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Weekend Excursion: Kanchanaburi Province

If you have some personal discipline, Bangkok is one of the world’s greatest cities to combine work and play. However, for those of you that have spent a considerable amount of time in Bangkok, you realize that the city (like any big city) can wear you down. To keep life in balance, KohSpot prescribes to the belief that weekend excursions outside of Bangkok is one of the healthiest activities in efforts to maintain an equilibrium of sanity.

So this is the start of a travel series for weekend travel spots reachable from Bangkok by automobile or train. First stop, Kanchanaburi Province.

First order of business: throw that Lonely Planet away and get passed the endless throngs of people jockin’ the city of Kanchanaburi and head to the northern part of the province to Thong Pha Phum National Park. Its a voyage to get there, but that’s part of the experience. Plus, you only have a couple days, so there is no time for another city.

You’ll need to leave work early on Friday to get in at a reasonable hour or go with KohSpot’s method of partying until 3am on Friday and then having a designated driver (selected as a result of losing ‘Rock, Paper Scissors’) get you there by sunrise, Saturday morning.

If you go by the former, enjoy the ride and eat at an absolute gem about 100 kilometers past Muang Kanchanaburi and just a few kilometers past the Hellfire Pass Memorial, which is by far the best of the endless recreations and museums of the Thai-Burma death railway Call of Duty stage. The restaurant is called Off Road Kitchen and has some of the best nam prik ever consumed in Thailand, as well as bottles of Weihenstephan for 130 baht.

(If you go by the latter, stop by 7-11 for a hot-dog and a red bull around 430am)

You’ve made it.

Around the town of Thong Pha Phum, which is on the main highway 323, there are several pleasant guesthouses if you don’t want to go all the way to the national park, which is near the border with Burma, as well as the fantastic Hin Dat hot springs. Though the hot springs has now become a mandatory stop for all Russian tour groups, meaning it’s prone to be overrun from 10 am to 2 pm, this is one of KohSpot’s favorites because the baths are right next to a creek, so you can alternate between steamer and cool down until your circulatory system shuts down.

The park is magnificent wilderness. It features several hornbills, among other wildlife, and jaw-dropping sunsets that looks like god stretching in a late night yawn. Another feature of this national park is its four “Tarzan” treehouses where people can stay for either 600 or 800 baht. Depending on what time of year you visit, it can get quite cold while sleeping, but you can’t beat the spectacular view or the chance to sleep safely in a tree.

One of the better treks offered by national parks is the five-hour option to Khao Chang Puek, or White Elephant Hill. It’s an overnight stay and you have to bargain with the guide, but the view is featured on postcards all over the province.

You’ve transported, you’ve grubbed, you’ve seen some amazing flora and fauna, slept in a tree and trekked – its time to get back to Bangkok, soul renewed, recharged and ready to take on the city grind.

Kanchanaburi Weekend Excursion
Directions: Head to Muang Kanchanaburi either by bus, train or car, then continue on Highway 323 (bus #8203) until you reach Highway 3272, the turnoff for the national park. Though it’s only 30 kilometers (yellow public pick-up 8280) from here, this is slow, mountainous driving.
Phone: 034-532-114 for the national park
Website: www.dnp.go.th/parkreserve/asp/style1/default.asp?npid=104&lg=2

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