Wat Ban Tham

Wat Ban Tham

Into the dragon’s mouth

More on Kanchanaburi

A passage through the dragon’s mouth takes you to two impressive caves and a mountaintop chedi affording tremendous river views at Wat Ban Tham, and if you don’t mind the steep climb, this is the mountain-cave temple that we suggest above all others in Kanchanaburi.

Travelfish says:
Up we go. Photo by: David Luekens.
Up we go. Photo: David Luekens

The journey begins with a steep set of stairs between balustrades depicting naga serpents. Then comes an enormous dragon with swirling eyeballs daring you to keep climbing into its mouth and up through a human-made tunnel punctuated by murals. On our visit, sunlight pierced through the windows as monks applied a fresh coat of red paint to the stairs.

Just beyond the dragon tunnel, the first cave enshrines an ancient U-thong style Buddha image known as Luang Por Yai Chinnaraj. Seated in the Subduing Mara posture, it’s placed at the back of a large cavern that stays cool thanks to air flowing through the front entrance and out a second hole in the limestone. A monk sat ready to splash visitors with holy water.

A buddha with a cooling breeze. Photo by: David Luekens.
A buddha with a cooling breeze. Photo: David Luekens

From here the stairs become steeper and turn to steel as you climb through a massive crag. On the other side, a rocky trail fastened with concrete steps continues up to the second cave, Tham Man Wijit, hosting a shrine to the hermit Ruesi along with colourful ribbons and metre-long stalactites that grab the eerie glow of red, yellow and blue lights. We emerged into the cool outside breeze sweating heavily due to the hot, stagnant air inside.

Clusters of bamboo lean over the trail as you approach a pinnacle crowned with a four-faced statue of Brahma, among other statuary, and a gold-painted chedi at the end. This was a tiring climb and at this point it was time to take a breath while absorbing a fabulous Mae Khlong River vista set to the gentle chiming of prayer bells in ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 300 words.)

Log in to Travelfish

Please sign in to read the rest of this page. The full text is around 300 words.

Log in now
Become a Travelfish member

Choose from a free two-day pass right through to a lifetime membership.

Find out more

Reviewed by

David Luekens first came to Thailand in 2005 when Thai friends from his former home of Burlington, Vermont led him on a life-changing trip. Based in Thailand since 2011, he spends much of his time eating in Bangkok street markets and island hopping the Andaman Sea.

Tours in Thailand



Our top 10 other sights and activities in and around Kanchanaburi

Huai Mae Khamin Waterfall
Huai Mae Khamin Waterfall

Pure tranquility

Hellfire Pass
Hellfire Pass

Riveting

Exploring Kanchanaburi by train
Exploring Kanchanaburi by train

Start in Bangkok and keep going

Thailand-Burma Railway Centre
Thailand-Burma Railway Centre

Easily the best museum in town

Erawan National Park
Erawan National Park

Home to majestic falls

Prasat Mueang Singh
Prasat Mueang Singh

Ancient empire’s border stones

Death Railway Bridge
Death Railway Bridge

Kanchanaburi's star attraction

Wat Tham Sua & Wat Tham Khao Noi
Wat Tham Sua & Wat Tham Khao Noi

The twin towers of Kanchanaburi

Kanchanaburi War Cemetery
Kanchanaburi War Cemetery

Pause to pay respects

Organised tours
Organised tours

Choose wisely