We love the Frog, but it was other critters that tested our fondness this time around.
The Jolly Frog is an old favourite of ours but we are not blind to its faults. Having stayed here now three times in 14 years we know both what we like about this place and what we hate. And I mean hate.
I hate its main problem with a visceral loathing but still come down in favour of staying here whenever we are in Kanchanaburi. Having said that, this time we did cast a glad eye at other potentials to see what else we could have won.
First off though the good stuff. At 230thb the Jolly Frog may well be the cheapest place we have stayed in Thailand, though a couple of the other options we investigated nearby are priced similarly.
Located down a small road, guests enter the Jolly Frog via a shadowed opening to the restaurant, but after walking through the gloom, made so as eyes adjust from the outside sun, we heard more than one new guest express a wow on first surveying the serene scene that will front their room for the next few days.
Kanchanaburi has the feel of an island in places and I’ve always thought of the Jolly Frog as a backpacker resort – though these days older traveller’s and budget minded families also get their jollies at the Frog – and it is outside of the rooms where the place really excels.
While it would be too much to expect a pool a patch of green shaded by trees serves the same function. Instead of the sea there is the river, right beside which sits the Frog. Scatterings of deckchairs and hammocks lend to the chilled vibe and we spent a happy two weeks just loafing about on our veranda, working sporadically and eating in the restaurant.
This is another plus. When we first stayed here in 2003 I loved the German steak and wasn’t disappointed when we next ate here in 2013. This time around they weren’t as good but the Thai dishes are numerous and great value. I can’t recall another guesthouse restaurant where we have eaten so often and the place seemed to attract plenty of local Thais and expats too.
It is inside the rooms however where things start to fall down. The Jolly Frog has been around a while and it shows. Though our room was bigger than some of the others we have stayed in here, with a comfortable bed, they are still on the dark and poky side.
In the bathrooms toilets are self flushing and the showers cold and you have to get lucky to be alone in one.
I’ve lost count of the cockroaches I stomped on since we’ve been here. I’m literally interrupting this post to answer a call from Deirdre to kill yet another. Little ants are a minor issue while the bigger ones largely kept to themselves about the sink. Our room was nearest the restaurant so this might account for higher numbers of bugs, and for the cats that liked to wail outside. The birds and butterflies that flew and fluttered past our veranda were far more pleasant visitors, adding rather than detracting from the overall scene.
We could also hear music from the restaurant from 7am and general chatter though it rarely went on too late. Rooms further away shouldn’t be so affected, though wifi addicts will need to drag their deckchairs closer to reception and the restaurant to reach the signal and tolerate the patchy service.
Despite these considerable drawbacks, the Jolly Frog remains one of our favourite places to stay in Thailand and, providing it is remembered you get what you pay for, may be yours too.
Jolly Frog, Mae Nam Kwae Road, 28 Soi China, Kanchanaburi 71000
Tel: +66 92 919 9334
Update: We have heard the Jolly Frog has changed owners and its name to The Smiley Frog, and some of the old rooms are being demolished and replaced by new ones.