Thailand – River and Jungle Tour

Travel the Thailand River and Jungle tour and you’ll uncover a country of contrasts. Thailand is the sort of place you visit once and long for forever. Surround yourself with stunning scenery, fascinating history, mouth-watering food, forests, mountains, cities, villages, and – most importantly – the amazing people who will help you appreciate it.

At a GlanceThailand river and junlge tour view of the sign at the bridge on the river kwai
Day 1 Depart Bangkok – River Kwai (L/D)
Day 2 River Kwai – Ayutthaya (B/L/D)
Day 3 Ayutthaya to the jungles of Khao Yai National Park (B/L/D)
Day 4 Monsoon forest and a final legend (B/L)

Bridge on the River Kwai

There is no river Kwai (buffalo) in Thailand, it’s the Mekong River. The Thai government renamed a small section of the Mekong “Kwai” for tourists after the movie caused people to go to Kanchanaburi looking for it.

In the 1880s, the idea of building a rail link between Burma and China, passing through Thailand, was under consideration by the British authorities. But without funds the idea was killed. The British realized it would be too costly in monetary value and too many lives would be lost due to the dangerous conditions. With the start of World War II, the idea was given new life as it was wanted as a tactical military supply line for the movement of troops and equipment to the Burma Front, and eventually for the attack on India.

Japanese Occupancy

Originally, the Japanese army’s intention was to use Asians to construct the railway, and most of the railway laborers did indeed come from Burma, Java, and Malaya, numbering 240,000 men. Then in 1942, as World War II was underway and the Japanese invaded Malaya, Singapore and Indonesia, the Japanese forces found themselves with a large number of prisoners of war; something they had not thought of.

What to do with these prisoners was a problematic subject for the Japanese military. It was decided that these men – experienced, regimented military personnel – were to be used to advance the Japanese war effort.

Prisoners of War

The Allied prisoners of war were forced to cut the pass for the new railway, and live in the terrible conditions that went with that. They even enticed their own fellow Japanese men to come and work on the rail pass with the promise of a good job – a dollar and a pound of rice. Between 1942 and 1943, more than 60,000 prisoners of war were transported to the railway project as well as thousands of unaccounted for Japanese men.

The men labored under extreme force from the Japanese engineers and Korean guards at the pinnacle of the wettest monsoon season seen in many years. The working conditions were hellish.

The work and living

The men needed to excavate the soil and rock to a depth of 20 meters with just the bare minimum of equipment. They were issued 8-pound hammers, steel tap drills, explosives, picks, and shovels. Some minor assistance was given by the use of jackhammers, and the vast majority of waste material had to be removed by hand using cane baskets and rice sacks hung between two poles.

Starvation provisions, overloading of work, dismal or absent accommodation and sanitation, and the individual viciousness of Japanese and Korean engineers and guards, took their expected toll. Disease (predominantly dysentery, malaria, beriberi and cholera), brutality (69 men were beaten to death by their guards) and 12 to 18 hour daily work shifts made for a high death rate. In fact, the work went on 24 hours a day with the aid of oil pot lamps and bamboo/wood fires that were kept burning all night long. When looking down on the wok area at night it looked like working in the “jaws of hell” – thus the workers gave it the name “Hellfire Pass”.

Lives lost

Over 13,000 prisoners of war died during the time between late 1942 and late 1945. The number of deaths of the volunteer laborers is harder to calculate. Around 100,000 seems to be the most dependable number.
During the infamous ‘speedo’ period, July to October 1943, the extreme anxiety of the Japanese engineers to finish construction on time, under relentless demands from their superiors in Tokyo, meant that numerous men were forced to continuously perform grinding manual labor – 62 hours work out of 72 hours appears to be the documented record.

An astonishing estimate of 400 men lost there lives in just three short months due to the cruel labor conditions and what appeared to be the first outbreak of cholera.

Originally, the Japanese estimated that it would take five to six years to finish the line; it did not. Building over the bodies of the dead while being forced to work at an inhumane speed, the line took only a mere 16 months to complete.

Khao Yai National Park

Khao Yai National Park was established in 1962 as Thailand’s first national park. It is the third largest national park in Thailand. Situated mainly in Nakhon Ratchasima Province. Khao Yai extends into Prachinburi, Saraburi and Nakhon Nayok provinces. Khao Yai is just 3 hours away from Bangkok.

The park covers an area of 2,168 square kilometres, including rain/evergreen forests and grasslands. 1,351 m high Khao Rom is the highest mountain within the park. The average altitude of the national park ranges from 400 to 1000 m above the sea level.

