A complete travel guide to visiting the Krabi Tiger Cave Temple (Wat Tham Suea), a significant hilltop Buddhist temple with a steep stair climb in Southern Thailand.
The Tiger Cave Temple is a sacred Buddhist site located northeast of Krabi, Thailand on the top of a mountain. Also called Wat Tham Suea (Wat Tham Sua), this temple is one of the most significant in Thailand. It’s famous for its tiger paw prints in the cave, a towering hilltop Buddha and Pagoda, and of course, the challenging climb up the 1260 steps to get to the top!
After visiting the cave and hilltop temple complex, I’ve written this comprehensive travel guide to Krabi’s Tiger Cave Temple. I’ll include advice on getting here from Krabi or Ao Nang, what to expect once you arrive, and some useful tips for your visit.
- Where is the Tiger Cave Temple?
- How to Get to the Tiger Cave Temple from Krabi
- Hiking the 1260 Steps to the Tiger Cave Temple
- What to Expect at Wat Tham Suea Temple
- Visiting the Tiger Cave
- Where to Stay in Krabi
- Tips & Things to Know About Visiting the Tiger Cave Temple
- Top Krabi Tours & Activities
- More Things to Do in Krabi
I'm Olly, a full-time traveler for the past 5 years. I visit every destination I write about & handpick all recommendations.
Where is the Tiger Cave Temple?
The Tiger Cave Temple is located roughly 8 kilometers (5 miles) northeast of Krabi Town, in the Tambon Krabi Noi area of the Krabi province.
The road journey takes roughly 15 minutes from Krabi Town, or 30 minutes from the popular tourist areas of Ao Nang near Railay Beach.
How to Get to the Tiger Cave Temple from Krabi
By far, the easiest and most convenient way to get to the Tiger Cave Temple is to join the Emerald Pools & Hot Springs day trip. This is one of the most popular tours covering the major mainland Krabi highlights like the Emerald Pool, Krabi Hot Springs, and the Tiger Cave Temple.
It also includes hotel pickup and drop-off from your hotel in Ao Nang.
This is the tour that I took when I visited the temple, and I highly recommend it if you want to see as much as possible in one awesome full-day tour.
Alternative: Taxi or Drive from Krabi Town
Travelers staying in Krabi Town can easily get to the Wat Tham Suea Tiger Temple by renting a car or scooter or by taking a private taxi.
The journey takes only about 15 minutes and you can expect to pay roughly 500 THB for the return taxi trip.
Entrance fee: There is no entrance fee to enter the Tiger Cave Temple, so this is one of the best things to do in Krabi for free! It's also open 24 hours a day, but only staffed until 18:30 PM, with signs asking tourists to be down by dusk.
Hiking the 1260 Steps to the Tiger Cave Temple
The arrival point at the Wat Tham Suea Tiger Cave Temple complex is next to a large parking lot. From here, you'll walk for about 5 minutes, following the signposts towards the long staircase to the top.
Passing the official Tiger Cave (more info below) and the two tiger statues, you'll soon arrive at the white staircase leading up to the temple. This is where the steep climb begins.
The steep staircase is made of natural rock and concrete and winds its way up the forested limestone cliff on which the temple is built. Along the way, there are many small golden stupas (pagodas), giving this walk the name nickname the Golden Staircase Temple. There are also many pickpocketing monkeys on the climb. So, make sure to keep your belongings in your bag.
The stair climb takes roughly 25-45 minutes for most people, climbing roughly 309 vertical meters. Of course, depending on your fitness level and pace. We went up at a regular pace, stopping a few times at the clearings for photos, and got to the top in just under 30 minutes. The pathway is shaded for most of the walk, with some short sections being exposed to the sun.
There are also a few toilet facilities on the way– just in case.
Along the way, you'll notice that there are numbers painted onto the railings to show you how many steps you have climbed. It used to be that there were 1237 steps. But recently there have been some improvements, with the total now being 1260! That said, these steps are not all equal. Some sections are very steep and the stair risers are very high compared to a regular staircase.
Arriving at the top of the Tiger Cave Temple, you'll immediately be rewarded with a beautiful panoramic view of the surrounding Krabi landscape from the temple summit.
What to Expect at Wat Tham Suea Temple
The Wat Tham Suea Temple at the top of the hill is a sacred place of great spiritual and cultural significance to Thai Buddhists. While you'll likely mostly see tourists here, there are Buddhist monks who often take the daily pilgrimage to mediate at the summit. So, remember to be respectful and quiet.
