Thailand is a birdwatcher’s paradise. Not only does the country’s 500,000 square kilometers sustain at least 955 bird species (more than Europe or North America), its highly developed infrastructure also makes it easy to access and explore areas teeming with all sorts of wildlife. The tropical climate, though sometimes a little on the warm side, means that any time of year is hospitable for birdwatchers to come and commune with our feathered friends. The nation’s terrain varies considerably from deciduous forests in the mountainous north to tropical lowlands of swamp, scrub, jungle, mangrove and coastline. It would be easy to spend a lifetime documenting all the species dwelling here, though a week or so should yield enough sightings to delight even the most discerning birdwatcher.
Not surprisingly, most species in Thailand can be found in the many lush national parks and sanctuaries. See below for the best bird watching sites in Thailand and some sample birding programs. Please stipulate your interest in bird watching when you Contact Us.
Thailand’s Top Birding Sites.
1 Doi Inthanon
Doi Inthanon, Thailand’s highest mountain, is a site of unique biological interest and supports a fascinating variety of different vegetation types and a higher bird species total than any other protected area. Of the total of 382 species of birds so far known from Doi Inthanon, at least 266 species are residents or were formerly residents on the mountain. Doi Inthanon is of particular conservation importance for those species which inhabit the moist hill evergreen forests of the upper slopes. Some, such as the Chestnut-tailed Minla and White-browned Shortwing, which are abundant around the summit, occur in Thailand only on those few higher mountain summits which have considerable areas of hill evergreen forest above 1800 m. Doi Inthanon contains the only significant protected populations of such species in Thailand. The Ashy-throated Leaf-Warbler is found nowhere else in Thailand while an endemic race of the Green-tailed Sunbird (Aethopyga nipalensis angkanensis) is also completely confined to the summit. The Vachirathan Waterfall is one of the best sites for observing birds of fast-flowing streams. The Plumbeous Redstart and the River Chat often perch on boulders in mid-stream. The Slaty-backed Forktail can sometimes be seen. Among the many scarce arboreal birds to look out for are the Red-headed Trogon, Long-tailed Broadbill, Brown-throated Treecreeper, Green Cochoa and Purple Cochoa.
2 Doi Chiang Dao
Doi Chiang Dao is the largest limestone massif in Thailand and its main peak is, at 2,220 metres, the country’s third highest mountain. It rises dramatically at an angle of 60 degrees to face the rising sun. Its poor porous soils, exposed rocks and limited surface water make it harsh unforgiving habitat in which, none the less, over 50 exciting plants and insects known only in these parts – a record for endemic in Thailand – can be found. Bird watching at the top of the mountain will not be so eventful because of the rugged limestone cliff faces, lack of trees and vast open spaces. However there are some excellent birding opportunities at lower elevations, where you can find more open evergreen forests and pines, home to a rich variety of montane birds. The rarest bird to be commonly spotted here is the Giant Nuthatches (Sitta Magna). A rosy pink face distinguishes the otherwise well camouflaged male Blossom-headed Parakeet that is found in the deciduous forests. The Humes Pheasant, named after the wife of a British ornithologist, is found on very few mountains in Thailand but Doi Chiang Dao is the only mountain where it is actually a protected species.
3 Doi Ankhang
Doi Ankhang is a mountain belonging to the Himilayan foot hill range, located at the Myanmar (Burmese) border. The highest point is 1,928 metres. Although chiefly deforested, this is still one of Northern Thailand’s most prominent bird watching areas, due to more and more rare bird species being in residence, as well as being a popular resting point for numerous migratory birds. Examples of rare and beautiful birds inhabiting this area include the Spot-breasted Parrotbill and the Red-faced Liocichla. A highly recommend site to find the more rare bird species is the picturesque area named Heaven Valley. It is not so uncommon to spot the Red-tailed Laughing Thrush here. Around The Royal Agricultural Project Station you can find Brown, Burmese and Long-tailed Shrike and also Fire-capped Tits and Silver-eared Mesias.
