The Bridge on the River Kwai was made famous by a 1957 war movie of the same name.
Although the movie was roughly based on true life events, it should not be taken as 100% historically accurate. However if you have the chance, I would recommend that you watch the movie before visiting the bridge.
For a detailed discussion on the movie, this Wikipedia Article makes good reading.
There were two bridges constructed, one wooden and one of concrete and steel.
During the Japanese occupation of Thailand in World War II, the Japanese Imperial Army brought the iron bridge from Java. It was then reassembled by Prisoners of War (POW) under Japanese supervision.
The concrete and steel bridge is still in use today and is pictured below. The arched sections of the bridge are part of the original, while the straighter sections were rebuilt after the war.
The Bridge on The River Kwai, is probably the most famous landmark on the railway that is commonly referred to as “Death Railway” or the “Thai Burma Railway”. During the construction of the railway approximately 13,000 prisoners of war died and were buried along the railway. An estimated 80,000 to 100,000 civilians also died in the course of the project.
When you visit The Bridge on The River Kwai, I recommend that you spend a little more time in the area and also visit Hellfire Pass and the Wampo Viaduct. The section of the line referred to as the Wampo Viaduct which runs between the Tham Krasae and the Tham Krasae Bridge stations is probably the most authentic of what remains of the original line. It is mostly as constructed by the POW although it has been substantially strengthened for safety reasons. You can walk the line between these two stations and also visit the Krasae Cave along the way. If time permits, also take the train from Kanchanaburi to the end of the remaining line near Sai Yok Noi Waterfall.
A visit to the Bridge on the River Kwai is included in our ANZAC and War History tour of Katchanaburi.
Bridge on the River Kwai Image Gallery
Below are a few photos from our visits to The Bridge on the River Kwai. Click on any image to open a cascading light-box and to see a description of the image.