The Jolly Frog

The Jolly Frog

Old-school backpacker institution

More on Kanchanaburi

The Jolly Frog’s cave-like rooms are not for everyone, but those who put up with them can laze in hammocks while watching the sun set over the river before chatting with seasoned travellers over cold beer and notably good food. Throw in room rates that seem frozen in the 1990s, and there’s plenty to like about this old-school backpacker institution.

Travelfish says:

Walking past shops offering bicycle and motorbike rental, Thai massage, tattoos and laundry on the lane leading to the Frog, you get the sense that at one time this was the only backpacker game in town.

The entrance is more welcoming than the staff. : David Luekens.
The entrance is more welcoming than the staff. Photo: David Luekens

Pass under the leafy gate and you enter a large open-sided restaurant serving authentic Thai food and sandwiches on house-baked bread. Neither the staff or the stone-faced matriarch at reception will make you feel particularly welcome, but what do you expect at a place where rooms start at 100 baht a night?

Relying on shared cold-water bathrooms with bucket-flush toilets, the cheapest single rooms come in a single-floor bamboo-and-wood building that looks like the shanty longhouses used to house itinerant labourers at construction sites. These have thin mattresses, fans and perhaps a chair out front. Those after a bit more “luxury” can grab a concrete-walled room with fan or air-con and private bathroom, also with cold water and bucket flush, and also grimy. These are set in two-storey buildings and we suggest the cooler ground-floor editions.

Like the prices, the rooms are dated. : David Luekens.
Like the prices, the rooms are dated. Photo: David Luekens

The Frog also has some rafthouse rooms accessed by steep stairs and relying on shared bathrooms. While these have been full on our past two visits, we can see how they’re set upon a beautiful stretch of the Khwae Yai. We also like how the three main room blocks were built on three sides of a large shaded lawn, leaving the side closest to the river open for all to enjoy. Several trees drape over hammocks, loungers and tables where travellers laze the days away.

The Frog continues to draw older budget travellers who seem to return seeking the nostalgia of past trips—a few of them were already three beers deep when we stopped by at noon. Young travellers looking to party might feel out of place, but we noticed several twenty-something backpackers mingling with the older crowd. Across the age spectrum, Chang beer tank tops abound.

Plenty of space to take it easy. : David Luekens.
Plenty of space to take it easy. Photo: David Luekens

Free WiFi supposedly works in the restaurant and you’ll find a fair amount of info on activities, from rafting to yoga to tours. The entrance along the main road is at the centre of the nightlife strip, but the long access lane serves as a buffer that keeps the noise to more of a soft rumble than piercing clamour.

Contact details for The Jolly Frog

Address: 28 Soi China (off Mae Nam Khwae Rd), Kanchanaburi
T: (034) 514 579;  
Coordinates (for GPS): 99º31'14.45" E, 14º1'57.74" N
See position in Apple or Google Maps: Apple Maps | Google Maps
Room rates: Under 600B

Room rates

What we were quoted as a walk-in.

Sgl fan share bathroom 100 baht 100 baht
Dbl fan share bathroom
180 baht 180 baht
Dbl fan private bathroom 230 baht 230 baht
Dbl air-con private bathroom 320 baht 320 baht
Quad fan private bathroom 400 baht 400 baht

Reviewed by

David Luekens first came to Thailand in 2005 when Thai friends from his former home of Burlington, Vermont led him on a life-changing trip. Based in Thailand since 2011, he spends much of his time eating in Bangkok street markets and island hopping the Andaman Sea.

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