A visit to the Tiger Temple in the Kanchanaburi province of Thailand is a surrealistic experience and controversial. Getting close up and personal with a tiger is once in a life time adventure.
The Tiger Temple was founded in 1994 as a forest temple and sanctuary for wild animals including tigers.
In 1999 the temple received the first tiger cub, one that had been found by villagers; it died soon after. Later, several tiger cubs were given to the temple. As of July 2014, the total number of tigers living at the temple has risen to 135. (Wikipedia)
The best time to go is in the early morning when the tigers are still very active, if you are willing to pay the VIP price of 5,000 Baht* per person (small children not allowed). The morning program consists of taking breakfast with the monks, feeding and washing the cubs, watching the tigers exercising and walking the tigers.
I arrived at the temple right in time for the 1 pm walking of the tigers. The fee for visiting the temple at this time is 600 Baht*, including photos taken by stuff while petting the back of the tigers.
The tigers you are interacting with are all young, but they look really big.
After 11 AM
Between 7:30 AM and 11 AM
There were reports in the past about mistreatment of the tigers.
The temple was cleared of allegations of animal mistreatment in a 2015 investigation conducted by wildlife officials and a raid by Thai soldiers. (Wikipedia)
The tigers are fed with whole chicken, beef and dried cat food and exercised regularly.
The cost of feeding the tigers is about 1,000 USD / day for 100 tigers.
Originally the tigers used to roam around freely, but with the increase in visitors and the number of tigers, they are leashed for safety (Tiger Temple Thailand).
English speaking volunteers are also involved in all aspects of managing the tigers and the visitors.
From Bangkok take a bus to Kanchanaburi from the Southern Bus Terminal (100 Baht*). It takes about 3 hours.
* 1,000 Thai Baht equals 28 US Dollar