History…there are victories, there are loses, there is heartbreak and then there are places like Hellfire Pass Kanchanaburi Thailand that defy all logic, all human comprehension and yet they happened.
Hellfire Pass was one place in Thailand I wanted to see. I wanted to see it with my own eyes, to try to understand the logic behind such a place, to try to understand the stories I had been told growing up.
I would wonder how men survived in conditions my Dad would tell me about and be amazed at their courage. It wasn’t until we got there ourselves that we realised how tough, determined and miraculous these men were.
As I said it was a tour we wanted to do to try and understand what these men went through but also the toll it had on the Thai people as well. I had no idea what to expect when we got there but as an important Australian War Site I knew there would be some sort of place of remembrance.
Where is Hellfire pass?
Hellfire Pass is located just outside the small town of Kanchanaburi in Thailand. You can visit Hellfire Pass after you go through the museum and visitor centre located just above the cutting.
What is Hellfire Pass Kanchanaburi Thailand?
Hellfire Pass or Konyu Cutting as it was known by the Japanese was as section of the Thai-Burma Railway aslo known as the Death Railway. It is a pass through solid rock that was dug mainly with hand tools by Allied prisoners of war in the Second World War.
How do I get to Hellfire Pass?
As this was a place we wanted to go and a pace we wanted to understand we decided to do a guided tour of Hellfire Pass and some sections of the Death Railway with a tour company. We went on our Hellfire Pass tour with Chain from Take me tour Thailand.
We were picked up at our hotel in Bangkok at 5.30 am and we were driven to Kanchanaburi by Chain.
How do you get from Kanchanburi to Hellfire Pass?
Chain drove us to a meeting point and from Kanachanburi we took a tuk-tuk out to there. Originally we were going to catch the train back to Kanchanaburi but as we had spent much longer at the museum than we thought we would we actually missed that train and had to catch the tuk-tuk back to Kanchanaburi.
On our way back we were able to see two other sections of the Death Railway and take out time there walking along it.
Chain was absolutely invaluable in these areas. He was able to help me answer all the kids questions and mine as well. He was also able to occupy the kids while I was looking at something or talking to some one about the railway.
The Hell Fire Pass Museum
This small Hellfire Pass and Death Railway museum was built and run by the Australian Government together with the Thai Government to protect the area for future generations. The museum is where you can enter the walkway that will take you down to see Hellfire Pass.
The museum may be small but there is so much information in there about the building of the Death Railway, not only Hellfire Pass. Most heartbreaking is there are so many personal accounts from survivors of the Death Railway.
How much is entry to the Hellfire Pass Museum?
I think in such a respectful way entry to the museum is FREE.
What is in the Thai-Burma Railway (Death Railway) Museum?
The museum is full of personal accounts from survivors of the Death Railway. It has a theatre in it where you can watch survivors talk of their experiences and see pictures of some of the construction going on.
You can buy some postcards, t-shirts and cold drinks from a small shop downstairs, as well as store your bag in lockers if you need to.
How much time do I need at the Museum?
Even though the museum is small we spent nearly an hour walking around it and re-looking at the exhibits. we then found ourselves going back to a display with each other to discuss it.
The walk to Hell Fire Pass
The walk to Hellfire pass is not for anyone that has any type of walking issues. You take around 160 steps down the rocky walkway to the carved pass. The steps are well built and spaced well but if you have issues you must take your time.
What do I need with me on the walk?
You will need:
Water. There are bottles for sale at the exit for 10 Baht per bottle and a re-filling station just out of the door for when you get back
- A good hat
- Sturdy walking shoes
- Insect repellent
If you plan on walking just to Hell Fire pass it will take about 10-15 minutes. You can store your bags in free lockers at the main museum building you just have to ask at the desk.
There are nearly 100 steps down to the path that takes you out to the pass. The path is rocky and uneven so if you have any issues with walking this may be an issue for you.
A great audio guide is available again for no cost for you to take with you. There are numbered tags along the path that will explain what happened in that area as you go down.
To hire the audio guide you do need a licence or a passport that will be given back to you on safe return of the audio guide.
Some added tips for visiting Hellfire Pass:
- There are some times in the year that are significant to the site and to the War Memorial (Remembrance Day 11th November and ANZAC Day 25th April) You may have issues with visiting Hell Fire pass Kanchanaburi Thailand on these days
- Take your time and allow for an easy walk especially in the hotter months
Should we have taken our kids to Hellfire Pass?
This is something we have been asked a few times since we visited Hellfire Pass with kids. For us it was not an issue. We had talked to the girls before we left and we did some research on what had gone on there but as many know the stories can be different from the internet to places like a museum.
