Hellfire Pass Memorial

Museum in Kanchanaburi Province

A poignant museum and memorial trail pay tribute to those who died building the Thailand–Burma Railway in WWII. Begin at the museum and ask for the free audio guide, which provides historical detail and fascinating first-person accounts from survivors. Then descend behind the museum to a trail following the original rail bed. The infamous cutting known as Hellfire Pass was the largest along the railway's length and the most deadly for the labourers forced to construct it.

Locally referred to as Konyu Cutting, this 600m stretch earned its 'hellfire' nickname following the final 'Speedo' construction period where shifts of 500 prisoners worked 16 to 18 hours a day, and even the 'light sick' were marched back to work. The glow from burning torches cast eerie shadows of the Japanese guards and of the gaunt prisoners’ faces, so that the scene was said to resemble Dante’s Inferno. As you walk past imposing walls of rock, catching sight of occasional nails protruding from the chiselled surface, the audio guide does an excellent job of conjuring up the conditions endured by prisoners.

The full walking route is 4km and ends at Compressor Cutting (allow three hours). If arranged in advance, pickup services are available from near Hin Tok Station (1.5km before Compressor Cutting).

The museum is 80km northwest of Kanchanaburi on Hwy 323 and can be reached by Sangkhlaburi and Thong Pha Phum buses (45B to 65B, two hours, every 30 minutes). The last bus back to Kanchanaburi passes here around 5pm.