Tiger Temple Thailand

There aren’t many places in the world where you can touch a fully-grown tiger, but the monks at Thailand’s Tiger Temple allow you to get up close and personal with their domesticated brood of big cats

Just a couple of hours’ drive outside Bangkok in the Kanchanaburi province, not far from the world famous Bridge Over The River Kwai, lies the Tiger Temple of Thailand, formally known as Wat Pa Luangta Bua Yannasampanno. Since 1999, the monks here have taken care of tigers which have been rescued from poachers in the nearby Thai-Burmese border jungle – and to date they have 17 fully grown tigers and tiger cubs living within the temple grounds. Every afternoon, the tigers are let out of their cages and taken down to a quarry which has a natural pool for them to bathe and play in. Visitors can walk down into the quarry and see the tigers from only a


Comments

  1. I think the Tiger Temple was fantastic. A lot of people I have talked to believe the Tigers are drugged. Not so! They are just big cats, they like to lie around in the heat of the day,and play at night. When we were there, it started to rain and they all perked up. I was glad I had my photo taken with them prior to this. The only downside for us was having to do the River Kwai tour in order to go to the Tiger Temple. There didn’t seem to be any other easy way to see it.

  2. Jeff Bond says:

    A wonderful place to visit. A great privilege to have one to one contact with such amazing animals.The tigers are in great condition.Do not believe these ugly suggestions of drugging.The Abbot has an amazing rapport with the tigers and they seem to enjoy sucking his thumb.You can go by private car and stay for hours- not expensive. Visit them they need support.Try to stay for feeding time of all the other animals- that too is a fascinating experience.

  3. Bill Hollas says:

    We visited the Tiger temple in May 2006 and we were all blown away by the experience. To sit amoungst these magnificient creatures is a true experience not to be missed. The Volunteer staff were very helpful in explaining the mission of the monastary and visitors to Bangkok should make the effort to go to the Tiger Temple not only for your own expereince but also to support the wonderful work the monks are doing to save these creatures from disappearing from our planet.

  4. Nancy Staus says:

    Wow, I don’t understand why everyone raves about this place. I visited in January 2007 and thought it was incredibly sad and nothing like how it is described on the website. The tigers are not allowed to play in the quarry. They are all chained to the ground in the hot, dry canyon and subjected to the touches of hundreds of tourists each day. They do not look happy–they look miserable. Each tiger is assigned about 3 volunteers each to watch them for trouble and visitors must hold a volunteer’s hand the entire time. Visitors cannot take photos–a volunteer takes your camera and takes photos for you. I would not recommend this to anyone. Also the cages are too small with no where for the tigers to get away from people. I would recommend cutting way back on the numbers of people allowed to visit each day to lower the stress on the poor tigers. For an idea of how tourism like this can be done successfully with little stress to the animals, visit Elephant Nature Park just outside of Chiang Mai. ENP limits the number of people/day and allows the elephants to decide how much they will interact with the people–they are not chained up and forced to submit to harrassment.

  5. Can someone who cannot walk up slopes visit the tigers or do you need to be able to walk fast and be young?

  6. can u tall me what all temples in thailand
    have in common

  7. Edith Rendall says:

    Iam visiting Thailand in January and would like to visit the Temple. I would like to make my own way there not go on a tour. Which is the best way to do this? I will be staying in Bangkok. I do not want to drive myself.
    Regards
    Edith.

  8. David Brabazon says:

    I have seen photo’s of sedated tigers at the Tiger Temple. While it is a fantastic intiative to save and protect these magnificent creatures, it is appalling to not they sedate these animals for the glory of tourists and their desire to be photographed. If they do this for money it is even more disgusting. If Tigers are as revered in Asia as they are promoted to be this practise says a great deal about human nature and our true place in the world at the lowest point of disgust! Promotion of such a place is also a low act.

