Tiger Cave Temple in Krabi, Thailand, What is it and how to climb it
Tiger Cave Temple – What & Where
- Tiger Cave Temple also called Wat Tham Suea in Thai.
- The Buddhist temple is located a few miles from Krabi Town in Southern Thailand’s Krabi Province
- Address: Krabi Noi, Mueang Krabi District, Krabi 81000, Thailand
- 40 minutes drive from Ao Nang Beach
- 1,237 steep steps to the top
- Entry is FREE
How Long Will It Take
- Give yourself 5 hours at the site in total
- 2 hours to climb 1,237 steps to the top
- 1 hour at the top looking around and resting
- 45mins to climb down and 1+ hour exploring the temple grounds
Best Time To Go
- Early mornings or late afternoons when the sun isn’t too hot
- If you’re like me and have kids, I went 5 hours before sunset in the late afternoon
- Most people opt for going on a clear sunny day
- We went on a cloudy drizzly day and loved it
- Take at least 1L of water per person to drink
- Wear comfortable shoes with a good grip
- Wear clothes you can sweat in and still feel comfortable wearing
- Take a mini pack of baby wipes so you can freshen up or wipe away any dirt
- Take a torch or ensure your phone has a flashlight for when it gets dark in the evening
- Give words of encouragement to each other or strangers – It helps!
- Take your time and enjoy the climb and views
- Don’t forget your camera or phone charger for taking photos at the top
Tiger Cave Temple is one of the hardest climbs I have ever done in my life so far, climbing to the summit with my 4-month old baby in her carrier on my back and my son Joshua 9, a few paces ahead was unreal. Surrounded by tropical rainforest, there are 1,237 steps to the summit which features a huge golden Buddha statue (the largest in Krabi), several shrines, Buddhas foot print along with a few tiger paw prints (which gives it the name of ‘Tiger Cave Temple’ or ‘Wat Tham Suea) can all be found here.
Starting The Climb
Tiger Cave Temple has one main stairway leading up, a whopping 1,237 steps with a few hundred of them being more than 30cm in height. The stairs rise up 278 meters in elevation, that’s almost 1,000ft high, that’s pretty huge. After climbing 150 – 200 steps up the monkeys roam and climb the stairs and the majority of the temples grounds too. We saw monkey’s jumping on the shoulders of kids and pestering tourists for loose belongings however, while starting my climb up I wrapped a shawl around Rosa’s head and feet as these parts of her body were exposed while sitting on my back in her carrier, even still the little monkeys were trying to grab at her feet and get a grip.
After a few minutes we were beyond the monkeys who weren’t that much of a bother after all. The steps started to get steeper and a little tougher, I’m thinking “gosh this is hard”, I’m 299 steps in – Marked by the red paint on the hand railings, that’s almost 1/4 of a way up, “I’m not giving up after that” I’m telling myself, it does start to get though after those initial 299 steps. I just have to say it was really difficult and I still can’t believe I climbed it.
Feelings of Accomplishment
So onwards and upwards with the climb, it felt so awesome, a really huge accomplishment, looking down into the lush green foliage and mist gathering atop the trees, getting higher and higher. The ground was no longer visible to us, it was raining when we started the climb and trust me on this, it felt refreshing because I just couldn’t imagine doing the climb while being hot and humid! Each time the rain got heavier the cooler and more comfortable I felt, Rosa was fast asleep by now – The next time she awakes little would she had known her mum carried her up into the sky to the top of a Buddhist temple much higher than the clouds settle, up in the sky and above the world.
Still asleep; 500 or so steps higher, it wasn’t so much the breathlessness that slowed me but the muscle aching in my calves and then eventually my thighs, it was crazy because even though I was trying to lift my leg up they wouldn’t move, they actually stopped working.
It was getting noticeably harder for my body, I stopped more frequently to let my legs regain strength and feeling, people passed me offered words of support and I had passed others who needed the same. It felt peaceful and amazing climbing the steps, pattering of raindrops with occasional gusts of wind, Joshua found it hard yet he persevered and continued up, at 9 years old he’s so strong, I knew if I were his age I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish this climb. Not only does it take strength but huge mental determination, I think that’s why people give up, not due to physical harshness but more mental determination. Telling yourself to keep going and not to give up and truly believing you can do it makes all the difference.
The climb was so hard, it was only getting more and more tougher, Rosa still asleep on my back and obviously getting wet from the rain, which wasn’t pouring but still raining down us, the mist was getting thicker and the sound of traffic, dog fights and monkeys on the lower levels were fading away. I can’t ever forget thinking of taking the steps in chunks of 300’s so 299 and then 600 and 900 right up to I saw the red paint on the metal railings stating 999 steps, I was so close.
Some of the steps were so steep, I even took a photo of several of them being taller than a 2L bottle of water I took with me.
Reaching the Top
Reaching the top was brilliant, each of the 1,237 steps were so worth it. Joshua did so well to climb with me, we all made it up safely and in high spirits. At the top we saw huge golden Buddha statues, Buddhas footprint and several shrines and bells. I made a few videos once reaching the top and exploring, they will be up on my You Tube channel soon as I’ve got tons of videos from our 4 months of travelling around Asia. We were fortunate enough to see the sunsetting over the hills, the clouds surrounding us made the summit feel mystical and a million miles away from civilisation.
Climbing Back Down
Climbing back down took me around 25 minutes, this was rushed as the sun was setting and it was getting dark quickly, the last thing I wanted was to be climbing down the large steps in the dark especially past the monkeys again lurking on the lower levels of the steps.
Joshua hopped and flew down the stairs with no problems, the weather cleared up and the rain eventually stopped. Reaching the bottom was a relief, we sat down and I unbuckled Rosa, gave her a change and feed and walked about taking photos and asking other tourists to take a few family photos of the three of us.
If you’re reading this thinking whether or not to climb the temple with or without kids, it’s totally doable, I read reviews on Trip Advisor before deciding if I should climb it and to be honest not being in the most fittest shape, I don’t exercise regularly (even though I should) I was seriously thinking not to attempt it based on the reviews of how hard others found it and the sheer struggle, even reading the review scared me but it made me all that more determined. I’m glad I did it, it was one of the most rememberable experiences during my 4 months of travelling, I even joked about going back the next day just for fun! My legs and muscles only hurt a small amount 3 days after, so it really wasn’t that bad. Have you climbed Tiger Cave Temple? How did you find the whole experience? Did you take your kids with you? Leave your replies in the comments below!