We had previously heard about the Tiger Cave temple the last time we were visiting Thailand. Unfortunately we didn’t have enough time in our schedule to follow it through.
We had already trekked for 5 hours around Krabi towns main sites and river front in the heat, and the thought just popped into my head “lets go and tackle stair hell”. This sounded a good idea at the time, little knowing what was ahead of us. Nor the punishment I was ready to put my butt & thighs through, let alone my favourite T-shirt of the moment.
Getting to the Tiger Cave temple
Tiger Cave temple or aka Wat Tham Suea is a Buddhist temple at the top of 1237 steps of the 600 metre high temple mountain. It’s a 15 minute taxi ride and situated 3km outside of Krabi Town. We negotiated with a taxi driver and agreed on a price for the return trip of 400 baht (while he waited for 2 hours in his air-con 4×4) and entered the site. This also houses various other temples including the newly built Chedi Tower. The whole area is considered by Thai’s as a sacred place and Buddhist monks make pilgrimage from across Thailand to visit.
I would really like to tell you that this picture was taken after completing the 1237 steps to the top, and then a leisurely stroll back down. Unfortunately this was at step number one, hence the smiling face and unknowingly what was around the next bend over my shoulder. After ascending the first flight of stairs past the thieving monkeys we had read about, we powering through the first of many flights of stairs. We had made it up to step 188 when we both looked at each other. As conquering pilgrims descended above us from towering staircases leading to the heavens, we wondered what in gods name were we doing.
Already dripping in sweat and looking not to dissimilar in appearance to a sponge, we were doubting if this was possible. We had already finished our first water bottles and were onto our second. Remember to take plenty of the stuff, it’s required trust me.
Onwards and Upwards
We successfully navigated each new flight and the views around us changed with every turn, and each new set of even steeper stairs approached.
It’s a weird experience to see the difference of the victorious skipping down past us with a second wind and an added enthusiasm to get back down as quickly as possible.
We had seen others fail at 300 and 600 steps and people being ill, throwing up and crying (nice). We had started to take each new set of 50 odd steps in our stride as we hadn’t come this far to turn around, and the burn in my thighs deepened.
Chedi tower is based on the Tiger Temple site, and is a prominent figure as you take in various views. Make sure you have your camera and plenty of water with you. Though there is filtered water at the summit (warm and dry), there isn’t any outlets funnily enough on the way up.
Close to the top
The whole experience of the task takes around an hour and thirty minutes. Having finished the last 3 litres of water we had taken with us for the challenge, marched onwards and upwards. We soldiered on past the 1100 marker until we were close to the summit. Well almost, as another deluded soul passed us on the descent to let us know the worst is yet to come. After 1100 steps of varying height, widths and depths of step ever created by man, there couldn’t have been any worse. The last of the 130 odd stairs were successfully navigated and were no worse than the previous. That is until the last 50 which seems to vanish vertically into the cave.
Finally at the top
This dude would greet us at the top which was a worthwhile sacrifice to my aching limbs. This was an achievement for both of us. The views are great, and a wave of relief fills you as you take it all in. Throbbing muscles and joints add to the relief of not having to go up anymore.
So just down then…that will be fun, and fun it was. We set off with all the enthusiasm of the previous souls who past us. You have to tell them something to keep them going. From they shut in 10 minutes, get a move on to the ice cream seller’s nearly out of chocolate. Now I realised what the comments were as we were climbing upwards. The relief of success and going back down.
At the bottom, you have various temples and photo opportunities, and some outlets to take on board some cold refreshments. After a few snaps, the air-con taxi was waiting to get us back to our hotel. A quick shower, and out for food was on the agenda. This was washed down with numerous Singha beers for some medicinal help and pain relief. Overall a great free experience, and worth 2 hours of anyone’s time. Add this event to your to-do-list for Krabi town, it will be in the top 3 experiences.
Happy Travels on your Global Gallivants!