Floating Market / Tiger Temple Kanchanaburi - Hear Me Roar

Bangkok Travel Blog

 › entry 2 of 10 › view all entries
Floating markets traffic jam
What a way to spend Christmas Day - the full day today was going to be spent on a day trip visit to the Floating Markets, the Bridge Over the River Kwai and the Tiger Temple.  My brother had booked the tour and it was only a small group which made the travelling probably a little easier being in a minivan.  The drive out to the Floating Markets was about 2 hours with a couple of toilet breaks in between.  I had been to the Floating Markets before, but it is always good fun.  You are dropped off at a jetty and travel by long-tail speedboat (I use the term "speed" loosely) along numerous canals where people live in houses suspended by stilts above these canals, to the Floating Market.  This market caters to loads of tourists selling arts and crafts, clothing, nik naks and fresh and cooked foods.
Floating market stalls
  The market stalls are dotted along the canals and there are also market vendors selling goods directly from their boats.  If you see something you like you simply stop the boat you are in and transact with the market vendor.  Don't be distressed if you go past something in your boat that you would like to purchase - there is a very strong chance that is the vendor saw that you were interested s/he will paddle their arms off to ensure that their boat catches up with yours to ensure a sale!  Be careful picking up things for a closer look as this may unfortunately tend to signal to the market vendor that you are ready to purchase and s/he will start hassling you for a price, even if you were innocently just browsing.  I also saw a number of interesting foods being sold on these boats, and even dared to try something that kinda looked like a taco - it was in fact like a sweet crunchy pancake with coconut cream and savoury toppings - not bad given I had no idea what I was eating.
Food!
....
Wandered around a bit more and then saw that there was this guy that was hawking his pet snakes - which were quite large - so that you could get your photo taken with it.  This seemed like a good idea at the time, and I thought that I probably wouldn't have the same opportunity again.

After more browsing at the market stalls by the canals, we set off to the Bridge Over River Kwai.  This was probably another 35 minutes away from the floating markets.  The historical significance of the bridge is obviously quite unique and walking around on the bridge (which I have to assume is a replica seeing as I figure it was destroyed) was interesting.  They also run an old train along it which you can ride on for a nominal fee.
  There is a museum that houses memorabilia from the war days which I was surprised to see as you could also purchase them too.  There's not too much to see here though and we would have spent about an hour here.  Probably long enough given it was SO hot out in the open without any shade.

So finally we were off to the Tiger Temple.  Upon arriving there we were quickly ushered through the gates after signing our release form in case we came out with a few limbs less than what we started with.  It was almost 3pm by the time we arrived there and the tigers are put away sometime before 4pm.  Walking through the compound which was like an open ground there were random deer, boars, and some other animals that looked like a cross between a goat and a deer.
The snake idea seemed like a good idea at the time
  There were also a couple of sun bears but these were kept in enclosures further away from where the tigers were.

I'd read a few reviews of this place on the TravBuddy forums and also on a few other travel websites.  Some were very positive about the experience to be able to walk with the tigers, have your photo taken with them etc, whilst others were completely negative and commented on how the tigers must have been drugged etc.  As some have pointed out, I guess you can only make your mind up if you have gone there to see it for yourself.  Just as an aside, none of the reviews that I'd read mentioned the absolute STENCH that lasted for a good 10 minute walk to the middle of the compound.  I later found out that the smell was due to the call of nature of the many wild boars wandering around coupled with the extreme heat.
Bridge Over The River Kwai
  Not good - be prepared, I would have bought along pegs if I had of known - it was quite a gross smell.

So, back to the tigers - we continued to walk to what was like a canyon where the tigers were kept for the tourists viewing.  We were instructed that if you wanted to have your photo individually taken with the tigers you would pay a certain fee and would be escorted by one of the workers.  You could give your camera to the workers at the temple and they would take your photos for you.  So, we decided on this option and I have to tell you that when they say you will be escorted, be prepared to be literally dragged around to each area where the tigers are and instructed where to sit, stand, and to make no noises etc.  I understand that this is done for everyone's safety and to minimise any disruption to the tigers, I just was a little surprised at the military style everything was carried out in.
  However, having said that, you DID get to stand, sit, have a tigers head in your lap!!!!!  I also now understand why some people who have visited the tiger temple say that the tigers must be drugged.  Yes - they do appear to be sedated somehow as all the tigers that you could have your photo taken with all have their eyes closed and are lying on the ground.  The one tiger that was awake, I noticed that nobody was allowed to have their photo taken with.  Of course, given tigers are wild animals, I highly doubt that you could just approach these tigers and have your photo taken with them.  So I don't think that this should deter anyone from going there, particularly as the chances of you ever being so close to a tiger is highly unlikely!  I just think you should be prepared to see the tigers in a very relaxed environment.
Tiger Temple
  One of the guys that worked at the temple when he was welcoming us there, did say that some people think the tigers are drugged, but he said that the tigers are not drugged, rather, they have become desensitised to humans as they are around them all the time.  I had also read that people can walk with the tigers earlier in the day - but I had gotten there in the mid-late afternoon.

After we had all our photos with the tigers taken, we walked a little bit more around and looked a two sun bears which were kept in separate enclosures, and on the way back, we saw two tiger cubs which were being looked after two monks and a couple of volunteers.  We were able to play and have our photos taken with the cubs and they were very very cute (and active!)  This was good value and got some good pictures from here and the opportunity to interact with the cubs.
Tigers don't look so scary when they're asleep...


And then, it was time for us to start heading off on our way back to the city.  We had to walk past yet again, that foul smell emanating from the front of the compound - more boar smells - I know I'll never forget that smell ever again!!!  Luckily, the three hour drive back to the city was someone else's duty to ponder whilst I napped in the back of the mini van tired after my day with the big cats.....

Dinner tonight was at the Face Bar - there are a few other namesake bars in other Asian cities such as Shanghai and Beijing.  The food here was OK, nothing spectacular, but the space is nicely designed and decorated in traditional and modern accents.  There was a nice bar with pool tables to relax by whilst waiting for your table.
  The menu was either Indian or Thai - both are served in different houses which is a neat touch.  Service was pretty good and the cost was not excessive given the modern feel to the restaurant, however would probably be considered expensive in local terms.  It was a bit out of the way though - a taxi dropped us off here - it's not a place that is surrounded by other cafes, shops etc.

Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Floating markets traffic jam
Floating markets traffic jam
Floating market stalls
Floating market stalls
Food!
Food!
The snake idea seemed like a good …
The snake idea seemed like a good…
Bridge Over The River Kwai
Bridge Over The River Kwai
Tiger Temple
Tiger Temple
Tigers dont look so scary when th…
Tigers don't look so scary when t…
Love those cubs!
Love those cubs!
Bangkok
photo by: Deats