We decided that if they did not feel comfortable we would identify a place on the way in and they would go there and we would meet them. While we were at the Hellfire Pass museum neither of the girls felt the need to go out and they both did a full tour of the museum.
I asked them afterwards how they felt and they said they felt sad but they did not feel that there was the information in there that was too much for them to handle.
There were some graphic images and some information that may upset some younger children though. Our daughters were 13 and 10 when they visited Hellfire Pass.
Hellfire Pass Kanchanaburi Thailand is a place I will never forget. I will never forget the look on my children’s faces as they saw the mountain of rock that was in front of us. Their silence as we walked down where the tracks would have been. It is a place that is something I can still not comprehend and I don’t think I ever will but to see what those men did was something that will stay with me forever.
How to get to Bangkok
Bangkok has 2 airports, Suvarnabhumi Airport and Don Mueang International Airport. You will find Don Mueang Airport is home to budget carriers such as AirAsia, Nok and Thai Lion Air. Suvarnabhumi Airport handles mainly full-service international flights in the Thailand capital.
Looking for cheap flights around Thailand and South East Asia check out Nok Air
Bangkok is served by bus and train connections from all over the country on a daily basis. You can get a train or bus north to Chiang Mai and a bus, train combination south to Krabi.
Morchit Bus Station in the north of Bangkok handles many of the arrivals and departures having way over 150 bays on site. For all your bus and train booking we recommend and use 12go Asia.
Both airports have rental cars waiting to hire and pick up onsite after your landing. Driving around Bangkok can be very time consuming with large amounts of traffic congestion every day. For all your hire car needs check here to compare prices
Where to stay in Bangkok
Bangkok is a megacity with over 10 million people. Bangkok received over 20 million visitors in 2017. This means a lot of tourist accommodation is needed and available. You will find everything from backpacker hostels through to 5 start luxury waiting for you
How to get to your hotel from the airport in Bangkok?
Both airports have official taxi ranks. They charge you 50baht to make sure you get a taxi with a meter. If they don’t put on the meter get out as they are known to rip off tourists. Taxi prices in Bangkok are very reasonable.
How do I get around Bangkok?
You can use the MRT or the BTS both Bangkok transport systems. If there is 4 of you travelling you may find it cheaper to use a GRAB or a taxi. It will be cheaper but not quicker
We hope this article helps you with getting to this amazing historical attraction for you and your teenager when visiting the Thai capital. A visit to Hell Fire Pass needs to be part of any planned stay in Bangkok.
Hell Fire Pass at Kanchanaburi with teenagers is a brilliant learning attraction. Your teenager visiting Kanchanaburi will be educated by this historical place. Don’t forget to check out our other travel with Teenagers destination guides
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Do I need a visa to enter Thailand?
Yes, you do. If you are only staying in Thailand for under 30 days you will get a visa on arrival at the airport. If you want to stay 30-60 days you will need to apply for a visa in your home country at the Thai embassy or you will need to do a visa run. A Visa run is where you leave Thailand by land or plane and then re-enter thus renewing your visa for an extra 30 days.
Money in Thailand
The official National Currency in Thailand is the Thai Baht. The abbreviation used for the Thai Baht is the TBH and the symbol for the Baht is ฿. The Thai Baht comes in ฿20, ฿50, ฿100, ฿500, ฿1000 banknotes as well as ฿1, ฿2, ฿5, ฿10 coins There is also a ฿60, ฿70, ฿80, ฿500,000 and 25, 50 satang coins but they are rarely used. You will find it easy to withdraw Thai Baht from ATM’s and there are plenty of options within stores to pay with your card.
We recommend you join Transferwise multi-currency card for all your travelling money needs. Transferwise is up to 8 times cheaper than banks when it comes to transferring money from one currency to another. Transferwise supports up to 59 different currencies worldwide. You can track your spending on the Transferwise app and withdrawal funds around the world with your Transferwise ATM card. Sign up for Transferwise today
Currency Exchange and ATM’s in Bangkok Thailand
We had no problem withdrawing money from ATM’s. One thing about Asia is there is an ATM on every corner just about. Try and withdrawal multiple days worth of money at a time. It was costing us $5 (Australian) in withdrawal
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More about the Author
Bec Wyld is a mother, wife and once reluctant traveller. Bec has been to over 30 countries across the globe. I have planned and stressed in all of these places. Becs writing can be found on Wyld Family Travel and as a guest poster and contributor on many other travel websites including Lonely Planet Kids