What better way to discover Thainess than with an expert local guide? Phil Hawkes and his wife Nicole recently explored Kanchanaburi, with help from local guide, Suree. They share their experience with us here…
What better way to feel like a VIP than to let a local tour guide show you some of Thailand’s historic and scenic sites? Our trip to the Kanchanaburi region was all the more special thanks to our expert Thai guide Suree.
Suree was knowledgeable, professional and lots of fun, even pointing out which dishes might be too spicy for us as we dined. I can’t think of a better way to learn about Thailand’s culture and stories than from a local guide.
Our first stop in Kanchanaburi was on the banks of the River Kwai, for a wonderful lunch followed by a visit to the famous bridge, and the JEATH (Japan–England–Australia–Thailand–Holland) Museum, before heading to our accommodation for the night, the River Kwai Jungle Rafts.
A longtail boat takes us up-river, about 54kms from the bridge to the raft resort about 30 minutes away. Think camping on a river with a few extra luxuries like beds, bathrooms and a wonderful restaurant – all floating on the river.
The resort is staffed mainly by local Mon villagers, who greet us upon our arrival wearing traditional face paint, and take us on a tour of their village.
We’re also greeted each morning by elephants from the local village, brought down here for their daily bath.
The river flows quite swiftly downstream, and one of the best ways to cool down in this tropical climate is to jump in and float downstream to the end of the raft resort, which we did repeatedly – so relaxing.
The following day we visit Hellfire Pass, a moving memorial to the allied prisoners who suffered here during the Second World War working on the 110-metre, 17 metre deep cutting on the unfinished Death Railway line.
Our accommodation tonight is not far from Hellfire Pass; the Hintok River Camp. Comfortable, air-conditioned tents with semi-outdoor showers make you feel like you are camping in the jungle without any of the hardship. The food, served a-la-carte around a roaring fire, is fantastic.
“Glamping” in a jungle clearing allowed us to appreciate the dense, untamed vegetation that became a prison to those who were enslaved at Hellfire Pass.
Our last night is spent at Sampran Riverside Hotel as we immerse ourselves in some traditional Thai culture – hands on.
We try our hand at bamboo dancing, weaving and watch Thai silk being spun, and I am treated to the most authentic and expert Thai massage I have ever experienced. I also particularly loved learning how to make the herbal compresses that were so expertly used in my treatment.
The general manager, Khun Kris took time to show us the hotel’s organic farm which supplies the in-house essential oil distillery, which in turn produces the spa product sold in the hotel store. (I stocked up – never know when I’ll be able to get back.
All in all, it was a truly memorable trip, and for me, the elephants always steal the show and we are especially lucky on this trip to get up close and personal during elephant bath time.
P.S. If you are like me and crave a great coffee while you away, be sure to search out Yuk Coffee (not hard to remember, and so not Yuk) for another home comfort en voyage. Sangchuto Road, Lum Sum