Given the jaw-dropping natural beauty of Kanchanaburi Province (กาญจนบุรี), it seems paradoxical that the region is best known for the horrors of WWII's Death Railway. The provincial capital's war memorials are a mandatory stop before heading deeper into the parks and preserves that comprise the Western Forest Complex, one of Asia's largest protected areas. Numerous waterfalls and caves can be reached with minimal effort, but hiking trails plunge into thick jungle, luring hardened adventurers to this wild terrain.
Further north, there's a savage beauty to Kanchanaburi's fog-drenched valleys and sawtooth mountains, while remote, relaxed Sangkhlaburi is one of Thailand's most ethnically diverse towns; many residents arrived to escape persecution and violence in Myanmar, joined by communities of foreign volunteers.
Even further off the beaten track is minuscule border outpost E-Thong, crammed with homestays and cafes but with wilderness right at the door.