Thailand's Tiger Temple Draws Tourists

(Image credit: Rungroj Yongrit/EPA)

Thailand's Tiger Temple is not for the faint of heart. But for brave souls who have ever wanted to pose for a picture with a tiger resting its head in their lap, or sit by a pond just a few feet from tigers wrestling in the water, now you can.

Tiger Temple is located in Thailand's Kanchanaburi province, about 150 miles northwest of Bangkok.

The temple is part of a Buddhist sanctuary run by monks who founded the monastery in 1994. It is one of the few places in the world where tourists can get up close and personal with the grown cats.

Encounters start at about 1000 Baht, which is about $30. Visitors can bottle-feed tiger cubs, exercise adolescent tigers, bathe tigers and pose with sleeping adult tigers, according to the temple's website.

(Image credit: Rungroj Yongrit/EPA)

Other various packages include river rafting, feeding wild monkeys and riding elephants.

The monastery has a strict dress code for visitors.

"Appropriate clothing must be worn by women, covering their shoulders and knees so as not to offend the celibate monks," the website says. "No bright coloured [red] clothing, no sleeveless or strapless tops or shorts/mini skirts are allowed either. No shawls or sarongs for the upper or lower body should be worn."

(Image credit: Rungroj Yongrit/EPA)

The temple has not been without controversy.  In 2008, Care for the Wild International, a U.K.-based wildlife conservation group, released a report saying an investigation of the temple had revealed "illegal tiger trafficking, systematic physical abuse of tigers held at the temple and high-risk interactions between tigers and tourists."

Tiger Temple's website says that the attentive staff closely guide tourists and intervene if a tiger becomes agitated. Tiger Temple did not respond to request for comment from

(Image credit: Rungroj Yongrit/EPA)

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