People often mistake Tiger Temple for Tiger Kingdom. This post is about Tiger Temple which is a famous temple located at the top of 1,237 steps in Krabi Province, NOT Tiger Kingdom in Chiang Mai where it is rumoured that Tigers are sedated and put on display as a photo opportunity for tourists. We do not condone animal cruelty in any form.
The flight from Chiang Mai to Krabi was a short one, it lasted about an hour. Our bags were the first off the belt, so there was no waiting around. The transfer to Krabi Town was approx. 300B which was cheaper than we anticipated.
Before flying, we had come to the decision to change our hotel to one more central; one thing that we have learned on our travels is that location is everything.
Once we got checked in, we decided to arrange our transport to Koh Lanta for the following day. This was 300B each and our morning trip to Tiger Temple which was 200B each.
We were soon on our way to the room and we were presented with what we can only described as Leonardo DiCaprio’s room on The Beach (although he was staying in Bangkok). We were expecting Daffy to stick his head through the mesh above us and hand us a map to the secret beach but we didn’t get Daffy, instead we got Keith the cockroach, that’s right, Rachel named a cockroach Keith to make herself less frightened.
The room was very basic but we were only staying there a night. It was a last minute booking and was very cheap, it was exactly what we needed. A tip for any travellers out there is that if you are only staying somewhere one night or will be spending a lot of time out and about you should aim to be as frugal as possible. Save your money for a place where you will be spending more time in the room.
The room had a double bed, a wardrobe that was falling to bits and a chest of drawers that didn’t open. There was a fan above the bed and mesh openings around the top of the room. It had a very simple bathroom, everything we needed for a one night stay. We even had company in the form of Keith, who had settled quite comfortably on the shower controls. Rachel let out a blood curdling scream because the cockroach crawled over her hand but she was very brave and soon disposed of. Keith left the room unharmed in a carrier bag.
We had a quick venture over to the night market in Krabi Town. “Same same but different” is the famous saying around Thailand and we soon came to understand that phrase. We grabbed some food at a restaurant on the outskirts of the market, and at exactly 10pm, everything stopped. All staff stood still, customers stood up, and everyone sang the national anthem. Once the anthem was finished, customers went back to eating/drinking, and vendors started to pack away their stalls.
We got back to the guesthouse/hotel and all the shutters were closed, only to then realise that we had forgotten to get the Wi-Fi password from the lady at reception. We quickly stole Wi-Fi from the hotel over the road so that we could message our families to tell them all was well.
The next morning we were picked up at 09:00 for Tiger Temple. It was around 20 minutes from Krabi Town. The views at the bottom were beautiful. There was what looked like a cliff face covered in trees and at the very top sat Tiger Temple in all of its glory. It looked like a long way up and it was. Before we started the 1,237 step ascent, we entered the Tiger Temple Cave (above). A pilgrimage destination for Buddhists. We then began our ascent.
The steps were not small steps. Some of them were well over a foot high! It was one of the hottest days we have had. The last time we had checked the temperature, it was 40°C. As we were on our way up, some monkeys came to say hello. We were warned about the temple monkeys prior to our visit but we underestimated how sneaky and intelligent they are. As you can imagine, climbing 1,237 steps in 40 degree heat is thirsty work but this didn’t stop one cheeky monkey stealing the water out of our backpacks while we were distracted recording another. They are very good at working in teams. Upwards we climbed, very hot and very thirsty.
We took a few breathers on the way up as the heat was unbearable at parts. Rach leaned forward to fasten her shoes at one point and ripped her pants, front to back. Luckily, there was nobody directly behind us! I luckily had a spare pair in my backpack and Rach quickly changed into them, although they were several sizes too big. We ripped her pants up and turned them into sweat rags, which provided a little bit of comfort.
The mission to the top of the temple was one of the hardest things we have ever done physically and we still stand by this statement 2 months later. It would have been hard enough with water but was especially difficult with no water. Luckily for us, there was drinking water at the top. We drank and drank and then drank a little more before having our minds blown by the views. All of the fatigue and exhaustion we felt as we approached the top of the Temple were soon replaced by euphoria and amazement. On reaching the summit of Tiger Temple you are rewarded with 360 degree views and beautiful landscapes as far as the eye can see. The views were out of this world.
The journey back down was a lot easier than the journey up. We had a leisurely stroll back down the stairs to the bottom of the temple, passing exhausted people on their way up, making the same journey we had, we assured them it was worth the struggle and to watch out for monkeys stealing their water.
We made it back to the hotel for 11:30. It took us 2 and a half hours to walk from our taxi, ascend Tiger Temple, enjoy the views and then descend tiger temple and get back to the hotel. Most agencies give you a 3 hour time slot but we did it a little quicker as we quite enjoyed the difficult workout. If you visit Krabi Town then Tiger Temple is a must see but the journey up is not for the faint hearted. The minivan for Koh Lanta collected us within 60 minutes of returning to the hotel. A brilliant day that we will both remember for the rest of our lives.
Craig and Rach