Abandon land for Southeast Asia's best 'floatels'

Abandon land for Southeast Asia's best 'floatels'

For sleeping options with maximum buoyancy, check out these floating hotels in the Greater Mekong subregion

When it comes to adventure travel, in terms of accommodation options lazy is the new crazy.

In Southeast Asia alone there are dozens of hotels that offer the chance to relax, ride the tides and, in the immortal words of Modest Mouse, float on.

Floating hotels and stilted resorts over water can be found across the Greater Mekong subregion, which encompasses areas of Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and the Yunnan Province of China.

The River Kwai Jungle Raft Floatel: Kanchanaburi, Thailand

River Kwai Jungle Raft Floatel  With no electricity, this place is the real rustic deal for those who want to unplug. The River Kwai Jungle Raft Floatel is a rustic floating village in Kanchanaburi that's been around since 1976.

Just two and a half hours outside of Bangkok, its bamboo rooms roped together in a long row line the banks of the River Kwai.

Accommodations are "cozy" at 28 square meters, but create a community vibe with hammocks slung close enough together to encourage conversation. 

There's no electricity so things are definitely quiet at night. 

During the day the resort's dock is lined with sunbathers and the river fills with swimmers.

The current is strong enough to pull swimmers at a steady clip, so the favorite sport for guests is to jump off the pier, float the length of the resort, grab onto the last ladder, climb back out and repeat. 

Essential info: There's no convenience store around the corner from the Jungle Raft Floatel, so food and boat transfers are included in the price.

Rates for a room with half board, joint boat transfer and double occupancy start at US$72, with full board starting at US$79. Book through the Floatel’s website.

 

The Float House River Kwai: Kanchanaburi, Thailand

The Float House is staffed by members of the local Mon community. The Float House River Kwai features 10 luxury floating villas joined together on a nice stretch of the River Kwai.

Each room spans an airy 90 square meters and is constructed from local materials. Décor is best described as "folksy Thai."  

Technophiles can breathe easy. The Float House has WiFi, a DVD player and a 32-inch LCD screen as well as a private pier and balcony over the water. 

Essential info: Double occupancy with half board and boat transfer starts at US$220, while full board rates begin at US$240. Bookings can be made via phone at +66 2 642 5497 or by email at info@TheFloatHouseRiverKwai.com.

 

Grand Lagoona: Koh Chang, Thailand 

The Grand Lagoona is on Koh Chang, Thailand's second largest island after Phuket. Whether you want to spend the night in a floating villa, on the top floor of a seven-story boat, or tucked away in the belly of an ancient wooden barge, the Grand Lagoona has you covered. 

The resort's ChomNapa option includes floating villas and a Jacuzzi where you can down cocktails by moonlight. 

The Boat Chalet is a hearty wooden vessel adorned in rustic teak. This testament to traditional Thai design sits in the freshwater lagoon on the banks of the resort. 

The Galaxy, as the seven-deck boat was grandly dubbed, has 70 rooms and a banquet hall that seats up to 500 people. 

Essential info: Guests can get a diver’s certification while in Koh Chang, with the four-day open water PADI certificate starting at $484. 

Rooms can be booked online at grandlagoona.com.

More on CNNGo: Phuket's top villas and suites

 

4 Rivers Floating Lodge: Koh Kong, Cambodia

Every room has its own private deck with large reclining lounge chairs and a ladder leading right into the river. For a high-end "floatel" option, there's the 4 Rivers Floating Lodge. It has 12 luxury yurts floating on the Cambodian section of the Mekong River, only an hour drive from the Thai border.

The rooms are 45 square meters and each is outfitted with a flat-screen television, Wi-Fi and mini-bar.

The "villas" may just be tents erected on a wooden pier, but the décor is so rich it feels like you're  inside a sultan’s secret lair.

The lodge was designed to marry luxury with ecology, offering a top end experience with minimal impact on the surrounding environment.

Part of this initiative includes using only eco-friendly materials, rationing the use of wood, ensuring responsible waste water treatment and educating locals and tourists on the importance of conservation and preservation. 

Essential info: Double occupancy tents range from US$136 in low season to US$159 in high season. Bookings can made through the 4 Rivers website.

 

Hotel Sala Phae: Pakse, Laos

Can't take the heat? Head elsewhere. Rooms at Hotel Sala Phae have ceiling fans and private balconies, but no air-con. This two-star guest house is a wallet-friendly choice for budget travelers exploring Laos. There are eight simple rooms supported across four rafts.

