Saphan Mon

Top choice in Kanchanaburi Province

Sangkhlaburi's iconic, 447m-long wooden bridge, the largest in Thailand, connects the main town, home mostly to Thai and Karen, with the Mon settlement. This village (officially it's Ban Wang Ka, but even residents just call it Ban Mon: 'Mon Village') is a striking place to explore, peopled by cheroot-smoking women, sarong-wearing men and faces covered in thanaka (a yellow paste made from tree bark, used both as sunblock and decoration).

At the Mon end of the bridge is a souvenir market selling Karen shirts and dresses among other things. Follow the street uphill from the bridge and turn left on the main road to visit the Mon market, which is refreshingly free of souvenirs.

Giving morning alms to monks (at 6.30am) is a big event on the Mon side of the bridge. Tourists (mostly from Bangkok) donate from fancy trays alongside locals who stick to the Mon tradition of giving just a scoop of rice. During Buddhist festivals alms are offered on the bridge.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Kanchanaburi Province attractions

1. Khao Laem Reservoir

0.24 MILES

Backed by fuzzy green hills, the gigantic lake wrapped around Sangkhlaburi was formed in the 1980s by the Vajiralongkorn Dam. Two of the many villages…

2. Wat Si Suwannaram


Karen women and men come to this prominent temple, near the main lodging zone, most days (no set hours) to weave cotton fabric. The building they work in,…

3. Sangkhlaburi Cultural Center

0.67 MILES

This little cultural centre mostly works to promote appreciation of Karen, Mon and Thai culture to local children, but visitors are welcomed inside to…

4. Wat Wang Wiwekaram

0.85 MILES

Poking out of the forest on the south side of Saphan Mon, this temple is the spiritual centre of Thailand's Mon people. The temple was established by…

5. Chedi Phuttakhaya


This striking stupa on a little peninsula on the Mon (south) side of the lake stands 59m high and is constructed in the style of the Mahabodhi stupa in…

6. Wat Somdet


A gold flash of Wat Somdet's large reclining Buddha, on the main road into town, might well be the first thing you glimpse in Sangkhlaburi. While the…

7. Khao Laem National Park

16.5 MILES

With the Khao Laem Reservoir at its heart and limestone mountains all around, dramatic landscapes define this 1497-sq-km national park. But despite the…

8. Vajiralongkorn Dam

25.7 MILES

Some 7km northwest of Thong Pha Phum town, this whopping 92m-high hydroelectric dam creates the Khao Laem Reservoir that stretches all the way up to…