the open sun, so it was very hot and we didn’t stay long.

Both kids walked the whole way up all by themselves (~500 feet elevation gain). The steps were steep in parts, so we put them in their carriers and carried them down.

a 5-year old girl climbs some steep steps within the Wat Ban Tham temple in Kanchanaburi Thailand.
Two small kids on a family vacation to Kanchanaburi admire a statue at the Ban Tham temple.

We renewed our energy with some chicken skewers and bottled water from the market before hopping on our bikes to go back to our hotel.

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Day 2 – Kayaking on the River Kwai

With a world-famous bridge and a tranquil river, the conditions are optimal to go kayaking in Kanchanaburi. Based on a recommendation, we walked to River Kwai Canoe Travel Services to arrange a kayaking trip for the day.

The owner was there right on time to open the store. When she saw the kids, she immediately hugged and kissed our 5-year old daughter and then tried (unsuccessfully) to do the same with our 3-year old son. After discussing our desired trip, she said she’d swing by our hotel to pick us up at 10 am.

Shortly after 10, she arrived in her truck with the two kayaks hanging out the back. We climbed in the back and she drove us to our starting point at a Buddhist temple just south of the Sangchuto Rd bridge.

I took it as a good sign that Buddha himself was overlooking us as we entered the water. She set us up with lifejackets (although we had our own for the kids) and a dry/wet bag for our stuff. She then helped us into the kayaks and set us on our way.

a 5-year old girl enjoys kayaking on the River Kwai with her Dad on a 3-day trip to Kanchanaburi, Thailand.

The first half of the trip was outside of town with lots of beautiful, lush trees lining the river. We passed several islands and saw many beautiful birds along the way including a kingfisher, a swan goose and many more.

Before long, we reached the famous Bridge on the River Kwai. It was fun to kayak under such a famous bridge – a really fun way to see such an iconic structure. From this point, the trip becomes less scenic as the banks are lined with resorts, restaurants and stuff.

Dan Brewer, of FamilyCanTravel.com, kayaks under the Bridge over the River Kwai during a trip to Kanchanaburi with kids.

We passed under a second bridge right by our hotel and soon after we reached the end of our tour at the Chinese Temple. Our guide was there to pick us up as promised and dropped us off at our hotel.

A beautiful Chinese temple was the end point for our River Kwai kayaking tour.

Kayaking on the River Kwai was such a fun family activity. The water on the River Kwai is tranquil with a very gentle current, in fact the water is glasslike in many places. There was very little activity on the river and we didn’t see another boat until we got to town.

The 2-person kayaks were very wide and stable and we never felt we were in danger of the kids falling over the side or tipping the boat.

Day 3 – Hiking and Swimming at Erawan National Park

This morning, we walked to the main street and hired a private driver & car for the day to take us to Erawan National Park. We had intended on taking the public bus from Kanchanaburi to Erawan National Park, but given how tired and jet lagged we still were, the extra cost (~$11 USD) seemed like a very cheap luxury.

Erawan National Park is home to a great family-friendly attraction. Erawan Falls is a series of seven beautiful waterfalls, each with its own swimming area at the base. The walk to the first four waterfalls is reasonably easy, mostly along a paved pathway through thick jungle. There are a few stairs here and there, but anyone reasonably fit will have no issues.

A waterfall in Erawan National Park near Kanchanaburi Thailand.

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Our kids hiked all the way to the fifth waterfall themselves. I’m sure they could have hiked all the way to the top, but the quality of the trail deteriorates as you get near the fifth waterfall.

The nice, paved path is gone and is replaced by huge tree roots and large rocks to navigate over. The kids enjoy climbing over stuff like this, but it slows them down so much, we didn’t have the time to let them hike all the way.

So, after reaching the fifth waterfall, we decided to walk back down to the third waterfall to go swimming as a reward for a good hike.

The third Erawan National Park waterfall was our favorite – it’s a single free-falling waterfall with no cascades; a very beautiful waterfall in a beautiful setting. The water close to the waterfall was too deep for the kids, but along the edges it was shallow enough for them.

Our daughter loved the little “kissing fish” in the water; the ones you see in markets all over Thailand that eat the dead skin off your feet and ankles, although, like me, she can’t stand the tickling sensation for very long.

a beautiful waterfall in Erawan National Park, Thailand.
Two small kids play in the water near a waterfall in Erawan National Park, near Kanchanaburi, Thailand.

If you like war history, check out this post about riding the Death Train in Kanchanaburi.

Note that after the second waterfall, there is a checkpoint where you need to leave a cash deposit for each plastic bottle you intend to bring beyond. They mark each bottle and when they confirm each has been returned you get your money back. This is an excellent idea as the jungle was virtually spotless beyond this point, with no litter along the trails at all. No food is allowed beyond this point either.

