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Southern Thailand, known for its rich Sundaic avifauna and exotic birds is a fabulous birding destination. Covered by vegetation, oil palm, and rubber plantations, a small part of lowland habitat is preserved but is under increasing threat due to widespread deforestation. Although, a promising number of southern specialties can be found in the Mangrove forests and on the Andaman coasts. Several wetlands and shorebird sites are the most desirable places for birding in southern Thailand. Gurney’s Pitta was one of the main attractions once, but now it’s extinct. Birding can be a little challenging here no doubt, but it is worth it once visitors come here as southern Thailand offers some extraordinary species of birds like Malayan Banded Pitta, Nicobar pigeon, White-crowned Hornbill, Mangrove Pitta, Brown-winged Kingfisher, Grey-tailed Tattler, etc.
Nearest Airport: Phuket International Airport
How to reach: Most places are within 1-4 hours of Bangkok airport
Famous for: Exotic birding
Best time to visit: December to May
WHAT TO SEE
Key birds: Mangrove Pitta, Brown-winged Kingfisher, Grey-tailed Tattler, Helmeted Hornbill, Nicobar Pigeon, Beach Thick-knee, Malaysian Honeyguide, Gurney’s Pitta, Gould’s Frogmouth, Bat Hawk, Chestnut-naped Forktail, Green Broadbill, Grey-headed Fish Eagle, Black-and-red Broadbill, Rhinoceros Hornbill, Blyth’s Frogmouth, Malayan Banded Pitta, Spotted Wood Owl, Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher, Ruddy Kingfisher, Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker, Buff-necked Woodpecker, Olive-backed Woodpecker, Crested Jay, White-crowned Hornbill, Malaysian Rail Babbler
Wildlife enthusiasts prefer to explore and invent even if a destination poses challenges, and Thailand with its undiscovered sites, a variety of birds, and rare species promise something special waiting to be found by the guests. Southern provinces are safe including Satun, and maximum birding sites can be reached within a few hours from a major city/town, and with airports at Krabi Surat, Thani, Phuket, Nakorn Sri Thammarat, and Hat Yai. Unfortunately, visiting three troubled provinces of Pattani, Yala, and Narathiwat, where there are frequent shootings and bombings, are extremely unadvisable. Besides, with a tremendous number of wildlife sanctuaries and pristine national parks likeKhao Sok National Parkand Khao Luang National Park, it is possible to spot the key species likeNicobar pigeon, mangrove pitta, etc. while exploring the area.
Decorated with luxuriant moist evergreen forests, mesmerizing hill evergreen forests, deciduous, and bamboo forests, Khao Luang National Park in Southern Thailand is a mountainous national park covering 570 km and is home to 300 orchid species and 200 species of birds. Inhabiting rare mammals like barking deer, clouded leopard, Sambar deer, etc., visitors can also discover exotic birds like Wallace’s hawk-eagle, white-crowned hornbill, red-crowned barbet, etc. on this memorable trip. Besides, for stealing glances at rare birds like Great Knot, Mangrove Pitta, Nordmann’s Greenshank, White-bellied Sea Eagle, and Chinese Egret, a comfortable boat ride in Krabi river is a must in guests to-do list.
Frequently visited by guests and a hotspot for bird lovers,Khao Sok National Parkis a treasure idyll of Lesser and Grey-headed Fish Eagle, Chestnut-Naped Forktail, andMalayan Banded Pitta. The White-browed Piculet, Black-and-yellow Broadbill, and Brown Barbet do make their appearances regularly in the forests and enthrall visitors with their magnificence. Additionally, the gigantic limestone formations rising out of the sea and mangrove forests creates a sensational scenery in Ao Phang Nga National Park, which attracts guests who typically get awe-struck after watching the stunning colorful birds like Brown-winged KingfisherMalayan Banded Pitta,and Black-capped Kingfisher. Scarce lowland species, including Chestnut-bellied Malkoha and White-chested Babbler, are also the chief attraction here which birders don’t want to miss.