Today the provincial town of Kanchanaburi is busy and modern, but the WWII memorials and museums are a reminder of darker times. Japanese forces used Allied prisoners of war (POWs) and conscripted Asian labourers to build a rail route to Myanmar. The harrowing story became famous after a fictional tale, based loosely on the real events, was told in Pierre Boulle’s book The Bridge Over the River Kwai and the 1957 movie based on the book. Roads east of the bridge are named after countries involved in the conflict.
Because so many of the parks and historic sites in the surrounding countryside are easily accessible, Kanchanaburi is an ideal base for exploring some of Thailand's wild west.