Kanchanaburi is a happening little town, on weekends. At other times, it’s all quite subdued and can be a little dull. There are several options of a night, though, and the popular road going down to the bridge (Mae Nam Khwae, or the River Kwai Road) has the most action. Consequently, this is also where the guesthouses are.
Kanchanaburi nightlife options go from chilled, open-air cafés on the road and overlooking the river to guesthouse, bars, beer bars (with prostitutes), British style pubs, local karaoke and even floating discos. The nightlife mainly caters to backpackers (although the floating discos are down to the Thais), while closer to town are bars catering to all.
The best bet for finding some fun at night in Kanchanaburi is to stroll River Kwai Road, where the riverside guesthouses are. See which one takes your fancy as one night somewhere will be pumping and then the next, dead. Heading towards the bridge, the bars are on your right and the guesthouses on the left. You are also welcome to enter those guesthouses that have bars and restaurants; which is most of them.
Most Kanchanaburi bars are simple, laidback and open to the street and usually come with a pool table and TV. Some offer food, while the ones associated with guesthouses tend to be smarter. The southern end of River Kwai Road has the bulk of the girlie bars, where you can pick up a prostitute for 1,000 baht for the night. Some places even have short-time rooms.
Kanchanaburi bars and guesthouses in this area cater mainly to backpackers, though more and more places are going upmarket, so couples and families will also fit in. In any case, this is the best place to be based as the town itself is nondescript and featureless, yet the other main set of bars on the highway is still easy to access.
The other set of Kanchanaburi bars worthy of a look are out on the highway (just beyond the war cemetery) and opposite the River Kwai Hotel. There are also beer bars along here, as well as Thai karaoke joints and the odd expat bar – Four 9’s Bar (Red Kangaroo) is located here and is pretty popular.
Regards the floating discos, if you’re staying at one of the guesthouses on the river over the weekend, they’ll be the bane of your stay. They are lots of fun if you join in though, being loud and having dance floors – visitors are quite welcome. The disco boats moor up near City Gate, where you climb aboard and pay a cover charge. They then go up to the bridge and back a number of times.
Bars in Kanchanaburi
Birdland Books: Fun, non-girlie bar in the business end of River Kwai Road. It’s run by Big Jimmy, a US expat, and is also a bookstore by day and night. Along with used books is cheap beer & wine. Soi Sri Suwankhiri, tel: (086) 801 6738.
My Corner: Quieter bar located off the main drag of River Kwai Road, this place has live music and excellent food. They also do great shakes and have wireless internet. Soi Pakistan, Near Sugar Cane 1 Guesthouse.
I-Baa Bar: Another popular River Kwai Road bar which has a Thai owner and a great atmosphere. Comes with a pool table, great music, well priced beer, and tasty food. 32 River Kwai Road, Baan Nua.
There are also many beer bars along River Kwai Road including: Better Boob Bar (Donrak Rd., Facebook), Easy Bar Kanchanaburi: (79/1 Maenamkwai Rd.), Sugar Member Bar (12/1 Maenamkwai Rd., Facebook) and FireFly (260/4 Maenamkwai Rd., Facebook).
For the beer bars near town, head towards the River Kwai Hotel as there are several opposite here. The hotel itself also has a couple of bars as well as a large disco known as Glitzy. There is also a soapy massage parlour onsite.