Kanchanaburi, another buddha heaven
Kanchanaburi is a Thai province in the west of the country. Famous for its wartime history, the iconic Bridge Over the River Kwai, and the stunning Erawan Waterfalls, one of the area’s newest attractions is Wat Tham Sua. Also known as the Tiger Cave Temple, the temple is just a short drive of around 12 kilometres from the main town centre. You will probably need your own transport to visit though, as the temple is not on any public transportation routes.
Built in the early 1970s, the temple is popular with Thais who want to pray and make merit. A local monk used to use the caves as a tranquil place to meditate in the past, with the temple being added afterwards,
Here’s why you should visit Wat Tham Sua when travelling in Kanchanaburi:
A Large Buddha Statue in Kanchanaburi
As with all Buddhist temples in Thailand, Wat Tham Sua is home to many statues of the Lord Buddha in a variety of poses. The most striking, however, is a huge 18-metre golden Buddha that can be seen from pretty far away. Indeed, it’s likely to be the first thing that you notice when making your way to the temple. The statue is sitting with crossed legs, one hand extended over the knee with the palm facing outwards, the other hand raised with the thumb and a finger together. The statue is surrounded by a shell-like structure and you’ll notice that small pieces of gold leaf have been applied to the statue by devotees.
A Soaring Chedi
Another large feature of Wat Tham Sua is a tall chedi that, at 69 metres high, looks down over the large statue. The inside has staircases leading up, with many windows and viewing points from here you can snap pictures of the statue from various angles. The hollow interiors have a fe smaller statues of the Lord Buddha, and you’ll notice many small bells hanging from the outer railings on the different levels.
The temple’s hilltop location means that you can stand and soak up the rolling countryside views, with fields stretching into the distance and jagged mountains beyond that rise into the sky. There’s a view point close to the main steps up to the temple from the car park that provides an excellent vantage point. The views are especially nice at sunset, with the reds, pinks, and oranges of the sky juxtaposed against the green hues of the farmland and mountains.
An Interesting Chinese Pagoda
The hill next to the one topped with Wat Tham Sua has its own place of interest: a temple called Wat Tham Khao Noi. Although technically on a different hill, it is just a short walk between the two. The most noticeable feature is a multi-level Chinese pagoda that is really attractive when viewed from the outside. The inside has several religious displays.
Although the actual caves are now closed to the public, a visit to Wat Tham Sua is a highly recommended side trip to make from Kanchanaburi town.