Thailand, often called the “Land of Smiles,” is a country of great natural beauty with important national parks and abundant birding. This NEW Naturalist Journeys adventure lets you explore with experts: visit mudflats teaming with thousands of migratory shorebirds, misty montane forests alive with flocks of sunbirds and laughingthrushes, and verdant lowland forests that ring with the calls of colorful broadbills and hornbills. Thailand is also a vital wintering ground for a wide variety of migrants from Siberia and China, which we see on our February visit. There is no better introduction to birding in the eastern part of Asia.

Our tour focuses on two provinces in Thailand. Chiang Mai province in the north sports the southern mountains of the Himalayas. The other province is Petchaburi, just west of Bangkok. Shorebirds fill the saltpans along its coastline, offering some of the best shorebirding on Earth. The star here is the critically endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper. Kaeng Krachan National Park in its interior is the largest and most biodiverse in the region.

Imagine a Great Hornbill, the size of a swan, plane overhead; a Blue Pitta, intricately patterned, appear like a jewel from a thicket; or a Red-headed Trogon, painted in crimson, sit stoically on a branch. At Kaeng Krachan National Park there is a good chance for mammals: Leopard, White-handed Gibbon, and Asian Elephant are all possible.

Tour Highlights

  • Explore Doi Inthanon, birding forests of the tallest mountain in Thailand (over 8,000 feet) for colorful birds typical of the Himalayas such as Chestnut-vented Nuthatch, Yellow-cheeked Tit, Large Niltava, and Green-tailed Sunbird
  • Wander through a hill-tribe market in the northern mountains for artisanal crafts and other cultural items
  • Seek out jewel-like pittas in the undergrowth at Kaeng Krachan, birds so beautiful that they inspired a man’s obsession to see every one of these elusive avian gems
  • Marvel at the sheer number and diversity of shorebirds at Pak Thale, while learning about migration and conservation issues facing endangered species like Spoon-billed Sandpiper, Nordmann’s Greenshank, and Chinese Egret
  • Enjoy Thailand’s world-famous cuisine, known for its enthusiastic use of fresh herbs and spices.

Photo credits: Banner: Oriental Pied Hornbill by Carlos Sanchez; Chestnut-flanked White-eye by Carlos Sanchez; Scarlet-faced Liocichla by Carlos Sanchez; White-handed Gibbon by Carlos Sanchez; Doi Inthanon Waterfall by Carlos Sanchez; Lotus Flower by Carlos Sanchez; Painted Stork by Carlos Sanchez; Himalayan Bluetail by Carlos Sanchez; Spoon-billed Sandpiper by Carlos Sanchez.