The site preserved to commemorate

The Second World War in Thailand

Get familiar with - Hellfire Pass

For those who don’t know what ‘Hell Pass’ has no clue about the true meaning of pain and suffering. Hellfire Pass is an Allied Prison War Site in Kanchanaburi, Thailand, that was forcefully built during Second World War.

However, today The Hellfire Pass has become a historical site that has converted into a Memorial Museum that intends to preserve all of Hellfire Pass history.

The Hell Pass museum is sponsored by the Royal Thai Armed Forces Development Command along with the Australian government. Their idea was to pay homage to people who suffered and lost their lives in an unfateful time. The museum was built by the Office of Australian War Graves and inaugurated by John Howard (ex-Australian Prime Minister). A section of the museum has artifacts, paintings, sculptures, and more and the other part of the experience includes walking through the cutting itself. There is also an audio tour of recorded memories of surviving available at the museum.

In fact, the area has had many renovations and developments over the years. The latest development took place in the year 2006; a railway link was set to be created between Southeast Asian countries that may or may not follow the original Death Railway route through Hellfire Pass however; as of now, the work is still in the talks, mostly related to the preservation and low standard of the curves and gradients of the area.

Nonetheless, to truly understand the reason why this site is being commemorated, you need to know the importance it holds in the hearts of people.


Hellfire Pass Kanchanaburi


A brief history of Hellfire Pass

Like other horrendous things happening during that time, Hellfire Pass in the Tenasserim Hills was a particularly difficult area as well with its barbaric unwarranted condition and the illogical expectation of building a railway line by cutting large rocks with no proper construction equipments and remoteness of the area.

What is even more upsetting is that The allied prisoners of War, including individuals from Australia, Britain, and more, were required to work 18 hours a day by the Japanese. During this time, 69 men were beaten to death while others died from dysentery, starvation, cholera, and exhaustion.

This ruthless nature of the time, situation, and Japanese guards played a role for this area to be later called as Hellfire Pass despite its official name ‘Death Railway’ or the ‘The Thai-Burma Railway’ survivors describes the time as the sight of emaciated prisoners laboring by burning torchlight which felt like the scene of actual Hell.


History of The Hellfire Pass


Hellfire Pass, a touring spot?

Yes, it is true though often such areas in history are not turned into a so called popular place to visit, but this Pass in Thailand has. Hellfire Pass can easily be accessed by anyone; they can tour the place and get familiar with the time, the sentiments of the place. It, in actuality, also offers a good touring spot; here are the things worth touring in the Hellfire pass area.


As mentioned earlier, the Hellfire Pass museum was built to pay homage to the survivors subjected to torture. This small museum was built and run by the Thai and Australian governments in order to protect the area for future generations. The museum contains a lot of information from the beginning of the incident to how it ended, the survivors, their stories, and so much more. From world war two to Death Railway to Hellfire Pass, everything and anything that is slightly related to this incident. There is also a souvenir store at the premises.


Death railway museum or the Thai-Burma Railway museum is another commonly visited spot in that region. Unlike the Hellfire museum, this museum contains personal records of the survivors and the deceased in particular.  There is also a built-in theater that runs clips of survivors telling their experience of the account. In addition, there are picture galleries and so many other things pertaining solely to them. The Australian and Thai governments also co-operate this museum.


The Death Railway Museum



As a museum is built there to pay homage to that time, a section of the museum tour includes the tour of the pass itself. The guided tour includes a walkthrough (figuratively and literally) of the hellfire Pass and some areas of the Death Railway. Other touring companies offer guided tours of this place too. So according to the preference visitors can choose whatever they think is better for them.

Things to known before taking a trip down the Hellfire Pass

  • The Hellfire Pass is located 15-20 minutes away from the museums, and it can get overwhelming and tiresome if visitors go there with all their belongings. Therefore it is recommended to store their belongings in lockers at the museum.
  • The route to the past is rocky and uneven, making walking an issue for some; hence it is suggested to wear comfortable footwear.
  • The Audio Guide gadget is equipped with the area and tells the stories and importance of the particular station when pressed according to the marking of the section as the visitors move forward down the pass. The audio guide is free of charge; however, for an audio guide, the visitors need to give their passport or any other credentials, which is return after the tour is ended when the audio guide is returned.
  • It is advised that children should not be touring the area, as the story itself can be traumatizing for them, and since some graphic details and images effects on the young minds can be fatal.


Hellfire Pass Museum



Hellfire Pass is a quiet place with a mysterious, eerie aura that makes you wonder about the gruesome incident that took place. Yet, despite imagining that horrific scene, getting to know about the whole ordeal is saddening what also gives you hope to know about the survivors today.

Either way, touring the section is a good experience in itself, eye-opening, heart-wrenching, unsettling, but either way, a great one. Especially detaching the history of the area, the Hellfire Pass is a decent place to visit. A contemporary touring attracting spot!