Thailand is a country blessed with an incredibly rich bio-diversity. Watching wildlife is a slow-paced activity that requires patience and a little bit of luck. Assisted by an expert guide, you will hike in the midst of nature and try to approach the many wild animals, observing how they live, and trying to take some stunning pictures.
Among the many places, we recommend heading to national parks like Khao Sok, Khao Yai, and Thap Lan, each one with its own incredibly varied ecosystem; or to explore the Gulf of Thailand looking for whales and other cetaceans.
We have already served travelers who share this passion with you. Here is our quick guide for you.
- Head to one of the many wildlife sanctuaries and immerse yourself in nature.
- Get close to wild and rare animals like gibbons, tapirs, hornbills, and many, many more.
- Spot the Bryde's Whales in the Gulf of Thailand.
- Blend in with the environment and have an unbelievably rewarding experience.
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Top places for wildlife watching
Thailand is a dream place if you like to watch wildlife. The country has 147 national parks and 58 wildlife sanctuaries, with incredibly varied flora and fauna. We tried to choose some places to recommend to you.
Khao Sok National Park is perfect for birdwatchers and also for spotting some rare apes like the white-handed gibbon. A trip to Khao Yai will mix sightseeing and wildlife watching.
The Gulf of Thailand is, unexpectedly for many, home to many whales and dolphins, and some islands like Koh Samet are perfect to spot them. Finally, Thap Lan, the second largest park of the country, sees one of the most diverse ecosystems of Southeast Asia.
Khao Sok National Park: Bird and Wildlife Watching
If you love birdwatching, Khao Sok National Park is the place for you. Located in south Thailand, the park is home to an incredibly wide variety of exotic birds and other animals. White-handed gibbons, Malayan tapirs, yellow-throated martens, and many other rare animals all live freely in the park, which can become the perfect place for your unforgettable pictures.
You can slowly drift along the rivers and observe the amazing wildlife of this place, and admire the rich biodiversity that includes big ficus, dipterocarpus, leguminosae, and much, much more. If you like trekking, the park is full of trails up the mountains and through the jungle. A true paradise.
Khao Yai National Park: Wildlife Watching
The park of Khao Yai is huge, and it would take a lot of time to visit it all. However, you can still enjoy a one-day tour that includes hiking and safari drives, mixing wildlife watching and natural exploration.
During your safari, along the road you will see animals like gibbons, hornbills, macaques, elephants, and many more. After the safari, it's time to hike through the jungle. You will learn more about forest indigenes and stop to relax for a little bit by the waterfalls inside the park.
Whale Watching in the Gulf of Thailand
Among the different species of cetaceans living in the Gulf of Thailand, Bryde's whales are the most loved by tourists. Nowadays, there are about 55 Bryde's whales living in the Gulf of Thailand. They live a solitary life, and this can make it hard to spot them.
It takes a little bit of luck to spot one, and when this happens the driver of the boat you are travelling on will keep a respectful distance, slowly following the animals to give you a good view.
One of the best services is offered by Wild Encounter Thailand, located in Bangkok. They provide a tour on a two-deck boat, with food and beverages, and a helpful entourage that will give you plenty of information about the life of whales.
Thap Lan National Park: Wildlife Watching
The second largest national park in Thailand, connected to other parks such as Khao Yai and Ta Praya, is mostly covered by dry evergreen forests, and it gives you the chance to see many wild animals like tigers, elephants, buffaloes, bangtangs, serows, black bears, and more than 149 different species of birds. Tigers are especially numerous; according to some research, there are more tigers here than in China.
The park also represents a hope for the survival of the kouprey, one of the earth's most endangered mammals.
Nowadays, also the park is in danger, threatened by poaching and illegal logging. Visiting it contributes to the safeguarding of one of most important forest ecosystems of all Southeast Asia.
The best time for wildlife watching
To know what the best time for wildlife watching is, you have to understand first what your needs are. Different seasons are ideal for observing different animals and for different activities.
During the rainy season, the rain is frequent, but it usually lasts only a few hours. The forests flourish, waterfalls are powerful and full of water, and animals don't have to cover long distances to find food or water, and therefore can be seen more frequently. During this season, it will be easier to cover smaller routes.
The cold season will still see impressive waterfalls, but the water will get weaker with time. This is the best time for hiking, with little to no rain and medium temperatures.
In the hot season, around March, the big bird migrations begin. This is the best period of the year for birdwatching, and it will be easy to find some animals drinking water along the rivers.
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Tips for Wildlife Watching in Thailand
Wildlife watching is not the easiest activity in the world. It takes skills and patience to observe animals in their natural habitat and, most of the time, the help of an expert.
Choose the right time
Do some research on the destination you wish to visit and then decide what is the best time to go (time of year and, even more importantly, time of day). We recommend to take at least 2 days for wildlife watching.
It takes luck
No one controls wildlife, so spotting a wild tiger in the jungle can never be assured. The best thing you can do is to be patient and enjoy the moment, the nature, the silence, the experience.
Hire local agents and local guides
Putting yourself in the hands of an expert is maybe the best thing you can do to assure the success of your watching adventure. Expert guides know how to move around, where the animals usually wander, how to approach them so not to scare them, and solve problems you might have along the way.
Blend in with the environment
Try to wear earth-tone colors and don't use colognes and scented products. Hide behind trees and bushes, or inside the observation spots distributed around the parks. Move slowly and try to listen to the sounds of the environment. This way, you won't alert the animals.
Beware of your behavior
Never feed wildlife and do not interfere with mating, predation or other natural behavior. Observe the animals from a distance so as not to force animals to alter their usual behavior, and always try not to alter the natural habitat of the animals. Not leaving traces is the mantra you should follow.
Do not chase wildlife, and try to limit the time you spend closely viewing an animal. Remember also to respect other people, and don't intrude on another person's area.
Bring proper gear
Bring a raincoat and rubber boots, they will be extremely useful in case of rain. Wear field pants and hiking boots, and put water bottles, a flashlight, binoculars, and your camera in your backpack.
The Asia Highlight Experience
If you have already done some homework on your own and still need some expert insight, just talk to us. We will provide assistance with our expertise and ideas that help you make this wildlife watching experience in Thailand even more enjoyable and stress-free. Simply start here: