One of the most emotive places to visit in Kanchanaburi is the Don Rak War Cemetery which is located opposite the main Kanchanaburi train station. Almost 7,000 POW (prisoner of war) graves are laid out in straight lines amidst the neatly manicured lawns and gardens.
After the end of World War II, the cemetery at Don Rak became the final resting place for many of those who had been forced to endure the brutal conditions imposed by the Japanese army during the construction of the Thailand to Burma railway. Historians calculate that 38 Allied POWs died for each kilometre of track that was laid on the railway. Those who died were originally buried at makeshift grave-sites at various locations along the railway line. After the war ended, Don Rak cemetery was designed as a more fitting resting place and memorial to the fallen with the names, ages and regiments of the soldiers engraved on the headstones. Where the identity of the soldier is unknown a simple inscription reads, ‘A soldier who died for his country’.
The cemetery is free to enter and is open daily between 08.00 – 16.00. An emotional service of remembrance is held here every year on April 25 (Anzac Day). Over the years, the service has been very well supported by visitors from abroad as well as expat groups from all over Thailand.