Riverside Relaxation at Kanchanaburi’s River Kwai Jungle Rafts

By Mark Wiens 21 Comments
River Kwai - Kanchanaburi, Thailand
River Kwai – Kanchanaburi, Thailand

Even though I’ve been based in Thailand since 2009, I’ve spent most of my time in Bangkok.

So when I had the opportunity to join a short media trip sponsored by Khiri Travels, I decided to jump at the chance for a few days traveling around Kanchanaburi while staying at the River Kwai Jungle Rafts.

The River Kwai is a very famous river in Thailand, made especially famous during WWII during the brutal history of the Thailand-Burma railroad where thousands of prisoners of war perished during the construction.

Taking a long tail speed boat
Taking a long tail speed boat

After getting out of the van, we boarded a long tail speed boat that delivered us upstream to the floatel (a hotel that floats). The speed boat sliced through the chocolatey water with lush green cliffs on either side making the ride extremely scenic.

Fifteen minutes on the boat and we pulled up to the River Kwai Jungle Rafts, a peaceful retreat within the River Kwai (video) surrounded by nothing but flowing water and beautiful forest.

River Kwai Jungle Rafts Resort
River Kwai Jungle Rafts Resort

The wood and thatch rooms weren’t fancy, but they were extremely adequate, clean, and fully self sufficient with an en-suite bathroom. Since there was no electricity, light was provided by kerosene lanterns.

Enjoying dinner
Enjoying dinner

Dinner was served family style including a number of different Thai dishes.

Unfortunately all the food was mild in flavor, catering particularly to foreign visitors, and not so much to local Thai food connoisseurs (I understand that they have to please a wide range of customers), but still good and fresh.

That being said, the atmosphere next to the river and dinner lit by lanterns was fantastic.

Mon dance performance
Mon dance performance

Each evening after dinner there’s an optional Mon music and dance performance that costs an additional 150 Thai Baht. It was a nice evening activity filled with energetic dancing and lively music.

Where I enjoyed a marvelous peaceful night of sleep
Where I enjoyed a marvelous peaceful night of sleep

The jungle rafts are an ideal place to relax and do just about nothing.

So after the dance performance I ended up immediately going to bed at 9 pm to take advantage of a long sleep while being serenaded by the rushing River Kwai and the occasional melody of frogs.

Simple breakfast
Simple breakfast

Breakfast was served from 7 am, and as you probably know, I always wake up to be the first person at breakfast. Coffee or tea, fried eggs, a slice of ham, a few potatoes, toast, and some extremely sweet pineapple made for a decent start to the day.

Elephants in the morning
Elephants in the morning

Just after breakfast at 7:30 am a couple of elephants and their trainers came to the front of the resort to bathe and feed them. The elephants were fed the watermelon and pineapple rind that I had just finished eating.

Throughout the day, the resort also offers elephant riding.

Another lazy relaxing day on the River Kwai!
Another lazy relaxing day on the River Kwai!

Nothing refreshes like a quick dip in the river. I really enjoyed going all the way upstream, jumping off the farthest raft, and then floating down the length of the resort. The water was perfect.

#6 is my first step
#6 is my first step

Since the rafts are built almost completely of wood and thatch, and illuminated by kerosene lanterns, fire is a real possibility. Luckily, the resort had clear directions on what to do in case of a fire… but I would personally probably skip all the way down to #6, and jump straight in the river!

Here’s a video about my stay at the River Kwai Jungle Rafts:

(if you can’t see the video, watch it on YouTube here)

Overall

A few things to take note of… there’s no hot water, no air condition, no fans. Don’t expect luxurious conditions, rooms are basic yet clean, and the beds are comfortable with mosquito nets provided. It’s a quiet peaceful place to stay – but other than relaxing there’s not a whole lot else to do.

Overall, lazying the day away in a hammock overlooking the River Kwai with a good book, or just contemplating new ideas is a fantastic way to spend the day at River Kwai Jungle Rafts.

