Remember Myst, the 90s computer game set in a beautiful fantasy world where you could get lost in the different “ages” and discover all sorts of magical stuff for hours on end? Well, ladies and gentlemen, I am here today to tell you that I have found the island of Myst: it is in Bangkok, Thailand, on the bank of the Chao Phraya River in what is dubbed “The Green Lungs of Bangkok”. Not only that, but it also has an enchanted tree house where I got to spend a few days – an eco-friendly project crafted out of sustainable and reclaimed materials amidst the jungle, a mere seven or eight km away from the downtown core of Bangkok.
Once you find yourself in this magical oasis where fireflies abound and the pace of life is as gentle as in the remotest of Thai towns, you’ll have trouble believing you are so close to the city and not in a video game from the 90s. Behold: the Bangkok Tree House.
Inspired by Henry David Thoreau’s Walden, or Life in the Woods, The Bangkok Tree House is the brainchild of a local man whose family also owns The Old Capital Bike Inn in Central Bangkok and a great example of well thought-out architecture blending with nature where style and design meet sustainable and ecological efforts. As well as using reclaimed and sustainable material wherever possible and absolutely no leather or animal by-products, the resort (which is fully smoke-free) avoids fumigating (bring mosquito repellent!) resulting in magical firefly-filled night skies. They also use old juice cartons for insulation, LED lighting, solar and wind powered energy, limited air conditioning units and are making an honest effort to partake in cleaning the Chao Phraya River on which is sits: for every booking at the Tree House, one kilo of trash is removed. And that is just to name but a few of the ecological initiatives behind this great project.
After arriving by ferry and foot using the raised concrete platforms that circle the island, and sampling my various welcome drinks made of local plants, I am led to my room through a maze of jungle, bamboo, wooden paths and mirrors where exotic plants and critters thrive. My treetop nest is unlike any hotel room I have ever been in! The three-storey wood and glass room opens up to an airy lobby with an open air toilet with glass floor and the most awesome bamboo jungle rain shower I have ever used – I admittedly took a few extra showers because it was just so lush and exotic. The alternate tread stairs – it took me some time to adapt to those! – lead to the main room where a large comfy bed reigns with a computer corner, ample day light and a cute little bamboo balcony. One more floor up finds a large sun lounger on the rooftop with a 360 view of all the greenery that surrounds me. This place is truly a dream and made the transition from cycling the beautiful Thai nature to arriving in the bustle of Bangkok a whole lot smoother for me.
Apart from the treetop nests like mine, the Tree House also has a larger family nest as well as an open air room on a raised bamboo platform, and the opportunity to sleep on a floating bed right on the river – the website does warn that there is a “high probability of getting wet”. You don’t say!
The restaurant is an open air, multiple storey bamboo affair on a raised platform right on the river, affording beautiful views of the nearby jungle. They have a separate vegetarian menu showcasing local organic ingredients and several vegan options such as spicy summer watermelon salad, tofu laab cakes on lemongrass sticks and mango sticky rice, all presented delightfully. The menu follows the seasons with daily changes as fresh produce becomes available from local fruit orchards and artisan dessert makers. Breakfast is complimentary to your stay and there is a vegan option available comprising of a rice soup, fruit plate, toast, coffee and juice.
Bangkok Tree House might be located just a few minutes from the downtown core, but the real draw here is the island where it is located, a little village frozen in time where nature is sometimes taking over, the locals are friendly and the pace of living is still slow and stress-free. Grab a free bicycle and go explore the nearby jungle via the raised concrete paths, stopping for a visit at the joss stick house, floating market and cafes. The Tree House even offers a service to pack a picnic for you. And at the end of the day, when you are all tuckered out, grab some free vegan ice cream from the honesty bar, have yourself the most exotic shower of all time, tuck yourself in the silky bedding and watch a flick from the complimentary in-room collection of green movies, documentaries and animations. How cool is that?
Many thanks to The Bangkok Tree House for their hospitality. As always, all opinions are my own regardless of who is footing the bill.