The Tiger Cave Temple or Wat Tham Suea (in Thai: วัดถ้ำเสือ) is a sacred and very famous Buddhist temple found in Krabi, Thailand.
Let us paint a picture…
Listen, can you hear it? The birds chirping, the monkeys howling, the rumble amongst the trees as they swing from branch to branch above you. The sunlight streaming from the trees as glorious beams of light from the sun hit your face and send shivers down your spine.
The echo of a tigers chuff who once roamed this very spot centuries ago.
As the fresh air strokes your cheeks, you begin to ascend the stairway leading up into the enchanted forests of Thailand.
Mountains and pathways that have been used for centuries. Pathways carrying the spirit of the people who have walked there before you. The laughing faces of passing tourists and travellers, the spiritual leaders and monks who journeyed there to achieve a higher purpose or those who lived in the nearby caves. A pathway connecting like-minded spirts.
This is where we begin our journey.
Our Journey To The Tiger Cave Temple
P’May, our beloved and dear friend, decided that we needed to explore more of Thailand and she was going to be our guide.
We hopped into her car in the early morning and began our journey from Trang to Krabi (that’s all we knew).
When we arrived at the Tiger Cave Temple (after asking her where we were of course), our morning first began with a Thai Language lesson. Wat Thum Seua = Tiger Cave Temple. This was a lot more difficult to pronounce than you’d think! (You can laugh at our pronunciation in the video if you’d like)
Did you know there are 5 different tones in Thai? Suea can mean Tiger, Shirt, Mat etc. It all depends on how you ‘sound’ it.
Once P’May was sort of convinced we could pronounce it, we made our way to the entrance. First stop,
1237 1260 steps up to the peak above the Tiger Cave Temple. 1237 1260 Steps To The Top
The stairs up to the top of the mountain lead to a sacred worship site where locals come to pay respect and tourists come to admire the spectacular birds-eye view over Krabi.
Although there is a sign that says 1237 steps, some repairs have been done to maintain the steps and there are now 1260.
The hike up to the top is not an easy one! The stairs are very steep and some of the stair rises are over 30cm high! But it is definitely possible to climb. The stairway is safe, with railings to grab and trees providing some shade along the way.
Halfway up the stairs, we were even greeted by some friendly locals who were giving out free water and orange juice to motivate you to finish your ascent to the top. This was fortuitous in that we didn’t have any water with us at the time – a very dear mistake, don’t be us.
Interesting Fact: There is a challenge to see how fast you can climb up the stairs. Last we heard, the time to beat was 15 minutes. However, someone might have made it up in 9 minutes, which we find unbelievable since it takes the average human 1 hour to get to the top.
On the day that we visited, the storm clouds had rolled in and for a moment we got to watch from above as the heavens erupted and rain began to pour down from the sky over Krabi. A magnificent sight. It was also lovely to walk back down in the rain after the taxing climb to the top.
The Tiger Cave Temple
The cave itself sits at the bottom of the temple grounds, surrounded by lush greenery and ancient trees dating back hundreds of years.
So, as with most visitors, we hiked all the way up thinking we’d eventually see the Tiger Cave Temple, only to realise that it was back at the bottom! However, the views, shrines and Buddha statues on top of the mountain are well worth the hike – yip, you’ve still got to do it!
The Temple’s Unique History
This temple could have had NO OTHER name than the Tiger Cave Temple, there was just too much that suggested it!
Around 1975, Ajahn Jumnien, a Vippasana Monk used to meditate in the caves. He then established the monastery of Wat Thum Suea.
It was said that he witnessed tigers roaming around the grounds (reason one). Not only that but there are actual paw prints that line the walls of the cave (reason two). One of the bulges in the cave also resembles a tiger’s paw (reason three). And then finally, there is also the legend of the great tiger who once lived in the cave (reason four).
A Video Of Krabi And The Tiger Cave Temple
This video is actually our travel diary from our first Krabi adventure – The Tiger Cave Temple is only step one. So if you’re looking for more ideas of what to do in Krabi, give it a watch!
The Tiger Cave Temple Visitor’s Info
How Much It Costs
The really exciting thing about visiting Wat Thum Suea is that it is totally free. However, if you head down to the actual cave you may be asked to give a small donation.
The only money you’d really need is for some snacks or drinks if you don’t have your own. Trust me, you’ll deserve an ice-cream when you get down.
When Is It Open?
The temple is open from 8 am to 5 pm.
What You Should Wear
When planning to visit a temple in Thailand, remember that these are places of worship and must be respected. So please dress and behave appropriately.
Always cover your shoulders, cleavage and your legs. Do not wear skintight clothing.
Make sure to carry a sarong around with you if you plan on wearing shorts. Oftentimes you will receive a free sarong, but other times you might have to rent one, so it’s best to always have your own handy.
Also, make sure to take off your shoes before you enter into a temple.
Tips For The Ascent Up To The Tiger Cave Temple
Okay, I know we have established that it’s actually not up to the Tiger Cave Temple and that it’s on ground level – but it’s the colloquial understanding of it. Anyway, for your hike up the mountain:
- Bring water with you! It warns you to bring water on a sign before you begin the climb, don’t ignore it! Remember this is Thailand, and it is notorious for its hot and humid weather!
- Bring (and apply) Sunblock or Suntan lotion.
- Visit before midday! Try to beat the sun.
- Bring a change of shirt – you might need it… (Good thing it rained and I was able to blend in!)
- Don’t hike this in flip-flops!
- Be careful of the naughty monkeys. They will go for anything shiny or anything that smells delicious.
- Take it easy, climb up slowly, take a rest, enjoy the view. Unless of course you’re trying to break that insane record, in which case, hurry up!
Do you plan to visit the Tiger Cave Temple? Can you already pronounce Wat Tham Seua? Chat with us in the comments!
Where To Go After Krabi
I’d like to say that’s an easy question, but it really depends on your criteria and desires. So let’s cover a few basics.
If you’d like to go somewhere close, there’s no place better than Trang.
Perhaps you came here for the temples, well then Chiang Mai is the place to go.
Maybe, as a contrast, you’d like to be in the world’s most visited city?
If you are looking to leave the country, then we’d highly recommend Indonesia.
Finally, if you have no idea, try out this random blog post that could take you anywhere!
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