Thanks to several films and books, the Bridge on the River Kwai has become notoriously famous and attracted both Thais and foreigners to the site across the Khwae Yai river. During the Japanese occupation of Thailand in the 2nd World War, the Japanese Imperial Army brought the iron bridge from Java here to be reassembled by Allied Prisoners of War (POW). The bridge was part of a strategic railway route to Myanmar in which the Japanese aimed to secure supplies before they started to conquer other western Asian countries. The bridge was 415 kilometers long (about 303 kilometers in Thailand and about 112 kilometers in Myanmar). It passes through the Three Pagoda Pass in Sangkhlaburi District in the northern most part of Kanchanaburi province.
The construction started on 16 September 1942 at Nong Pladuk in Ratchaburi and was completed on 25 December 1943. The work was finished 4 years earlier than the original plan. It is estimated that over 16,000 POWs from England, Australia, Holland and America died while building the railway which was a target of bombing raids in 1945. In addition to this, approximately 90,000 laborers from Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia and Indonesia died during its construction.
Rebuilt after WWII, the bridge is still in use today with the curved portions of the bridge being that of the original. Every year around the end of November a light and sound event is held at the bridge to commemorate the Allied attack in 1945.
Note: Thai people pronounce the name of this river as River “Khwae”.