Old-school backpacker institution
28 Soi China (off Mae Nam Khwae Rd), Kanchanaburi T: (034) 514 579
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
By David Luekens
Last updated on 4th February, 2017.
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