Escape Bangkok for 2 days; Relaxing at the River Kwai
I’ve been based in Bangkok for 8 years, it’s crazy but I love it. That being said, sometimes you just need to escape the traffic, the craziness, the pollution. I’ve taken short 2-day trips to Hua Hin, to the jungle in Khao Yai national park, to Kanchanaburi, to the temples at Ayutthaya and I always appreciate the recharged batteries. It was time for another break.
I had seen a photo of a new hotel perched on the side of the River Kwai, it was someone in a private pool villa, in the middle of the jungle, literally almost on top of the River Kwai. My girlfriend is very long-suffering with my constant crazy travels, so I decided I’d take her there to say thanks for being understanding about my lifestyle. I hopped on google maps, worked out my car rental in Bangkok, made a plan to break the journey up with stops at various gorgeous, cute little cafes (she’s crazy about coffee dates), booked one night in the pool villa, and without too much trouble, I had a perfect little 2 day break planned!
The full itinerary is below, so read on. But if you’re here to see how gorgeous the hotel is, and how you can organise a break here too, then I’ve got you sorted. I understand your feelings, the pics are how I got sucked in to organising it too!
THE TRYST RIVER KWAI:
The hotel name is ‘The Tryst River Kwai’, and in true Thai fashion, it doesn’t even have a website! You can book it on Booking.com or Agoda, or you can chat to them via facebook messenger on their FaceBook page, which is how I organised it.
The hotel itself is Thai owned, which is always a plus. It’s only been open since March 2019 so it’s really new. The photos of how cute the rooms are recently went viral in Thailand, so the rooms are snapped up pretty quickly, to be honest, and it’s no surprise why. It’s very much a boutique hotel with just a handful of rooms, which means the relaxing nature of being on the River, and in the jungle, is never compromised. It’s literally perfect for a Bangkok getaway.
It’s about 1 hour north of Kanchanaburi. Within 10 or 15 minutes of Sai Yok Noi waterfall. The waterfront rooms quite literally sit ON the River Kwai, but the whole hotel sits right next to it. To get here, either by taxi or rental car, you have to drive through the Thai countryside for the last hour and it’s a gorgeous drive. Little villages, country roads, and the last 1km is on a private road bringing you to the hotel itself, 100% secluded from everything. Amazing.
There are 3 different types of rooms. The premium rooms are the 4 rooms on the floating deck ON the river. The corner room looking out being the best one of the lot. The middle rooms are the pool villas, where I stayed. They’re huge actually, and the rooms are slightly nicer than the floating rooms. The best room out of these pool villas is again the corner room, that way you get the pool villa and a panoramic river view too (that’s the room I had, gorgeous!). The final rooms are the standard rooms, complete with gorgeous bath-tub. They’re ridiculously good value actually.
But still, my first choice would be the corner river room, followed by the corner pool villa (my room), then the other river suites, then the other pool villas.
It’s a boutique hotel, so the facilities match that. The dining/bar area is designed in a loft-style. Iron and wood, really contemporary, I love that style. There is a communal floating raft sitting on the River Kwai, next to the floating rooms. Within that raft, they’ve created a swimming pool where you can swim in safety which is pretty cool. Personally, I used the raft to sit on the beanbags, drink beers and chill while the river ran past me. That was a perfect sunset.
The menu for dinner is local Thai food. I’m vegetarian, so they actually went to the market to buy Soy Tofu for me when they heard (how about that for service?!), then they made us Kra Pow (fried chilly and basil) with Tofu. Spicy and delicious. They also have great beer options, all Thai beers plus Heineken and Hoegaarden.
Breakfast was quite basic, you can have eggs, toast, sausage and bacon, in addition to some juices and fresh fruit. If you have a pool villa room though, you can have a floating breakfast, complete with obligatory Instagram shot! This was a first for me, pretty cool to be honest. Although wholly unpractical haha!
Dinner, and beers are cheap. Expect normal local Thai prices (dinner can be as little as $5, beers for $3 etc). The price of the rooms comes in 3 tiers:
- Floating rooms: $114, with the corner room being slightly pricier (but worth it!)
- Pool villas: $111, with the corner room (my room) being pricier at $150 (and again, worth it!)
- Standard rooms with bath-tub: $62. Crazy cheap, and absolutely gorgeous.
I rented a car beside Bang Chak BTS station (800THB per day, bargain). From there I drove about an hour or so out to Riva floating cafe for a coffee break. Next stop was Kanchanaburi’s most beautiful coffee shop, Meena Cafe, where we had lunch. After than I drove the last hour to ‘The Tryst River Kwai’, where I spent the afternoon, evening, dinner and night. The next morning I also spent at The Tryst, but you have options to go to Sao Yok Noi waterfall, which is just 15 minutes away, or to visit Hell Fire Pass Memorial Museum, just 25 minutes away from the Tryst.
After checking out around midday, I drove back to Kanchanaburi for an hour where I stopped at Kanchanaburi’s most famous restaurant, Dejtosapak Restaurant, for a spot of lunch. It’s about 3 hours or so back to Bangkok from here, so I broke that journey up with coffee and a cake at the boutique Ravi Riva cafe. From there, 90 minutes or so later, I was back in Bangkok where I dropped off my car rental, and took a motorbike taxi 10 minutes back to my condo. A perfect 2 day break!
If I break down, it’s kind of like this:
8AM: Arrive at Bang Chak BTS Station for Car Rental
8.15 to 9.30am: Drive to Riva Floating Cafe, then chill there.
10.15 to 12.00: Drive to Meena Cafe Meena Cafe then lunch there.
1-2pm: Drive to The Tryst River Kwai.
2pm – late: Relax and enjoy The Tryst!
8.30: Floating breakfast in the pool
9-11.30: Soak up the jungle and river vibes at The Tryst
12 – 1pm: Drive to Dejtosapak Restaurant and have lunch there
1-3pm: Drive to Ravi Riva cafe, and eat as much cake as you can!
4 – 5.30pm: Drive back to Bangkok and drop off the car rental.
FULL ITINERARY ON GOOGLE MAPS:
For anyone visiting or living in Bangkok, combining a trip to Kanchanaburi, or just going straight to the jungle, is such a welcome break from how hectic Thailand can be. It reminds us of the Thailand we love, smiling faces, country roads, jungles, local food. I had hoped that the pictures of The Tryst online weren’t a marketing gimmick, and they weren’t. It truly lived up to all my expectations, and I earned serious boyfriend-points for the whole 2 days away.
Also, I’d massively recommend breaking up the drive with the itinerary I suggest above. The cafes are so cute, especially Meena cafe, that you can’t help but love them. The total cost of the 2 day trip was 3,500THB for the hotel, 1600THB for car rental, 1000THB for gas, 500THB for lunch X 2 days, 500THB for dinner, 400THB X 2 for coffees and cake, and I brought my own wine to the hotel. So total price for two was 8400THB, or 4200THB if we split it (which we obviously didn’t!) so $137 each. Now that’s a bargain for a high-end 2 day break. Great experience and great memories.