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TIGER CAVE TEMPLE (WAT THAM SUEA)
The Tiger Cave Temple near Krabi Town is not a temple for wimps! To see the literal highlight of this temple complex, you will first have to climb 1,237 steps! The steps are steep, uneven and sometimes 30 centimeters high! Muscle pain is guaranteed if you don’t have trained legs. In order to keep up the courage, it is regularly indicated how many steps you have already had. If you take a rest once in a while (which almost everyone does) you too can climb this temple!
We really liked the atmosphere on the stairs. People on the way back encourage people who are still on the way and you have nice conversations with strangers while you are gasping for breath. For your convenience, assume that you are on the road for 3 quarters of an hour (one way), if you don’t want to break the current record of 10 minutes and 21 seconds (wow!).
DID YOU KNOW?
The sign at the bottom of the stairs says that the Tiger Temple has 1,237 steps, but when you’re up there are 1,260 steps on the railing! That’s 23 more heavy steps!
Tigers at the Tiger Cave?
Although that would explain the record of 10 minutes, there are no tigers (anymore) at the Tiger Cave Temple. Why the name Tiger Cave? Not so long ago there was a cave nearby where a tiger had its hideout. The Tiger occasionally slept outside the cave in the morning sun. Sometimes the tiger’s ferocious roar was heard. The people who hunted in the forest heard that roar and called the cave the Tiger Cave.
In 1975 a venerable monk, other monks and nuns led them into the area to practice Dharma (the teachings of the Buddha). The tiger then moved inland towards the Phanom Mountain Range and was never seen again.
Monkeys (macaques) can be seen regularly, especially at the first stages. Put everything you don’t want to lose in your bag, because they don’t ask friendly questions.
You are there!
At the top of the mountain is a large golden Buddha statue. There is also a footprint of which is said to be that of Buddha, very important for the Buddhist Thai. The temple itself is not very beautiful or large, but the view is! You can see a large part of Krabi Town and surroundings. You also stand between the high limestone cliffs that you can see a part of the surroundings of Krabi province. You can even see the coast, so super beautiful!
At the top is a tap with nice cool drinking water. It is really safe to refill your empty water bottle because we are still alive. Because you are 300 meters high, there is often a nice breeze, that gives a comforting feeling after the hell of a climb! At least try to rest a bit because walking down stairs takes a lot of energy and concentration! This is partly due to the uneven steps. Now it’s your job to encourage the people on their way up!
Anything else planned after the Tiger Cave? In addition to lots of water, bring a set of dry clothes! You’re soaked with sweat after the climb. There are cold showers at the first toilets at the entrance on the right.
Marvel in Wonderland!
Wonderland is still the place where the caves are and the monks sleep. A number of caves you can visit. Here is also the cave where the tiger is said to have lived and where the name Tiger Cave Temple originated. The trail goes through a beautiful piece of jungle with often the famous high buzz / whistle of the cicada for some extra drama. You will see temples and small houses in which the monks sleep. The orange robes are hanging on the clothesline to dry.
The nature is very beautiful and there are some huge old trees. Wonderland is a nice alternative if the many stairs are not for you or if you travel with young children. The Wonderland route has something like 187 steps. It is best to visit Wonderland before you take the 1,237 steps up. After that you’ll probably run out of energy and that would be a shame because Wonderland is really worth it!
You’ll find Wonderland about 50 meters further than the 1,237 steps up, follow the signs Wonderland. Admission is free, a small donation is appreciated at the temples. On the way there you will come for a long time to a small water basin / waterfall where sometimes the monkeys play. Nice to see!
How to get to the Tiger Cave Temple
From Krabi Town you can use the Songthaew (mini vans). They drive fixed rounds in the city. Raise your hand if you want to come along and they will stop for you. The minibuses also have fixed stops which you can recognize by the blue sign with a bus on it. There is a stop on the Utara Kit Road at the river, just past the corner of the River View Hotel. You pay 50 baht per person and are about 15 minutes on the way to the Tiger Cave Temple (agree on the price before boarding).
If you really want to get to Tiger Cave Temple early, there is a chance that there will be fewer vans. A taxi costs 200 to 250 baht one way. Renting a scooter costs 250 baht per day. The distance from Krabi Town to the Tiger Cave is about 9 kilometers.
Entrance fee: Admission to the Tiger Cave Temple in Krabi is free but a small donation is appreciated at the temples.
Tiger Cave Temple dress codes
You are expected to have your knees and shoulders covered. If you are not wearing covering clothing you can rent a sarong / cloth on the spot for a small fee. At the top of the stairs near the golden Buddha it is obligatory and respectful to take off your shoes.
Back to Krabi Town
When we wanted to leave the temple complex we were approached at the police house by a policeman at the exit / entrance. He offered us a ride back to our hotel in Krabi Town for 250 baht. We understood that he addressed several people, at least we were no exception. We didn’t see a Songthaew (bus stop) right away. We can imagine that if they drop people off you can get on here again.
Tiger Cave Temple from / to Ao Nang
The distance from Ao Nang to the Tiger Cave in Krabi is 23 kilometers, you’re about half an hour away. The price of a taxi is around 500 to 600 baht one way. Usually you manage to find a taxi waiting for you for 1,000 baht return.
Spending the night in Ao Nang Beach
Most people who stay in Krabi province choose a hotel near Ao Nang Beach, but you can also choose Krabi Town or Railay. Ao Nang Beach is a (touristic) seaside village where you are provided with all conveniences. From Ao Nang Beach it is easy to visit the islands in the area. Everywhere are travel agencies where you can arrange various trips.
Hotel tips in Ao Nang Beach
If you are looking for a nice and affordable hotel in Ao Nang Beach, we recommend Wake Up Hotel. The hotel is new, modern and clean. It is located on the main street with shops and restaurants of Ao Nang Beach. The rooms are comfortable and have everything you need, there is a lovely comfortable bed, kettle with coffee and tea, fridge, safe and good air conditioning. The rooms also have a balcony.
For families, the reliable and economical Ibis Styles Hotel in Ao Nang Beach is a must. They also have rooms with a double bed and a bunk bed. The beach is 950 metres away and the hotel also has a swimming pool. The family rooms have 2 TVs and an X-Box.
The Krabi Resort is a very suitable hotel if you have more to spend. It is the only hotel in Ao Nang Beach which is located directly on the beach. You can also have breakfast on the edge of the beach. The resort is spacious in a tropical garden with 2 swimming pools. For the most spoiled travelers there is also the beautiful Tropical Pool Villa including private pool.
The J Hotel is a small budget hotel 2 minutes walk from the beach. The hotel is surrounded by bars and restaurants. The rooms are spacious and clean. The hotel has friendly and helpful staff and arranges all kinds of trips to nearby attractions at good prices.