Photo: Spectacular views.

Wat Tham Sua & Wat Tham Khao Noi

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The pagodas of Wat Tham Sua and Wat Tham Khao Noi can be seen from miles away towering side by side atop a limestone hill near the Mae Khlong River and each is distinctive and well worth a climb to see Thai- and Chinese-style art in symmetrical spaces opening to good views from all sides.





Not to be confused with the notorious Tiger Temple or another temple of the same name in Krabi, Kanchanaburi’s Wat Tham Sua (“Tiger Cave Temple”) was named after a small limestone cavern at the foot of the eminence where real-life tigers used to rest. Now housing a small tiger spirit shrine, it’s a minor distraction compared to all that’s been built at the top of the hill.

Subdued lighting at Wat Tham Sua. Photo taken in or around Wat Tham Sua & Wat Tham Khao Noi, Kanchanaburi, Thailand by David Luekens.

Subdued lighting at Wat Tham Sua. Photo: David Luekens

Climb the steep naga-rimmed stairs or pay 10 baht for a ride on a cable car to reach a wide, breezy platform in the shadow of a 69-metre-tall cone-shaped pagoda built in the 1970s. Complimenting that is a large Buddha image seated in the unusual gesture of debate, with thumbs touching index fingers. Sheltered by a massive concrete backdrop and showing a sparkling golden sheen, the Buddha image is accompanied by wihaans housing smaller Buddha images along with umbrella trees, prayer bells and all sorts of statuary.

Prepare yourself for a climb before entering the giant orange pagoda with staircases ascending a series of eight floors, each with Buddha images framed by windows. On the lower floors, colourful murals depict the Thai kings Naresuan and Taksin fighting nervous-looking Burmese invaders, while images in the upper halls display scenes from the Buddha’s final life and previous lives (Jatakas). On the top floor sits a reliquary enshrining the ashes of revered Thai monks, often overlooked in favour of the Mae Khlong ... please log in to read the rest of this story.


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How to get there
Wat Tham Sua and Wat Tham Khao Noi are located side by side, 16 km south of downtown Kanchanaburi and four kilometres south of Wat Ban Tham on the west side of the Mae Khlong River. To get here, follow the directions in the Wat Ban Tham listing and continue south until you see the twin pagodas. You’ll need to cut through Khao Noi village to reach the car parks; there are a few ways to do this and the constant sight of the pagodas make it easy.

Wat Tham Sua & Wat Tham Khao Noi
16km south of Kanchanburi
Mo-Su: 08:00-18:00
Admission: Free

Location map for Wat Tham Sua & Wat Tham Khao Noi

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