There’s a TON of controversy surrounding this place. All opinions are my own. I don’t condone any cruelty or mistreatment of animals.
Moving on… the drive to the Tiger Temple (Wat Pha Luangta Maha Bua) is about two and a half hours each way. It re-confirmed my Bangkok suspicions from when we visited the floating market. There are absolutely no traffic laws in Thailand. In fact, there seemed to be barely any laws, period. For instance, the mere fact that you can play/feed/walk tigers in itself is a little crazy.
The tiger temple is located in Kanchanaburi, Thailand, and like I said above, it’s surrounded by controversy. Some argue the tigers are drugged, others argue they shouldn’t be kept in captivity, etc.
With all the talk surrounding this place, I can’t help but give my own thoughts. After seeing here in person, I agree that the tigers were definitely tired. I can see how some may accuse them of being drugged. I don’t know if they are/aren’t. I’m not an animal expert. We visited in the afternoon, after the tigers went through a vigorous morning program, and to be fair, I would be tired after that too. Also, it was hot. Really hot. I can’t blame them for wanting to relax and cool off. But again, what do I know?
As far as the captivity part, something people have to realize is these tigers are NOT wild tigers. They’ve been born and raised in captivity, so while they have a natural hunting instinct, it’s going to be different than an actual wild tiger’s. These tigers have NOT been “taken out of their homes” – all they know is THIS home.
One of the volunteers was telling us how a tiger escaped not too long ago and “went after a deer.” Only, he didn’t hunt the deer, he wanted to play with it. Obviously, if this was a wild tiger the deer’s outcome would have been very different.
Tigers are becoming extinct in parts of the world, because they are being hunted. They are beautiful animals and any place where they can live happily and safely is fine by me.
This doesn’t mean I completely side with those who think this place is amazing. I definitely think they expect too much out of the tigers. I think that’s clear to any visitor. They are animals, not a sideshow. I think it’s a cool thing to do, but they really should limit their activity. Maybe not have so many visitors in a day. I know the temple wants to make money, but constantly having the tigers pose with tourists ALL THE TIME isn’t exactly good. I mean, we were only here for a short period of time in the grand scheme of things, but I do think these poor guys need a break from doing this every day, all day.
When we fed the baby tigers, they weren’t all that hungry, because they were JUST fed during the morning session. The staff MADE them eat in order to get that “picture perfect opportunity” for us, which I didn’t think was right. The volunteers – the ones who come from all over the world – were GREAT and SUPER friendly towards the tigers, but I do think the locals were pretty harsh towards them.
A big “what should I do?” tourists ask themselves is if they should book the morning program I’ve been mentioning, or visit in the afternoon. We visited in the afternoon, and while I do feel the morning would have been better – as you definitely get to do more with the tigers, not to mention they are more active earlier in the day, the afternoon provides just as much opportunity and excitement. If we were to go back, I still wouldn’t do the morning program, for the mere fact that you have wake up at 4:30AM. No thanks!
But really, aside from the tigers not playing as much as they would have in the morning, we didn’t miss much. We still got to pet, walk, and take pictures with them, and all of that was included in the admission price of 600 baht per person. In addition to the standard admission, there are a few programs to choose from that require an “extra donation” if you so choose. We fed the baby tigers for an additional 1,000 baht per person. They were so adorable, it was well worth the price!
Lastly, before we left to head back to Bangkok, we walked the BIG tigers.
Annnnnd that’s when I got peed on. By my tiger friend you see above. Yup. You read that right. I got peed on by a tiger. It all happened so fast. The tiger walked in front of me, his tail hit me in the face, and well, you can imagine what happened next.
Enter every curse word imaginable.
Thankfully, it got on my pants and not ME per say. But STILL! I have never wanted to shower more in my life. The worst part was, I had to sit through the entire ride back to Bangkok.
Luckily, the tiger sanctuary sells pants! Since it’s a temple, guests have to dress appropriately and can’t wear short shorts. So for those that do, they sell cheap pants. I purchased a pair to change into, and even though my pee ridden pants were thrown out, I was still SO grossed out. That yucky look on your face right now? Times that by a hundred, and that was me.
Or… that laughing look on your face? That was my husband.
At this point, no one could have a decent conversation with me. I couldn’t get back to Bangkok fast enough. We still could have gone and played with the bigger tigers, but I was done. See ya. I mean, right about then I was hating tigers. Since then I’ve calmed down. Looking back on today it was really cool. I mean, how many people can say they pet and played with actual tigers? Besides people who work at a zoo, I guess.