Kanchanaburi is a town in the west of Thailand and the capital of Kanchanaburi province. In 2006 it had a population of 31,327. The town covers the complete tambon Ban Nuea and Ban Tai and parts of Pak Phraek and Tha Makham, all of Mueang Kanchanaburi district, and parts of the tambon Tha Lo of Tha Muang district. Kanchanaburi, which is located where the Khwae Noi and Khwae Yai rivers converge into the Mae Klong river, spans the northern banks of the river and is a popular spot for travelers, its location at the edge of a mountain range keeping it much cooler than the other provinces of central Thailand.
The city has two major commercial districts: the downtown area consists of a grid of several streets with office buildings, shop fronts, and a shopping mall; and the riverfront area businesses are mostly located further west along River Kwai Road. Once a year a carnival comes to town and is set up in the area next to the bridge. At night there is a small pyrotechnics display that re-enacts the wartime bombing of the bridge. Kanchanaburi is the birthplace of the Buddhist monk Phrabhavanaviriyakhun. It is 5 km SE of the Buddhist temple Wat Tham Phu Wa which features a series of grotto shrines within a large limestone cave system.
Each grotto features a statue of The Buddha at a different stage of his life. It is the easiest access point to the nearby Tiger Temple and is also home to a Vipassana meditation center. In 1942 Kanchanaburi was under Japanese control. It was here that Asian forced labourers and Allied POWs, building the infamous Burma Railway, constructed a bridge; an event immortalised in the film Bridge on the River Kwai. Almost half of the prisoners working on the project died from disease, maltreatment and accidents.