Khao Yai is part of Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complex, a World Heritage Site declared by UNESCO, covering 5 protected areas from Khao Yai to Cambodian border.


Some common mammals include elephants, bears, gaurs, barking deer, otters, gibbons and macaques. There has not been any sign of tiger activity in the park for a while, but camera traps have revealed a significant tiger population in the neighbouring Thap Lan and Pang Sida National Park.


The national park is home to around 300 resident and migratory birds. It has one of Thailand’s largest populations of hornbills. Some of the interesting birds that can be found in the park are barbets, scarlet minivets, broadbills, pittas, mountain scops-owls, great slaty woodpeckers, collared owlets, blue-winged leafbirds, Asian fairy bluebirds, trogons, drongos and magpies. Many ground dwelling birds such as silver pheasants, junglefowls, green-legged partridges and Siamese fireback are common on the roads and trails.
The best time to visit Khao Yai for birdwatching is during the dry months and during March and April when the big bird migration happens.


Khao Yai is also a good destination for watching reptiles. The best time is around March-April but still with good activity until October. During the cold seasons it takes a bit more effort to spot them. Reticulated python, Chinese ratsnake, Chinese water dragon, water monitor and crested lizards are only few of many species that can be found in the park.

Too see a more complete list of species in the park, visit the Wildlife at Khao Yai page.


Day 1

Depart Bangkok – River Kwai (L/D):
* At approx. 7:00am we depart Bangkok to Kanchanaburi province (128 km. to the West of Bangkok).
* Upon arrival in Kanchanaburi, we visit the Thailand–Burma Railway Centre an interactive museum, information and research facility dedicated to presenting the history of the Thailand–Burma Railway.
* The fully air-conditioned center offers the visitor an educational and moving experience.
* Visit Allied War Cemetery, resting-place for more than 6,000 Allied prisoners of war (POWs).
* Visit the world-famous Bridge over the River Kwai, take a historic ride on Death Railway Train passing over Original wooden viaduct constructed by Allied POWs.
* Lunch at local restaurant.
* After lunch, visit the Hellfire Pass Memorial Museum which is dedicated to those Australians and other Allied Prisoners of War and Asian labourers who suffered and died at Hellfire Pass and elsewhere in the Asia Pacific region during WW2.
* Trekking along the Hellfire Pass Walking Trails.
* Afterward, check-in at Hintok River Camp.
* Dinner and overnight at Hintok River Camp

Day 2

River Kwai – Ayutthaya (B/L/D):
* Early morning biking across a hanging bridge to the temple for offering food to monks.
Breakfast and check-out.
* At approx. 8:00am you depart from your hotel and transfer directly to the city of Ayutthaya.
* Upon arrival in Ayutthaya, you will explore, on a bike, this ancient capital of the once mighty Kingdom of Siam and breeze past majestic ruins of Khmer temples and pagodas.
* Visiting the Ayutthaya floating market, you dive into the bustle of this colourful bazaar and witness life in old Siam during a performance of traditional Thai theatre – Lakohn.
* Bicycling is the most fun way to explore the temple ruins of Ayutthaya.
* Leaving the city you venture further into the countryside for an exclusive visit to the Tai-Yuan
Culture Centre.
* This complex of classic stilted houses on the Pa-Sak River paints a candid picture of how Thai people lived until only a few decades ago.
* Take a stroll around the area with its old-world tools, ox carts and fishing boats, or simply relax on one of the many verandas and enjoy the laid-back atmosphere.
* The highlight of the visit is a lavish dinner of authentic Thai cuisine and a performance of traditional Thai folk dance.
* Enchanted by the oriental sounds of classical Salaw-Saw-Seung music, the graceful flowing movements of the dancers, and the rich flavours of the food you watch the sun set over the quiet river.
* After a day in Thailand’s past, you return to modernity and get to rest at a comfortable hotel.

