Tiger Temple

If you are ready to leave Bangkok for a day, it’s time to hit the travel agencies on Khao San Road and find a tour to Tiger Temple. It’s far from difficult and there are loads of tours available, just check which price and timetable suits you best.

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Bangkok is our Destination of the Month at the moment, but sometimes you just need a break from the city itself. And that’s why today, we are going to travel three hours by mini bus to Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua Temple in Sai Yok District just north of Kanchanaburi.

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My Visit to Tiger Temple

Tiger Temple and its grounds were much bigger than I had imagined they would be. And there were many more animals roaming around than I had expected.

That said; it was all very controlled and there were always monitors or monks around making sure everyone was safe. Emergency procedures were reiterated often, adding to the reality of being around actual tigers.

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The tigers themselves were absolutely beautiful, especially the playful cubs, whose power was breath-taking. We watched in fascination as one of the monks played and chased around with a young tiger, who on getting over-excited, pounced on the monk and knocked him clean off his feet.

Cute, they certainly were, but their power was always respected.

I could have watched the monks playing with the cubs all day; it was fascinating. But the highlight was when we visited the “Tiger Canyon” where we could actually sit with the adult tigers and have our photos taken.

Tiger Temple

Tour to Tiger Temple

Actually when I visited Tiger Temple (Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua) I was staying in Kanchanaburi so the tour was from there, but many people visit from Bangkok on a day trip.

The best way to organise a tour to Tiger Temple is by booking at one of the many travel agencies in the centre of Bangkok. Below are a few travel agency websites where you can get ideas of prices and itineraries, but if you book online you can’t barter so it’s best to have an idea and then book in person.

Take a look at: toursbylocals.com and bangkokasiatravel.com

Tiger Temple

Controversy at Tiger Temple

There are many different opinions about whether what goes on at Tiger Temple is right or is wrong. Some say that the tigers have been given a chance at life, away from poachers, that they never would have had in the wild and some say that keeping them there is cruel.

All I can say is you make up your own mind. 

Take a look at the official Tiger Temple website and read the history about how the first tiger cub was brought by villagers to the temple after its mother had been killed by poachers and how the monks looked after it.

Read about how the entrance fee is used for the upkeep of the temple and for the tigers themselves. Read about how many monks have dedicated their lives to the temple and the tigers.

Tiger Temple

How do you know if a tiger looks happy?

I’m afraid I don’t know. All I can say is what I saw: the young tiger cubs were playfully grappling with the monks and the adults were sleeping in the afternoon sun, as apparently, they do. Their coats looked soft and shiny and none were injured. They all looked well-fed.

When we visited we were assured that the sleepy adult tigers had not been drugged to make them drowsy. The way I see it, the people in charge here are Buddhist monks; they are gentle people who have dedicated their lives to their religion and this temple.

Does that mean they are not lying? No, of course not. And some people believe that the animals at Tiger Temple are mistreated and that the tigers are drugged to make them drowsy.

Check out these reviews on Trip Advisor – there is such a mixture of opinions: some love Tiger Temple and some hate it and there seems to be nothing in between.

I would also like to draw your attention to a post on another blog that I stumbled upon quite by accident. The writers of this post seem to have had a completely different experience to me: not once did I see a caged tiger; all were out in the open. Nor did I see any kind of kicking, tugging or anything else mentioned. But if you are thinking of visiting Tiger Temple, read it anyway as it is good to view a range of experiences and impressions.

As I said, you make up your own mind: use the evidence around you and your instincts.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments. Have you been to Tiger Temple? Have you ever been to any wildlife sanctuary similar to this?

Filed Under: asiabangkokfeaturedthailand


About the Author: Based in Mallorca, obsessed with the world and have a lot to say about both... Step into my shoes and join me on a journey...

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  1. Liam says:

    Dont you think is suspicious the adults tigers are always liying in the floor and look so tired? There are so many rumours and trustfull reports of conversation organizations which say they are sedated.
    Also the fact they looked “well fed” or “well treated” is an empty statement. Sure they look healthy, after all they have to project that image to the public. well fed? sure, they have money enough. Well treated? well, that’s what you see from the outside. Some organizations say they are beaten and controlled by having urine squirted in their face.
    I would also like to point out that a tiger doesnt need that you feed him or take care of him. They can do it by themselves in the wild.

    • Lisa says:

      Welcome to my blog, Liam. And thank you for your little rant.
      I would like to start by saying that I don’t work at this temple and nor do I condone the mistreatment of animals. But as there is no evidence that I have seen of mistreatment then I am inclined to go with the standard acceptance of “innocent until proven guilty”.
      You don’t mention your source of these trustworthy reports that you have apparently studied from so many organisations. But you do mention rumours. Are you sure you are not confusing the two? After all, when I was at tiger temple it had as many staff as tourists. Many members of these staff were young Australian volunteers who clearly believed that they were doing some good in the world and helping in the conservation of the endangered tigers that had been under so much attack by poachers. There were scores of these volunteers who were staying for months at a time at Tiger Temple, assisting the monks. I find it very hard to believe that all these young idealistic individuals would stand for or participate in animal torture. Not to mention that the temple is run by Buddhist monks; people who are not likely to wish harm on another creature. However I would love to see a behind-the-scenes video to know exactly what goes on behind closed doors. If anything.
      During my visit to Tiger Temple I did indeed see a monk squirt water from a squeezy bottle into the face of a tiger cub. They were playing. The tiger growled and retaliated a little. The tiger was not tied up and despite being small could easily have over-powered the man. I can’t say for sure, but I don’t believe it was urine in the squeezy bottle, as the monk squirted some into his own mouth and the tiger’s.
      I am aware that there are rumours of mistreatment to the animals, but from what I can gather they are just rumours. If it were to become apparent that there was any truth to them then I would immediately express my dissatisfaction with the place and would join campaigns to have it closed.
      Finally, none of my statements on this blog are empty. I went to Tiger Temple and I saw the tigers. Here I am recounting my own experience, not something I have read or seen on the internet. If I say someone looks well-fed or well-treated then it’s because he appears to me to be well-fed or well-treated. If I am wrong I am wrong, but if that is how something looks to be then I have the right to express my opinion.

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