From the top of this open-air temple, you'll experience an excellent view of the broader Krabi province, the Andaman Sea, the densely jungled limestone cliffs, and the tree-covered Kiriwong Valley.
There are also some significant cultural and religious monuments at this sacred site.
The temple features two main platform areas. Within you will find a large pagoda, a tall golden Buddha statue, and another viewpoint area where you'll find the "Buddha Footprint".
We spent about an hour at the top, enjoying the relief of a cool, late afternoon breeze. Shortly after, we took the much easier descent back to the bottom of the stairs. There are many food stalls and restaurants here, and a mango shake goes down pretty well after the sweaty climb!
Travel tip: Entering the temple grounds, it's customary and respectful to take off your shoes and cover up your legs and shoulders. I recommend bringing a long-sleeve shirt or a sarong to cover up once you reach the top.
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Visiting the Tiger Cave
While the main attraction for tourists at Krabi's Tiger Cave Temple is the temple atop the hill, the site is actually much more significant due to the "Tiger Cave", or cave temple.
This is the actual Tiger Cave, where the story of the place originates. Apparently, the complex was built here in the mid-1970s. The cave was discovered by a meditating monk in the nearby forests who stumbled upon a tiger living in the cave.
This famous cave is located just a short walk back from the white staircase. Once inside, you'll see many meditating monks. At the back, there is a small, narrow path leading deeper into the cave. This is where the famous tiger paw print is hidden.
Visiting the cave is free. However, travelers are asked to leave a donation to help with the maintenance of the site.
Another epic hike...Hiking Dragon Crest Mountain in Krabi
Where to Stay in Krabi
To explore the best of Krabi and experience the beautiful islands, hikes, and white-sand beaches, you'll want to stay at Ao Nang Beach, Krabi Town, Ton Sai, or Railay Beach. There are a range of accommodation options ranging from hostels, hotels and resorts in Krabi.
Below are the three top accommodation picks for all budgets.
1. Rayavadee Luxury
Amazing 5-star luxury accommodation adjacent to the Krabi Marine National Park in Railay. Boasts immaculately designed rooms, 6 restaurants, an outdoor pool, & incredible balcony views.
2. Anana Ecological Resort Mid-Range
An eco-friendly resort offering a large outdoor swimming pool, beautifully designed rooms & amazing garden with onsite cooking classes. The best part is the excellent price.
3. TAN Hostel Budget
The best backpacker hostel in Krabi just 700 m from Ao Nang Beach & near many restaurants, shops, & bars. Has a great vibe with a neat and tidy co-work area & an excellent onsite cafe.
Tips & Things to Know About Visiting the Tiger Cave Temple
Below are some useful tips to help you organize your visit to this incredible temple site in Krabi.
- Consider the dress code - There's nothing more cringe than seeing sunburnt tourists wearing bikinis and short shorts at temple sites. As with all Buddhist temples in Thailand, make sure to dress modestly by covering the shoulders and knees. You should also remove your shoes before entering the main temple area.
- Bring a water bottle - This is Thailand, it's almost always hot and sweaty. Don't underestimate how much water you will lose by climbing these steps! I recommend bringing at least a liter of drinking water with you. At the top of the mountain, there is a filtered refilling station, but I still used by Grayl bottle just in case!
- Be mindful of the weather - The best time to visit the Tiger Temple is during the dry season ranging from November to March. Conversely, the rainy season of May to October can see some slippery steps!
- Visit early or in the late afternoon - Not only is it much hotter in the day, there are also always way more tourists. To really appreciate this site, I recommend visiting in the early morning or late afternoon.
- Be quiet - Remember, this is a sacred Buddhist temple. Monks and devout Buddhists come here daily for meditation, the last thing they want to hear about is your Thai Tummy toilet escapades!
Top Krabi Tours & Activities
Spend less time in transit & more time snorkeling among coral gardens and lazing on white sand beaches at the incredible Phi Phi Islands. Visits Maya Bay, Lohsamah, and Monkey Bay.
An epic 7-hour tour to the turquoise sea and white sand beaches of Koh Hong. Relax in the warm Thai sunshine, swim and snorkel in clear blue water & go kayaking.
Visit the top mainland attractions from hot springs to amazing turquoise lagoons in the jungle.
More Things to Do in Krabi
I hope that this quick guide to visiting the Tiger Cave Temple in Krabi, Thailand has helped you plan your trip! For more inspiration, take a pick from the blog posts below!