Wat Tham Suwan Khuha, Phang-Nga

Wat Tham Suwan Khuha, Phang-Nga…

…Don’t Even Think About It!

After the peace of Somdet Phra Srinagarindra Park I headed about eight kilometers south on Highway 4 towards Phuket and then off to the right a short distance to the people-infested country of Touristan. Which is about the best description I can think of for Wat Tham Suwan Khuha, also known as The Monkey Temple. The Money Temple more like. What a mess. What an absolute mess.

Things didn’t go well right from the start. The parking lot is huge – fortunately – as the area anywhere close to the wat was overrun with monkeys. Of all sizes…

Wat Tham Suwan Khuha, Phang-Nga

There was no way I going to park anywhere near. The nasty critters will rip off anything they can – wipers, antennæ, bits of trim, even door mirrors – So Bert was parked out by the road, but only after I had inspected every tree for moving branches.

Back near the cave and the monkeys, there were stalls selling all manner of cheap rubbish. Furry monkeys to hang round your neck, and bananas to feed to the real monkeys.

Anyhoo, the main part of the wat is quite attractive, but completely ignored by the monkey-loving tourists. So after a walk around that, I headed into the mouth of the cave…

Wat Tham Suwan Khuha, Phang-Nga

But not before seeing this…

Wat Tham Suwan Khuha, Phang-Nga

Seriously? Do people need to be told? Yup, it was that kind of place. I’m not sure why it singled-out “Whisky” but I guess it was lost in translation and should have warned against alcohol of any kind.

After adjusting my eyes to the gloom, I discovered I had to pay money. This is unusual. Religious places are considered public property, and open to all. I didn’t receive a receipt, so I suspect this either ended-up in someone’s pocket, or I’d just paid an obligatory donation!

Everywhere there were signs telling people how to behave, how not to behave, what to wear, and what not to wear. It didn’t seem to make much difference. Case in point…

Wat Tham Suwan Khuha, Phang-Nga

There were women in short shorts, and men in those armless t-shirts, what do they call them, singlets? Zero respect.

The cave’s main claim to fame is a fifteen meter long golden Buddha, who is very much in need of some new gold…

Wat Tham Suwan Khuha, Phang-Nga

Wat Tham Suwan Khuha, Phang-Nga

…and a large open cave with steps that lead to goodness knows what…

Wat Tham Suwan Khuha, Phang-Nga

…I wasn’t about to find out.

For a certain type of tourist the place was probably ideal. You could spend half a day on bus, plus half an hour looking at monkeys, a wat, a cave, and a Buddha, and be back at the hotel in time to don your Speedos or bikinis and order a round of gin and tonics by the pool. Back in the office you could regale your colleagues with stories of having experienced Thai wildlife, plus the culture of its people and religions. For sure, this place checks all the boxes in the shortest time possible.

For me, it screamed “Get me out of here.” So I left. Rapidly. Never to return.

wwiNo matter. It was the only downside to the day. I’d saved the best for last. Come back soon and you’ll find out what that was.


...has been travelling the world for more than sixty years; having lived and worked in five countries and travelled to many many more.

He likes to write about his travels - present and past - along with his other main interests of Drones, Information Technology and Motorsport, and he adds a few general twitterings along the way.

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