From the Hotel Sala Phae guests can arrange a trip to see the Irrawaddy dolphins, a snub-nosed oceanic breed found in Southeast Asia.

For hikers, the Li-Phi waterfall is only a 1.5-kilometer walk from the banks of Sala Phae. It's one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Laos. 

Essential info: Rates range from US$25 to $60 per night. This boutique offering doesn't have a website, but you can book through Visit Asia Travel. 

 

Sala Don Khone: Ban Khone Tai, Khong District, Laos  

The French-inspired décor at Sala Don Khone is romantic, but other than hot water, amenities are pretty bare bones. Floating among the "4,000 islands," off the coast of Don Khone, Sala Don Khone offers three room types.

Floating studios are the most basic accommodations, followed by large suites furnished in a French colonial aesthetic.

At the top of hierarchy are traditional Ban Lao rooms with private balconies and a cozy cabana atmosphere. 

Essential info: The double occupancy floating studio starts at US$55 per night. Reserve through the hotel.

More on CNNGo: 15 bizarre but amazing hotels

 

Thuan Loi Hotel: Chau Doc,Vietnam

Thuan Loi hotel is right on the river, 100 meters from Chau Doc market, in the An Giang province of Vietnam.

The front of the hotel is grounded, but the back is built on stilts over the river, with the restaurant afloat on the Mekong Delta.

Thuan Loi has 25 no-frills rooms, but with prices starting at US$14 it's a bargain. The location is central and you can spend an afternoon at the restaurant, eating fresh Vietnamese cuisine while watching boats glide past.

Essential info: Double occupancy rooms with fans start at $14 per night, and jump to $24 for air-conditioned rooms. The hotel doesn't have a website, but you can book rooms onlinehere

 

Mekong Floating House: Ben Tre, Vietnam

Each Mekong Floating House cabin is built on floats with wood from a variety of local plants, including palm and bamboo.This family-owned guest house was built in a garden of coconut palms by the banks of Ben Tre's Turtle Island.

The owners pride themselves on the eco-minded facilities, with solar panels powering electricity across the property and a bio-digester that treats wastewater.  

The cuisine at the floating restaurant represents a range of Vietnamese delicacies.

The only drawback is river traffic. A steady flow of boats passes in front of the timber terraces and keeps things rocking.

 

Essential info: Rates for double occupancy rooms start US$40 per night, including breakfast. Lunch costs US$10 per person and dinner US$15.

The Mekong Floating House is located near the sleepy Turtle Island, Quoi Son Ward, Chau Thanh District, Ben Tre Province, Vietnam. Book online at their website.

 

Shwe Inn Tha Floating Hotel: Inle Lake, Myanmar

This woman is getting a flosage -- a floating massage. Yes, we just made that word up. Located in the heart of Inntha tribe territory, the Shwe Inn Tha Hotel opened in 1995.

This little prize sits on Inle Lake, surrounded by the mist of the Blue Mountains. There are 33 standard rooms, five deluxe rooms and two junior suites to choose from. 

If you have a competitive itch, schedule your trip in October when you can take part in the annual Inle Lake boat races. The race pits two boats against each other, with more than 100 leg rowers per craft.

There are three races between the two boats and the best of three wins. It costs US$200 per race to participate. 

Essential info: Flights to Inle from Yangon take 90 minutes. The Nyaung Shwe pier, where you board a boat to Inle Lake, is a 40-minute drive from Heho Airport. The boat transfer to the resort takes an hour.

Rates start at $120 and rooms can be booked through the resort’s website.

 

Golden Island Cottages: Inle Lake, Myanmar

All of the Golden Island Cottages provide views of sunrises and sunsets over Inle lake. Also on Inle Lake, Golden Island Cottages sits directly in front of a bird sanctuary, making it a choice spot for birders.

The 25 basic cottages are built on stilts, a style common throughout the region. 

The resort is legendary for its friendly staff and spectacular musical welcome for guests as they sail up to the front desk. 

There's one drawback. Early morning fishermen paddling to where the prey is biting create more noise than you'd think. If you're planning to sleep in, you may want ear plugs.

Essential info: It can get cold on the lake, so bring layers. 

Double occupancy standard room rates range from US$60 to US$70. Superior rooms range from US$70 to US$80 per night.

Bookings can be made on the hotel’s website.  

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