A major tourist attraction in Kanchanaburi is the Mon Tribal Village. The Mon are an ethnic group originally from Mongolia, living mostly in the middle of Myanmar, and along the southern border with Thailand. They are the earliest people to reside in Southeast Asia, bringing civilization to central and northern Thailand and central Laos more than 1200 years ago. Over time they were pushed out of these countries, residing only in the north of Thailand and south of Burma.
The Mon culture and script has been of major influence on the Burmese culture. The Lanna culture also shares similarities. The culture includes many special instruments such as the Kyam, a crocodile shaped xylophone and the Saung harp. These instruments, and others, are played as background music for the traditional dances. Currently, there are only 1 to 5 million Mon people left. Only around one third of them speak the Mon language and follow the traditions and culture of the Mon.
In the village in Kanchanaburi, the Mon still live a traditional, simple life. They make almost no use of electricity, and the little bit they use is from solar power. The village has been adapted a bit to tourism, with the people selling traditional skirts and foods to their visitors. When walking through the village, one can visit the Golden Rock, the temple, the school and see the traditional houses on poles, to keep them safe from the water during raining season.
Many of the young Mon people work for the hotels in the region. Especially at the River Kwai Jungle Rafts since this is at the base of their village. The FloatHouse River Kwai also supports the culture and makes efforts to help the Mon keep their traditions, culture and language. They offer a platform where the Mon can perform their traditional dance almost every night, and offers tours to their village in order to educate people on this almost disappearing culture. It is definitely worth a visit!