Erawan Falls is a ways from Kanchanaburi, but it’s worth the effort and was our favorite thing to do in Kanchanaburi. To get there, you can take a local bus or hire a private driver.

To find a driver, simply talk to your hotel or walk up the main street (as we did). 

Waterfall at Kanchanaburi Thailand

Recommended Tour

If your Thailand itinerary doens’t allow for a stay in Kanchanaburi, you can take a private day trip to Erawan Falls from Bangkok.

How to Get to Kanchanaburi from Bangkok

Kanchanaburi is roughly 75 miles (125 km) west of Bangkok. Being so close, it’s pretty easy to get there. You have four main choices for transportation from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi:

Train from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi

This option will appeal to history buffs as the Bangkok to Kanchanaburi train crosses the Death Bridge. All trains are 3rd class (i.e.: wooden seats and no air conditioning) and depart from the Bangkok Noi train station. Tickets should be purchased at the train station. The journey takes approximately 2 hours.

Private Transfer to Kanchanaburi from Bangkok

As you’d expect, a private transfer from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi will be your most expensive option, but given it’s in Thailand, it’s still not that expensive for a 2 hour ride. Parents traveling with kids will find this the most convenient option and the only one that offers child seats for small kids. Click here to book your private transfer to Kanchanaburi.

Day Trip from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi

If you don’t wish to stay in Kanchanaburi, a day trip from Bangkok is a great option. It’s a 2 hour drive each way, so if you are traveling to Thailand with kids, just keep an eye on the overall length of hte tour as they can get quite long for kids.

Elephants playing in mud at elephant sanctuary Thailand

Recommended Tour

This fun day trip to Kanchanaburi includes a visit to an elephant sanctuary on your way to Kanchanaburi.

How we got from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi

Kanchanaburi was the first stop outside of Bangkok on our family trip to Thailand. To make things super easy, we booked a private transfer from our Bangkok Airport hotel to Kanchanaburi. We booked our private transfer to Kanchanaburi with 12Go as it was really easy to compare our options and find one that offered child seats.

We didn’t spend any time in Bangkok on this trip, but here’s a great list of things to do in Bangkok with kids.

Where to Stay in Kanchanaburi

We stayed at the Good Times Resort in Kanchanaburi. We loved so much that to this day it’s still one of our favorite hotels we’ve stayed at with our family anywhere.

The Good Times Resort is located right on the River Kwai and features beautifully manicured gardens surrounding large fish ponds and a swimming pool. Our family was comfortable in our large lagoon-view room with 3 beds, and we enjoyed their excellent buffet breakfast every morning.

The hotel restaurant is right on the river and also serves lunch and dinner. The food was very good and the prices were reasonable given it’s a hotel restaurant.

Where to stay in Kanchanaburi Thailand

Hotel Recommendation

The Good Times Resort

We loved our stay at the Good Times Resort on the River Kwai in Kanchanaburi, Thailand.

If you prefer not to to stay in a hotel, there are lots of vacation home rentals in Kanchanaburi to choose from.

Where to Eat in Kanchanaburi

There are restaurants all along the main street in Kanchanaburi, with the deepest concentration just east of our hotel. In addition to the Pad Thai we ordered several times from a street vendor, we also enjoyed the following restaurants:

  • Ave Thai Food & Goodbeer: We enjoyed our Thai food here so much, we ate here twice. The staff were very friendly to our kids and brought them paper and crayons to play with while we waited.
  • Good Times Restaurant: This was the river-side restaurant in our hotel. As mentioned before, it had very good Thai food at reasonable prices.
  • Bell’s Pizzeria: When you travel to Thailand with a picky-eater (like our 3 year old), on occasion we take them to a non-Thai restaurant, with a beloved familiar food to make sure they are getting enough to eat.

And that’s it! We hope you enjoyed reading about our three days in Kanchanaburi with kids and found some inspiration for your own family trip to Thailand. If you’d like to keep following along, our next stop was three days in Ayutthaya with kids.

Best things to do in Kanchanaburi Thailand with Kids. Don't miss the opportunity to hike, bike and kayak in Kanchanaburi and Erawan National Park. #thailand #kanchanaburi #erawannationalpark #erawanwaterfalls #thailandwithkids #thingstodo
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Celine Brewer is a dedicated family travel blogger with a profound passion for helping families create unforgettable adventures together. Her blog blends captivating travel narratives with practical tips for family-friendly destinations and enjoying active travel with kids. As a mother of two, she understands the unique challenges of traveling with children and offers valuable insights to empower parents.

When Celine isn't traveling with her husband and two kids, she's either working on one of her three travel sites (Family Can Travel, Baby Can Travel and Travel Banff Canada) or out enjoying the majestic Canadian Rockies her family calls home.