Birding Tours in Asia
Asia is the Earth’s largest and most populous continent and supports dense and large human settlements as well as vast and barely populated areas. Located primarily in the Eastern and Northern Hemispheres, Asia shares the continental landmass of Eurasia with the continent of Europe and the continental landmass of Afro-Eurasia with both Europe and Africa. Asia is subdivided into 49 countries and six regions: North Asia, Central Asia, Western Asia (Near East), South Asia (Indian Subcontinent), East Asia (Far East), and Southeast Asia.
In terms of biogeography, the Asian continent is made up of four biogeographic realms, the whole of the Indomalayan realm (also known as the Oriental Region), a large portion of the Palearctic realm (the entire Eastern Palearctic, and a thin sliver of the easternmost edge of the Western Palearctic), part of the northeast of the Afrotropical realm (the southern half of the Arabian Peninsula), and the northwest of the Australasian realm (eastern Indonesia).
Asia has extremely diverse climates and geographic features and ranges from Arctic (Siberia is one of the coldest places in the Northern Hemisphere) and Subarctic in the north to tropical in southern India and Southeast Asia, and is dry in the interior. The Himalayas between Nepal and China is the tallest mountain range in the world, the Yangtze River in China is the longest river in the continent, and the famous Gobi Desert is in Mongolia, Central Asia.
Following International Ornithological Congress (IOC) taxonomy, v10.2 (December 2020), the bird list of Asia stands at a staggering 3,832 species, 423 of these are globally threatened and several are monotypic families, like Ibisbill, Crab-plover, Spotted Elachura, Grey Hypocolius, Hylocitrea, Rail-babbler, Wallcreeper, and Przevalski’s Finch. We have an extensive range of exciting tours covering the breadth of the region, these are outlined below with links provided to more specific details like detailed tour itineraries, trip reports, client testimonials, and photo/video galleries. These tours make an ideal bird holiday:
South Asia (Indian Subcontinent) Birdwatching Tours
India Birdwatching Tours
India offers so much for the visiting birdwatcher and provides an excellent option for anyone interested in birds and wildlife, whether that be listing species, photographing them, or just enjoying them. Our Northern India tour provides an amazing Himalayan foothill birding experience, with opportunities for Ibisbill, Wallcreeper, Indian Skimmer, and Bengal Tiger at Corbett National Park. In Northwest India we have the chance to observe Asiatic Lion at the fantastic Gir National Park, plus top birds like Crab-plover, Grey Hypocolius, and Demoiselle Crane, while in Northeast India, in the amazing Eastern Himalayas at Eaglenest, spectacular birds like Temminck’s Tragopan, Spotted Elachura, Bugun Liocichla can be found, while below on the plains of Kaziranga National Park we can find White-winged Duck and Greater One-horned (Indian) Rhinoceros. Birdwatching in Southern India results in loads of Nilgiri and Western Ghats endemics like Malabar Trogon, Black-and-orange Flycatcher, and Nilgiri Thrush and many more. We also have a specific tour extension looking for the Endangered (BirdLife International) Forest Owlet, a great add-on to our other longer tours. For those looking for more endemics, our Andaman Islands tour is sure to suit with Andaman Woodpecker, Andaman Hawk-Owl, and Andaman Crake on the cards. Most of our Indian tours are during the early part of the year, though we do have one very good Monsoon Specialties tour looking for the Critically Endangered (BirdLife International) Great Indian Bustard along with Lesser Florican, Green Avadavat, and Indian Spotted Creeper. Incredible ancient cultures and amazing food to go with the great birds, wildlife, and scenery are on offer throughout India.
Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Bhutan Birdwatching Tours
Further Indian Subcontinent (South Asia) tours include an endemic-filled birding adventure in Sri Lanka where we find all the island’s endemics and specials like Serendib Scops Owl, Sri Lanka Blue Magpie, Sri Lanka Frogmouth, Malabar Trogon, and Red-faced Malkoha, along with overwintering beauties like Pied Thrush, Kashmir Flycatcher, and Indian Pitta. Our Nepal tour offers an easy introduction to Himalayan birding with some of the most spectacular scenery, great mammals (Bengal Tiger is possible), and the endemic Spiny Babbler. Bhutan is great year-round, and we have spring and fall (autumn) tours. Key birds in Bhutan include Ward’s Trogon, White-bellied Heron, and Black-necked Crane. As with all our Indian Subcontinent tours these amazing destinations offer so much more than just the birds. We also offer short extensions to our Bhutan tours in Northeast India, visiting Nameri and Kaziranga National Parks for more great birds and wildlife.
