Our planned Anzac Day Tour for 2016 will feature the Dawn Service at Hellfire Pass. This is followed by the traditional gunfire breakfast of coffee/tea and Anzac biscuits on the grounds outside the memorial. We then head of to the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery for the Wreath Laying Service.
This tour is a once-a-year event. To maintain the intimate atmosphere of the service, this tour is limited to one small group.
This tour is not about Anzac day. The purpose of the tour is not to learn about the horrid events of the First World War and the landing at Gallipoli on April 26 1915. It is to learn about what happened in Thailand in the Second World War. You will get a glimpse, and a better understanding, of the horrid cruelty served out by the Japanese Imperial Amy, to the thousands of Prisoners of War and civilian labourers, that lost their lives working on the Thai-Burma Railway (commonly referred to as The Death Railway).
Anzac Day Tour 2016 – What to expect
Following are a few dot points of what to expect on this tour.
Each year a Dawn Service is conducted at the memorial in Hellfire Pass. The gates to the grounds open at 2:00 AM and it is wise to arrive early. To minimise early morning travel time, you will be booked into a motel within a few minutes’ drive of the entry to the Hellfire Pass Memorial Museum. You will still need to set the alarm early enough to dress and shower to be in the car by 2:00 am. This is to make sure we can arrive in time to be at the bottom of Hellfire Pass before the crowds arrive.
The Dawn Service is followed by a traditional Gunfire breakfast. This consists of a cup of tea or coffee and the famous ANZAC biscuits.
After the breakfast, we make our way to the Wreath Laying Ceremony at Kanchanaburi War Cemetery. This is approximately a one hour drive through the picturesque mountains of Kanchanaburi.
Although we visit Kanchanaburi War Cemetery for the wreath laying ceremony, and Hellfire Pass for the Dawn Service, we recommend that you have a more private visit the three main attractions of the Pass, the Bridge and the Cemetery either on the 25th or on the 27th when it is a little less crowded.
There are two war cemeteries in Kanchanaburi and we visit both, if the group chooses to do so.
We include a visit to the Thailand-Burma Railway Centre. This attraction is an interactive museum, information and research facility dedicated to presenting the history of the Thailand-Burma Railway. It gives a lot of background history to the Death Railway story.
The visit to the Hell-Fire Pass war memorial includes a walk along the old railway route through Hellfire Pass and Hammer-and-Tap Cutting. This can be done after the dawn service, but we recommend doing it the previous or next day to avoid the crowds. Early morning is best as it can get extremely hot at that time of year. It is not uncommon for the maximum daily temperature to reach over 40 degrees Celsius.
We include a walk along the railway line over the Wang Pho Viaduct (sometimes called the Wampo Viaduct). This is a double span trestle bridge and is one of the few remaining examples of the wooden bridges built by the POW. The section of track is between the Thamkrasae and Thamkrasae Bridge stations. While walking this stretch of the line we add a visit to the Krasae Cave. We often do this walk in the tropical midday sun. Although some may find this a little tough, you get a tiny glimpse of the conditions that the POW worked in.
For those that are not in a rush, we recommend taking the scenic ride on the train between River Kwai Station and the end of the existing line at Nam Tok station. Nam Tok is a few km short of the famous Hellfire Pass.
Another highly recommended experience is a long-boat ride up and down the Khwae Noi River. This includes a visit to the Saiyok National Park with the striking Saiyok Yai and Saiyok Noi waterfalls.
Anzac Day Tour 2016 – Additional options
As with all our tours, we custom arrange our Anzac Day tour to suit the needs of the group. The above list is an outline of what we consider is the “must visit” places. As Kanchanaburi is home to seven of the National Parks of Thailand, there are many other things that you may wish to visit while you are in the area.
The more adventurous and fitter tour members may wish to take a kayak trip down the Khwae Noi River. This is available in optional 8 km, 13 km and 23 km lengths. The return voyage of this adventure can include a drive through the Thai jungle in a 4×4.
For those interested in the history of Thailand you may wish to visit the Nine Armies monument and other Thailand war history sites including the little known Thai Vietnam Veterans Museum. If you have some extra time, you may even consider a trip further north to Lom Sak to visit the Phu Hin Rong Kla National Park, which was the site of a Communist uprising in the 1960’s.
We look forward to escorting you to the Dawn Service on Anzac Day 2016, plus accompanying you to any other surrounding attractions in Kanchanaburi. We can even throw in a feeding session, with some monkeys in the wild. This mini event has been enjoyed by every tour member to date, both young and old. (That’s 5 to 91 inclusive).