Hellfire Pass Interpretive Centre

Top choice in Kanchanaburi Province

The infamous cutting known as Hellfire Pass was the largest along the length of the Thailand–Burma Railway, and the most deadly for the people forced to construct it; and this memorial, upgraded in 2018, is a poignant tribute. A small gallery lays out the history of the site and memorialises the victims with interviews from people who were there. Then you can descend the long set of stairs behind the museum to a trail following the original rail bed.

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 free audio guide provides historical details and fascinating first-person accounts from survivors; it does an excellent job of conjuring up the conditions endured by the workers.

There are two walking routes. Walk 1 through Hellfire Pass is about a 1km roundtrip and not difficult. Walk 2 out to Hintok Cutting is about 5km and has some steep climbs and uneven surfaces. Lockers are available and snacks on sale in the centre's lower level.

The museum is 80km northwest of Kanchanaburi on Hwy 323 and can be reached by Sangkhlaburi and Thong Pha Phum buses (fan/AC 50/65B, two hours, every 30 to 45 minutes). The last bus back to Kanchanaburi passes here around 5pm.