Wat Tham Suea
Travellers looking to nurture their inner adventurer will want lace up their walking shoes and explore Wat Tham Suea, also referred to as the Tiger Cave Temple.
Nestled in the shadow of a towering limestone peak on the edge of a verdant valley 10km outside Krabi Town, this temple complex attracts a diverse group of visitors. Established in 1975 by Buddhist monks, there are several versions of an origin story including tiger paw prints being discovered on the cave wall, an enormous tiger residing in the cave, and most plausible, a healthy population of tigers roaming the surrounding jungle.
Although named for the limestone cave, the leading attraction is undoubtedly the mountaintop Buddha and Chedi (Stupa). To reach the summit one must climb a precipitous staircase of 1,260 steps. Although mostly shaded, it is quite strenuous and an early start is recommended. A comfortable pair of shoes and a generous supply of drinking water are mandatory. You are unlikely to be alone as troops of monkeys loiter around the steps and bathe in the cistern at the top. Beware of your unattached belongings as daring, naughty monkeys just might want to rid you of them. However, it’s all worth it as those who brave the primates and muscle through the arduous ascent are rewarded with a jaw-dropping 360-degree view of the surrounding landscape.
After a much-deserved rest and descent from the mountain, be sure to locate the other staircase further back in the complex which leads over a small ridge and into an isolated, jungle-filled area where the resident monks live. A trail leads past a sprawling altar, along the foot of a cliff where the monks’ humble abodes perch in indentations in the rock. It continues in a loop through a prehistoric-feeling jungle.
One can easily spend the better part of a day at Wat Tham Suea climbing the mountain, hanging out with monkeys, and exploring all of the temples. Who said you have to be lazy on vacation!