Kwai River Jungle Rafts is one of the incredible Kanchanaburi floating hotels located on the Kwai River. Here’s everything you need to know before you go.
Dotting the banks of the historic River Kwai in Kanchanaburi, Thailand is a series of lodges that draw thousands of visitors annually. These Kanchanaburi floating hotels have bred a reputation for offering serene relaxation amidst the mountains and jungles of one of Thailand’s most beautiful regions.
Among the many places to visit in Thailand, Kanchanaburi was the first stop after we left the bustling city of Bangkok. We explored the region finding all of the incredible things to do in Kanchanaburi from strolling across the bridge over the River Kwai to riding the famed “Death Railway” through gorgeous rural regions. But the one thing that we set the most time aside for our time at River Kwai Jungle Rafts, one of the beautiful Kanchanaburi floating hotels.
About The Kanchanaburi Floating Hotels
Set amongst the muddy waters of the River Kwai, where the tranquil waters flow gracefully amidst the greenery of karst mountains and lush jungle set a collection of Thailand hotels that defy traditional hospitality – the floating hotels of the River Kwai.
River Kwai floating lodges and hotels offer a unique opportunity to combine the natural beauty of the river waters with a complete escape from the hustle and bustle of cities and villages. Rather than waking up to the sounds of traffic, you wake up to the musical chirping of birds, the calls of monkeys, and the babble of water slapping off the hotel’s pontoons.
The peace and serenity of the tranquil atmosphere are complete, broken only by the occasional drone of a longtail boat bussing fishermen and tourists along the river. Nights are spent sipping tea under dark, starlit skies, and days combine a mix of relaxation with the wonder of the adventures nearby.
Don’t imagine yourself floating freely down the river and wedging up in some unexplored jungles though. These “floatels” are moored to the river bottom so that they stay in place. Apart from a little wave action, you’ll barely know that you’re on the water. This type of accommodation has been used in Thailand for generations due to the natural cooling that the river water provides.
Every family longs for something unique during their stay at River Kwai Jungle Raft and other floating hotels in Kanchanaburi such as the Float House. But there are enough attractions nearby to satisfy both those looking for an escape as well as those looking for an epic glimpse into a rarely-seen side of Thailand.
There are many options for Kanchanaburi Floating Hotels, our first choice was the famed luxury resort “The Float House” lodge”. That lodge was completely booked when we were planning our trip. We ended up booking with River Kwai Jungle Rafts, a lower-tiered option with a few fewer amenities that ended up being the perfect choice for our travel style.
The Float House offers both land and floating lodges and all rooms include electricity. River Kwai Jungle Rafts only has floating lodges and, while there there is electricity available in the common areas, there is no electricity offered in the rooms. With all of the camera gear that I travel with, I was worried about the electricity issue, but I had more than enough batteries to get me through three days off the grid.
And the lantern-lit lifestyle of the River Kwai evenings was absolutely idyllic.
River Kwai Jungle Rafts
Our time with River Kwai Jungle Rafts started at Phutakien Pier where we boarded a longtail boat along with a few other guests for our ride out to our Kanchanaburi floating hotel. It took about 30 minutes to ride upriver toward the lodge, and we passed The Float House on the way, The Float House is owned by the same company, Resotel.
When we arrived at River Kwai Jungle Rafts we were greeted by an enthusiastic crew of staff from the local Mon village, a small on-site village of refugees from the cultural genocide that occurred in Myanmar(Burma), similar to the Karen Hill Tribes that we learned about during our time in Chiang Mai.
Our first impression of River Kwai Jungle Rafts was great. The staff was very friendly, the teak design, wooden floors, and natural floral decor instantly brought us into a world of simple tranquillity. The lodge offers everything that you need to enjoy yourself in serenity and nothing that you don’t.
You can keep reading for more information about Kwai River Jungle Rafts or you can check out their price and availability here,
Rooms At Kwai River Jungle Rafts
Each of the rooms at River Kwai Jungle Rafts can have either a queen bed, a queen bed and a single bed, or two double beds. Because of this setup, we booked two separate neighboring rooms. One room for Christina and I and one room for our two children, C (11), and D (9). Unlike some of our accommodation experiences, there were no rules saying that an adult had to accompany the children in a room, which meant a happier sleeping situation for all involved.
The rooms themselves were simple. While the location and atmosphere gave the air of luxury, the accommodation itself was comfort-basic. The beds were excellent, soft, and comfortable.
Because of the lack of electricity, during the day natural light is the only way to brighten the room. All the rooms are connected via a riverside walkway at the front and include a private deck facing the village bank. Both sides have wide windows that can be opened to let the light in, which is more than enough for most people.
There was minimal storage in the room. We stored our carry-on-sized luggage on a table near the bathroom that was a bit awkward to access, but not enough to cause any concern.
All of the rooms at our Kanchanaburi floating hotel had a table and hammock just outside the room looking out over the river. There was also a dock located at the bottom of a small stair that had two lounging chairs and a ladder leading to the water.
The rooms themselves are made with woven bamboo and teak wood in the style of the Mon culture that staffs the hotel. The beds have mosquito nets, which is useful during the hot, rainy season when bugs in the area can get pretty aggressive. (We went during the shoulder season and barely saw a mosquito).
Each room is given a kerosene lamp that helps provide light both inside and outside the room during the evenings.
