Krabi Tourism began to develop relatively recently. With each passing season increases the number of tourists, in addition to the traditional beach holidays gradually appear new excursion routes. Favorites have already emerged among the sights. The Tiger Temple in Krabi is especially popular as one of the most interesting tourist sites.
History of the Tiger Temple
The temple of the Tigra Wat Tam Sua cave was opened relatively recently, in the late 20th century, by one of the enlightened monks who brought the light of Buddhism to the people. The intertwining of Thai, Indian and Chinese elements led to a unique fusion, organically combining them in a unique architecture of buildings. The territory of the complex covers a large area. The cave itself is down at the foot of the mountain, 10 km from the main city of the province. Like most temples, it also has a legend that explains the original name.
According to one version, the monk hid from the rain in a cave where tigers lived, and the predators did not touch him. According to the second version, the cave served as the lair of a huge beast and later became a place of meditation, was equipped as a temple and included in the complex along with an observation platform and a statue of the seated Buddha on top of the cliff. The most prosaic explanation is the location, the cave is under a natural rock canopy, the height of the temple rock is 270 m, and the shape resembles the claw of a predator.
Description of the Tiger Temple
If you call it an exact translation, you get the Tiger Cave Temple in Krabi, Thailand. The Europeans call it the Tiger cave temple, sometimes even shorter: the Temple of the Tiger.
It has all the proper Buddhist attributes:
- a ribbon tied around the wrist;
- rows of shoes in front of the entrance;
- an abundance of statues;
- bright decorative painting and finishing.
The Tiger Wat Tam Sua cave temple was opened relatively recently, at the end of the 20th century, by one of the enlightened monks who brought the light of Buddhism to the people. The intertwining of Thai, Indian and Chinese elements led to a unique fusion, organically combining them in a unique architecture of buildings.
The complex in Krabi includes the Tiger Cave, a hotel, meditation center, small houses for monks to live in, statues, resting places, and souvenir pavilions.
The construction of the pagoda, which is being built on donations from visitors, continues unabated. It is planned to be the highest in Thailand. Its height already dominates the Tiger Temple of Krabi at 90.9 meters. The sanctuary of the goddess Guan Yin attracts attention with its giant sculpture.
The cave where the founder of the monastery is said to have meditated is more accurately referred to as a giant grotto. As a reminder of the events of the past, the figure of a predator lying imposingly by one of the walls, with an indulgent half-smile on its face. He looks approvingly at the visitors and accepts offerings of rice and fruit. If you go a little deeper, another cave of very modest size opens, where the footprint of the Buddha is kept.
Opposite you can see the entrance to the pagoda, guarded by powerful dragons. A symbolic wishing tree is installed nearby. On its leaves are written the dreams and aspirations of visitors, you can buy a blank leaf in a souvenir store nearby.
Entrance to the Tiger Temple is free, but the unspoken rule is that everyone who enters leaves a donation of 20 baht or more.
The rooms are dominated by bright colors, a colonnade of almost transparent stone stretches into the distance, and sculptures of Buddha and enlightened religious figures can be seen on small elevations. Bowls for donations and offerings were set up everywhere. In the contrast of the azure floor, decorated with patterned tiles and streams of light, it’s hard to see the real, living monks, who are not hindered by the crowds of visitors from immersing themselves in meditation. They sit exactly under the rocky ledge. Behind their backs is the entrance to the corridor with caves.
Tourist groups are given very little time to see the local sights, immediately directing them to the stairs leading to the top of the cliff. It is considered the path of spiritual cleansing. It will be difficult because there are 1,237 steps to climb. Each one is inscribed, so you don’t have to count it yourself, it’s already done by the hard-working monks.
The climb is long, especially in the middle of the day, when the sun is very hot, there are always hungry and disgruntled monkeys jumping around, and there is no water in the middle of the road and is not expected. Traditionally, visitors take 2 liters of water on the way. One for themselves, and the other poured into a bowl on top of a cliff, creating a supply of life-giving moisture for those who were not so far sighted.
The most beautiful views from the summit come in the early morning and at sunset. When you travel on your own, there is no time limit, no one interferes with enjoying the scenery around you. Sometimes a real tropical rain comes, short and heavy. Then the sky is covered with clouds, and it is not possible to take high-quality photos.
At the top of the most persistent meets the statue of Buddha and a small picturesque pagoda in the Chinese style. The staircase is not a continuous ribbon, it consists of different lengths of fragments. If you go up leisurely, looking around carefully, amazing details open up. As you ascend, the view of the unfinished pagoda changes, the overview panorama expands, and bronze bells, figures of sacred cobras and guardians are placed on small intermediate platforms.
