Wat Tham Sua Kanchanaburi: Your Complete Guide
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If you’re visiting Thailand then chances are you’ve heard of Wat Tham Sua, also known as the Tiger Temple.
But most people are either thinking of the Tiger Temple in Krabi or the dodgy Tiger Temple that’s known to have drugged live tigers, rather than the stunning Wat Tham Sua Kanchanaburi.
Kanchanaburi in Thailand is a mostly rural area that borders Burma in Western Thailand. It has stunning natural landscapes of mountains, forests, rivers, caves and waterfalls.
People come to enjoy Kanchanaburi rafting, hiking and caving.
But the most famous tourist attractions in Kanchanaburi are the Death Railway, Bridge Over The River Kwai and the Allied War Cemetery.
However, there are plenty of other things to do in Kanchanaburi province – like visiting the Kanchanaburi Temples.
And Wat Tham Sua is a favourite Kanchanaburi temple for visitors.
Information For Your Kanchanaburi Thailand Trip
The weather in Kanchanaburi is tropical so it’s humid all year round.
There are three seasons:
- The warm season is from February to May.
- The rainy season lasts from the end of June until October.
- And the cool season is from November to January.
The Kanchanaburi weather is hot and sweaty. And the temperature ranges from 25º to 40º Celsius throughout the year.
Map Of Kanchanaburi
Here’s a Kanchanaburi map to help you get your bearings.
We’ve highlighted the Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi, along with one of our favourite hotels in Kanchanaburi Thailand.
How To Get From Bangkok To Kanchanaburi
There are several ways you can get to Kanchanaburi from Bangkok. Signing up for a Kanchanaburi tour with a local travel agent is an easy and convenient option.
And a day trip from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi is a great way to see the Kanchanaburi attractions.
But if you prefer a more independent Kanchanaburi trip there are various modes of transport to choose from.
Kanchanaburi travel options include train, bus, taxi and mini-bus.
The distance from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi is 201 kilometres or 125 miles, so travel times aren’t too long.
From Bangkok To Kanchanaburi By Train
The train from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi takes around 2 1/2 to 3 hours to get there.
The Kanchanaburi train might be old, with uncomfortable wooden seats, open windows and ceiling fans, but it’s a wonderful way to travel with pretty scenery and local Thai people for company.
We highly recommend it.
You can catch the train to Kanchanaburi from the small Thonburi station in Bangkok.
The Bangkok Kanchanaburi train costs 100 baht and leaves at 07.50 a.m and 1.55 p.m.
The train from Kanchanaburi to Bangkok leaves at 07.19 a.m and 14.48 p.m.
The Bangkok Kanchanaburi Bus
You can catch a bus from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi from the Bangkok Southern Bus Terminal (Sai Tai Mai) and the Northern Mo Chit Bus Station.
There are first and second class buses to choose from.
The first class Kanchanaburi bus has a toilet and air-conditioning and doesn’t cost much more.
It’s worth spending a little bit extra for the comfort.
The bus to Kanchanaburi from Bangkok takes between three and four hours depending on the route taken.
To get to your accommodation from the Kanchanaburi bus station just jump in a tuk-tuk.
Mini Bus: Bangkok To Kanchanaburi
There are heaps of travel agents in the Khao San Road area where you can book a minibus to Kanchanaburi.
The Bangkok to Kanchanaburi bus will usually drop you at your hotel. Which eliminates any hassles at the bus terminal.
Our Bangkok to Kanchanaburi minivan cost 250 baht.
Oddly, it seems to be cheaper going the other way – from Kanchanaburi to Bangkok.
Bangkok To Kanchanaburi Taxi
Naturally, catching a taxi from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi is an expensive way to travel.
But it’s a good option if there’s a few of you travelling together, as you can stop to see the Kanchanaburi attractions along the way.
There are tonnes of places to visit in Kanchanaburi and we recommended staying a few days.
But if you’re short on time a Kanchanaburi day trip is the next best thing. And people often hire a taxi to tour Kanchanaburi for the day.
If you choose to do a Bangkok to Kanchanaburi day trip via taxi, be clear about price and what you want to see. And don’t pay the driver until you return to Bangkok.
Where To Stay In Kanchanaburi
There’s heaps of accommodation in Kanchanaburi for you to choose from.
Most hotels in Kanchanaburi can be found resting along the river, many of them have scenic views and fabulous restaurants.
If you’re strapped for cash, there are plenty of budget hostels in Kanchanaburi town.
But the better value Kanchanaburi accommodation is found in the mid-price range.
Here’s a list of Kanchanaburi Thailand hotels for you to pick from.
Sky Resort Hotel Kanchanaburi
We stayed at this value for money hotel in Kanchanaburi for 10 days and we loved every minute of it.
It’s located beside the river on a quiet road that has plenty of restaurants.
Yet it’s just a short walk to the main strip where there’s a variety of shops, bars and restaurants.
The Kanchanaburi War Cemetery, War Museum and bus station are just a 10-minute walk in the other direction.
There’s also a lovely cafe and restaurant right across the street serving barista made coffee.
They have yummy cakes too!
The huge rooms are light and airy with glass sliding doors that open onto a private balcony.
Our room had a fridge, air-conditioning and a flat-screen TV with cable channels.
Best of all was the fast WiFi that didn’t fail once!
Okay maybe the big inviting pool was best of all – it’s a tough choice.
There is a 24-hour front desk and daily housekeeping.
We found the Sky Resort to be an excellent budget hotel in Kanchanaburi Thailand.
See Sky Resort Kanchanaburi for more information, including room rates and vacancies.
