Kanchanaburi is truly more than just the bridge over the River Kwai. Many people stop through on a day trip from Bangkok. However, I think that people are doing themselves a disservice if they don’t take at least a few days to explore this gorgeous area. Wat Tham Sua and Wat Tham Khao Noi are two side-by-side temples that sit up on a limestone bluff. The Mae Klong River sits along the front and there are all of these fields behind it. Although they look like one joint temple, it’s actually two separate ones.
Wat Tham Khao Noi
The meaning of this name is ‘Tiger Cave Temple’ which shouldn’t be confused with more famous Tiger Cave Temple in Krabi, Thailand. The wat is called Tiger Cave Temple because there’s a cave in this bluff that a tiger used to live in, but now there’s just a small tiger shrine inside of it.
Although Wat Tham Sua is probably the main attraction between the two, we started our trip with Wat Tham Khao Noi, so I want to start the post here too. Although the details of Wat Tham Sua are absolutely striking, the best way to view them is from Wat Tham Khao Noi. I think that it has some of the most beautiful views I’ve seen in all of Thailand so far.
This wat is a Chinese-style Buddhist Temple and is full of tiny rooms containing different Buddha figures. They’re beautiful, tile-filled rooms. There are bells hanging all over the the area and the views are just unreal all around this gorgeous temple.
Look at those stunning views. The owner of the hostel we stayed at told us that this was the best time of the year to visit this temple because the fields would be this beautiful!
Left: Matt climbing the stairs // Center: Gorgeous Buddha tiles // Right: Me taking in the view
Truly, the highlight of this temple to me was the main tower that you climb. The view of the adjacent temple, the river and the farmland around it are all beautiful, but there’s more! You get to the top of the pagoda by taking series of small spiral staircases up and each level has its own individual shrine to the Buddha. It’s truly beautiful.
Here you can see the spiral staircases that go up + down from the many floors.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen such beautiful architecture in my life. It’s so detailed and so stunning!
In this photo you can see the hand of the giant Buddha coming out of its home on top of the mountain. You can really tell how large it is because you can see all the people in front of it as well.
Wat Tham Sua
To get to Wat Tham Sua you have to walk through a whole stretch of shops and pop-up restaurants. Then you have to climb the big flight of brightly colored stairs. (Or you can take the cable car, for 10 baht, but it looks sketchy as hell. Matt and I literally laughed when we saw it going down.)
The white, red and blue, more chinese-looking pagoda to the left is where Matt + I were for that awesome overlook!
Up top is the giant Buddha. If you get there when a busload of people have just been dropped off, like we did, it is a bit of a madhouse. Especially compared to Wat Tham Khao Noi where we passed only two people. There are a couple of shops up top and several places for a person to buy offerings. We opted out of that because of the crowd. At least the mass of people at the bottom allows you to see just how big this Buddha is.
I cannot rave enough about these two beautiful temples are. The whole experience is just so magical. When I first heard about these temples, I imagined that they would be beautiful. However, these two totally exceeded my expectations. It’s just a total package: spiritual destination with insane views. Kanchanaburi is truly a gem.
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