  9. keith robertson says:

    my wife and i have just come back from thailand and one of our highlights was to be a visit to the tiger temple. i researched this place on the internet and lonely planet guide and as always we decided to go and make our own minds up. i must say how dissapointed we were. from the moment we saw the tigers it was obvious they were not happy the heat was unbearable yet these poor creatures were led out and paraded around before being led to the so called canyon. this place had no shelter for the tigers obviuosly done so they remain dosile not like there natural state and then positioned for visitors to pay an excessive amount to have their photos taken with an over heated exhausted tiger. my wife and i decided to leave at this point. we asked a volunteer if we could leave and he told us one of the monks was handling the cubs, we were welcome to go and see so we made our way to the area. we were the first to arrive there. the monk invited us to sit down and stroke the cubs which we kindly accepted but before we could do this a volunteer rushed over brushed our hands away and demanded money. i refused, this whole thing seemed like a money making machine it wasn’t about the tigers anymore it was about getting loads of people in charging them to get in then expecting people to pay lots of money to have a photo taken next to a tiger almost in a coma. if you love tigers go and seem them in their natural habitat this was just a glorified show.

  10. Susan Guthrie says:

    I visited the Tiger Temple during the last two weeks while travelling around Thailand and came away from the experience feeling incredibly uplifted and fortunate to have been so close to such beautiful contented animals. After reading some bad reviews I had mixed feelings about visiting, however after speaking with many of the carers who give their time freely to the care of the animals in the sanctuary, and viewing the tigers for myself I feel that the animals are not abused or badly treated. As to those that have suggested the tigers are drugged I think that for anyone who has ever owned a house cat, or even viewed quality David Attenbrow docos. on large cats in the wild, will be familiar with the fact that cats tend to sleep for most of the day, and well-fed tingers are no different. I also watched the carers walk the tigers back from the quarry up to their night enclosures during which many of the cats became excited and playful with the volunteers. I also took the time to speak to a Geotechnical Engineer from the US who has been and continues to be working on new enclosures for the Tigers and the Leopard, I found his ideas, enthusiasm and realistic approach extremely refreshing. The future looks bright for the Tiger Temple and I look forward to returning.

  11. The tiger temple has always been suspected to be a con job, and now it is proven to be so. The monks DO sell tigers. The tigers are psychologically and physically abused as well. Look up the Care for the Wild report that was released last month. A boycott is spreading, since the Thai authorities will do nothing (Buddhist monks are powerful, and have money – this one more so). It is time to dispel the mythology around this temple. See the following links please :
    http://www.scandasia.com/viewNews.php?coun_code=dk&news_id=4474

    -http://travel.asiaone.com/Travel/News/Story/A1Story20080623-72311.html


    http://www.ethicaltraveler.org/news_story.php?id=1101


    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/06/080620-tiger-temple.html

  12. Kari Hansen says:

    People that are considering visiting the tiger temple should absolutely read Care for the Wilds report Nirmal is talking about. Or maybe it’s enough the read what one of the volunteers said:

    “Some of the tigers are never released from their concrete cages. But others, on average 8 tigers a day (usually the same better behaved and better looking tigers – not the stroppy ones or those with scars or bloody eyes) are taken into the Canyon to be photographed with tourists. This “outing” liberates them from their cages for a 10 minute walk on stony gravel to the Canyon, three hours chained by the neck to a ring in the blazing sun, and a 10 minute walk back “home” to their cages.
    On their way to and from the canyon the tigers are encouraged to move by being lifted by the base of the tail, shoved and punched. One “tiger girl” would always walk next to the tiger with a garden hoe in her hand, this she waved in front of the tiger’s face or banged on the ground next to it whenever it slowed down or stopped. (The threat was implicit, but the tiger was motivated to move whenever it saw that hoe.) Whilst in the Canyon, the tigers are disciplined with Tiger Balm being rubbed onto their faces, tiger urine being sprayed into their mouths and (surreptitiously, but in full view of tourists) being punched quickly on the face and head…

    Every time a cub came anywhere near one of the volunteers, a staff member would yank it away, the babies (four of them are really little, 2 months old and one quite boisterous 5 month old – he was tied to a pillar) were pulled around by one leg or held back by the tail, slapped so they skidded across the wooden floor boards, thrown up into the air, their faces held and noses punched, pinched and flicked, they were continuously mauled, teased and tormented. I have to admit that I couldn’t stand it for very long and my planned 4 week stay lasted a mere 4 days.”

