Daily Archives: December 12, 2005

The Tiger Cave Temple

Wat Tham Sua

Wat Tham Sua and Wat Tham Khao Noi with rice fields in the foreground

When we first set up Thai-Blogs.com, it was our intention on not only giving you an insight into Thai life and culture, but also showing you a bit of “Unseen Thailand”. After all, it has been the long-running mandate of Paknam Web to “Promote Thailand to the World”. If you already know Thailand, then we want you to love it more. If you have never been here before, then we would very much like it if you spend your next holiday here in Thailand. At Thai-Blogs, we would also like to help you plan your holidays by giving you some beautiful pictures of popular destinations around Thailand. Guidebooks are quite good at helping you, but they never give personal opinions. They are also limited on the number of pictures they can show you. The place I want to share with you today comes under the category “Relatively Unseen Thailand”.

Wat Tham Sua

The boy in the left of the picture has just put some coins onto a conveyor belt which is taking the money up towards the Buddha!

These pictures were taken this morning at Wat Tham Sua in Kanchanaburi. The name of the temple means “Tiger Cave Temple” in English. Many of the guidebooks devote only an inch or two of space to this location but they don’t really do it justice. They talk about the “gigantic” seated Buddha and the views that can be seen from the top. Joe Cummings in the Lonely Planet merely says ‘a climb to the top is rewarded with views…” Carl Parkes in his Thailand Handbook goes one step further and says “excellent views”. The Rough Guide comments that the temple makes a “fairly interesting…. trip out of town”. Most people reading that would just say, “Just another temple, not worth my effort”. And they would skip it. That would be a big mistake.

The scenery around this area is simply spectacular. We were there at the close of the rice growing season so the paddies were already brown. For sure, the lush, rich, green colour would have made everything look so much better. Even so, what we saw was definitely worth a trip out of town and I would do it again just to see it during a different season. If you can, rent a motorcycle or car and go by yourself. We went the back way and got completely lost, of course, but found some amazing places along the way that weren’t in any guidebooks. I will share these photos later. It wasn’t actually difficult to get lost for long as we soon saw Wat Tham Seua and neighbouring Wat Tham Khao Noi on a hilltop. The first picture at the top was taken from a road alongside a canal. This was behind the temple so you cannot see the giant Buddha image. The second building from the right is the pagoda where we took the picture at the bottom. The building on the far right belongs to Wat Tham Khao Noi.

Wat Tham Sua

A view from the top of the pagoda with rice fields to the left and the dam and river to the right

From the car park, the sight of the giant seated Buddha high above us encouraged us to climb the many steps to the top. This was a bit like the climb to Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai as the handrail was the back of the Naga snake. This seems to be quite a common feature. However, at a nearby temple, on another hilltop, you climb up the steps INSIDE the Naga snake. That is the first time I had seen one like that. Anyway, at the top of this temple we were presented with a fine view of the massive Buddha image. There were quite a few people around, both Thai and Chinese, but no Westerners. I know they come, but obviously not too often.

From the front of the platform we had some excellent views of Kanchanaburi, together with the river and the dam. Everything was very green. However, around the back it was a different story. As far as the eye could see there were brown rice fields with mountains in the background. Hardly any houses in sight. The picture above shows you that there is almost a dividing line which runs down the back of the temple. Very strange. I took this picture from the top of the nearby pagoda. It is from here that you get the spectacular views of the surrounding countryside. It was definitely worth the long climb to the top.

If you are planning a trip to Kanchanaburi then put this temple on your list. And, if you have time, make sure you explore the area and try to visit some of the neighbouring temples. Many of them are built on top of caves like this one is. The temple which had the Naga snake, which you had to enter in order to reach the caves at the top, is called Wat Ban Tham. It is on the side of a hill. You probably can just see it in the distance in the picture above.

We visited quite a few places during our four day holiday and I will tell you more about them here at Thai-Blogs.com over the following days. In total we drove about 800 kilometres and took just over 1000 pictures. I love doing road trip and I wish I could do them more often. Maybe one day I can retire from my teaching job and just travel around Thailand writing travel blogs as I go! That will be quite something. Anyway, at some point I will do a  summary of the whole trip with tips on how we planned everything and our experiences on the road. Hopefully this will be useful for people planning to drive in Thailand.