Its not often you get to sleep in a floating hotel, and on the River Kwai of all places! Only accessible by boat transfer, we knew this was going to be a special experience, but nothing could prepare us for just how amazing our short stay would be at this river paradise. From floating down river in life-jackets to a long trunked surprise visit after breakfast, the Jungle Rafts Floatel goes down on my top 10 list of most interesting hotels to stay at in the world.
After many hours on the train from Bangkok to Nam tok (via Kanchanaburi – $4, although you can take a bus, which is much quicker), and then finding ourselves an independent transfer to the hotel, our reward for the last part of the journey was a water taxi. This was ride number 2 in a long tail boat in Thailand and man, they go much faster here than they do in Bangkok! This was great fun and there was beautiful scenery along the way to enjoy. After about a 15 min ride we rounded the final bend in the river and could see our hotel.
The River Kwai Jungle Rafts Resort was everything we had hoped it would be. As we arrived we could see other holiday makers floating down the river in their life jackets, one of the main attractions of the hotel!
We checked in and made our way to our room. Each pontoon has aprox 3-4 rooms, and they are set out like little wooden cabins. There is no electricity here so the lighting is provided by kerosene lamps which we thought was great! Each cabin has a shared front pontoon and if you dont want to hang out in a shared area there is a private balcony out the back with one comfy hammock to laze back and read a good book in. Each cabin also has a private en-suite bathroom but as I said earlier there is no electricity, so even though there is a western toilet you do need to flush it using a small tub that you fill with water. Also, the shower is river water so don’t expect a warm shower in the morning!
As it was a sweltering hot day we got straight into our swimmers and it was off for a swim.
The river current is quite strong and if you walk to the very end of the hotel and jump in it will carry you all the way down to the other end (or your own pontoon if thats where you choose to get off). The water was beautiful and cool and we had a blast floating down the river over and over again like two little kids.
Dinner was at 7pm and it is a set meal which is included in the cost of the hotel.
We were served dishes that included fish, pork, chicken in a variety of traditional Thai cooking ways and of course a
side of steamed rice. After dinner there was an option to see a traditional Thai show for 150 Baht but we loved the ambiance of the night so much we stayed in the dining area and enjoyed a few beverages on the river.
The following morning we went for breakfast at 7am as we had a return transfer at 8:30, we had also heard rumours that the local hill-tribe frequently brought down their elephants for a bath at about 7:30……
Breakfast was fried eggs on sweet bread toast (all the bread in Thailand is sweet tasting).
After our feed Tom and I were enjoying watching the sun rise over the mountains from our table when we heard an Elephant trumpet from behind the hotel. Naturally breakfast was forgotten and everyone rushed to see the elephants bathing in the river right behind the hotel.
This was AMAZING to see the local Mahouts (elephant trainers) ride the elephants down the hill and into the water where they completely submerged while the Mahouts gave them a bit of a scrub. After watching for a bit people slowly started to head back to the hotel to finish breakfast but I decided to stay on the beach for a bit longer…….this turned out to be an awesome decision as one of the mahouts saw me and called me over.
All of the leftover fruit from the hotel is used to feed the elephants breakfast and guess who got to feed it to them? Yep it was me This was AWESOME!!!
They grabbed the fruit from my hands with their trunks and then swung it into their mouths, their trunks are amazing things that can loop around the fruit to grab it or if they cant really reach the food they will use their trunk as a vacuum to suck the food in place on the ends of their trunk until they can get it too their mouths.
The Mahouts spoke quite good broken English and chatted to me about the elephants telling me they eat about 200 kgs every day and other facts, they also asked me if I was travelling with anyone and when I pointed to Tom they invited him over to feed them as well!
The Jungle Rafts Hotel was an amazing experience and we highly recommend it to anyone traveling to Thailand. We only wish we had more time to spend there, but we had a water transfer to catch and it was off for another full day of sight seeing and a visit to the Erawan Waterfalls and the Death railway museum.
– In Dec 2011 we payed approx $82 for one night including Dinner, Breakfast and private boat transfer. Getting to the “Resotel” where your boat transfer will depart was a bit of mission going independent, but was the cheapest option. I would suggest staying more than one night if you have the time and money to do so….
Want to stay here for yourself? You can book your stay right HERE