There’s just something really mysterious about Thailand—the many ruins of formerly grandiose cities, the numerous forests and equally numerous temples and monks all paint a beautiful and intriguing picture of this Southeast Asian country. But it gets much more intriguing.
In Western Thailand, a temple called Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua lets tourists and visitors in for a small fee. What for? Visitors around the world gather at this remote forest monastery to get this once-in-a-lifetime chance to be around tame tigers. There are many pictures of people at the temple holding the tails of these tigers, going on walks with them, or even bathing them!
The temple’s story is an equally mysterious one: an orphaned tiger cub was given to the temple in 1999 after it had been rescued from poachers. At the time, the temple had been taking in different stray animals that devotees had rescued or found since 1994, establishing itself as a sanctuary for wild animals and a forest temple. That first tiger died, but immediately after more tiger cubs were given to the monastery for safekeeping, all saved from poachers and illegal tiger farmers.
Of course, aside from a fun visit to meet tame tigers, there are many other attractions nearby that you can see. One interesting option is to see the Damnoensaduak Floating Market and enjoying a little boat ride before heading to the Tiger Temple. If you’re the more adventurous type, you might want to consider going to an elephant ride through a local forest before proceeding to the remote Tiger Temple. Some people prefer to learn on their trips—many visitors can usually head to the River Kwai and learn about its historical bridge and visit the newly-minted War Museum to satisfy even the most bookish visitor—packages usually come at 99 USD for transportation and lunch.
In the Tiger Temple, monks and tigers coexist with each other. Other volunteers also help to feed the tigers—none of them are fed raw meat, only cooked meat. Some monks even share their meals with the tigers. As a visitor, you’ll be allowed to play and interact with the tigers, like petting or bathing them, or if you’re interested, ask how you can volunteer too. Many who have visited call the place a true sanctuary where humans and animals live together in peace.