Day 3

From the stuff of legends to the jungles of Khao Yai National Park (B/L/D):
* Day three of your Authentic Thailand tour is packed with more exciting activities introducing you to the world of Thai myths and legends, as well as the adventurous beauty of Khao Yai National Park.
* You start easy by visiting the local weaving centre where cheerful women dressed in sarongs practice this old handicraft amidst vivid textiles and the rhythmic back and forth of their looms.
* Then things get mystical. Myths and folk tales are woven into the fabric of Thai life even today.
* Uncover the story behind one of the treasures of the area – the Luangpho Thongkham Golden Buddha statue whose 20-karat form is wrapped in legend.
* Dance performance at Tai Yuan Culture Centre.
* Next, you visit the Crying Pillar – Sao Hai – after which the entire region is named and get to know its mystic history.
* After a refreshing lunch at the local market, you set out for Khao Yai National Park.
* One of the most popular and beautiful wildlife sanctuaries in Thailand, this tropical forest preserves for its visitors an authentic image of what Thailand used to be: a sprawling jungle, abundant with exotic species that lived side-by-side with the natives of the country.
* The Haew Suwat waterfall – made famous in the movie The Beach – is your first stop here.
* Watch its waters thunder down from 20 meters above and take that obligatory holiday picture at Thailand’s most visited waterfall.
* After a quick dinner at your hotel for the night, you set out for the final activity of the day: the Khao Yai night safari.
* By jeep, you embark on a 1-hour journey through the nocturnal world of wild cats, snakes, deer, porcupines and even small herds of elephants before returning to your hotel for some well-deserved rest

Day 4

Monsoon forest and a final legend (B/L):
* During the final day of your Thailand tour you take to the jungle for real. Delve under the surface and discover Thailand’s subtleties.
* A guided walking tour takes you through the undergrowth of Khao Yai National Park – one of the largest remaining monsoon forests in mainland Asia.
* As the smell of damp foliage fills your nostrils and the sounds of wilderness accompany your walk, you venture into the thicket of this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
* Monkeys, barking deer, great hornbills and the Malayan sun bear are just a few of the protected species you may spot as you enjoy the amazing beauty of this untouched natural habitat.
* Rumour has it that even a small population of wild tigers is still roaming the mountain ranges of the jungle – and while few have actually seen them, watch out for the odd paw print or the echo of a distant roar.
* With three days of unforgettable experiences added to your travel bag, you make your way back to Bangkok.
* Services end at a hotel in Bangkok
* Thank you for choosing Azure Travel for your Thailand experience. We thank you for your patronage & look forward to serving you again in the near future.

* Accommodation as per above itinerary in sharing room inclusive of daily ABF
* Meals as mentioned itinerary (drinks are not included)
* Tours and transfers, entrance fee as itinerary
* Service of local English Speaking Guides
* Government tax and services charge
* Valid for travel between 01 November 2017 to 31 October 2018

* Departure & fuel taxes
* Seasonal Supplements MAY apply
* Rates valid at time of quoting, and all subject to any exchange rate fluctuations, airlines and supplier rate changes and fuel levies.
* Meals other than specified in the above itinerary
* Travel Insurance or expenses of a personal nature (minibar, phone call, laundry, etc.),
* Tips or gratuities to guides/drivers/porters / hotel, restaurant or boat staff, etc
* Drinks or personal expenses or entrance fees for any extra sightseeing or optional activities
* Optional Tours
* Valid for travel between 01 November 2017 to 31 October 2018

* Rates are LAND ONLY, and Exclude International flights; departure & Fuel taxes
* Seasonal Supplements MAY apply
* Rates valid at time of quoting, and all subject to any exchange rate fluctuations, supplier rate changes and fuel levies.
* Island Hopping can only be offered during dry season from November – April
* The program is subject to change due to the weather and local conditions without prior notice, sea transfers might be delayed or even cancelled
* The confirmation is subject to the availability upon booking requested only
* Valid for travel between 01 November 2017 to 31 October 2018

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* Valid for travel between 01 November 2017 to 31 October 2018

Thailand river and junlge tour entrance sign to the Khao yai national park
Thailand river and junlge tour Wat Sri Sanphet towers at Ayutthaya
Thailand river and junlge tour waterfall in the Khao Yai national Park
Thailand river and junlge tour Wat Maha That
Thailand river and junlge tour sambar deer Khao Yai National Park
Thailand river and junlge tour Ayutthaya Historical Park at night
Thailand river and junlge tour Wat Sri Sanphet towers at Ayutthaya
Thailand river and junlge tour entrance sign to the Khao yai national park
Thailand river and junlge tour view of the sign at the bridge on the river kwai
Thailand river and junlge tour elevated view of temples in kanchanaburi
Thailand river and junlge tour view of the Death railway
Thailand river and junlge tour view of the entrance to war cemetery
Thailand river and junlge tour view of the graves in the war cemetery
Thailand river and junlge tour view of train on the Bridge on the river Kwai