If you've made your way through Thailand and discover yourself on the eastern side of Phang Nga Bay and the Andaman Sea, north of Phi Phi Island and east of the Koh Yao Islands, then you'll most likely be in the vicinity of Krabi, Thailand. And if you've made your way to nearby Krabi town, then do yourself a favor and plan to hike the Tiger Cave Temple all the way to the top! It's an incredible experience, one you're sure to never forget.
The highlight of your visit is the climb to the top of the mountain, where a massive golden Buddha statue and walking platform sits directly on top of the mountain and gives you an amazing 360 view of the countryside around you!
But while the view is grand, there are a few things you should be aware of before visiting. Here's an overview of what to do and how to be prepared for this incredible place!
The first thing you should know about the Tiger Cave Temple is where it is located. It's just outside town, and so to get there, this was the perfect opportunity for us to try something we had been wanting to do since arriving in SE Asia...
RENT A BIKE!
It was a great idea to finally conquer our fears of the SE Asian powerhouse of transportation. And I was so glad we did. The ride is relatively easy and not very far. It was a fabulous experience and I wish we had put aside our worries earlier and rented a bike sooner! We had been paying exorbitant prices for taxis and tuktuks, and while they are fun to ride in SE Asia for the new traveler, the cost adds up. So for a total of $5 plus gas (which was maybe another $3), we rented the bike from noon, when we left for the temple, to about 5:00, when we returned.
If you're not feeling particularly keen on renting a bike, I would recommend just taking a taxi or public bus. Definitely DO NOT take a tour bus! It's not a place you would need an organized tour and I can't imagine enjoying the serenity of the temple with a bus load of other tourists around me.
The Temple Complex
The entire temple complex is actually a series of buildings at the foot of the mountain that include a Buddhist temple and gift shop, several shrines, housing for monks, and a new chedi, or pagoda, that is still currently being built. It also includes a set of caves and paths through a natural rainforest.
We spent about an hour walking around and admiring some of the shrines and colorful tiger and dragon statues at the base of the new chedi. We did not make it into the caves or rainforest paths.
Watch Out for the Cheeky Monkeys!
If you haven't come face to face with packs of monkeys in other locations of Thailand or SE Asia, get ready to meet the most mischievous tribe you'll ever encounter! These guys are swarming all over the place. Part of the draw to the temple is encountering the monkeys, so the temple encourages the monkeys' presence by allowing visitors to purchase food and bananas to give to them.
But these guys won't be happy with just the few scraps you might toss their way!
I personally witnessed these cheeky monsters steal someone's camera, their sunglasses, an iced coffee drink, and their lunch! They touched you, grabbed your ankles when you walked by, would swing off your bookbag hanging from your back... these guys were fearless!
Just be cautious when walking nearby and allowing your camera or other lose items to dangle off your wrist or backpack. Instead, secure them and wear your backpack on the front of your body, since they even know how to get into the pockets of a pack!
They are fascinating to watch and play around with, just use caution!
When you're ready to start your trek to the top, make sure you are wearing comfortable shoes, have plenty of water, and don't have a fear of heights!
1,237 steps is about 120 flights of stairs! The climb took us just shy of 40 minutes. Some of the steps and flight can be quite steep. Take your time and rest. Enjoy the views starting about half way up. Make jokes and exchange greetings with the hikers going past you or coming down. It's a wonderful but intense experience, and one I will never forget! I was drenched in buckets of sweat by the time we reached the top, especially since we went in July!
The climb will be totally worth it once you get to the top. You'll be greeted with a cool breeze and tap with fresh running water. You'll be asked to remove your shoes, after all, it's a Buddhist temple, and then you can step onto the viewing platform...
We spent a good 30 to 40 minutes just relaxing, admiring the view, and taking photos. Our legs were sore, our clothes were soaked in sweat, but we were at peace with this amazing experience!
In summary, allow at least 5 hours out of your day to explore this temple and experience a unique climb. If you do this early in the morning, you may also have time to head over to the Emerald Pool not too far away. Unfortunately we had a late start to the day, and by the time we were done exploring the temple, we had to head back.
What was your experience like at the Tiger Cave Temple? Or are you still in the planning stages of your Thailand trip? Comment and ask me any questions below!