Sangkhlaburi is a district in the Western part of Kanchanaburi province, bordering Burma. Its main town also named Sangkhlaburi is situated at the edge of Vajiralongkorn Lake. The small, rural town was built fairly recently when the old village was submerged after the completion of the Vajiralongkorn dam. A remote place of forests, waterfalls, small villages and farmland, Sangkhlaburi takes some effort to get to. A long journey across a scenic route leads to the town, which is a mix of Thai, Burmese, Karen and Mon people.
To do & see in Sangkhlaburi
Sangkhlaburi district houses a number of natural, cultural and historical sites that are worth a visit.
Mon bridge and Mon village
The Mon bridge or “Saphan Mon” is Thailand’s longest wooden bridge and the second longest in the world measuring over 400 meters long. The handmade footbridge constructed in the 1980’s spans the Song Kalia river to the Mon village Wang Kha. The village’s main attractions are Wat Wang Wiwekaram temple and the market, where visitors can sample Mon food and buy handmade Mon products. Late July 2013 part of the bridge collapsed after heavy rainfall. The pressure caused by a buildup of weeds brought there by strong currents made of section of the bridge come down. The bridge has been restored since then.
In the 1980’s Thai authorities build a dam to create a large reservoir of water, now called Vajiralongkorn lake. Fed by several rivers, the waters of the lake submerged the old village in the valley. Today the only thing still visible of the old village is Wat Samprasob temple, located on a hill. During most of the year merely the upper section of the ordination hall and the top of the bell tower can be seen. Towards the end of the dry season when the water level is lower a small island forms, and visitors can walk around the ruins of the temple. Local people offer boat trips across the lake. A one hour trip costs about 250 to 300 Thai Baht.
Wat Wang Wiwekaram and Puttakaya chedi
The Wat Wang Wiwekaram or Wat Mon is an attractive temple build by a Mon monk from Burma. The temple just outside Wang Kha village comprises of several buildings in a mix of Thai and Burmese styles, as well as a large golden Indian style chedi. At the entrance of the temple complex are two giant Chinthe, mythological lions often seen guarding Burmese temples. A few hundred meters from the temple on the edge of the lake is a large golden chedi. Constructed about 3 decades ago, the Puttakaya chedi was modelled after the chedi of the Mahabodhi temple in the Indian town Bodhgaya, the place where the Buddha reached enlightenment some 2,500 years ago.
Three pagodas pass
The three pagodas pass is located on the border between Thailand and Burma, a little over 20 kilometers from Sangkhlaburi town. The pass is named after three small whitewashed chedis that were built to commemorate battles fought between Burmese and Siamese armies during the Ayutthaya era. The pagodas are depicted on Kanchanaburi’s provincial seal. Next to the chedis is a market with a number of souvenir shops. Much of the attraction lies in the beautiful hilly environment and the border activity, where visitors can observe men in sarongs and Burmese women their faces covered with chalk crossing the border. Across the border is the Burmese village Payathonzu. The border opens from 8 am until 8 pm. Depending on the political situation, the border is open or closed to foreign visitors.
Getting to Sangkhlaburi
There is no airport in Sangkhlaburi.
There is no train to Sangkhlaburi. The nearest train station is Nam Tok, which is at the end of the Western line of the State Railway of Thailand, about 150 kilometers from Sangkhlaburi.
Sangkhlaburi can be reached directly from Bangkok by bus. Ordinary and air conditioned busses depart from Bangkok’s Northern bus terminal Mo Chit II on Kamphaeng Phet 2 road. The trip via Kanchanaburi town takes about 6 to 7 hours. One way fares vary between 200 and 300 Thai Baht for second and first class. Air conditioned busses and vans from Kanchanaburi town take about 4 to 5 hours. Fares are between 100 and 200 Baht one way.