4 Doi Lang & Doi Sanju at close range to Doi Pha Hom Pok National Park,
which is the second highest mountain in Thailand and it is part of the Dan Lao Mountain range, northwest of Chiangmai ,located at Baan Thaton, Mae Aei District, shares the border with Myanmar. Doi SanJu, is possible to access from Fang town and easy to travel with good paved road. The mountain forest and a non traffic road make an easy view of the birds. Although, sometime can be very quiet, however, Doi Lang & Doi Sanju provide some of a rare species like Mrs’ Hume Pheasant, Long –tailed Sibia, Himalayan Cutia, Black – throated Tit, Black – eared Shrike Babbler, Whiskered Yuhina, Crimson – breasted Woodpecker, Fire – tailed Sunbird
5 Doi Suthep-Pui National Park
Ideal for an organized one day trip due to its convenient location, this national park is only a 15 minute drive from the city of Chiang Mai. Doi Suthep and Doi Pui support a remarkable flora, with over 2,000 flowering plant species, far more than any other area of seasonal tropical forest. The forest itself is a mix of deciduous and evergreen, with evergreen dominating at 2,900 ft, although semi-evergreen forests fill gulleys and waterways at lower elevations. These forests are filled all year round with flowers and a profusion of exotic birds, butterflies and small mammals.
Examples of common finds at this park include the Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike, the Long-tailed and Scarlet Minivets, the Golden-fronted and Orange-bellied Leafbirds and the Chestnut-Fronted Shrike-babbler.
6 Chiang Saen Lake & along the Mae Kong River Bank
Chiang Saen Lake is a tranquil paradise of wetland area and islands, set aside for the protection of the eco-system. Whilst fishing is allowed, though strictly controlled, motorboats are expressly forbidden, which means it’s a haven for wading and wetland birds as well as migratory ducks.
A special effort has been undertaken recently to protect and conserve a range of natural habitats to encourage a diverse range of birdlife to nest in forested land around the property.
Ponds and rivers in the surrounding areas are natural habitats, or resting stops, for Waders, Kingfishers and numerous ducks, such as the Ruddy Shelduck and the Ferruginous Pochard. In the forest you can spot Drongos, Indian Rollers, Babblers, Flycatchers and Plain Prinias.
The beaches along the Maekong River are good for spotting birds such as the Little Ringed Plover, the Small Pratincole and the most beautiful Mandarin Ducks.
7 Khao Yai National Park
Khao Yai is the flagship of Thailand’s national parks. Located some 2.5 hours from Bangkok, it was the first one to be established (in 1962), it is the most visited, and it remains one of the largest at 2,168 square kilometers. Above all it is one of the best refuges in the country for animals and birds in the wild, and remains the most likely spot in Thailand to see a wild tiger or elephant. Consisting of moist evergreen forest, mixed deciduous forest and dry evergreen forest and over 350 species of birds, the park offers some of Thailand’s best birding opportunities. Orchids and other epiphytic are in abundance and there are several plants unique to the area. Birds of note include The Coral Billed Ground Cuckoo, Asian Fairy Bluebird, Scarlet Minivet, Crested-serpent eagle and Red-headed Trogon, to name a few! With all this, Khao Yai is surely a bird watcher’s paradise.
8 Kaeng Krachan National Park
This relatively unexplored National Park is the largest and most dramatic in Thailand. Located beside the Myanmar (Burmese) border, this park consists of all types of forests, lakes, streams and reservoirs, making a perfect sanctuary for birdwatchers. A variety of mammals also lurk in the depths of the forests. Watch out for gibbons, four leaf monkeys and barking deer. Kaeng Krachan has many birds, some northern, some southern and some peculiarly out of place, such as the Ratchet-tailed Treepie that hails from Indo-China. Birds which take residence at the park include the Green Broadbill, the Wreathed and Great Hornbills