Settlement of monks
Krabi Tiger Temple never fails to amaze visitors. A closer look at the area makes it clear why it is so long. In addition to the temple and outbuildings, among the age-old trees, in the rocks or in separate small houses are the dwellings of the monks who live at the temple or who come to meditate for days at a time. Sometimes they hide so skillfully among the natural formations that one can only know they are approaching by an orange ribbon tied to a tree trunk, stick or stone.
The trail to the settlement begins to the left of the Guan Yin Temple and leads past the stone well. The inhabitants of caves and grottoes close the entrance to them by building a wall. Those who prefer natural conditions climb higher, using extension ladders.
How to get to the Tiger Temple
The easiest way to book a tour, which necessarily includes a transfer to the hotel. Not a bad option is to use public transport, the road is not long, from Krabi Town about 7 km, the fare is within 50-80 baht. For a small company is better to order a cab, the fare is 200 baht, which is much cheaper than taking the bus. A rented bike will take you straight to the temple complex, you don’t have to walk from the road.
Location on the map
Useful Tips for Visiting the Tiger Temple
In Thailand, and in Krabi in particular, often offer comprehensive tours that include visits to 3-4 sites. If you want to quietly enjoy the special atmosphere of the Tiger Temple, leisurely climb to the observation deck and not resemble a tortured horse afterwards, it is better to allocate a separate day for the trip.
According to many tourists, the monkeys begin to cheeky after 10 am, a good night’s sleep and gain strength. And all the charm of a tropical sunrise is in the early morning hours. It makes sense to arrive early and not face the crowds of heat-weary daytime visitors.
It is not advisable to take small children on a trip. They get tired quickly, there are no special entertainment, playgrounds or even recreational areas on the territory, nor is there a cafe. It is better to take all food and water with you. The prices in the souvenir stalls for desserts and light snacks are surprisingly not for the better.
Entrance to the temple grounds is free, but observe moderation in dressing, covering the shoulders and knees, will have to.
It is worth taking care of comfortable shoes beforehand, it is much more comfortable to climb to a height of 600 meters on the ancient stairs in sneakers or sneakers. Flip-flops may not stand the harsh test.
Reviews about the Tiger Temple
Lida, 41 years old:
Two days after checking into the hotel, my husband and I, without collusion, decided to book an excursion to the cave temple. It looked very beautiful in the pictures, especially the views from the observation deck. Out of habit, we took water and some fruit with us, and we were absolutely right. There’s nowhere to eat. On the other hand, we were already at the hotel by lunch, so we didn’t have time to get hungry. We liked the trip, a little tired on the stairs, by the way, we did not believe the monks and counted 1261 steps. We did not check, enjoyed the views, rested in a gazebo near the statue of Buddha and slowly went down. I was impressed by the rock houses of the monks, complete asceticism and unity with nature. I wanted to stay on the meditation site, it’s very peaceful, with lots of air and space. The monkeys are tortured. Among the losses were a water bottle and an eyeglass case.
Anton, 32 years old:
I try to bring back more colorful pictures from every trip. In Krabi, the most famous observation deck is at the top of the cliff above the Tiger Temple. I had to climb up to the top. It’s good that I refused to go to the hot springs, it was enough climbing. It took about 40 minutes, but I didn’t rush anywhere and took a lot of amazing pictures of the stairs themselves, the surrounding nature and the pagoda on the cliff. I spent most of my time in the monks’ settlement, tried on the living conditions and admired their resilience. Although they would have been in our winter. Walked through the caves, the smiling tiger is something, felt a little fooled. Maybe he and the monk weren’t exactly meditating? I think the trip was a success, I saw a lot of interesting things, the temple has an identity.
Larissa, 23 years old:
We were raised very early on the trip, we were sleepy and unhappy, but when we arrived at the site and saw the stairs to the top, we appreciated the guide’s concern. The day before we were warned to wear sneakers and panama hats, and water was handed out before we went up. We didn’t make it by dawn, but we caught the morning chill. It was almost too hot to go down. It was nice to walk in the shade of the trees and in the cave itself. We took a picture with the cheerful tiger and never found out who the author of the masterpiece was. We wrote our wishes on leaves and pinned them to the branches of the tree, I wonder if they will come true or not. I liked the stern dragons at the entrance to the pagoda, the real guards. The whole trip took 5 hours along with the road.