On my last full day in Thailand during Golden Week, I made plans to meet my best friend from college in Krabi and take on the Tiger Cave Temple challenge. This involves climbing 1,237 steps up a mountain to a somewhat remote Buddhist temple with arguably one of the best views in Thailand. It was quite a steep hike, not to mention we encountered some very hungry monkeys on the way up (one even stole my ice cream cone), but going on this journey together after being away from one another so long definitely proved our friendship to be worthy!
To reach this temple, it is recommended to fly to Krabi airport (which is relatively inexpensive and reachable from most airports because this is a popular beach destination), or take a ferry from surrounding islands. We stayed in the Ao Nang area because it is extremely affordable and Ao Nang beach is within walking distance from most hotels. Additionally, this area has a relaxed beach town vibe with tropical weather, a downtown market, and bars and restaurants galore! There are also palm trees decorated with neon lights which give it somewhat of a retro/vaporwave aesthetic.
I stayed at Ao Nang Garden Home Resort which consisted of huts placed in a forested area but were still very close to the beach. Starting at prices less than $20 per night, they were ideal for solo backpackers and those traveling in a small group. I enjoyed looking outside my window and feeling like I was in a jungle when I woke up, plus civilization was just around the corner from here!
One of our favorite bars here was called Dr. Cat Cafe, which had a large menu of everything from pina coladas to happy shakes, and surrounding bars each had their own happy hour during different times of the week. Essentially every hour is happy hour–you just need to find the right bar! I also ate some delicious pineapple fried rice at a restaurant called “Cheap Cheap” near my hotel. Not only was it cheap, but the flavor was also phenomenal!
To reach the Tiger Cave Temple (or Wat Tham Suea), we took a Grab taxi from central Ao Nang and split it, but you can also go by bus or choose this destination from tour packages. The temple was rumored to have had a large tiger living inside one of its caves that was discovered by the meditating monk who founded it. Evidence of tiger paw prints is said to have been discovered as well. Now no tigers live here anymore and the place is overrun by rabid monkeys. However, it still is a beautiful and sacred place you should check out if you have interest in Thai culture! Please see the official website (Thai) for more information.
The hike was a bit challenging due to the heat, but fortunately it went by pretty fast and you can always take a break when you feel like it. Bringing water is recommended, and there is a faucet where you can refill your bottle at the top. The view is extremely rewarding and you’ll likely never forget your journey out here if you make it up all the way! Though I was sad to be leaving Thailand the next day, I felt like I had spent my time extremely well by doing these exhilarating things that made me feel alive!