North and Central Asia Birdwatching Tours
Mongolia, China, Taiwan, and Japan Birdwatching Tours
Central Asia provides some of the most remote and thrilling birding opportunities in Asia and our Mongolia tour offers Henderson’s Ground Jay, White-naped Crane, Kozlov’s Accentor, and Altai Snowcock. Our East Asia tours include China (Yunnan, Sichuan, and Qinghai), Japan, and Taiwan. In Yunnan we look for White-eared Night Heron, Mrs. Hume’s Pheasant, and Giant Nuthatch as well as enjoying some amazing forest bird-feeding stations, while in Sichuan pheasants abound with Chinese Monal being one of the best, along with Giant Laughingthrush, Grandala, and Przevalski’s Finch. On the Tibetan plateau of Qinghai Tibetan Snowcock, Ibisbill, and Crested Tit-warbler can be found. The small island of Taiwan supports 28 endemic birds (including Mikado Pheasant, Swinhoe’s Pheasant, and Taiwan Blue Magpie) and some top world birds like Fairy Pitta, Chinese Crested Tern, and Black-faced Spoonbill. Japan is a winter wonderland where endemic birds and cranes form a focal point, with Hooded Crane, Red-crowned Crane, White-naped Crane, and others all possible. The mighty Blakiston’s Fish Owl and Steller’s Sea Eagle are both highlight birds too.
Southeast Asia Birdwatching Tours
Thailand Birdwatching Tours
Southeast Asia is a biodiversity hotspot and is home to 20% of the world’s flora and fauna with over 2,500 bird species recorded from the subregion. Thailand has a national list of over 1,000 species, we have three tours to the county, these offer amazing birding, fantastic photographic opportunities, and great food. Central Thailand is a magnet to overwintering shorebirds with Spoon-billed Sandpiper, White-faced Plover, and Nordmann’s Greenshank being the most-wanted. Blue Pitta, Coral-billed Ground Cuckoo, and Great Hornbill are found in the forests here. Northern Thailand holds some excellent resident birds like Giant Nuthatch, Mrs. Hume’s Pheasant, and Rusty-naped Pitta, with a plethora of northern migrants like Siberian Rubythroat, Baer’s Pochard, and Pied Harrier. Southern Thailand is full of hornbills, pittas, and trogons with Malayan Banded Pitta, Critically Endangered (BirdLife International) Helmeted Hornbill, Green Broadbill, Crested (Shrikejay) Jay, and Scarlet-rumped Trogon.
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Vietnam, Malaysia (Peninsular and Borneo) Birdwatching Tours
Close to Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia offer something for everyone. Southern and Central Vietnam provides amazing views of highly sought-after secretive forest pheasants, pittas, and laughingthrushes, with Bar-bellied Pitta, Blue-rumped Pitta, and Collared Laughingthrush being a few of the best. Peninsular Malaysia provides the chance of Rail-babbler, Mountain Peacock-Pheasant, and Malaysian Partridge. Borneo is a naturalists dream, Sabah is full of endemics like Whiteheads’s Trogon, Whitehead’s Broadbill, and Bornean Ground Cuckoo plus four endemic pittas (Blue-headed Pitta and Blue-banded Pitta take some beating). The chance for Bornean Orangutan and Proboscis Monkey should not be missed, it is a perfect wildlife holiday. Our tour of Sarawak focusses on localized endemic birds like Dulit Frogmouth, Bornean Frogmouth, and Black Oriole and is an amazing off-the-beaten-track birding experience.
