As we sat on the river bank sipping our ice-cold beers, listening to the occasional long-tail boat flying by, the journey to get here seems to be all but a distance memory.
It is easy to forget, after having a warm shower, unpacking and relaxing leisurely on our own private terrace for a while, that only hours before we were perched on wooden benches in a train carriage for over three hours with just a couple of monks and the occasional food vendor to keep us company.
It doesn’t sound like a bad journey does it? And, to be fair, it was one of the highlights of our trip, but I would be lying if I said it had been a comfortable one.
Why The River Kwai?
At school, we spent years unraveling what took place during WWI and WWII within Europe, but that is really as far as my history lessons went. We never explored what had happened to other countries over the course of time and I vowed to myself, that when I started to travel more widely, I would also make a point of understanding the history of the world. After all, what happens in our past helps to determine our present and future, right?
It was after watching, The Bridge on the River Kwai, an epic war-time film, that I begun to understand what atrocities had taken place many years ago with the building of the Death Railway, and whilst a blockbuster film may not always be fully accurate, it did get me thinking.
Kanchanaburi didn’t just hold intrigue for me however, Paul also expressed a very strong desire to visit this region and so it was decided – a trip to Kanchanaburi and the River Kwai was added to our must-see list during the planning stages.
Where To Stay on The River Kwai
Whenever we mentioned to someone that we were planning to incorporate Kanchanaburi and the River Kwai into our Thailand trip, we received blank looks and confused faces. They all, of course, had either heard of or seen the film, but couldn’t understand why we ourselves would want to visit the town.
Each year, about 5 million people visit the region primarily to ride on the Death Rail up to Hellfire Pass. Out of those 5 million, many simply arrive early in the morning on a tour bus, spend the day sightseeing and then return to Bangkok as the sunsets. We however, wanted more than this.
Yes, we wanted to visit the area where the now very famous historical railway bridge stands, but we also wanted to find out what else there was to see around the River Kwai, therefore more than just a day trip was required.
How To Find The Right Resort on The River Kwai
If you type ‘places to stay on the River Kwai’ into an internet search, numerous booking websites appear followed by eye-catching titles like ‘cheap places to stay in Kanchanaburi’ or a promotion for a floating river-raft style hotel pop-up and whilst they intrigued us enough to click through to see what they offered, nothing really stood out for us.
They didn’t seem to offer everything we had in mind, and yes I know compromise is key sometimes, but on this occasion it just didn’t seem right. Then I stumbled across a review on a popular customer feedback site that stood out.
Why We Chose Good Times Resort in Kanchanaburi
All along, we both agreed that there was one compromise neither of us were prepared to make – wherever we stayed it had to be on the river.
What is the point of travelling to somewhere like the River Kwai (also known as the Khwae Yai River) if you are not going to stay on it.
There are of course, many floating hotels along the river, and whilst many of them promote luxury, there was not one that stood out for us. That is until we found the Good Times Resort.
Whilst it is not a traditional, floating wooden hotel complex, it did offer everything we had been looking for.
Based in the centre of town, close to many restaurants and attractions, The Good Times Resort offers variously styled comfortable rooms, a swimming pool, onsite restaurant with optional cooking classes and space to unwind.
Our Room At Good Times Resort
On the website, there was one particular room that stood out – the deluxe river room – which on arrival, we realised was one of a kind.
Set on the river front, with its own large but private terrace, sat our spacious room complete with sofa area, wooden rocking chair and a king-sized bed that appeared to be floating above the ground.
This was a room designed for relaxing in.
After leaving all shoes at the door, the stark-white tiles cooled our feet as soon as we crossed the threshold whilst the wall of glass allowed a little warmth through from the covered veranda outside. Having such a private room also meant that we could sleep with the curtains open, allowing us to watch the lights bob along the water in the blackness of the night, whilst the rising sun filtered gently into our room each morning allowing us to wake naturally.
The bathroom was large with modern facilities although, if there was one element that let this particular room down, it would be that there was no bath to soak into after a day of exploring. Thankfully there was a pool within the resort’s grounds where we could cool down after a day of hiking temple steps or wandering the creaking wooden sleepers of the railway tracks.
However, by far one of the best features of this particular hotel was the waterfront restaurant and bar area. It was here that we found ourselves spending our first evening in town, simply enjoying the view with a chilled beverage in hand watching the sunset. Afterwards, as the darkness set in, we enjoyed freshly cooked curries and listened to the nocturnal bugs of the river come alive.
Being the adventurous type, where curry is concerned at least, it was on this evening that Paul devoured, albeit very slowly, his hottest curry of our trip, a Burmese red curry made Thai hot. The staff asked more than once whether he really wanted it to be that spicy and each time he expressed a wish to try it as hot as possible. I would love to say that he learned from this experience, but that would be a fib. Yes, he would agree that he took longer than normal to eat; yes he would agree that it was extra spicy, but at no point is he prepared to turn around and say that it was too much for him. However, from then on whenever he ordered curry, he always asked for it to be of medium spice and made sure that there was always a cold drink waiting for him on the sidelines.
Other than evening meals, Good Times Resort also offered a sumptuous breakfast of cereals, meats and cheeses, fresh fruits, a variety of different egg options cooked to order and a different but typical thai-style breakfast choice each morning. To me, it still seems strange to have a portion of fried rice each morning alongside my melon and pineapple slices but it appeared to be very popular with my fellow diners.
One Thing That Made Our Stay Here Stand Out
The Good Times Resort stood out for many reasons, but the one thing that made this part of our trip truly memorable was the staff. Now I know that people say Thais are especially friendly and smile a lot, but the staff here were exceptional. Nothing was too much; the service was unbelievable. Any little thing we asked for, no matter how small, was met with smiles and warmth and even out on the streets staff recognised us. No where we have been before, or since was quite like this.
If you ever decide to explore Kanchanaburi and the area around the River Kwai, the Good Times Resort is somewhere we highly recommend.
Have you visited Kanchanaburi? Is the River Kwai an area that interests you? We would love to hear about your experiences or perhaps you have read a book about the area around the River Kwai that you feel we would also enjoy.