NOTE: My stay at the River Kwai Jungle Rafts was sponsored, but this entire article is my own personal thoughts and opinions about my stay. If you book a stay using this link on Agoda, you’ll not only find some great deals, but I’ll get a small affiliate commission.

21 comments. I'd love to hear from you!

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  • Graham Franklin

    5 years ago

    Hi Mark

    I stayed in Kanchanaburi in June 2014 for 2 nights, I wish I had stayed longer now, so many things to do and see. Next time time I think I will need to see the Hellfire Pass and Erawan Falls.

    Thanks for your post and great photos.

  • Tracy

    5 years ago

    Love the article and video/photos. We are heading here for newyears with our 7yo daughter who will love the adventure of it all 🙂 can you tell me perhaps how far is this Flotel from ayutthaya (and is it up stream from Ayutthaya or down ?) also beyond elephant rides do you know if day trips are offered from the flotel or is there any hiking along the river around it ?

    • Tracy

      5 years ago

      Oh Waite after studying a map I see Ayutthaya is not on the river .. Doh My bad! I suppose Ayutthaya will be better suited as a day trip from Bangkok Though I’m still wondering if day trips are offered perhaps back and fourth to the tiger sanctuary or kanchanburi ?

      • Mark Wiens

        5 years ago

        Hi Tracey, good to hear from you. Yah, Ayuthaya is located on a different river – and yah it does make a good day trip, about 1.5 hours from Bangkok. From Kanchanaburi, I’m sure you could arrange it via a tour or private car. All the best.

  • flipnomad

    6 years ago

    Looks like a nice to chill and relax for a few days. 🙂 River looks murky but I guess it’s still clean since you swam there?

    Love the pic of the elephants!!!

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Yah the river wasn’t clear, but still pretty clean, just some mud in the water!

  • puja shree

    6 years ago

    Amazing photographs, love this place..

  • Noel

    6 years ago

    This place is really relaxing and scenic. I love the slow phase of life and simple happiness like this. I’ve never been to Thailand but I’ll make sure to visit this country in the future.

  • Darla

    6 years ago

    Wow! While it certainly doesn’t seem like a place for EVERYONE to stay, it seems right up my alley. I looks like an amazing place to just relax and enjoy the sights and sounds around the river. The elephants are beautiful too! I would love to take an afternoon ride atop and elephant.

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Thanks Darla, glad you’d be interested in this place, it is perfect for relaxation!

  • Colleen

    6 years ago

    I want to do this! I want to hear the frogs! I want to swim in the river. Man, when I get back in country I’m heading strait to this place,,hopefully with my family. It would be too much fun. Plus the amazing tropical chill beauty of it all.

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Thanks Colleen, hope you can come to Thailand with your family!

  • Gregor

    6 years ago

    I’ve seen videos where you show us how to save money on little things and they add up in a year. But after checking the rates on that place I was a bit disappointed. Way too expensive, well my opinion.

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Hey Gregor, yes I normally try to save as much as possible, but I was sponsored on this trip!

  • Debra

    7 years ago

    Mosquito nets…not something I would ever think to check for when planning my vacation! LOL, seriously this looks like something totally off the beaten path and an incredible experience. I would love to be able to do something like this.

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Thanks Debra, it is a very quiet and relaxing place to visit!

  • Nelson Mochilero

    7 years ago

    Impeccable article as always my friend !

    Did you hear those animals at night?

  • Mark

    7 years ago

    Nice post and video (as usual). It looks idyllic.

    Are there other places to eat nearby in the evening or is it a bit cut off and remote?

    I hope those toilets do not discharge in to the river!

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Hey Mark, that was one of the things I didn’t like, there was nowhere to really get food anywhere else, but the hotel – and the food definitely catered to foreigners…

      Ha, I thought the same thing at first, but then I discovered a piping system leading to shore.

  • Maria

    7 years ago

    Love the mist – very dreamy/romantic atmosphere in the photos