Kwai River Jungle Rafts Amenities
A stay at the Kwai River floating hotel includes quite a few things that make for a perfect restful break from the busy world. There are three meals offered at the open-air restaurant. The restaurant serves a range of traditional Thai food that perfectly matches the incredible atmosphere of the Kwai River. During the evenings the restaurant converts to a bar serving up traditional cocktails, wine, and beer.
Along with the restaurant, Kwai River Jungle Rafts also offers on-site massages and a traditional Mon dance show for an additional cost.
One of the most popular amenities at Kwai River Jungle Rafts is river floating. The current of the Kwai River moves at a quick pace as it flows through the narrows of the karst mountain range. Because of that current, you can jump off the end of the dock upstream and get swept into the current, swimming over to the accommodation docks and selecting your choice of ladder to climb up and do it all again.
Life jackets are mandatory for all participants, and I highly recommend only doing this activity if you are a confident swimmer. The current moves quickly and you’ll need to hold on to the ladder firmly to avoid being swept downstream.
I did see one guest miss the last ladder and wind up rounding the bend. The staff seemed fairly used to the situation and quickly boarded a boat to bring the guest back to the lodge.
Kwai River Jungle Rafts also offers free access to kayaks and stand-up paddleboards for those who want to explore the river for themselves. This is a great way to get up close to the towering cliffs and rockfaces that make the River Kwai so beautiful.
For those who want to explore the river in a more casual way, there are also bamboo raft floats available where families can enjoy a downstream float guided by a staff member and then relax as they’re towed back upstream.
Things To Do At Kanchanaburi Floating Hotels
The fun doesn’t end at the tip of the dock on the Kwai River. Those staying at a Kanchanaburi floating hotel also have access to a great selection of off-site activities that can be booked in the lodge’s common area. Some of those adventures include:
Kanchanaburi’s largest and most famous cave is located right behind The Float House in Sai Yok National Park. The cave is so immense that it has never been completely explored, but visitors can enjoy the first few massive chambers.
Within the cave, you’ll see stunning stalactites, towering stalagmites, cool rock formations, and a colony of local Khun Kitti bats, the world’s smallest bat.
Treetop Adventure Park
Walking and ziplining through towering trees and mountain tops isn’t just for daredevils. This family-friendly experience traverses platform to platform via rope bridges, Tarzan swings, flying skateboards, and zip lines.
The activity is designed for all ages and reaches heights of up to 82 feet. It’s an eco-friendly adventure activity that will add some adrenaline to the lazy days at the Kanchanaburi floating lodge.
Sai Yok Waterfall
Sai Yok Waterfall is located in a completely different part of Sai Yok National Park from Lawa Cave. The waterfall cascades down a series of limestone cliffs creating a wonderful view as it splashes into the waters of the Kwai River.
The falls are surrounded by thick jungle but have been made accessible by road, boat, and hiking trail. There are picnic grounds nearby as well as historic ruins that date back hundreds of years.
One of Thailand’s few historical recreation villages, Mallika Village is an awesome spot for families who want to step back in time and walk through ancient Siam. This living museum allows you to walk in restored buildings, interact with local villagers (staff dressed as and playing the part of ancient locals), and experience life through history.
Hellfire Pass Trekking Trail
Hellfire Pass Memorial Museum and Interpretive Center is one of the best experiences in Kanchanaburi focused on the Death Railway. The museum and the associated trails are built at the location where the most deaths occurred while the railroad was under construction.
While we didn’t visit Hellfire Pass while we were staying at Kwai River Jungle Rafts, we did visit it beforehand when we were exploring the top things to do in Kanchanaburi, Thailand.
The museum includes testimonials from POWs who lived through the atrocities of the Thai-Burma Railroad construction and represents the countries that lost the most soldiers including the British, Dutch, and Australians.
Tips For Visiting River Kwai Jungle Rafts
We spent three nights at River Kwai Jungle Rafts and, honestly, I wish it could have been more. There have been few places where I’ve been as relaxed and comfortable as I was during this time in Thailand with kids. But like any place, there are a few things that are good to know before you go.
- Bring a flashlight. The kerosene lantern provided by the lodge was great and added a nice ambiance, but a flashlight will help you navigate your room easier.
- Take the tours. There are a lot of things to see in Kanchanaburi, and some of them are best accessed via the Kwai River. Don’t hesitate to explore a little bit. We really loved Lawa Cave and Sai Yok Waterfall.
- Visit the Mon Village. Most of the Kanchanaburi floating hotels are staffed by Mon villages. Take a tour of the hotel and learn about the unique culture of the Mon people and the efforts they are making to retain their culture, even as displaced people.
- Don’t swim unless you’re comfortable. The water of the Kwai River moves fast. If you’re not confident in your swimming it may be best to save that activity for another location.
- Visit the elephant, but make it a learning opportunity. The Mon village has its own elephant. The elephant is a rescue from Thailand’s logging days. While I recognize that working elephants are best-given spaces in an elephant sanctuary such as Elephant Hills, I also recognize that Thailand is still going through a learning and educational shift from using these animals as workers to recognizing their value as living creatures and wild animals. The elephant is not ridden by guests and is not used for labor around the village.
Enjoy Time At A Kanchanaburi Floating Hotel
The wonders of the Kwai River are just a short drive from Bangkok. Staying at River Kwai Jungle Rafts was one of our favorite things to do in Thailand. It’s a fun and exciting destination for family travel in the country. You can book your own experience at Kwai River Jungle Rafts through booking right here.
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