Arriving at Our Jungle House (OJH) was like going back to childhood when I had a treehouse in my backyard. Oftentimes I would pretend that I was surrounded by jungle, rivers, wildlife, and curious monkeys. Today, I didn’t need to pretend – it was my reality.
Getting to Our Jungle House From Surat Thani
As we got dropped off on Highway 401 at the entrance to Khao Sok National Park several men offered us rides to our accommodation. We choose to take them up on the offer as it was blazing hot and a few kilometers to Our Jungle House or 50 Baht for a ride.
I chose to sit in the bed of the pickup truck so I could feel the breeze and the sun on my skin. The man tried to tell me I shouldn’t do it, and mimed that the bed of the truck was hot. It didn’t matter: I wanted to feel the wind on my face. BAD choice. After immediately burning my butt, I grabbed my travel pillow and relaxed. It was ten minutes away and I felt transformed along the ride.
We passed the town area and all the other hotels. I saw a few other places I had almost booked and felt immediate relief we were passing them up.
Our Jungle House is the ONLY treehouse resort which is truly in the Khao Sok rainforest, so be careful when you book other places, guys, as there’s lots of internet trickery about!
As the truck turned off the main street, the branches reached farther out over the rocky road, some whipping me in the face. I swear I spotted a sleeping snake wrapped around a branch as we took yet another curve deeper into the lush jungle.
Finally, We Arrive… and It’s Wonderful
The truck stopped in front of a series of open wooden buildings, close enough together that I knew it was part of the same complex but far enough apart that there was privacy for all. “Welcome to Our Jungle House” said the friendly staff in unison. They poured us a welcome drink while taking down our information and explaining the property to us.
“Breakfast is served each morning at the restaurant here”. My eyes found the bar and restaurant building. A large and beautiful two story café facing limestone cliffs and a river stared back at me. I blinked twice to be sure I was really here. This is a writer’s dream come true and a haven I immediately was drawn to.
They offered to help us with our bags, but since I packed carry-on only , it wasn’t necessary. We made the leisurely 5-7 minute walk to our private tree house: Gingah. It’s a recent addition to the property, but like all the other houses is set apart from the main path to the river, leaving you feeling that you are truly alone in the jungle. Exhilarating and slightly scary at the same time.
We were warned not to leave any food in our rooms as it would attract monkeys. Having had my share of monkey battles, I was not about to tempt that fate. She lit the mosquito coil for us, showed us the beautiful back patio, and warmly welcomed us to Our Jungle House. Every room comes with a wonderful brochure that has thoughtfully been put together by the owner and management regarding the eco-friendliness of Our Jungle House.
Getting a Feel For The Place
As a member of the Responsible Travel Tourism Collective it is hugely important to me to see accommodations taking their part in conservation seriously. The brochure touched on all the things I was wondering about : nearby food sourcing, energy efficiency, giving back to their community, local staff who enjoy management positions, and considerable detailed education about the environment and wildlife.*
After learning so much about the outside jungle, I couldn’t wait to set foot in it. I’d had previous conversations with their Responsible Tourism Coordinator Christopher Ian Smith. Chris is an accomplished travel writer, avid photographer, and all around do-gooder with his sights set on pairing his passion for the planet and photography together to change the way we see our world. My kinda guy.
Chris took us around the property and on a jungle walk just as the sun was setting and the treetops were letting in the golden light to lead us. He expertly pointed out several tree types that I would have missed, and wisely grabbed a stick to defend us in case the nearby monkeys decided they wanted to play rough.
As we parted branches, held onto vines to steady us, and kept our eyes peeled for wildlife I couldn’t help but feel instantly connected back to the earth. Breathing deeply I felt my chest expand happily, and my body start to adjust to the tropical air. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in the jungle, and now I’m staying here.
We made our way to the river, rolling up our pant legs and getting our feet wet. I was worried about leeches, but the only thing that made an appearance was a frog welcoming us to his home. After this little stroll through the jungle we made our way to the second story of the bar / restaurant to have dinner with Chris.
The menu offered a great balance between classic Thai food as well as Western cuisine. As soon as I saw it on the menu, there was no doubt about what I was having : Khao Soi, a delicious soup from the north of Thailand was on the list and I ordered without hesitation. The flavors were perfectly balanced and reminded me of so many wonderful days spent in Chiang Mai. Dinner was delicious and easily the best food I’ve had in a restaurant in Thailand.
We were lucky enough to be joined for after dinner drinks by Mandy, the manager. She is a wonderful personality with a strong background in hospitality who has infused the entire property with touches that leave these jungle houses feeling like a luxury experience. She also had the foresight to order a platter of banana fritters which came with a honey and chocolate dipping sauces, respectively. Perfectly cooked, and quickly devoured.
Digging Deeper Into the Experience
After a few great hours of conversation with Mandy and Chris we went back to Gingah to get some sleep before the adventure on the Chieow Lake the next morning. When you arrive, the staff will light the mosquito coil for you to prevent any free buffets for these little pests during the night, but we still decided to use the mosquito net. It really made the ambiance.
I went to brush my teeth and swear I saw something move. The jungle does funny things to your mind, so I brushed it off as nothing. Again, I sensed movement. I got close to the toilet (where it was coming from) and look what I found.
An adorable little frog who was just trying to have a nice bath. Being that close to nature certainly doesn’t happen back in Madrid, so it was a little thrill and enough to remind myself to turn the lights on before going pee in the middle of the night. We all slept soundly – including the frog who was no longer there in the morning.
I woke up in the mist and chill of the jungle, it urges you to sleep just a little longer to stay warm, but the sounds of life around you make you want to spring out of bed to join the action.
As I went walking through the freshly spun cobwebs (pro tip: put your hands up as you walk the trail first thing in the morning) to the large and welcoming restaurant, I breathed deeper, walked slower, and soaked in every second. It was so incredibly relaxing.
Sitting alongside the river amidst banana trees, bamboo groves, and staring at the face of an immensely beautiful limestone mountain one can’t help but feel you’ve done something right. I ordered the vegetarian delight breakfast with a French press coffee and was again thrilled at the quality of the food and having real coffee!
This was the perfect fuel for the next experience : the overnight tour to Cheow Lake booked through Our Jungle House. Stay tuned for all the outstanding photos and moments this trip held, like a stay at Our Jungle House in Khao Sok, it was truly a spectacular experience.
Please note: we were the guests of Our Jungle House for the purposes of this review, however you know by now that who picks up the tab never has bearing on my reviews, and that my opinion is not for sale. For all the boring details on how I handle exchanges like this please check out my disclaimer.
*In the interest of transparency the only point I found distasteful was their inclusion of elephant riding tours both on their website and on property. However after I spoke with Chris and Mandy via email, I am assured that they are taking this matter up with the owner. In fact, they’ve even made a note on the trek that you can choose to only feed and bathe the elephants — please choose this option if you visit this wonderful resort. And you should, as soon as possible!