All photos used are courtesy of the Maads team, except the one I’m in – which is courtesy of a lovely traveller asking if I wanted a photo taken.
A lone glamping pod floats peacefully on The Mekong, attached to the aptly named Floatation Lounge. These floating structures offer an idyllic and peaceful sunset view over the bustling city, should the weather be on your side.
Maads Asia have tailored an impressive collection of boutique hotels within Phnom Penh that regularly surface in travel guide recommendations. Their Jungloo project was “designed for camping in style and in phase with our fragile tropical ecosystem”, according to its website. This is corporate social responsibility done right; it’s fun, it’s exciting, it effortlessly exudes coolness – literally, with double skin thermionic regulation. The Jungloo glamping pods seek to preserve our precious ecosystem with solar-powered heated water, recycled bamboo furniture and sustainable air-conditioning.
The Jungloo experience is available in two Phnom Penh locations: the floating Jungloo at the aforementioned Floatation Lounge or the Urban Jungloo amongst the secret gardens of The Kabiki. The latter has a little swimming pool and includes access to all of the resorts’ facilities.
Prices for the Floating Jungloo start from $80 with boat transfer included; the Urban Jungloo begins at $99. Breakfast is included with your stay.
I turned the ripe young age of 30 last month, and this milestone was welcomed by a birthday surprise with the sole instruction of packing an overnight bag. Unbeknownst to me, my girlfriend had booked us the Floating Jungloo, which came with a tuk tuk from The Kabiki to the port, and then a boat to the floating resort.
Unfortunately we were stuck in the occasional nightmare of Phnom Penh traffic and arrived five minutes before our scheduled departure. So we each gobbled down the complimentary glass of lemonade and little pandan treat in the secret garden of the hotel grounds before the receptionist radio’d for a porter to help carry our bags to the tuk tuk transfer.
Turns out The Kabiki was also having trouble having its own driver reach the hotel, but we were assured that the boat wouldn’t be leaving without us anyway. We got up to the port slightly late, but the half dozen waiting passengers didn’t seem to mind. (For reference, the port is next the night market at Riverside.)
Setting off on Le Tonlé, a chirpy guide gave an informative overview of the four combining rivers we were cruising over as well as the itinerary for the cruise. My girlfriend whispered to me that it didn’t apply to us.
As we approached the banks of Kandal province, the modest Floatation restaurant came into view and three small structures roped together bobbed up and down. I didn’t figure out that this would be final destination until our guide told us they were preparing the room.
The tour group from the boat had a short break at the restaurant, with the option to buy some traditional Cambodian meals for about $8 a dish or simply enjoy a few drinks and watch the sun begin to set. When our room was ready, the guide showed us the way, and the rest of our group looked a little bewildered as to what the special room we got to see that they didn’t.
So…what’s it like sleeping while floating?
The spacious pod was about 50m2 with a large four poster bed dividing the room between the shower, toilet, sink and storage area, with the living area at the front. It was equipped with eco-friendly air con, ceiling fans, an electronic safe, mini-bar and all the furnishings you’d expect from a hotel room.
The show-stopper was the view, the front of the pod had large glass doors leading to the terrace. We sat out and enjoyed wine for the sunset, watching as Le Tonlé loaded back up and sailed off into the distance. As the darkness protruded, our awareness of mosquitoes loving lights, the water, and our flesh grew – so we moved inside and enjoyed the perpetual twilight city view from the comfort of glorious air-con. There were plenty geckos scuttling about to protect us from stray bugs, but don’t leave food out: ants get here, too.
As we settled in to our bobbing abode, we utilised the fancy Bluetooth speaker and balanced ourselves to the gentle swaying of the room caused from the mighty Mekong. That’s when we heard the thunder… and saw the lightning. It’s rainy season, so our risks were our own doing. There were four brief power cuts that lasted approximately three seconds each, silencing the music and shutting off the lights in a dramatically apocalyptic fashion. There’s a requirement to be over 18 and able to swim if you want to stay at the floating Jungloo; I didn’t feel unsafe at any time but I can appreciate the clause being there.
A few boats sailed directly past our window even late into the night, but the thick curtains gave the room enough privacy so that we didn’t feel like we were exhibits at a floating zoo.
Morning broke, and our prearranged breakfast was delivered via boat at our requested time. The complimentary breakfast included three types of breads, marmalade, butter, bananas, apple and orange segments, an omelette and bacon. We were given a passionfruit soda on the side, and had already indulged in the tea and coffee in our room. When Le Tonlé triumphantly returned to pick us up, we sat on the helm as the only passengers.
Floating Jungloo, Floatation Lounge, Floating on the River Mekong, the official Address doesn’t matter as the only way there is through a booking with Maad.
Urban Jungloo, The Kabiki, 264, Street 22, Phnom Penh