    And from the Care for the Wilds pages:
    “Approximately 15 tigers live at Temple at any one time. Poor housing, husbandry and cruel handling are systemic throughout the facility. Far from being allowed to roam free, tigers are confined for 20 hours a day away from public view in small, barren concrete cages, measuring 31.5 m2 to 37.3 m2. This falls short of the published minimum of 500m2 for a pair or a mother and her cubs. Staff also routinely beat adult tigers and cubs with poles and metal rods.

    As a result, the tigers suffer a catalogue of behavioural and physical problems, including lameness, skeletal deformities and stereotypic behaviour, such as pacing and self-mutilation. These complaints are further exacerbated by malnutrition and poor veterinary care.”

    I really felt sick when I read about it.

  13. Hi,
    I think it was an awesome experience to see
    the Tigers just sitting in the open while the volunteers took you around from one Tiger
    to the next.

    I had done this tripn in January 2008 & am
    going back at the end of March 2009.

    Bryan Misquitta

  14. robinsmith says:

    we have just returned from a visit to the tiger temple found it very exciting and also a great pleasure and joy to be able to sit and hold a wild tiger we never dreamed in a million years we would do this it was very moving & a beautiful thing & a great joy and credit to the ABB0T & CARERS who give their time to look after these beautiful animals

  15. spudp33 says:

    havin just seen a undercover programe about these beautiful creatures u people as tourists are condemming these beasts they are ill treated WWF need to get out there and do sumit to stop this cruelty!!!!!

  16. You lot want to be ashamed of yourselfs paying money to get your picture taking with a tiger at this place.
    Oh its alright you saying “look at me i touched a tiger” but what you dont understand is tigers are wild animals. How would you like it if someone tied you up and forced you to pose for the cameras? Be drugged so you are unable to escape? be inclosed in a small cage for hours? yeah you wouldn’t like it would you?
    The cruelty that goes on in that place is un real. If a tiger doesn’t do what it is told, it gets urine from another tiger squirted in it’s face, whipped, hit and kicked until they do as they are told. Now do you want to stand beside a tiger and smile?

  17. The Tiger Temple is a must do while you’re visiting Thailand. It does have mixed reviews but you should go and see it for yourself. I think it’s funny how some people have commented “I can’t believe people rave about this place”. I mean how many times has that person been able to be in close contact with a wild cat. It’s pretty amazing. You don’t really get to spend much time with the tigers but really would you expect to? Less time you spend with them the less chance there is that something goes wrong. If you want to experience something really crazy go to The Tiger Kingdom just outside of Chiang Mai. This place is incredible! You actually get to go in the cages with the tigers and lay down with them and stuff. You get to spend like 30 minutes in the pen with them and it is without a doubt the craziest thing you will ever do!

  18. I would love to say I left the Tiger Temple convinced this was an above board operation, but I can’t.
    We hired a private car to take us, and it took around 3 hours from Bangkok.
    The first thing that struck me was the rudeness of some of the volunteers that seem to think they can just shout at people. I appreciate it’s for their own safety, but they seem to treat people like they are idiots and sort of shove you about and over-react. I will add that this tended to be more from the Asian volunteers rather than the Western ones. Certainly some of them could do with a stint at charm school.

    It quickly becomes obvious that the monks are merely a form of decoration. I had convinced myself that it would not be possible for the tigers to be mistreated as it surely would be against Buddhist principles. However, I was surprised to learn that a Thai can become a monk at the drop of a hat, and doesn’t need to be one any longer than 10 days in his lifetime. So, in principle, it is perfectly acceptable to be a monk for a mere 10 days in your lifetime, and tell people you had once been a Buddhist monk. Imagine vicar or priest only ever having served for 10 days?
    Also, there is this bending of rules just so monks can get away with things. For example they aren’t allowed to go shopping and exchange money – but they can ‘rent’ items. These are ‘rented’ items that never need to be returned, because bascially they have been paid for. So bascially Thais just bend the real use of a word to suit themselves. So, I now feel the monks don’t need to do any dirty work regards the treatment or wellbeing of the tigers, they can pass that over to the volunteers to do.

