Cave Temples Of Southern Thailand

Thai cave temple
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The practice of excavating caves to create temples originated in India several centuries ago and spread across Asia as far as China. They were often established in sites of outstanding natural beauty by passing monks who stopped for worship or meditation, and they would house monks and nuns. The interiors of the cave temples are brightly decorated and filled with images and carvings. Visitors will also observe orange-robed monks going about their daily business and worshippers praying or lighting incense. In southern Thailand many temples have been built into caves or clusters of caves on the sides of mountains and they often feature spectacular limestone formations.

Wat Suwan Kuha

The Suwan Kuha Temple is part of a complex of caves inside a limestone mountain around 10km from Phang Nga (near Phuket). The lower level includes brightly painted ceramic tiles and many golden Buddhas, including a 15m reclining Buddha. A flight of steps takes you to an upper cavern with strangely coloured rock formations and a large statue on a high throne.

Large statue inside a cave
The Upper Cavern of Suwan Kuha Temple

The temple is well known for the troupe of monkeys that live in the rocks and trees around the cave and who are always on the lookout for food from tourists. There are stalls in the outer courtyard where visitors can buy food for the monkeys and for themselves.

Exterior of cave temple, with tourists and monkeys
The outer courtyard is home to a troupe of monkeys

You can reach Suwan Kuha by bus, taxi or as part of an organised tour.

Wat Tham Suea (Tiger Cave Temple)

The Tiger Cave Temple is situated in an area of forests and mountains around 3 km from Krabi. The cave is a place of archaeological interest as stone tools and fragments of pottery have been found here.

Golden Buddha statues
Thousands of Buddha statues are on display at the Tiger Cave Temple

The temple itself was built in 1975 and is home to a community of monks and nuns. The story goes that a monk stopped to meditate here and saw tigers roaming around the cave. Alternative explanations for the name are that ancient tiger footprints were found in the stone floor of one of the caves, or that a nearby rock appears to resemble a tiger’s paw. Whatever the truth, tigers are no longer found here. However inside the temple you can climb a short flight of stairs to see a large ceramic tiger. You can also see thousands of Buddha statues on display.

Large ceramic tiger in one of Thailand's cave temples
A ceramic tiger guards the temple

Outside in the courtyard a vast new temple is being built, surrounded by tigers and dragons. There is also a staircase of 1,237 steps that you can climb to see a giant Buddha and a spectacular view across the surrounding countryside. (Be aware that the stairs are strenuous and that it may take up to 45 minutes to reach the top.)

The temple can be reached by taxi or minibus from Krabi. Sunset tours are particularly popular.

Dragon Cave Temple

Also in Phang Nga province is the Dragon Cave Temple with its dramatic stalagmites and stalactites. The Dragon Cave is reputed to have healing powers and you can see monks preparing herbal teas for medicinal purposes. It can be visited as part of a tour from Khao Lak.


3 thoughts on “Cave Temples Of Southern Thailand”

  1. Thank you for sharing such a lovely post with Cave Temples.The Tiger Cave Temple or in Thai "Wat Tam Seua" is considered by Krabi's Bhuddists to be the most sacrosanct site in the area.Actually for the individuals who are not religiously inclined there are some captivating sights here,which are well deserving of a visit.This can incorporate either a modestly strenuous or an extremely strenuous trip,contingent upon which of two staircases you choose.Have a nice day.

  2. hello

    please could you give me mire details how to get to dragon cave temple? i ll rent a car and i ll drive from Phuket town.

    Thank you


    1. Hi Anca, unfortunately I’m not sure that it’s possible to get there on your own. The temple isn’t shown on Google Maps and I suspect it’s rather hidden away! But there are tours that go there from Khao Lak – I’d suggest you try one of those. Hope you manage to get there.

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I have been writing and travelling for many years (almost 70 countries at the last count), and I’ve visited every continent except Antarctica. This website is my attempt to inform and inspire other travellers, and to share some of the things I’ve discovered along the way. Read more…


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