Philippines and Indonesia Birdwatching Tours
Two vast-stretching archipelagic countries wrap up the Southeast Asia sub-region, with the Philippines and Indonesia providing some of the greatest birds and birding in the world, these two countries have almost 700 endemics between them. Our tour of the Philippines visits the islands of Luzon, Mindanao, and Palawan, looking for Philippine (Monkey-eating) Eagle, Palawan Peacock-Pheasant, Wattled Broadbill, Celestial Monarch, and Whiskered Pitta along with overwintering Japanese Night Heron and Chinese Crested Tern. We have seven tours in Indonesia, with more on the way soon. Our West Papua tour is the one to go for if you want birds-of-paradise. Wilson’s Bird-of-paradise is considered one of the best-looking birds in the world, but the rest are not bad either! Other possibilities on our tour include Vogelkop Bowerbird, Western Crowned Pigeon, and Spotted Jewel-babbler. For some more adventure, our special Biak, Numfor, and Kofiau tour is full of stunning endemic birds like Numfor Paradise Kingfisher, Biak Paradise Kingfisher, Kofiau Paradise Kingfisher and loads more! Sulawesi and Halmahera is just as exciting with Hylocitrea, Maleo, Ivory-breasted Pitta, (Wallace’s) Standardwing, and numerous endemic kingfishers available. Our comprehensive tour of the Lesser Sunda islands takes in Sumba, Rote, West Timor, Alor, Flores, and Komodo Islands, and targets the region’s endemics like Flores Hawk-Eagle, Sumba Buttonquail, Rote Boobook, Alor Myzomela, Flores Monarch, and Komodo Dragon. Our Bali and East Java tour connects with special endemics like Bali Myna, Black-winged Starling, and Javan Banded Pitta and we now also offer Bali birdwatching day tours. Situated next to Bali, the island of Lombok has an endemic owl (Rinjani Scops Owl) and some interesting endemic subspecies that makes for a great relaxing trip. Further jaw-dropping birds like Javan Trogon, Sumatran Trogon, Schneider’s Pitta, Graceful Pitta, and Bonaparte’s Nightjar are features of our West Java and Sumatra birding tour.
Western Asia Birdwatching Tours
Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Israel Birdwatching Tours
Western Asia is also great for birding, and we also have tours to Azerbaijan and Georgia in the fall (autumn) and winter. We can offer custom tours to Israel any time of the year, though the passage periods are often the most exciting time for birding here.
Our Azerbaijan tour features loads of top birds of the eastern edge of the Western Palearctic and the western edge of Asia such as Red-fronted Serin, Black Lark, White-winged Lark, Pallas’s Gull, Grey-headed Swamphen, and Caspian Snowcock.
We have a fall tour to the famous Batumi bottleneck in Georgia, a raptor paradise (for example Steppe Eagle, Lesser Spotted Eagle, and Eastern Imperial Eagle) with many other interesting passerines present too, while our winter tour provides an opportunity for the localized Caucasian Grouse, Caucasian Snowcock, Little Bustard, Güldenstädt’s Redstart, Mountain Chiffchaff, Great Rosefinch, Krüper’s Nuthatch, and Wallcreeper.
We can also provide customized tours in Asia, we advise booking as far in advance as possible because our guides get booked up two or three years in advance.
Testimonials from our Asia birding tours
The 2016 Northern India Birding Ecotours trip was everything I had hoped for and more. As a novice both when it came to Asian birds and Indian travel, the trip couldn’t have been better. Andy Walker, our guide, was brilliant at finding the expected birds and some amazing rarities and getting us good looks. I managed close to 400 lifers combined with Fatehpur Sikri, the Taj Mahal, some fascinating glimpses of rural India and a spectacular time in the Himalayan foothills. Our driver, van, train travel and hotels were all comfortable and worked like clockwork. Thanks for the trip of a lifetime.Hume - On Andy and India
Highlights of the Western Ghata and Nilgiri tour included seeing the regional endemic bird species such as Nilgiri Blue Robin, White-bellied Blue Robin, Black-and-orange Flycatcher, Malabar Whistling Thrush, Crimson-backed Sunbird, Sri Lanka Frogmouth, Sri Lanka Bay Owl, giant squirrels and Asian Elephants. The local cuisine was also a highlight! Dylan was friendly and professional with a good sense of humour. He knew when to be intense, when to lighten up on the birding and was always cordial. Dylan was never demeaning when answering questions. Our local guides were excellent, especially in Thattekad and Masinagudi.Ira - On Dylan and India
We spent three weeks with Andy in Thailand and enjoyed the trip thoroughly. Andy worked so hard to find the birds, and get us on them. He was very patient and took the time we needed. He knew all the best places to go, knew what birds would be expected, identified them in an instant and still managed to find some pretty good rarities along with the known birds, Himalayan Cutia anyone? And we spent literally hours getting great looks at Spoon-billed Sandpiper. Andy got us very close without disturbing the birds or any other birders. It was a highlight of the trip. We are hoping to see Andy in York later this year for a days birding on his home patch!Bob and Terrie - On Andy and Thailand