It’s never been easier to check “playing with tigers” off your bucket list. About an hour’s drive outside of Bangkok, in a province called Kanchanaburi, there’s a place called Tiger Temple. It’s a Buddhist monastery that partially supports itself and its animal residents (including a large population of tigers) on donations and visitor fees. Among the many activities you can do: bottle-feed tiger cubs; exercise adult tigers in water moats; hand-wash, hand-feed, and walk with tigers; and of course, take über-cool, up-close-and-personal photos with these beautiful, majestic creatures that will leave your family and friends ooh’ing and aah’ing in amazement and new-found respect for you!
There’s another facility in Thailand that offers similar interaction with tigers called Tiger Kingdom, but from the photos my friends who visited have taken, it doesn’t even come close to the type of interaction offered by Tiger Temple. Upon booking your visit, be sure to reserve the morning tour (limited to only 12 people), which allows you to have breakfast with the monks. In doing this, you’ll be able to witness some of their spiritual prayers and rituals, surrounded by adult tigers and cubs, making for epic photos! Plus, you’ll get more time with the tigers, which is what you want, right?!
Many people think the tigers are drugged to allow humans to get so close. Having spent a half-day at Tiger Temple, I can assure you – the tigers are very much alert and aware of their surroundings (i.e. drug-free)! At times, they ARE lethargic due to the heat and sun (like humans can get under such circumstances), and staff DO take advantage of that for photo opportunities, which lessens any potential dangers.
Visitor safety is the highest priority at Tiger Temple (along with the safety and welfare of the animals), and there is always an abundance of staff around to safely facilitate encounters while ensuring visitors enjoy their tours and get the best photos. Having said that; however, tigers are and will always be wild animals that cannot be tamed. In other words, have fun…but always follow the directions of the staff, and give the tigers their due respect at all times!
P.S. Make sure there is plenty of space on your memory cards and your batteries are charged up…because you won’t want to miss a single moment of the action at Tiger Temple!
This story was curated by Sonjia Mackey.