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Three Pagodas Pass

Three Pagodas Pass
Burmese-Thai border checkpoint, Three Pagodas Pass
Elevation 282 m (925 ft)[1]
Location BurmaThailand border
Range Tenasserim Hills
Three Pagodas Pass is located in Thailand
Three Pagodas Pass
Location of the Three Pagodas Pass in Thailand, on the border with Burma

Three Pagodas Pass (Burmese: ဘုရားသုံးဆူ တောင်ကြားလမ်း, Burmese pronunciation: ; Thai: ด่านเจดีย์สามองค์, rtgsDan Chedi Sam Ong, Thai pronunciation: ) is a pass in the Tenasserim Hills on the border between Thailand and Burma (Myanmar), at an elevation of 282 metres (925 ft). The pass links the town of Sangkhla Buri in the north of Kanchanaburi Province, Thailand, to the town of Payathonsu in the south of Kayin State, Myanmar.


  • Etymology 1
  • History 2
  • Tourism 3
  • Festivals 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


The pass is named after three small, crumbling stupas or chedis which were probably built at the end of Ayutthaya period as a symbol of peace. They are now on the Thai side of the border. Parts of the border are still disputed.[2] These three chedis appear in the provincial seal of Kanchanaburi Province in stylized form.[3] The pass gives its name to the Three Pagodas Fault.


This pass has been the main land route into western Thailand since ancient times, and is believed be the point at which Buddhist teachings reached the country from India in the 3rd century.

During the Ayutthaya period in Thai history (14th-18th centuries), the pass was the main invasion route for the Burmese, but at times was also used against them by Siamese armies. The first was the Burmese invasion in 1548, part of the Burmese–Siamese War of 1548.[4]:15–16

During World War II, Japan built the infamous Death Railway (officially Taimen - Rensetsu Tetsudo) through the pass. There is a memorial to commemorate the thousands of Australian prisoners of war who (with other Allied prisoners and Asian civilians) died as forced labourers in the construction of the railway.

The region is home to several hill tribes, including Karens and Mons, who are unable or unwilling to obtain citizenship from either countries. Separatist armies have repeatedly tried to take seize of the pass from Burma, with the Mons in effective control until 1990, when Burmese troops regained it.


Three Pagodas Pass is popular with tourists, who are allowed to obtain a one-day visa from the Thai side to visit Payathonsu. Attractions on the Burmese side include wooden furniture, jade carvings, and textiles. Thai tourists are allowed in as of 2011, while other tourists are not, due to its status as a temporary border checkpoint which only allows day trips between the two neighbouring countries.[5][6]


With the rambling strutting roosters of the Buddhist temple of Wat Suwankhiri[7] on a Payathonsu cliff near by, during April, Three Pagodas Pass becomes a site of the Songkran Festival with cockfights, Thai-Burmese kickboxing and various folk dancing.[8]


  1. ^ Three Pagodas Pass, Encyclopædia Britannica
  2. ^ Thailand Highlight
  3. ^ Seals of The Provinces of Thailand
  4. ^ Rajanubhab, D., 2001, Our Wars With the Burmese, Bangkok: White Lotus Co. Ltd., ISBN 9747534584
  5. ^ List of Temporary and Permanent Border Checkpoint in Thailand, Foreign Affairs Division Office of the Permanent Secretary for Interior (Thai)
  6. ^ Senator Committee on Temporary and Permanent Boundary Checkpoints
  7. ^ Lonely Planet Thailand - Wat Suwankhiri
  8. ^ Lonely Planet Thailand (8th ed) by Joe Cummings (Aug 1999) p.380

External links

  • Three Pagodas Pass travel guide from Wikivoyage
  • Thailand By Train: Kanchanaburi and the River Kwai
  • Thailand Travel Guide for Kanchanaburi
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