How to get to Kanchanaburi (from Bangkok)

As we had a really hard time figuring out how to get from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi when we were planning our big Asia trip of 2016, I figured it might make sense to share this info with me. This is a bit of a boring posts, and apologies for that in advance, but the info is definitely useful! If you’ve recently been to Kanchanaburi and any of the information below has changed, please let me know in the comments and I’ll update this.

There are four ways to get to Kanchanaburi:

Private car:

Ask your hotel for recommendations. This is the most expensive, but undoubtedly most comfortable option to get to Kanchanaburi. That being said, it’s not difficult to get there with public transport options, so unless you’re in a group of 3-4 people, you may want to save your budget for other experiences.

Minibus:

There are minibuses from Khao San Road, Victory Monument and both the Northern and Southern bus stations. They’re a fast way to get to Kanchanaburi, not least because they tend to have the most speedy (read: reckless) drivers. Prices are around 120 baht per person, and you may be charged for an extra seat if you bring a large backpack or suitcase.

Bus:

These are large buses that seat 20-40 people. There are 1st and 2nd class buses, both of which have, or once upon a time had, air conditioning. If you’re coming from Suvarnabhumi airport, the Southern bus station (Sai Tai Taling Chan Bus Terminal) will be the easiest to get to. If you’re coming from Dong Muang airport, it’ll be easier to get to the Northern bus station (Mo Chit 2).

For the bus from the Southern bus station: After much research on how to get there, I decided to try Bangkok’s Uber service. If coming from the airport, take the Sky train to Phaya Thai (it’s the last station on the line, you can’t miss it) and request an Uber to pick you up there. Be aware that you may have to wait a bit for your driver to get there due to the crazy Bangkok traffic, but once you’re in the car, it’s a smooth and comfortable ride to the bus station.

Once at the bus station, go inside the terminal to buy your ticket from one of the many ticket counters on the upper floor. There will be signs for them everywhere. Buses seemed to leave every 20 minutes (as of January 2016). You’ll want line 81 to Kanchanaburi, and our 1st class tickets were priced at 110 baht each. You should also be able to buy tickets directly at the platform where the bus is (platform #10). It’ll take 2 to 2,5 hours to get to Kanchanaburi. On our journey, our rather empty bus stopped halfway into the journey and everyone had to transfer to another full bus with standing room only. It wasn’t a big deal, but be aware this may happen if for some reason you absolutely need a seat.

Bus to Kanchanaburi

Our spacious seats on the bus to Kanchanaburi, before they made us switch over to a standing room only bus.

For the bus from the Northern bus station: Get the BTS to Mo Chit. Here’s where it gets just a little complicated: The BTS station Mo Chit and the bus terminal Mo Chit are not in the same location, they’re about 2km apart. The locals have therefore named them Mo Chit 1 (BTS station) and Mo Chit 2 (bus terminal). Easiest way to get from one to the other with luggage are the public buses 136 or 138 which stop right outside the Mo Chit 1 BTS station. Make sure you’re going in the right direction, as these buses go towards the center as well. Ask someone on the bus before you get on.

Once at the bus terminal, you can buy tickets inside the bus terminal and have them point you towards the platform the bus will be leaving from. You’re looking for bus number 9918, and the price should be 122 baht. Journey time is 3-4 hours.

Note: There are less buses from the Northern station than there are from the Southern station. While we were told there would be a bus every hour, on our return journey from Kanchanaburi we found there were only two buses per day in that direction, so it’s best to inquire for up to date info.

Train:

I’m generally a big fan of trains (we traveled all over Vietnam on the Reunification Express, for example), but this time we decided against the train due to timings and the complexity of getting to Thonburi station.

There are a few trains per day from Bangkok’s Thonburi station to Kanchanaburi. They are 3rd class basic trains and can’t be booked in advance. You should know the bridge over the river Kwai is west of Kanchanaburi, so taking the train from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi will not actually take you over the bridge. For that, you’d have to go a station further, and then return to Kanchanaburi from there. For more detail, check out my favourite train info website Seat 61.