Update 2 June 2016: In a high profile move reported around the world, the Thai Department of National Parks raided the Tiger Temple and moved all of the 133 tigers to a government-run wildlife facility.
Tiger skins, fangs used for amulets and bottled organs probably used for "elixers" were discovered along with 40 frozen tiger cub corpses -- strong evidence that the temple was involved in illegal and inhumane activities. Needless to say, the Tiger Temple is no longer open to tourists.
Regardless of the many rumours circulating about this place, in our opinion, 100 or more tigers belong in the care of trained personnel in a natural environment -- not in a quarry under the care of a monk, regardless of how good his intentions may be.
Perhaps in response to criticism about their living conditions, a new "Tiger Island" enclosure has been constructed, which is meant to replicate their natural environment. To pay for this massive project, the entrance fee is a hefty 300 baht. The temple appears to have perhaps got a bit greedy after seeing the massive tourism dollars their tigers bring in. In early 2013, a gargantuan and rather tacky concrete sculpture of a lounging tiger was being constructed in the field facing the road near the front gates, which also have been outfitted with a garish tiger head.
Whatever the truth behind the stories about the animals being drugged, it is certainly true that their sense of smell is artificially reduced to make them less unpredictable. For some, the experience of being close enough to these animals to touch is worth the trip and expense, but many find the experience too contrived. Wildlife activists and experts have long derided the temple, and some former volunteers have suggested that monks are involved in the illicit wildlife trade.
How to get there
The temple is easily reached by tour or by motorbike -- just look for the giant tiger head/gateway on the right, 38 kilometres west of Kanchanaburi immediately off route 323. Buses to Thong Pha Phum can also drop you here, but you'll need to walk the kilometre or two from the main road to the actual temple.