Thailand Birding Tours
The Kingdom of Thailand (simply “Thailand” hereafter) was formerly known as Siam and is one of the premier bird watching tour and bird photography destinations in Southeast Asia. Thailand has an excellent tourism infrastructure with good, clean, high quality hotels and lodges, has some of the best food anywhere on the planet, and has some of the friendliest people you could ever hope to meet. Thailand is a perfect place for your first step into the many wonders of Oriental and Southeast Asian birding.
Located at the center of the Indochinese Peninsula, Thailand’s capital and largest city is Bangkok. Thailand is bordered to the north by Myanmar and Laos (with the southern Chinese state of Yunnan only around 125 miles (200 kilometers) to the north of the Thai northern border), to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and further south along the Thai-Malay Peninsula, Malaysia, and to the west by the Andaman Sea (where the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are located) and the southern extremity of Myanmar. A maritime boundary is shared with Vietnam in the Gulf of Thailand and with Indonesia and India in the Andaman Sea.
The region has an interesting cultural history with, at times, various kingdoms ruling over different areas of Southeast Asia and controlling various portions of what is known today as Thailand, at one time or another. The primary religion is Theravada Buddhism, practiced by around 95 % of the population, this plays an incredibly important role in Thai society. Stunning temples are therefore a major feature of the Thai landscape and we will look in awe at many of these during our tours, even doing some birding in and around some of them.
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A similar size to Spain, Thailand comprises six distinct geographical regions. In the north are impressive (and gorgeous) mountains with Doi Inthanon at 8,415 feet (2,565) being the highest mountain in the country. There is a large plateau in the northeast which drains into the famous and important Mekong River. The center of the county is flat and drains into the Chao Phraya River which empties out into the Gulf of Thailand. The south consists of the narrow Isthmus of Kra (a great raptor migration bottleneck site) which widens into the Malay Peninsula. There are several climate types present across Thailand, most widespread is a tropical savannah climate. The above results in numerous habitats for birds and other wildlife, such as various forests (e.g. deciduous, broadleaf evergreen, pine, bamboo, limestone, and mangrove), plus there are important offshore habitats, intertidal habitats, rivers, freshwater wetlands, open country, and of course urban (there are some great birding sites within the vast city of Bangkok), to mention a few.
Thailand has been well birded for at least the last 50 years by visiting birders and those interested in bird photography (and much longer by Thai and expat naturalists) and the Bird Conservation Society of Thailand (BCST) does really great work. In 2020, following International Ornithological Congress (IOC) taxonomy the national list is given at just over 1,080 bird species. Three of these species are endemic: Siamese Partridge, Turquoise-throated Barbet, and White-eyed River Martin, though the martin has not been sighted since the 1980s and is considered likely extinct. The regional endemic (shared with southern Myanmar) Gurney’s Pitta is also likely functionally extinct in the wild in Thailand or is Critically Endangered at best (BirdLife International). There are six Endemic Bird Areas (EBAs) in Thailand according to BirdLife International.
In addition to the above there are many more avian highlights, some of the rarest shorebirds, wildfowl, and waterbirds on the planet spend the non-breeding season at Laem Pak Bia in Thailand, such as Spoon-billed Sandpiper, Nordmann’s Greenshank, Baer’s Pochard, and Chinese Egret. There are incredibly exciting resident species from mouthwatering families such as pittas, hornbills, kingfishers, woodpeckers, owls, trogons, malkohas, broadbills, pheasants, and bee-eaters. There are also some truly fantastic migrant passerines present at certain times of the year too, such as Siberian Rubythroat, Siberian Blue Robin, Ultramarine Flycatcher, Green-backed Flycatcher, Yellow-breasted Bunting, and many more… each year these non-breeding visitors often harbor an interesting rare species or two, such as the gorgeous Firethroat or Dusky Thrush.
Thailand covers an area of almost 200,000 square miles (513,000 square kilometers) and almost 20 % of this territory is protected in 147 national parks (with another 33 proposed), 58 wildlife sanctuaries, 67 non-hunting areas, and 120 forest parks. Three marine parks are also on the way. BirdLife International recognizes 62 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in Thailand. While not all national parks are designed specifically for bird watchers, they do often hold something of interest for us and offer a way to explore some incredible habitats. During our tours of Thailand we enjoy our time birding in Kaeng Krachan National Park, Khao Yai National Park, Doi Inthanon National Park, Doi Pha Hom Pok National Park (including Doi Lang and Doi Ang Khang), Khao Luang (Krung Ching) National Park, and Khao Pra-Bang Khram Wildlife Sanctuary (the lowland forest site formerly known as Khao Nor Chu Chi) as well as many others where we can find a range of interesting species such as Eared Pitta, Rail-babbler, Coral-billed Ground Cuckoo, Scaly-breasted Bulbul, Indochinese Blue Flycatcher, and Giant Nuthatch.
We have three set-departure tours for birdwatching in Thailand with our expert birding guides, timed when birding trips in the country are at their very best. They can all be taken individually or combined to make a longer tour, with our Vietnam tours also continuing straight after if you would like to extend your stay further in the region. Do not worry if you cannot make our set-departure tours, we can also customize any of these, or create something just for you, just let us know what you want.