The Tiger Temple, Kanchanaburi

By | January 1, 2014

by Ethan David

The Tiger Temple at Kanchanaburi is one of the main visitor attractions to the area.

The place is actually a fully functioning Buddhist temple called “Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua”, but is known the world over as the “Tiger Temple”.

Located in Kanchanaburi’s Saiyok district, this Theravada Buddhisttemple was founded in 1994 as a forest temple. It had always been a sanctuary for various wild animals and was awarded the Golden Jubilee Buddha Image in 1995.

The temple received its first tiger cub in 1999 from nearby villagers, who thought the temple would be the best place for it. Unfortunately, the cub died shortly afterwards.

Many cubs are orphaned because adult tigers are popular prey for poachers, whereas the cubs hold very little value. It is unconfirmed what type of subspecies the tigers in the temple are, but they are believed to be mostly Indochinese Tigers.

The tigers are cared for by both the monks & by local staff and volunteers. The tigers wear leashes when being walked to a nearby quarry once a day. The tigers were originally allowed to roam freely, but they are now normally chained for safety reasons because visitor numbers have grown rapidly in the last few years.

The thing that seperates the Tiger Temple from other zoos or parks is that visitors here may sit and be photographed with the tigers, as well as stroke them, no cages & no bars!.

If the tiger shows any signs of agitation, the abbot usually intervenes to calm the animal down again. If your bravery does not extend to sitting & playing with the tigers, you can still observe the animals from distance, staff are also always on hand to guide visitors throughout the tour.

Unfortunately, children are not allowed near the big cats and will not be allowed into the quarry. Tame as they may seem, the tigers are afterall still wild animals!.

The Tiger Temple charges an entrance fee to cover the expenses of taking care of the animals, as well as to fund plans for creating a larger sanctuary for them.

The new sanctuary will be called “Tiger Island”, and will include a moat around the island on which the tigers will be allowed to roam freely.

The Tiger Temple has also had its fair share of controversy. There have been a constant stream of rumours that the main purpose of the sanctuary is to make money, & that the temple had been mistreating the animals and have been interbreeding them, thus defeating the purpose of conservation.

These allegations, however, are still unproven at this time.

Irrespective of the rumours, the Tiger Temple at Kanchanaburi is still a popular tour destination, If you are Staying in the area, its a great place to visit and certainly when we visited the temple in 2008 the tigers seemed to be very well cared for & enjoying all the attention!.


Comments for
The Tiger Temple, Kanchanaburi

Finding out the truth
by: Gary

I will be visiting this temple in November to find out for myself and report back on its activities.
Follow me at to find out more

STOP going to the Tiger Temple!
by: Anonymous

I recently read an article in GEO magazine about the truth about this monk who runs the Tiger Temple. He acts like some kind of Dalai Lama to tigers when really he is involved in the illegal trade of these animals. He needs to be put behind bars and those tigers need to be taken in by a proper “Sanctuary”. Visitors need to stop going there and buying into the lie that is the Tiger Temple!!!

Not Bad
by: Brooks

I don’t know what the previous two posters saw but when I went (Aug 09) it was not bad at all. While the Tigers are extremely docile and seem sedated they are not put on drugs to calm them so people can get close to them. They have been hand raised since they were born and are extremely used to people being close, to calm them down during the hour where you can get close and pet them they are given 3 hours of “play time” where they have vigorous exercise which is followed by each Tiger being fed 6 kilos of boiled chicken.

Now imagine this, you are nocturnal, it is the middle of the day, extremely hot, you were just running around playing for three hours and then you eat a feast: no wonder they seem sedated.

In addition there were several western vets who were volunteering at the temple which calmed my fears about the cats being mistreated or exploited.

I Agree With Previous Comments!
by: James West

**I agree with Alex, have witnessed first hand what goes on at this place, totally unnatural behavior for these stunning animals. Please avoid it.**

Steer Clear !
by: Alex

**Please don’t visit this dreadful place.**