Before we get this post started I guess I should let you know where I will be calling home for at least the next 5 months… Sukhothai! I’ve been placed in Kwang Tong Trilingual School and will be teaching Prathom 4-6 (grades 4-6 in American terms). The town seems pretty good so far but I’ll definitely fill you in on all of it’s qualities a bit later. But without further ado, I present to you, Mom Chailai Forest Retreat.
Every now and then you stumble upon something so breathtaking that no matter how descriptive your words or pictures are only you know the true beauty of what you have experienced. After a long day’s hike at Erawan National Park and an hour long songthaew ride in what can only be described as a mini-monsoon our group arrived at our lodging for
the night, Mom Chailai Forest Retreat. While as hard as I may try I will not be able to convince you of how perfect of a place this was to stay. It’s understandable if you haven’t heard of it. They do not drop much money into advertising because they want it to be a place nature lovers can retreat to when they wish to get away from the busy resorts. I’d say “mission accomplished”.
Hidden away in a Sai Yok forest on the steep bank of the Khwae Noi (River Kwai) is a massive haven for nature lovers. Mom Chailai Forest Retreat consists of 23 uniquely built lodgings, none of which is like the other. Each room has it’s own architectural style and interior design which lends to the natural aura of the area. My room consisted of a large, king sized bed, a 20 foot ceiling, and a bathroom which allowed in more natural light than a corner apartment in New York City overlooking Central Park. Friends were blessed with items found only in their room such as large wooden tables surrounded by benches made from logs, natural curves and all, or an enclosed front porch which provided our venue to indulge in a few beers for the evening.
While the rooms themselves help separate Mom Chailai from any other resort you may have stayed at, it wasn’t until you take a couple of steps out of your room to explore your surroundings that its true beauty revealed itself. The morning before our check-out I was able to take a trek and came across some of the most amazing natural sights I’ve ever witness (and keep in mind I’m saying this after visiting Erawan Waterfalls the day before). The resort provides its guests with multiple areas to take in the natural beauty of the area such as a moonlight bathing point (title picture), cliff side overlook of the Khwae Noi (seen below), a natural mineral swimming pool, and the best surprise of all… puppies! While walking about, out of nowhere, five little pups come scurrying out of the bushes towards us from next to the fence. A perfect cap to an already breathtaking walk.
No accommodation can be perfect without a great staff and let me say there can be no complaints in that area. The chef drove in to cook us dinner after he had already left for the night, the operator took us into town to get snacks and beer from the 7/11 even though he knew it meant he would lose sales on that beer, and he even drove us to the train station the next morning (all we had to pay for was gas).
*Bring bug spray! Because they have done everything they can to keep the natural feeling of the area many bugs are attracted to because of the lights of the resort. A minor complaint though.
Mom Chailai is located in Sai Yok, Kanchanaburi. There are multiple ways to reach the resort but I recommend taking one of two methods. If coming from Kanchanaburi there are plenty of songthaews who are willing to take you and your party on the hour long trip to the area. For our group of 12, our songthaew driver took us from Kanchanaburi to Erawan National Park (1 hour), waited there for 6+ hours while we visited the falls, and then proceeded to haul us through the previously mentioned mini-monsoon to Mom Chailai (1 hour) all for less than 170 baht apiece. Not bad for 8 hours worth of a personal driver.
If you happen to be coming from Bangkok I recommend taking the train from Thonburi Train Station (no small task to reach) where you can take the 3rd class train all the way to Nam Tok Train Station in Sai Yok for a mere 100 baht (though Thai folk pay a lot less). While this may take a bit longer than more modern means of transportation it is the most scenic as you travel along the Death Railway and all its landmarks such as the Bridge Over the River Kwai and the curve around the Wang Po viaduct. If nothing else, do take this on your trip back to Kanchanaburi or Bangkok from Sai Yok. The view is worth an extra hour or two.
If you happen to visit the Sai Yok area be sure to stay at Mom Chailai Forest Retreat. Take the time to explore the grounds and ask about the story behind the resort. It truly is a special place and offers the best opportunity to take time and enjoy so much of the unrefined beauty that Thailand has to offer.
Note: I have received no compensation from Mom Chailai Forest Retreat or any other source for this post. All words and opinions are my own. I merely want others to experience the pleasure that this surprise stay brought me.
Is there a hotel, guesthouse, or hostel that made your stay perfect? What about it made it stand out among the rest? I’d love to hear about your vacation experiences!
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