Tiger Cave Temple or Wat Tham Sua is one of the few places, in Krabi, where you can see the top of the Karst cliffs that make up the landscape of Southern Thailand. However, getting up there is no mean feat.
Before I talk about the most tiring climb of my life, let me show you how to get from Ao Nang to Tiger Cave Temple.
Tiger Cave Temple is located on the outskirts of Ao Nang and Krabi Town. To get to Tiger Cave Temple from Ao Nang, you can hire a scooter for a day. The route is pretty straightforward. You spend most of the ride on two main roads: route 4034 and Phet Kasem Rd as shown in the map below. The ride is pleasant and you can see some beautiful Karst cliffs on the way.
If you would rather go on a group tour, there are many tours that combine the Tiger Cave temple experience with the Jungle tour, a trip to the Emerald pool or a waterfall as shown below.
Tiger Cave temple itself, is not a very impressive temple when compared to the other temples in Thailand. A small flight of stairs lead you into a cave temple which houses a Buddha statue as shown in the picture. This temple is dedicated to a monk named Jumnean Seelasettho who meditated in the cave. During his meditation, he supposed to have seen tigers circling the cave, hence the name – Tiger Cave Temple.(source: Wikipedia).
Before you enter the temple, as per the rules of the temple, take off your shoes and make sure you are wearing clothes that cover your legs and shoulders. In case you don’t have the appropriate clothes, you can rent some at the store at the compound entrance.
After the visit to the Tiger Cave temple, the real purpose of the trip starts – the climb to the clifftop! A total of 1237 steps lead to the top where a giant Buddha statue and gorgeous scenery awaits you. The steps are taller than a normal step and narrow. Don’t go by the photo I posted here, these steps that appear normal are only at the beginning of the stairwell. I had such a hard time climbing that I almost gave up a couple of times.
If you are attempting to climb the stairs, don’t forget to take a bottle of water with you. Conviniently, there’s a store just opposite the start of the stairs where you can purchase some bottled water. I was through half of my bottle even before I reached quarter way up due to the heat.
There are one or two spots where you can rest up and actually sit. However, these are very few. The steps are wider when one flight ends and another begins, typically when there is a change of direction. At these spots, you can wait for a few moments and rest.
I experienced some disappointments on the way up. There were a few false plateaus along the way when I thought that I had reached the top only to find out that there were more stairs to go. I wasn’t the only one who experienced this. I could see the realization and disappointment on my fellow travelers face too.
Once you reach the summit, the surrounding scenery is breathtaking! You are surrounded by Karst cliffs and miles of green farmlands. You can easily spend an hour just enjoying the scenery and the cool breeze that cools down your sweaty tired body.
Apart from the scenery, there’s a huge Buddha statue which is painted gold. I’m sure, just like me, You will be astounded by how huge the Buddha Statue actually is. This photo doesn’t do it justice. At the feet of the Buddha statue, you will find donation boxes. Your donations are used for the upkeep of the Buddha statue.
There’s also a golden Stupa at one end and a small temple at the other. Stupas at buddhist temples usually hold the remains of the monks or, in some cases, the remains of the royal family. I’m not sure, whose remains are present inside the stupa of the Tiger Cave Temple.
I stayed at the top for over an hour at the summit partly because of the view and partly because I didn’t want to face the dreaded steps again. Ultimately, I had to go back. It was not as bad as climbing up, however, it was still bad. My legs shook so bad that people on the way up stared at my legs.
Even though climbing the steps was hard, I would definitely recommend doing this at least once. The view is certainly worth it.
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