Thailand is a perfect vacation spot for the avid birder looking to do some serious birding while enjoying the landscape and culture of an exotic country. Located in the northwest of Southeast Asia which bordered by Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Malaysia its 513,115 square kilometers, Thailand boasts 995 bird species. Most of the bird species found here are also found in the plains of Myanmar to the west, Indochina to the east and Malaysia in the south. The treasures that one can find in Thailand range from delicate handicrafts to spicy food and even vast mountain ranges and friendly people. It has been attracting tourists in large numbers for decades, but before the human tourists there have been tourists of the avian kind.
The country of Thailand is physically diverse. The landscape varies from tropical lowland to mountains of evergreen and deciduous forests. There are also pine, scrub and freshwater swamp forests. The variety of habitats means that Thailand offers numerous niches for birds to occupy. As a result, Thailand is bird rich compared to many other countries around the world. There are a number of resident species and many more migrants that come to breed or on feed in Thailand on their migration routes. It is therefore possible to see many species of bird throughout Thailand all year round, although there are peak periods and variability depending on the region.
Generally, the weather in Thailand is hot and humid which is good for birding. Frequent rain storms and floods can be a bother during the rainy season. In most cases, rain poncho and water resistant boots should keep the rain off you while you are in the field. The best weather for birding though is normally in the winter months when the rainy season ends and the weather is cooler.
As for bird tourism, Thailand offers diversity of bird species as well as easy access to birding sites. Many good birding sites are protected by the national park system. Within the parks you’ll find tree dependent species such as woodpeckers and hornbills. Smaller birds like jungle babblers, sunbirds, flycatcher and flower-peckers can be found. Aside from national parks, there are areas of seconday growth forests, grasslands, lowland water swamp, wetland and coastal areas which also support a great variety of open country and water birds worth investigating.
Transportation is easy to arrange to get to and from these parks, either via van or bus. Thailand’s public bus system is an economical and easy way to travel around the country. For those wanting private transportation, there are many package tours to choose from or vans can be hired by the day. The infrastructure within the parks, and in Thailand as a whole, allows visitors access via road and hiking trails.
Accommodations are easy to come by and relatively inexpensive. Most national parks have park run accommodation in the form of camp sites, lodges and even resorts. Often, there are privately run resorts and guesthouses for visitors that opt to stay outside of the park. Accommodations vary by price and location, but with a little research you should be able to find clean accommodations in your price range that meets your needs.
Depending on your comfort with independent travel and price range, you should be able to make the necessary travel arrangements to reach your chosen destination, a place to sleep and shower, good Thai food and a return trip. The birds are the only aspect of the trip which cannot be arranged in advance, but while birding for a few days in Thailand you are sure to spy many of the bird species that draws so many birders from around the world.