A Popular 3 Star Hotel Along the River Kwai

This month my wife and I decided to head over to the province of Kanchanaburi for a week. One of Thailand’s most well known scenic and natural province. Kanchanaburi’s center is approximately 2 hours and 40 minutes drive (143.7 kilometers) from Bangkok proper. Which qualifies it as good as anyplace in Thailand for a quick getaway from the hustle and bustle of the Big Mango.

Most of all we were looking forward to our stay at the (แคว ธารา ริเวอร์ไซด์ วิลลา) Kwai Tara Riverside Villas in the district of Sai Yok. We heard so much about it on various media outlets so we decided to go check it out for ourselves. The Kwai Tara is well known for it’s quiet serene location, right on the meandering Kwai Noi river or River Kwai.

Many hotels and guesthouses along the River Kwai, but we chose to check out the Kwai Tara Riverside Villa…

Even though I’ve been in Thailand for many years I’ve never really traveled around Kanchanaburi. Just through it and never stopped over to check out the area. And I am aware of it’s history and the area’s claim to fame or infamy, the Kanchanaburi Death Railway. Plus the bridge which was the basis of 1950’s action drama movie, “The Bridge over Kwai”.

During this trip I’ve booked two other hotels in Kanchanaburi to do a comparison. And I can confidently say Kwai Tara Riverside Villas is the best hotel in the district of Sai Yok, or at least amongst the three we’ve stayed in.

On the Road to Kwai Tara Riverside Villa

Lots of road construction along the highways leading to Kwai Tara Riverside Villas…

These days it’s just so much easier finding your destination with google maps. We went during the weekday and didn’t expect a lot of traffic. But some areas were still congested due to road construction as of writing. By the time you’re reading this I’m guessing most of the major road constructions are all finished.

Kanchanaburi province is growing thus the need for more roads and wider highway lanes are needed.

Overall, it was a very easy to find the Kwai Tara Riverside villas because highway signs are clearly marked. But I have to admit the last few kilometers to the villas could get a bit tricky so make sure you’ve got plenty of battery on the phone for google maps.

The last few kilometers leading to Kwai Tara could get a little tricky due to less signage…

Now if you’re considering staying at the Kwai Tara it’s best to self drive. It’ll be a whole lot cheaper than hiring a driver with a car. And you are going need your own wheels to get to restaurants and places to explore. Which there are a few and you’ll find out where we went below. Because I can tell you there’s really nothing to do at the Kwai Tara’s resort ground.

Though there is the Mahawangchang Elephant Camp directly next to Kwai Tara’s property. But we’ve had our fair share of elephant rides earlier this year when we went to Koh Chang where I made a review of the Emerald Cove Koh Chang hotel.

For my wife and I we consider this as a road trip just like we did it in Khao Sam Roi Yod. And the Kwai Tara is a good enough place to rest our heads, if not a bit overpriced.

This is the backside of the mountain villa rooms. You do get a good view of the mountains, but not so much of the river in these rooms…

We booked a floating house villa which at the time I paid about $130USD per night including taxes and breakfast. That is pricey considering it’s listed as a 3 star hotel. But there’s no gym and no swimming pool. And those were the weekday rates.

I guess you can consider jumping into the river if you choose to for a dip in which you are more than welcome to. And believe me, walking down and than back up from the floating houses could give anyone a quick workout.

These are the mountain view villa rooms which are the closest to the reception area…

But I got to say, the floating houses are big. It’s about 80 square meters with very high ceilings so you get this really nice spacious feel. There’s a private front with cargo nets you can stretch out on top while the river waters below pass gently underneath. It was quite nice. Though whether it’s worth the +$100USD price tag is up to ones personal bank account.

A Look at Kwai Tara Riverside Villa Floating Houses

These floating house style rooms are 80 square meters and uses two A/C units to cool the room…

The room’s size get’s the winning point plus having the river just footsteps out the sliding doors with a beautiful view of the river is the cherry on top.

It’s a sparsely decorated room with a fridge that is filled daily with complimentary sodas and snacks. Which is pretty much unheard of. There are not a whole lot of channels on the television and the Wi-Fi, if you need it is unreliable.

There was one morning where the electricity was shut off for nearly an hour and a half so the room got warmer. But luckily it kicked on just before afternoon when it gets hotter.

A big bathroom. Be sure to bring your own shower gel as the ones provided by the hotel is not enough…

As I mentioned earlier breakfast was included in the price we paid. Basically, you get two choices, American breakfast which is eggs to order, some bacon and ham. Then there’s the Thai option which is Khao Tom Moo (ข้าวต้มหมูสับ), rice porridge with ground pork. You can order multiple plates and the kitchen staff were more than happy to oblige.

Then there’s a table where guests can serve themselves cereals, toast, salads and juices. And that’s pretty much what we had the entire week for breakfast.

The breakfast area is located right by the hotels reception area…

There’s one thing I have to mention and I can’t really blame the hotel for this problem. And that is the flies.

As soon as the food ordered hits the tables flies seemingly materialize out of nowhere and started dive bombing my sunny side eggs and bacon. There are numerous electric fans set on high located throughout the eating area but even that was not enough to keep the pests away.

Maybe by the time you’re reading this Kwai Tara’s hotel management have figured out a way to solve this problem.

You can enjoy a view of elephants marching by in Mahawangchang Elephant Camp…

The Final Verdict

I really like to like the Kwai Tara Riverside Hotel. It’s great I think for a short visit. But I can’t really say I would go back again. But the reason also is there’s really not much to do overall in Kanchanaburi. And you really do need to drive about an hour just to find some nice place to eat or chill out at a café.

If you’re looking to be pampered then you might want to look elsewhere. They do have staff to help with your bags down the steep steps if you choose the floating houses. But after 8pm there’s no one at the reception desk for assistance until sometime sun up.

Everyday the hotel provides a free raft ride in the early evening and it was very enjoyable…

There are numerous time we’ve stayed at the same hotel property in Hua Hin like the Escape Hotel and La A Natu Bed & Bakery. We usually like to stay at our favorite hotels because we already know we’re going to experience great service and enjoy the going ons around the hotel’s location.

And because there’s nothing of real interest for us at least near the Kwai Tara there’s just not much reason for us to return again.

But here are a few points of interest you might enjoy in Kanchanaburi, but as I mentioned quite a drive from the hotel:

  1. Giant Tree Kanchanaburi or Giant Monkey Pod Tree Kanachanburi (just google it) is about an 1 hour and 30 minutes drive from Kwai Tara Riverside Villa.
  2. Sringarind Dam National Park is about 2 hours drive from Kwai Tara Riverside Villa. It’s a scenic drive with plenty of restaurants and rest stops along the way.

A long drive up mountains and hill afforded us this beautiful view of Srinagarind Dam…

As I mention already during this road trip we stayed in several other 3 star hotels in Sai Yok. And Kwai Tara is hands down the winner in terms of hotel quality and uniqueness. I guess if I could choose one word to describe the Kwai Tara the word would be unique.

There’s sort of a new catch phrase in Thailand and it’s called the “slow life”. Well if you want a taste of the slow life or even just a glimpse of it then go check out the Kwai Tara Riverside Villa.

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