Fine dining in Kanchanaburi is generally limited to the restaurants in the resorts, and those who are visiting the area by tour will find themselves confined to a plush hotel remotely situated away from the town centre. But these establishments generally have the best restaurants in Kanchanaburi.
Those staying in more budget accommodation on the riverside near the Allied Cemetery will find a whole street of modest bars and restaurants along River Kwai Road, where many of the guesthouses are situated. Being Thailand, the area even has a small collection of girlie bars, but they’re easy to ignore. This road is a 10-minute walk north of the town proper where tourist friendly establishments are limited.
One popular activity in Kanchanaburi is to dine on the floating restaurants, either moored or cruising the river, and there are lots to choose from at the pier opposite the city gate. Many also double as discos by night and are popular with Bangkok Thais over weekends. On the whole, Kanchanaburi nightlife is rather low-key.
Here is a collection of places we suggest, but there are many more if you wander around. As with anywhere in Thailand, stick to places which are well frequented by local people and avoid those with huge menus of badly-spelt Western dishes.
Recommended Kanchanaburi restaurants
The biggest collection is found along the stretch of River Kwai Road, including some nice riverside Kanchanaburi restaurants at guesthouses which are open to the public.
Jolly Frog Backpackers: a large, popular pad with a busy restaurant that seems to attract lots of local Thais too. Large menu, average food, sloppy service but fairly good value considering the area. 28 Soi Jean, River Kwai Road, tel: (034) 514 579.
JR Queen (floating restaurant): similar to the Chukradon but less crowded. Offers good Thai food but, as usual, the music is a tad too loud. Expect to drink whisky by the bottle and eat copious amounts of spicy grub in a group, with service that is often below Western expectations. Leaves from the pier near the City Gate, tel: (034) 511 221, mobile: 081 815 230.
Apple’s Retreat Kanchanaburi: offers a good value Thai and Western menu that is a cut above the usual backpacker standards with professional service. 153/4 Moo 4, Sutjai Bridge, Thamakham (southern end of River Kwai Road), tel: (034) 512 017.
Punee Café: is popular because it offers plenty of helpful tourist info and services plus has a book exchange. The food isn’t bad and it’s central for backpackers. Baan Nuea Street, tel: (034) 513 503. $
Schluck Restaurant: is a German-themed affair with nice décor and authentic Western dishes including steaks. It’s right in the middle of the backpacker street. 20/1 River Kwai Road, tel: (034) 624 599. $$
Chukradon (floating restaurant): hugely popular on weekends with visiting Thais, which means its authentic food has a good reputation. It might be a bit crowded and noisy, but an interesting evening out with the locals. Leaves from the pier near the City Gate. $$
Sutjai: has the advantage of a riverside location that few other Kanchanaburi restaurants boast of. It’s tricky to find down a lane of the backpacker strip, but the food is decent. 151 Beside Sujai Bridge, Thamakham, River Kwai Road, tel: (034) 513 779, mobile: 089 837 2008. $$
Tai-Thai: is an entertainment Kanchanaburi restaurant with a bar and big screen TVs withserving Thai and vegetarian dishes. The atmosphere here is likely to be better than the rest. 48 River Kwai Road tel: (034) 624 338. $$
Fine Thanks: is part of a group of drinking Kanchanaburi restaurants found in several cities and noted for their sexy but useless waitresses and trendy local crowd. Thai food and whiskey by the bottle. Songkwai Road (near City Gate), tel:(034) 621 152.
Good View: enjoys a lovely riverside location out of town besides the Chung Kai Cemetery and it has a nice atmosphere, good food and decent service. Popular with Thais, don’t expect Western dishes. 199/1 Moo 3, Khoa Pun Village, tel: 089 516 7614.