Good Times Resort
Take advantage of the chilled-out riverside vibe at the Good Times Resort.
Based in the centre of town, close to restaurants and attractions this hotel has a lovely natural setting.
There are eight types of rooms to choose from, and for families, the adjoining rooms are a great option.
But the star of the show are the relaxing Deluxe River Rooms. People rave about the private terraces, lounges, and comfy king size beds.
The resort has beautifully well-kept grounds and a sparkling swimming pool for cooling off after a hot day.
U Inchantree Resort
If you’re looking for luxury accommodation in Kanchanaburi then U Inchantree is a good option.
It’s elegant rooms come with all the usual amenities – including bathrobes and slippers!
The hotel is just north of the Death Railway Bridge and the bar and restaurant have a fabulous terrace by the river.
As you’d expect from a hotel in this price range, the resort has a pool and friendly professional service staff.
Tips For Visiting A Thai Temple
One of the more popular Thailand attractions is its temples.
And visiting a Thailand temple is a fabulous way to learn about the country’s culture and way of living.
But many visitors feel a bit nervous when entering a Thai temple for the first time.
Nobody wants to be the obnoxious tourist that offends worshippers, monks and visitors alike.
Fortunately, Thailand temple etiquette is pretty simple.
And it helps if you remember that these are places of worship of great cultural and historical significance.
So by following a few simple guidelines, your Thailand temple hopping will be a highlight of your trip.
How To Visit A Famous Temple In Thailand
1) For the love of all that is holy, cover up!
The Thailand temple dress code is quite modest. Whether you’re a guy or a girl cover your shoulders and knees. Tight and sexy isn’t appropriate either.
2) Take your hat, shoes, and sunglasses off before going inside.
I love these hiking sandals for traipsing around temples. They’re easy to slip on and off and comfy too!
3) Don’t step or stand on the threshold when entering the temple.
4) Be aware of worshippers and stay out of their way.
5) Don’t touch or point at the Buddha statue
6) Or raise yourself higher than it.
7) And don’t turn your back on Buddha images either. When you are ready to leave the temple back away from the statue before turning around.
8) Don’t be loud, muck around, or crack jokes. In other words be respectful, not annoying.
The Kanchanaburi Tiger Temple: Wat Tham Sua
If you get tired of the WWII Kanchanaburi tourist attractions, then take a tour of the surrounding Thai Buddhist Temples.
We love visiting ruins and temples so we hired a motorcycle taxi to take us around for the day.
Our driver didn’t speak much English but we thought he was a pretty cool dude!
It was a fun day out and a welcome relief from all the war memorabilia.
And it’s one of our top Kanchanaburi things to do.
We visited incredible temples, the Giant Raintree, and our favourite Kanchanaburi temple – Wat Tham Suea.
The Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi is also known as the Tiger Cave Temple.
It was named after a small limestone cave that was once home to real-life tigers
The furry creatures are long gone and it’s now home to a small tiger spirit shrine.
Wat Tham Sua is about 12 Kilometres from Kanchanaburi town. There isn’t any public transport so you’ll need your own wheels to get there.
Some people like to hire push-bikes for the day but we preferred a motorised option. It’s quicker and more comfortable in the heat.
The first thing you notice as you reach the site is the gigantic 18 metre golden Buddha statue. Named Chin Prathanporn it’s said to be the largest Buddha image in an outdoor setting.
The statue is sitting in the debate position with crossed legs. One hand is stretched out over the knee with the palm facing upwards. While the other hand is raised with the thumb and pointer finger touching.
Devotees have covered the statue in pieces of gold leaf and it sparkles in the sunlight. A huge shell-like structure protects the image from the elements.
Wat Tham Sua is an active shrine and people come to worship and pay their respects.
At the foot of Chin Prathanporn are smaller statues where worshippers place sheets of gold leaf as thanks.
Just behind this area is a conveyor belt that whisks donated coins to a central collection bowl.
The whole area is spellbinding with dazzling gold, heady incense and the clang of gongs ringing in your ears.
The complex can be reached by either climbing the brightly painted stairs or you can hitch a lift on the just as colourful funicular.
As stunning as it is, there’s more to see at this Kanchanaburi temple than the Buddha statue.
Wander around delightfully decorated chedi and take a peek inside. One of the chedis even has a monk that gives blessings to people in return for offerings.
The most impressive chedi is the giant orange pagoda Ketkaew Prasat. Inside is a series of eight floors with holy relics, windows, and tinkling bells hanging from railings.
Tips For Visiting Wat Tham Sua
- Try to visit on a clear day so you can enjoy the views.
- If you suffer from shortness of breath or any other physical ailment avoid the stairs and take the cable car.
- Be prepared for the heat. Wear loose clothing and a hat and slather on the sunscreen.
- Remember to drink lots of water. There are a few shops around where you can buy more if you run out.
- The best time to visit is at the beginning or end of the rainy season so you get those verdant views.
Wat Tham Sua Opening Hours: Monday – Friday 7.30 a.m. – 4.30 p.m and Saturday to Sunday 7.00 a.m. – 5.30 p.m.
Wat Tham Sua Entrance Fees: Entrance to the Tiger Temple is free. The funicular costs 10 baht.
Visiting all the best temples in Thailand can be a bit much, and it’s easy to get “templed out”.
But this is one famous temple in Thailand you shouldn’t miss, even if you are templed out.
And once you get there you’ll see why.
For more information about your Thailand trip click here.
Fancy a good night’s sleep after all that temple hopping? Then check out the best places to stay in Kanchanaburi.
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