    I would be a liar if I said I didn’t have a good time – I did. It was the highlight of a whole month of being in Thailand. But I can’t jump for joy as I really just don’t know what’s going on here. What truly upset me was when I was allowed to have a tigers head placed on my lap for a photo. Not only was a screamed at, and forced into the position the volunteers wanted me in (thus making me feel humiliated), I absolutely detested the way 2 volunteers yanked the tigers had and kind of threw it into my lap. I actually sat there and thought “what the hell am I participating in?!” – and I felt a huge sense of guilt. Yes, they are great photos, but inside I feel so low, and I do feel like “have I paid to abuse this animal?” So, now I look at those photos and kid myself the tiger was just sleepy. But I’m really not so sure that’s remotely true, and I’m kidding myself just to lift the guilt.

    It should be added that a hotel is now being built within the grounds of the Tiger Temple, and a vile tacky theme park type entrace has been erected. So soon there will be a time that this place is just going to become a circus. And as Thais still seem to think it funny to dress animals up in stupid costumes or do daft tricks, I have a horrible feeling that a nasty future lay ahead for these magnificent beasts – and possibly the monks can just stand on the sidelines letting the volunteers do the nasty work while they turn a blind eye. I would love to be convinced that I’m wrong……. One thing is for certain, I will always forever remember the moment that tigers head was force thrown into my lap, and it lay there as if dead.

  19. Patricia Rawnsley says:

    we visited the Temple on 27th of May. It was such an emotional experience to be so close, and actually touch these regal animals, a chance in a life time, for me it was pure magic. I believe they are happy and well looked after, and the project will be fab when completed. I would recommend a visit to any one. Kindest regards Pat and barrie.

  20. We visited the tiger temple in July, 2011. We had an amazing experience, the best day of our holiday. We have spent alot of time in Thailand and our father used to live there so we understand about the culture of the Thai people, and the monks. I live in Brisbane in Australia and have also visited the world renound dreamworld on the gold coast that have a tiger cove there. We found the tigers were in very good condition, the employees were mainly Thai or Cambodian and the volunteers who assisted the employees were generally from elsewhere, alot of the volunteers had spent time in Africa and other places with tigers and when we talked to them they said they had seen that tigers here were treated well and the staff understood their needs. We fed the cubs and exercised and washed the adult tigers. The cubs pen was 8m/10m (aprx) and had 10 3mnth old cubs. They had alot of toys, water, tyres, blankets and all tigers were provided with shade. I know from dreamworld that tigers sleep in excess of 17hrs per day and are most sleepy in the heat of the day. This is the case with the tigers in Kanchanaburi and they did not appear drugged. We saw only one monk, he was sitting with two 1yr old tigers and the cubs seemed to like showing him affection without showing any fear. I am not experienced enough to comment on breeding or selling and such things, but the tigers seemed well-cared for and happy. They were exercised in a big open area with a big water moat. the tigers were taken off the leads (after photographs with guests) after two and a half hrs and we were told they spend no more then three hrs a day on a lead. Earlier comments said staff were rude, I find often tourists expect the Thai’s to speak english and find it offensive when they do not, I know that when the tigers were playing together and came running through were we were standing, rather then communicating they would move us out the way of harm. I believe this is because it is easier for them to move us then try to communicate in their second language whilst the adult tigers are running at us. The tigers were very very active when we washed and exercised them and played alot together and with the toys we had. When we saw the same tigers later they were sleepy and lying around, but that is normal healthy tiger behaviour. The staff were able to answer our questions and relayed similar infomation to what I have been told by other zoo-keepers in Australia and South Africa.

  21. I’d just like to point out that this ‘report’ by Chris Mitchell is very biased. CFTW published a paper and video evidence of the abuse the tigers are subject to at the temple; many of the animals are illegally transported through Laos to Thailand, often the animals are given identical names so to corrupt the paperwork. Edwin Wiek from Wildlife Friends of Thailand and Bangkok Post exposed the story of the Tiger Temple, which resulted in the prosecuting lawyer retracting the claim as he found the information given by CFTW, Edwin Wiek and Bangkok Post to be correct.
    The level of abuse, the illegal trade of tigers and the use of drugs on the animals is criminal. If you visit this temple, you are continuing to fund this activity. FYI, people have been mauled and severly injured at the tiger temple.

