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The Tiger Cave Temple is 1,237 Steps to the Top, and Totally Worth It

The Tiger Cave Temple is 1,237 Steps to the Top, and Totally Worth It
Photo credit: Jeremy Scott Foster

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One look at this building and I knew I was going to like it here.

Tiger Cave Temple
Photo credit: Jeremy Scott Foster

Once upon a time, in 1975, a meditating monk discovered, what he said, were tigers roaming through the caves. This encounter led to the naming of the Tiger Cave Temple, or Wat Tham Suea.

Photo credit: Jeremy Scott Foster

Most well known for the journey to the top, there are 1,237 steps to the summit of the Tiger Cave Temple.

Oftentimes, this set of stairs is referred to as the Stairway to Heaven. 1,237 is not a small number, and glorious Buddha statues await your arrival at the peak.

1,237 Steps
Photo credit: Jeremy Scott Foster

346 steps in and I was only a quarter of the way there. I had been promised killer views and vistas stretching out beyond all of Krabi. Peering over the light blue railing, I wasn’t quite impressed yet.

650 steps and I was dripping sweat. People were turning around, questioning if they even had the strength in them. 1,237 is quite a lot of stairs, friend.

Big Buddha
Photo credit: Jeremy Scott Foster

833 and everyone’s pace had slowed drastically. Shirts had been soaked through, and words of encouragement were being passed along by those who were descending from the top. “It’s worth it,” they said.

The stairs got larger, each step feeling more like the size of two. My thighs were killing me.

And when number 1,237 finally approached, I looked around me, my reward presenting itself in the form of big Buddhas, karst mountains, and extensive views of the Thai landscape.

Tiger Cave Temple
Photo credit: Jeremy Scott Foster

Avoiding the storm that had been approaching, I raced back down the stairs, jumped on my scooter, and raced back to my local beach in Ao Nang, just in time for sunset.

Ao Nang Sunset
Photo credit: Jeremy Scott Foster


More Information

Name: Tiger Cave Temple (Wat Tham Suea)
Price: Free
Location: Krabi, Thailand
Notes: Most travelers stay on the nearby beach of Ao Nang, rather than the actual town of Krabi. It’s much nicer there, anywhere. Renting a scooter for the day will cost about $5. Get a map from a local tour desk and ask for directions. Expect to be driving on major highways and following local Thai driving rules (read: none).

READ NEXT: Why You Shouldn’t Ride Elephants in Thailand

Jeremy Scott Foster
Jeremy Scott Foster
Jeremy Scott Foster is an adventure-junkie, gear expert and travel photographer based in Southern California. Previously nomadic, he’s been to ~50 countries and loves spending time outdoors. You can usually find him on the trail, on the road, jumping from bridges or hustling on his laptop working to produce the best travel and outdoors content today.

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17 Responses

  1. OMG. This climb is not to be undertaken if you are not fit. The stairs are soooooooooooooo steep and slippery. I felt like I was scalping a mountain. The view was amazing though!! However coming down was even worse, I had to grip onto the hot railings. I wish I was advised to bring to bring gloves and socks for the hot tiles at the top, as you had to remove your shoes. Definitely a once in a lifetime experience!!

  2. My friend and I completed this yesterday and your review is spot on! Giggling away whilst reading it while nursing our aching calves 🙂

  3. Oh…I missed this! Spent a day in Ao Nang and just strolled at the beach at sunset before hitting Tonsai the next day…next time.

      1. It was! I’m a sunset lover and so far it is one of the most unique and tranquil sunset I’ve ever seen as the beach was slowly deserted with tourist going back from island tours in the afternoon.

  4. I nearly gave up climbing up the flight of slippery, steep stairs but I made it to the top in the end. However, it was raining and foggy so the view wasn’t as breath-taking as what you experienced. All I see was mist and clouds but it was a breath-taking experience nonetheless. 😀

    1. There’s something to be said for the “afterglow” that one experiences after completing their conquest, whether the view is clouded out or not!

  5. In the photo with the three golden statues, I love the mountains in the background. It looks like it’d be a great place to hike. Great photos, Jeremy.

  6. Beautiful photos! Reminds me of the 500+ steps down the cliff to a secluded beach in Bali. 500+ steps back up and I was beat! This temple looks like the next challenge. 😀

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