  22. Detta är inte alls vad det ser ut att vara. Det de sysslar med är DJURPLÅGERI för att tjäna enorma summor med pengar. Djuren är nerdrogade, de är inte vid medvetande vid besöken. De blir nerdrogade VARJE DAG eftersom de är en stor turistattraktion. Resten av tiden spenderar dem i små burar där de knappt kan röra sig. Detta var riktigt fruktansvärt att se. ÄR DU DJURVÄN ELLER BRYR DIG DET MINSTA OM DJUREN ÅKER DU INTE DIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  23. english: DO NOT GO THERE! if you care the least about the animals do not go. The tigers get drugged every day for tourists should be able to pet them. They are barely, if at all, concious. After this they are kept in small cages. THIS IS ANIMAL ABUSE AND TORTURE!

  24. James – those are all fair points, but can we please avoid racial generalisations? “All Thais” do not bend words to suit their meaning, “all thais” do not become monks at the drop of a hat, and “all monks” are not on the take. How dare you compare Buddhist monks to ‘priests and vicars’, like they’re any better! I’ve been to Thailand 7 or 8 times, I happen to have a lot of Thai friends who take Buddhism seriously, some of them have been monks or nuns for a while to fulfill their obligations, and I doubt they’d agree with the practices here. So can we possibly be pro-animal rights AND anti-racism, or is that too much to ask?

  25. Sorry, I just had to add: “So bascially Thais just bend the real use of a word to suit themselves.” a massive generalisation of a culture, and in fact ironic since you just bent the meaning of that example to implicate all Thais in one person’s crime, thus suiting your own prejudiced agenda.

    “So, in principle, it is perfectly acceptable to be a monk for a mere 10 days in your lifetime, and tell people you had once been a Buddhist monk.”

    No, it is not “perfectly acceptable”, it is just possible. It is highly unethical to Thais to do this. It’s like saying, “Oh, so in England it’s perfectly acceptable just to walk into a shop and steal items, if you’re not caught”, just because it’s theoretically possible.

  26. Eric – please don’t nitpick issues with my review. It is FACT Thais can become a Bhuddist at the drop of a hat – and 10 days later they can stop being one. And it’s also FACT that Thai Bhuddist monks are not allowed to pay for items, yet they hand over money for trinkets and beads and call it ‘rent’ and pretend they do not own the goods – though they never return those goods. So it’s all meddling and twisting around with words and bending them to suit your own needs. But staying with the Tiger Temple (which is the purpose of this forum) – the monks do nothing – whereas the multi-cultural volunteers do everything. Thus, creating a situation where the volunteers can do the ‘dirty work’ while the monks sit on the sidelines and look good in the photos. Regardless, I do still often visit my photos of my time at the Tiger Temple – and I am glad I went – but I can see in my own face that I am uncomfortable with the treatment of the tigers. I hated the way the tiger’s head was yanked up in the air and thrown ‘bang’ down into my lap. If you were sleepy, or possibly drugged, would you like two humans yanking your head in the air and having it thrown on to a strangers lap for a photo opportunity? Let’s just for arguments sake take a positive scenario and believe the tigers really are just sleepy and are wonderfully taken care of: should they really have their heads yanked about and thrown into a tourists lap just for a photo?? I know this may not bother a lot of people, but it disturbed me. I adore animals, but I feel that I may well have participated in the tiger’s mistreatment, and that worries me. It’s now 14 months after I visted the Tiger Temple and I still clearly remember how I felt that afternoon, and how I wrestled with my conscience. And heaven knows how many other tourists those tigers have had to be yanked about for photo opportunities since I went! So let’s not kid ourselves – this is a TIGER CIRCUS not a ‘temple’. And as I previously mentioned, Thais are totally comfortable to still dress up animals in fancy dress just to make an easy Dollar, whereas in the West thankfully we have pretty much stopped treating animals in such a way.